Optoma HD8600 Physical Tour
12/6/2009 - Art Feierman
Optoma HD8600 Physical Appearance
Start with a medium small, all shiny black case. In the front, you'll find a center mounted lens. The projector, I should note, ships without the lens installed. Installing it was a snap, literally. I took off the packaging, inserted the lens, turned it slightly and the mount snapped into place. The lens almost recessed, but not quite. the lens is manual, you use the outer and inner trim rings to focus and zoom. There's also an infra-red sensor on the front (another in the rear).
Below are left and right front, screw thread adjustable, feet.
Moving to the top of the Optoma HD8600 projector there's a spring loaded door just behind the lens and several inches across. Press to release and expose the separate vertical and horizontal lens shift dials.
The input panel is located on the back, along with a power switch and a holder for a small "convenience" remote control (there is a full backlit remote as well).
Strangely, the projector has its air intakes on the side, but vents the hot air out the rear. This means for rear shelf mounting, ventilation may be a problem, if you can't provide a fair amount of space between projector and the wall.
Interestingly the HD8600 lacks a control panel. Or rather, they are using a solution that a few others have done recently. Optoma provides two remotes. There's the usual bigger, backlit remote control, but also a small credit card remote. The credit card remote which they refer to as a "convenience remote" has only basic functions: Buttons for On, Off, Menu, Enter, Source, and four arrow key buttons.
The convenience remote will fit into the rear input panel area, where it then functions as a basic control panel. Whether you like the concept or not, it gets the job done, with the same basic controls most other projectors' control panels have.
The HD8600 is rather typically equipped. Actually it has 3 HDMI inputs, one more than most, but others these days are adding a third, as well. There's the classic analog computer input, which can be used as the second component video input instead.
There's also the usual composite video and S-video inputs, not to mention an RS-232 and also a USB for command and control from a computer or room control system.
The Optoma comes equipped with two 12 volt screen triggers, which can be used for motorized screen control, controlling an anamorphic lens sled, or a screen masking system. Few projectors have two, although that may be a new trend, considering the expanding range of devices they can be used to "trigger". Nice touch, and it may be convenient, however, controlling all such devices can also be done other ways, with infra-red or RF remotes, for example.
Optoma HD8600 Menus
Optoma has a good overall layout. Most of the image related controls are on the main Image menu, which is shown on the right.
There's also an Advanced image menu off of that, which has the CMS (color management) submenu, as well as sub menus for Gamma, and "Pure" controls - those being Pure Motion (creative frame interpoation) and other controls for dynamic contrast and color.
The display menu below offers up both overscan and edge masking choices if you have image noise along the edges to dispose of. That's something not unusual with cable or satellite signals. With overscan, you trim off the outermost data, and expand the now slightly smaller image, to fill what was the full frame. That means giving up the precision/sharpness of one to one pixel mapping.
Another alternative, which preserves 1-1 pixel masking is to use the Edge mask instead. It simply puts black up in those outmost area, eliminating the signal. You end up with a slightly smaller image but what's left is unaltered. That's my preferred solution, for the crisper image.
Optoma HD8600 Remote Control
The HD8600 remote is medium sized, with a sleek shiny black look, with bright blue LED lighting. In fact, the lighting is excellent, just right, making the buttons easy to read, yet without being blinding in a darkened room.
I personally like both the size and the feel. It's definitely one of the easier remote controls to operate casually with one hand.
The range, however could have been better. If you have a large room, it may be tough to get a bounce off the screen to a projector mounted toward the back. Sitting 11 feet back from the screen, I really can't get a reliable bounce off the screen and wall to the projector which is 16 feet back.
On the top right are the Power, and Off buttons with the Off, right below the Power. The other seven buttons in the top part of the remote provide direct access to different image controls: Brightness, Contrast, Iris, Color, Pure (dynamic features) controls, and the Advanced menu.
Next comes the four navigation arrow keys in a round configuration with the Enter button in the center. Below to the left is the Menu button, and to the right, the (image) Mode button. The next row has two wide buttons, one for overscan the other, for the alternative; edge masking.
Then, a feature I don't recall seeing before on a remots - buttons for 12 volt trigger On and Off. Then comes four aspect ratio settings buttons, and finally seven input buttons.
DLA-HD8600 Lens Throw
Well, there are three lens options. The standard lens for a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, will let you place the front of the projector as close as 11.19 feet, or as far back as 14.0 feet. The short throw lens is a very short throw, fixed lens (no zoom). For that same 100" screen, the projector's front would be 5.59 feet, which is extremely close.
The long telephoto starts up where the standard lens lets off - at 14.0 feet, and out to 21 feet.
With the choice of the standard and telephoto zoom the Optoma's range is extremely similar to a typical LCD projector with 2:1 zoom (typically about 10 feet to 20 feet). Of course there's advantages to building lenses with less zoom range. It's easier to build higher quality, and perhaps more important, brighter lenses.
If the standard lens works for you, the projector lists for $7999, but you can order it with one of the others, for $8999.
DLA-HD8600 Lens Shift
The HD8600 has a decent amount of lens shift. It is set up unequally, which is always interesting to consider. I found the manual very confusing. Here's how it seems to work, first for shelf mounting. For shelf (or table) placement, it can be anywhere from 10% of a screen height (4.9 inches) below the bottom of the screen, to 30% (14.9 inches) below the top of the screen surface. A 100" diagonal screen is about 49 inches high. That's measured from center of the lens.
For ceiling mounting, where you often prefer the projector to be above the screen, the HD8600, (inverted) in a ceiling mount can be from 10% (4.9 inches) above the top of the screen surface, down to 30% (14.9 inches) above the bottom.
I think that by doing it this way, Optoma has pretty much gotten the best combination of functionality relative to the amount of total lens shift they were comfortable providing in this design. The fact that there are other lens options may have encouraged this final setup, as well.
HD8600 Anamorphic Lens Support
The Optoma HD8600 has support for an anamorphic lens and sled. Optoma packages an anamorphic lens it sells to its dealers.