Optoma HD33 Home Theater Projector Review

How does the Optoma HD33 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?

Optoma HD33 vs. Epson Home Cinema 8350

The Epson Home Cinema 8350 is Epson’s best seller, and rumor has it, it will be back for the 2011-2012 home theater season. While the Home Cinema 8350 can’t do 3D it is one serious competitor to the HD33 when comparing 2D. The Epson can’t must up near as many “best” mode lumens, but it’s best mode, calibrates much more precisely than the HD33 projector. Epson’s brighter modes (not brightest), once adjusted, are more comparable in accuracy to Optoma’s accuracy. When comparing brightest modes, the Epson Home Cinema 8350 also slightly outshines the Optoma HD33.

The Epson will easily best the HD33 at black levels, and a bit on dark shadow detail. It also offers superb placement flexibility, in every way, better than the HD33. Further, it’s got a better remote control, and really blows the HD33 away when comparing warranties – not even close.

Yet, with all that going for it, the Epson comes up short in two other areas. First and foremost, it doesn’t do 3D. The other advantage of the HD33 is that it offers creative frame interpolation, which Epson saves for its more expensive models.

Bottom line: You can buy the Epson Home Cinema 8350, for a few hundred less than the Optoma HD33, and have it outperform the Optoma is most ways, but it won’t satisfy your craving for 3D, if you have the need or desire.

Optoma HD33 vs. Mitsubishi HC4000

The Mitsubishi HC4000 has been my other favorite home theater projector for around $1200 (along with the Epson). In many ways it’s also the same comparison against the HD33, but the HC4000 is a single chip DLP projector. It’s placement flexibility is more like the HD33 than the Epson but still a bit better than the HD33.

Black levels are superior on the HC4000, as is shadow detail. When it comes to brightness, these two projectors aren’t too dissimilar, both capable of over 1000 lumens, but the true “best mode” of the HC4000 isn’t as bright as the Optoma HD33, but it does get close. The HC4000 apparently has better optics – it just looks a bit crisper – sharper.

As with the Epson, I’ll take the HC4000 over the HD33 pretty much every time for 2D viewing, although the HD33 has one advantage – CFI for your sports and other appropriate content suitable for motion smoothing.

And again, the Optoma HD33 loses when comparing warranty, with a single year vs. the Mitsubishi projector’s two years.

With all that said, however, if you spend about $300 more on the HD33, despite all those things favoring the HC4000, the HD33 will deliver some nicely performing 3D, and if you want that, well, just forget the HC4000!

HD33 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z700

This is almost an instant replay of the Epson Home Cinema 8350 vs. the HD33. The Sanyo isn’t quite as accurate as the Epson, but still a bit better than the HD33. Like the Epson, it offers tremendous placement flexibility, vs. very limited for the Optoma.

While we favor the Epson over the Sanyo, it doesn’t really matter when comparing against the HD33. Ultimately, it still comes down to the Sanyo also having better blacks, a slightly better overall picture, but no 3D abilities!

Optoma HD33 vs. Optoma HD20

Think of the HD33 as an improved HD20, with the addition of CFI, an image with a bit more pop – more dynamic look, and, of course, 3D. If 3D is on your shopping list, you are looking at about $600 difference, for that slightly better picture, and 3D. Otherwise, the HD20 is hard to beat:

Just think – 2D only – save money with the HD20, give up little…

or spend the difference and have a very nice 3D projetor as well.

Optoma HD33 vs. Sharp XV-Z17000

Sometimes being first, can be a disadvantage. Certainly the Sharp XV-Z17000 which sells for just above $3500, last we looked, was the first under $5000 1080p 3D capable DLP projector to ship for the home.

Like the Optoma, it has limited placement flexibility, and overall, it’s similar in brightness (although the Optoma’s best mode is the brighter of the two). The Optoma also has an advantage comparing brightest modes.

The Sharp XV-Z17000, however, offers better picture quality overall, and most dramatically, it is far better in terms of black level performance. In this regard, the Sharp projector is no entry level PJ, unlike the HD33.

Given a choice, the Sharp is the overall better projector of the two. The question is, can it rationalize twice the price, and then some? If it wasn’t for the new announced Panasonic, the answer would be simple: You want step up performance, then an extra roughly $2000 can be justified. The queston you may have to ask yourself, though: Is the current pricing of the XV-Z17000 low enough to keep in competitive? We shall see. Meantime, consider the XV-Z17000 overall, to have the better picture.

Optoma HD33 vs. Panasonic PT-AE7000, Rumored Epson Home Cinema 5010

Well, here, going up against Panasonic and Epson,, the HD33 will be the low cost player in the comparison. In all fairness, the announced HD8300 may be the projector best designed to go up against the announced PT-AE7000, and the rumored Epson 5010.

Although I have not tested the Panasonic, I’m already aware that the review units out there are capable of very close to the 2000 lumens claimed. That should make the PT-AE7000 almost twice as bright as the HD300. If rumors are true, the Epson could be even another 20% or so, brighter still, dramatically outshining the HD33.

Expect great black level performance from these 3LCD projectors that have to be considered ultra-high contrast projectors, with black level performance far beyond the HD33 projector’s abilities.

Also expect far superior placement flexibilty, and better overall color thanks to better controls for calibrating. Of these two, the Epson’s got the warranty that blows the Optoma away – two years, with a replacement program for both.

There should be a dramatic overall difference between the these 3LCd models and the lower cost Optoma.

Perhaps the real question is: Will either Panasonic, or Epson, be clever enough to alos have a second 3D capable projector, ones priced below the $3,000 range of the AE7000 and Home Cinema 5010?

Until we know the answer, the short version: The HD33 is nice, and a very good value, but it’s overall picture can’t match these ultra-high-contrast projectors, that sell for about twice the price, but also have a lot more going for them.

I suspect the answers will certainly be at CEDIA next week!

Viewsonic Pro8200 vs. Optoma HD33

The Viewsonic Pro8200 was reviewed earlier this year.. Here’s a projector that costs less than the Optoma and is significantly brighter. It’s a single chip DLP projector like the HD33. The Pro8200 will simply light up that family room better. That said, the picture quality really favors the Optoma. If you aren’t calibrating, the Pro8200 is not particularly good looking right out of the box. Even calibrated its not up to the Optoma, In the Pro8200′s review I commented in the Viewsonic’s review that skin tones still weren’t great even after calibration.

Both have speakers, both have picture in picture, but the Optoma does better dark scenes due to better black level performance. The Viewsonic, though, has an exceptionally long lamp life to keep costs down 4000/6000 hours compared to 2500/4000 for the Optoma. The Pro8200 has a 3 year warranty compared to the Optoma’s one, so overall, you can expect the Viewsonic to cost a lot less once you own it. Both projectors have 1.5:1 zoom lenses are are about the same overall in where they can be placed, relative to your screen.

The Optoma for your extra gives you the better picture. It’s that simple. The Viewsonic is brighter, and less to own and operate, but, just can’t match the picture, and lacks creative frame interpolation.

Panasonic PT-AE4000 and Epson Home Cinema 8700UB compared to the Optoma HD33

Both the 8700UB and the PT-AE4000 are “last year’s” 2D only projectors. Both are easily far more feature laden, have great placement flexibility compared to the Optoma HD33 projector, and a ultra-high contrast projectors with excellent black level performance. Both sell for $400 – $600 more than the HD33.

This is a simple case, of, HD33 if you want 3D abilities, or to save the price difference. For 2D purposes, though, both Panasonic and Epson projectors are a major step up in performance, for about $500 more cost.

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