Optoma HD803 Home Theater Projectors -Projector Overview
2-20-08 - Art Feierman
Check out how the Optoma HD803 fared in our comparison report.
Optoma's HD803 is another variation of the Optoma HD80, and HD8000, however it uses a different DLP chip according to Optoma, and as such, delivers slightly lower contrast than the other two projectors. It is the least expensive of the three, and is available from online resellers, and, I assume, "big box houses". In that regard, its distribution is similar to the HD80, while the HD8000 sells through local installing dealers, adds ISF certification (relating to calibrating the projector), and typically sells for at least $600 more.
Optoma HD803 Highlights
- One of the lower cost 1080p DLP projectors
- Excellent skin tones and color after grayscale calibration
- Reasonably good black level performance for an entry level 1080p projector
- Extremely sharp image
- Limited placement flexibility, and significant lens offset, as is typical of most lower cost DLP projectors
- Three digital inputs - 2 HDMI 1.3, plus a DVI with HDCP
- One year warranty
- Supports 3rd party anamorphic lens for working with Cinemascope (2.35:1) shaped screens for no letter boxing on widescreen movies
- Reasonably bright - 501 lumens in best (Cinema) mode after adjustments, over 700 lumens unadjusted, and 1193 lumens in brightest mode
- Rich color saturation, and lots of depth to the image
- $2599 MAP
I watched the HD803 extensively in my theater, and also viewed it side by side with both the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, and the Sony VW40. Those two are about as good as it gets for under $3000 projectors. While the Optoma, overall performed very well, it couldn't match the Epson or Sony for black level performance, but was the sharpest looking image of the three.
From a placement standpoint, the Optoma is a classic DLP projector, sporting a zoom lens with limited placement range, and no lens shift. These two "limitations" pretty much limit the HD803 to ceiling mounting, or placing on a table top. Shelf mounting just isn't practical.
The Optoma HD803 shares that DLP look and feel, that allowed DLP to dominate over LCD these past years. Today, though, the two technologies, from a practical standpoint, are now pretty much equal, with some preferring one technology over the other because of their different strengths. The overall picture quality was very good after my basic calibration. The HD803 offers more out of the box lumens than the LCD competition, but gives most, but not all, of that advantage back, after calibration.
Optoma HD803 Projector: Basic Specs
MSRP: $4999, MAP $2599
Optional motorized Anamorphic lens: $3999
Technology: Single chip DLP front projector
Native Resolution: 1080p (1980x1080)
Brightness: 1200 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.2:1
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 2000 hours full power, 3000 lumens eco-mode
Weight: 10 lbs. (excluding outboard processor)
Warranty: 3 years Parts and Labor, with express replacement program, 1 year lamp warranty.
Full specifications available: Optoma HD803.
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Optoma HD803 Home Theater Projector: Physical Tour
The HD803 projector looks just like all the other current Optoma 1080p projectors (and I've borrowed images). It is reasonably small, with the lens placed on the far left (looking at the projector from the front). It offers a 1.2:1 zoom ratio, allowing some (but limited) placement flexibility. There is also a front infra-red sensor for the remote control just below the lens and closer to the center. With a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, the front of the projector can be placed as close as 13.4 feet, and as far back as 16.1 feet. If your screen will be larger or smaller, you can figure out the distances from these numbers.
The Optoma HD803 has its control panel laid out in a straight line, on the top, along the back edge. This means that the menu keys are not laid out in the traditional diamond shape, which is unfortunate. That said of course, you would normally be using the remote control regardless, so it's not a big deal. The buttons have very bright blue LEDs that can partially light your room up, but they turn themselves off automatically when the projector is showing content. When you power down, they flash while the Optoma HD803 projector is cooling down, and it's almost an impressive light show.
The Optoma HD803's control panel runs along the back of the top of the projector. On the far left is the power switch (once for on, twice for off). Moving to the right, next is the Menu button, followed by the up and down arrows, then the left and right, and finally, the Enter key. The left arrow doubles as the Source select button when the menus aren't in use, and the right arrow, doubles as the re-sync button, primarily for locking on to a PC analog source.
Moving to the back, the input panel like its sibings, has three digital inputs; two HDMI inputs and a DVI. All three support HDCP. The DVI input can be used either for a digital input, or as either a second component video, or as the analog input for a computer. The dedicated component video input has the usual three RCA jacks. Of course, there's the traditional composite, and S-video inputs, plus an RS-232 for "command and control" by a room control system or computer. Lastly, the HD803 projector has a 12 volt "trigger" for controlling a properly equipped motorized screen.
There are no filters to change, and the projector has a sealed light path, so dust is not an issue.