Optoma HD8200 - Competitors
How does the Optoma HD8200 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?
12/15/2008 - Art Feierman
This section compares the Optoma HD8200 home theater projector to the competition. You will find our impressions of the Optoma projector as it stacks up to existing projectors we have reviewed, and a couple that are about to ship, and not yet reviewed.
HD8200 vs. Epson Home Cinema 6500UB
Both projectors have a dynamic looking image - pop and wow, if you will. The Epson, however has far more muscle in terms of lumens, if you need to deal with intentional or unintentional ambient light. We're talking 1566 measured lumens vs. 660 for the Optoma. Thus, for example, those who want to watch HDTV/TV (especially sports) with some lights on, will find the Epson has a big advantage. For most serious movie viewing, on the other hand, the two projectors are almost identical in brightness, with the Optoma's measured 525 lumens just slightly beating the Epson's 491.
On the plus side for the Optoma HD8200 it definitely offers a slightly sharper image. As I state repeatedly, all of the 1080p projectors look pretty sharp, but some are sharper than others. You don't really notice until you have seen two side by side, but do be aware that this small difference exists. It is, in my opinion, more visible with digital content, such as HDTV sports and general programming, than say movies, where other factors, including the grain of the film tends to soften the overall image.
Placement flexibility is all in favor of the Epson. It can be placed closer to a given sized screen, or much further away. In addition it can easily be rear shelf mounted in most room setups. The HD8200 - despite its strange vertical lens shift setup, is not suitable for shelf mounting.
Black level performance of the HD8200 is actually very good, but no match for the Epson, which is still the champ in the under $3500 price range. Still, the Optoma is not bad, at its best. The issue though is the dynamic iris. Without it, the black levels on the HD8200 are not that impressive, and with the dynamic iris engaged, the iris action is more visible than on most other projectors using one. (You can see good side by side images comparing black level performance in the HD8200 review. The Optoma also has a very slight advantage in terms of dark shadow detail.
When it comes to audible noise, the HD8200 definitely could be quieter, we considered it the noisiest projector in the price range. Oh, it's not really loud, but for those really wanting a pretty quiet projector, look elsewhere. The Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, it should be noted, is also not particularly quiet, in fact, the Epson specs would indicate that it is a touch noisier. My own take is that the Epson, in full power, is slightly quieter. This difference won't be enough to factor into a decision.
And that finally brings me to overall picture quality. Despite the assorted advantages mentioned above, the Optoma HD8200 (if you can get over that iris action), really does put up an impressive picture. Post calibration I give it a slight advantage in terms of color accuracy, compared to the Epson. I do favor the HD8200's skin tones over those of the Epson.
The HD8200 will have strong appeal to those that favor the "look and feel" of DLP projectors, when compared to the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB.
One key issue, however is pricing. The HD8200 is sold through local dealers only, and internet pricing is scarce to say the least. As such, it is at the high end of our artibrary $2100 - $3500 street price range, that we used in our recent Comparison Report. The Epson, on the other hand, streets at no more than $2500 right now with current rebate. That's close to a $1000 difference, best we can tell.
Add it all up, and for all but diehard DLP fans, the Epson is likely to be your choice.
Optoma HD8200 vs. Mitsubishi HC7000
This is a similar comparison to the one above, but with exceptions. First, the HC7000, like the Optoma HD8200, is sold through local dealers only. I suspect that the HD8200 still costs more, but these two should be within a few hundred dollars of each other, at least in the US.
The HC7000 is an exceptionally sharp 3LCD projector and I consider it to be comparable with the HD8200 in sharpness.
While the HC7000's black levels aren't quite as good as the Epson's, the Mitsubishi should still have a slight advantage over the HD8200. (I did not have both projectors present at the same time to do any side-by-sides, but did get to do side-by-sides of each, against the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB.
Placement flexibility strongly favors the HC7000 since it can be ceiling or shelf mounted. It only has slightly more zoom range (1.6:1 vs. 1.5:1), but it can be shelf mounted in most rooms, and the HD8200 cannot be shelf mounted
Audible noise - well, the HC7000 is one of the quietest home theater projectors we've ever heard, or, rather, not heard! The HD8200 is one of the louder ones. No contest here, it would probably take at least 3 Mitsubishi's to exceed the audible noise of one HC7000. Although, the HD8200 is quieter than a lot of other DLP projectors out there, and should be acceptable to most in full power mode, the HC7000 is, by comparison, virtually silent, being even quieter at full power, than the HD8200 in low power mode.
Overall picture quality of the two projectors is more different, than better/worse. Skin tones which I consider to the the toughest measure of good overall color are handled excellently by both the HD8200 and the HC7000.
Brightness definitely favors the Optoma HD8200. The Mitsubishi HC7000 is not a bright projector, in any mode. It had the second lowest measured brightness in "best" mode - at only 278 lumens, just more than half of the HD8200's 525 lumens. Thus, if you are choosing almost exclusively for movie viewing, the HD8200 can handle a much larger screen. The Mitsubishi is pretty much limited to about 100" diagonal or less (with typical gain screens). When it comes to brightest modes the HD8200 still has the advantage, though far less significant - 660 lumens vs. 536 lumens.
