Home Theater Projector Reviews:
Optoma HD80 DLP Projector:
Summary, Pros, Cons
Check out how the Optoma HD80 fared in our comparison report.
As the least expensive 1080p projector currently available in the US, it's really hard to argue with the HD80's value proposition.
Although performance isn't quite up to a number of more expensive projectors, the HD80's picture, will wow virtually everyone shopping for a 1080p projector.
At this point in time, virtually every 1080p projector produces better image quality than the majority of 720p projectors. Black levels are a good example, with the HD80 in a whole different class, than their entry level 720p projector, the HD70, as well as their HD72 and HD7100. It's also better than virtually every 720p LCD projector, until you get to some real high end 720p projectors that cost more than the typical 1080p models (including 3 chip 720p DLPs).
What I'm trying to say is, yes, you can spend more on another 1080p projector, and get a more technically perfect image, a brighter projector, and one with much better placement flexibility, however if you are one of the majority of people on a budget, and just want a great picture, (not a perfection), you'll almost certainly be pleased.
When I watched the HD80 I had the opportunity to compare it a great deal, with both my JVC RS1, and also the new InFocus IN82, both of which are twice the price. Yes, both were better, but the differences were not spectacular, by any means. If I wasn't "paying attention" I could certainly forget that I was watching the low cost projector. Once I start looking for performance differences, though, they are certainly there.
It will be most interesting to see how the HD80 compares with a number of other new 1080p projectors just hitting the market, including the Panasonic PT-AE2000, and the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, which are being priced competitively.
The HD80 is particularly strong in a couple of areas when it comes to image quality. Like many Optoma's before it, colors are rich (especially dark colors), and there's a lot of depth. It's a bit more contrasty (a little "hard" looking) compared to Optoma's more expensive HD81 series, and definitely not in the league of the LCos projectors, the Sony VW50 and new VW60 or the two JVC's, the shipping RS1, and announced RS2.
Of the new 1080p projectors, the HD80 definitely falls short of the much pricier InFocus IN82, which beats it in black levels (slightly) shadow detail (defintely). I would also recommend the new Mitsubishi HC6000, an LCD projector that is a couple thousand more, but there is nothing I've seen yet at its price that can beat it. The Sony and the Mitsubishi are one step in price, and are worth the difference, so the choice is up to you.
Optoma HD80 projector, Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Optoma HD80 Projector: Pros
- Slightly better than average brightness
- Low price point
- Very acceptable black levels
- Shadow detail is notably good
- Overall, very good picture quality
- Support for ISF Day/Night calibration
- Optional Anamorphic lens for those wanting a Cinemascope (2.35:1 aspect ratio) theater - with no letterboxing when watching movies
- Three digital inputs, including 2, HDMI 1.3 inputs - Very impressive, especially for an "entry level" 1080p projector
- Very good (extensive) image control options on menus
- Good menu system
- Sealed light path, no filters to change or clean
- Fairly attractive, relatively small, projector
- Very good value proposition
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Optoma HD80 Projector: Cons
- Placement flexibility: Limited zoom lens range (1.2:1)
- Placement flexibility: No adjustable lens shift at all
- "Out of the Box" color accuracy is not good, but very fixable
- Large lens offset, requires projector well above, or below screen surface - a problem for those with low ceilings (or normal ceilings, and larger screens)
- One of the louder projectors in full power lamp mode
- Lamp door on bottom, requires removal from a ceiling mount, to change out
- Remote has more limited range than most, Hard to get a bounce off the screen in larger rooms
Optoma HD80 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Lamp Life
- Pixel visibility (for a DLP projector)
- Documentation (needs better, more, explanations of features)
- Placement flexibility is average (relative to most other DLP projectors, but some are much, much, better better
Optoma HD80 Summary
It's pretty simple. If you can physically use the HD80 in your room, it certainly is very worth considering, especially if the budget is limited. Its real competion is likely to be a couple of new comparably priced, low cost LCD based 1080p projectors, which will offer much better placement flexibility, and may actually match the HD80's black level performance.
The trade-offs in picture quality are good ones, while skin tones aren't as soft and natural as some better, more expensive projectors, it tends to offset that with it's rich darker colors. The HD80 picture definitely has a wow factor.
Optoma has succeeded in building the lowest cost 1080p projector on the market, equipping it well, and despite it falling a little short of their higher end HD81 and ultra-bright HD81-LV, it is definitely worth the price.
The real issues therefore, tend to be placement, your budget, whether it's bright enough for your room and watching preferences, and how "into it" you are.
This is what Optoma does, they provide a wide range of consistantly competent, quality projectors. The HD80 projector fits the role perfectly. I'd say it is an impressive entry level 1080p choice.