All considered, that makes brightness, audible noise and placement flexibility probably the three key deciding factors between these two. (Brightness - favors Optoma, audible noise and placement flexibility favor Mitsubishi.) Black level performance, including the iris artifacts of the HD8200, favor the HC7000.
Because of the types of key differences, choosing between these two projectors should be fairly straightforward, but ultimately both produce very sharp images with very impressive color accuarcy (post-calibration), and very good black level performance.
Optoma HD8200 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000
Pricing immediately becomes a big factor here. The Sanyo is the least expensive of the "ultra high contrast" projectors, selling for not much more than $2000 right now, and therefore a good 1/3 less than the Optoma.
The Sanyo PLV-Z3000's black levels (weakest of the ultra high contrast 3LCD projectors) are likely just a tad better than those of the HD8200. I'd say close enough to be a non-issue.
Brightness is a split decision. The Sanyo, in its very best mode "Pure Cinema" (with all the "enhancements" turned off, is definitely dimmer than the HD8200. That worked out to 235 lumens vs. 525. The thing about the Sanyo is, that most will not choose Pure Cinema. Creative Cinema is going to be the logical choice for a true "best mode" and the Sanyo does much better there, with 373 lumens. Still no match for the HD8200, but getting pretty respectable.
The Sanyo is the quieter of the two projectors!
The tables are turned when you want to leave some lights on, for American Idol, CSI, or your favorite spectacular HDTV channel (Discovery HD, Palladia, Science HD, Travel HD, etc.), and of course sports. The Sanyo reigns supreme for this type of viewing, with 1046 measured lumens vs. 660. While the Optoma has the lumens for a pretty large screen (say 123" diagonal) in best mode, in a fully darkened room, it really can't deal with more than the absolute minimum amount of ambient light on the same sized screen. The Sanyo, while still far from the brightest in "brightest mode", will tackle significantly more, but still modest ambient light.
In terms of overall picture quality, the advantage in skin tones goes to the Optoma projector. I was never quite satisfied with the color accuracy of the Sanyo, with a slight yellow-green shift. I imagine had we had the time to recalibrate, the Sanyo could do much better, and I would say close, but still, the Optoma does those skin tones extremely well. All considered, I have to give the picture quality advantage to the HD8200, despite that slight advantage in black levels that the Sanyo should demonstrate.
Optoma HD8200 vs. BenQ W5000
Very interesting! Nothing like two good DLP projectors going head to head. In this case however, the BenQ W5000 sells for far less (not much over $2000), and overall, seems to have more advantages.
Let's start with brightness. In best mode, they are close enough - 482 (BenQ) vs. 525 (Optoma). That's not enough difference to be a deal maker or breaker for either one. Moving to brightest mode, however, and the BenQ has a real advantage. Mind you, the BenQ in brightest mode is strictly average, but it's still 40+% brighter than the Optoma, and can handle a larger screen nicely with modest ambient light present.
Both the HD8200 and W5000 produce very sharp images. While they are close enough, in my opinion, to not matter, I'd probably have to give the BenQ the very slightest advantage.
Audible noise is a different story. True, both are DLP's but the BenQ manages to be the quieter of the two. At full power, my guess is probably a 3-4 db difference favoring BenQ.
Even though the BenQ has only a 1.2:1 zoom compared to the Optoma's 1.5:1, the W5000 still wins the battle for placement flexibility. BenQ's lens shift is viable for shelf mounting the projector, Optoma's is not. BenQ, to make this possible has a longer throw lens than most other DLP projectors with 1.2:1 zooms, and can be placed about the same maximum distance back from a given sized screen as the Optoma, but can't be placed anywhere near as close.
In terms of black levels, I really would have loved to place these two side by side. The HD8200 technically has the better DLP processor for black levels, but the BenQ's iris system offsets much of that gain. I'd have to say that the two are pretty much comparable, except that the iris action is more visible with the HD8200, which will turn off many folks who are critical in their viewing demands.
Both projectors do a really good job on skin tones and overall picture quality, both are DLP's and have that "DLP" look.
Bottom line - the HD8200 is going to be hard to rationalize due to the much higher price, but of course, it is local dealer only, and those projectors always cost more.
HD8200 vs. InFocus IN83
One might consider the HD8200 to be sort of a "poor man's IN83", in that both are DLP's with really good color handling, but the HD8200 simply isn't dramatically less expensive than the InFocus. I expect that from a street price standpoint, the pricing difference at this time, is probably less than $1000.
Where the two are perhaps closest, is in overall color performance. The HD8200 is extremely good, but the IN83 is simply better. Of the 25 projectors considered in our recent Comparison, the IN83 produced the best skin tones of any. The HD8200 may do a really good job, but it only comes close.
Where the HD8200 has the advantage is in black level performance. Despite the IN83's use of a Darkchip4 DLP chip, compared to the HD8200's Darkchip3, the IN83 lacks a dynamic iris, and you can see the difference in black level performance. That's a particularly attractive advantage for the Optoma.
Brightness, on the other hand, is "all InFocus" Consider the substantial differences: In best mode, the Optoma's very respectable 525 lumens is easily trumped by the InFocus'es "Best In Class" 787 measured lumens. It gets even more significant when comparing brightest modes where the HD8200's 660 lumens pale in comparison to the IN83 projector's twice as bright 1382 lumens. Want a larger screen? No comparison!
Placement flexibility favors Optoma. It's zoom has that additional range (1.5:1 vs. 1.2:1), but lens shift also comes into play. The Optoma, like the InFocus cannot be rear shelf mounted, but the lens shift does help significantly even with ceiling mounting. The IN83 has a lot of fixed lens shift, requiring it to be placed well above the top of your screen. This is a huge problem for anyone wanting a larger screen but not having fairly high ceilings in their theater. Let's say you have room for a 120" diagonal screen, but an 8 foot ceiling height. The IN83 just won't work in that situation. The Optoma might not work out well in that situation either (but that would be due to lumens, not placement issues).
Overall, despite the lower price of the Optoma (and better black levels), I strongly favor the IN83 (if it will place in your room) for its almost flawless color, and extremely bright image.
Optoma HD8200 vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000
For the most part, in this comparison, it's almost "all Panasonic". True, in absolute best modes the HD8200 is much brighter, but Panasonic does very well in it's "not quite best" modes, where it can actually outpower the Optoma. (Panasonic: 293 lumens and 683 lumens respectively, vs. the HD8200's 525.) In brightest modes, the Panasonic has a distinct, but not drastic advantage with 824 lumens vs. 660. In brightest mode, that makes the Panasonic on the low side of average, while the Optoma is the second least bright of 11 projectors we considered in its "price range" in our report.
Black level performance favors the Panasonic. True, it's not by a large amount, but enough to be considered a moderate factor for those really into black levels.
Color accuracy and overall picture quality, does favor the Panasonic, though slightly. In terms of skin tones, both projectors I would say are comparable. This is where that slight advantage in black levels tilts the balance in favor of the PT-AE3000.
Placement flexibility is a no brainer - that is, not even close. The Panasonic is as flexible as it gets. I won't repeat the limitations of the HD8200 again, as it's mentioned in most of the comparisons above.
Special features is another strength of the Panasonic PT-AE3000. It's motorized zoom and focus allow for its "anamorphic lens emulation", a feature that had received a lot of interest, and has no doubt swayed many buyers. It's CFI (creative frame interpolation is the best we've seen, although, in fairness, I'm taking a new look at the PURE feature set of the HD8200 to see what it can do.
Where I really like the Optoma HD8200 over the PT-AE3000, is in the "pop and wow" factor area. The Optoma has that rich dynamic look overall, whereas, by comparison, the Panasonic seems very muted. (This by the way is also a reason I favor the Epson 6500UB over the Panasonic).
The other strength of the Optoma is image sharpness. It definitely offers a sharper looking image compared to the PT-AE3000, which is strictly average in this regard.
Pricing also favors the Panasonic, by a rather dramatic amount, as of the time of this writing.
Optoma HD8200 vs. JVC DLA-RS10
Probably for roughly $1000 more than the HD8200, you can buy the JVC RS10. Both are technically local dealer only projectors (though you can find the JVC online, but typically not discounted - so where's the fun)?
I'm not sure exactly what prompted me to want to compare these two, but here goes:
Brightness - all JVC. Best mode it's 740 measured lumens bests the HD8200's 525 rather easily. In Brightest mode, neither gets a big jump but JVC maintains the advantage with 814 lumens compared to 660. Bottom line, regardless of what you are watching, figure the JVC can handle a screen 10-15% larger diagonal.
Black levels. No contest, JVC is simply the best at it, and they do it without a dynamic iris. The RS10 is only bested by the more expensive RS20. The HD8200 with its dynamic iris engaged, may do a pretty good job, but it's not in the same class at all, when it comes to black levels. The HD8200 is a 328 BMW when it comes to black level performance, while the JVC - well, think Lambourghini.
Placement flexibility is all JVC as well. It's 2:1 zoom and lots of lens shift make it one of the very best.
Overall picture quality. Again, while I really like the HD8200, the RS10 does slightly better skin tones, and overall, (in part thanks to black levels) is easily my choice. The one area related is that the JVC doesn't have as much wow factor as the HD8200.
Sharpness is the other area of strength for the HD8200. No question, it has the sharper image. Again, it's not huge, but the difference is there.
Audible noise slightly favors the JVC, which is noticeably quieter than the older RS1 and RS1x that it replaced.
Bottom line: For the vast majority, if you could afford the extra for the JVC DLA-RS10, it will be hard to seriously consider the HD8200. Still, I hear from those who are DLP fanatics, and a few have commented that they've seen the RS10 close up, but still favor that extra dynamic look associated with DLP projectors.
NEXT: Optoma HD8200 warranty