Optoma HD33 Home Theater Projector Review

In this section we consider the brightness (including full measurements), sharpness, and image noise of Optoma’s 3D capable HD33 home projector. Also covered on this page,are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise of the HD33.

Optoma HD33 Brightness

Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom)
Cinema 1138 @ 7334
Bright 1148 @ 7369
Photo 1117 @ 8486
Reference 1138 @ 7352
User 1146 @ 7350

If you like to judge a projector based on how well the product meets the manufacturer’s claims for brightness, then run the other way. If you want to judge the HD33 base on it’s real measurements, then read on, knowing that the HD33 projector still has a goodly number of lumens, even if it measured about a full 1/3 down from it’s 1800 claim. Optoma wins no points for the exaggeration. Companies that can’t deliver brightness with a watchable picture within 20% of brightness claim annoy me. Regardless of everything else, I looked forward to a projector capable of almost 1800 lumens, one much brighter than any previous 3D projector to come through here, and instead I found a projector only slightly brighter than those others. I’m disappointed.

But, judge the projector based on it’s bottom line performance, ultimately, that’s what you are buying. I just feel sorry for the folks that don’t do any real research and buy this projector over some other, due to expecting more brightness.

OK, enough complaining on my part.

Let’s look at the HD33′s numbers:

First, all the modes are pretty similar in brightness. Certain controls, though can affect brightness, such as a slight increase when using the higher Pure Color settings…

Those numbers are all “right out of the box”, without any adjustments, to settings like contrast, which can affect overall brightness.

Effect of zoom on lumen output (Bright mode)
Zoom out 1164
Mid-zoom 1148
Zoom in 1011

Post Calibration: User “best” mode = 1114 lumens

As Mike points out, not a whole lot of reason to compromise and use one of the “brighter” modes, as they really aren’t. That said, while Bright mode tends to be washed out on sports, but Photo has a good contrast and balance, looks “brighter”, but is thinner on reds. Still, consider Photo a good choice for fighting ambient light.

Lumen Output (Standard Lamp, Bright mode): 885 
It should be mentioned that Standard is Optoma’s low power lamp mode – oft called eco-mode. Optoma calls their full lamp power Bright, so when the projector is at its brightest, it’s actually Bright (color mode) and Bright (lamp mode).

That represents a drop of about 23%. Expect that same amount of drop in any mode when switching from bright lamp to standard lamp.

There is also an Image AI lamp setting. In this mode, Optoma lowers lamp brightness dynamically to reduce black levels (and the bright ones too), similar to a dynamic iris. Image AI, as we have reported on other previous Optoma projectors, in this case, is quite noticeable. I’d recommend leaving it off. I expect you’ll notice it’s snap dropping and brightening in brightness more distracting than any benefit it offers in terms of blacks.

No surprises above. With a 1.2:1 zoom we don’t expect any significant difference in brightness between wide and tele, and as you can see, the variation is only about 5%.

Color Temp over IRE Range (Cinema mode):
30 IRE 7130
50 IRE 7170
80 IRE 7037
100 IRE 7334

Optoma HD33 Pre-Calibration Color temp, Cinema Mode:

Overall, the HD33 is definitely a bit cool in Cinema mode, though not drastically so. Still, the goal of calibrating it will be to get those numbers down to 6500K give or take.

Mike calibrated the User mode, and came up with the results below.

HD33 Color Temp over IRE Range
20 IRE 6271
30 IRE 6460
40 IRE 6519
50 IRE 6509
60 IRE 6416
70 IRE 6445
80 IRE 6485
90 IRE 6669
100 IRE 7162

Average gamma= 2.21

HD33 Color Temp over IRE Range – Post calibration:User Mode

Mike reports that when calibrating, controls had almost no effect on 100IRE, so the tad bluish “white” color temp didn’t want to come down except slightly. . At the end of the calibration most of the range is where you want it, but at the brightest and dimmest there is a boost in blues at the bright end, and more red in the darker areas. Not bad, really, and looks pretty good for a casual consumer, who never fusses with their uncalibrated LCDTV. For us enthusiasts, we like projectors with more accurate color, and purists – well, nothing about this projector was designed for purists.

Below, the same image taken with the different preset modes (and taken at the same exposure) gammas are very different, I should note, so while all these modes are pretty similarly bright, those with low gammas look much brighter due to everything from near black to near white being boosted:

Bright
Cinema
Photo
Reference
User
Bright
+Cinema

The last image above, is User, and taken post calibration. Not bad, though an extra 1/3 f-stop when taking the picture would have brightened it a bit to be more realistic.

Optoma HD33 Sharpness

At first, I looked and expected a typically sharp, low cost DLP projector. And for the most part, that’s what I found here. With only a single chip, not 3 panels like 3LCD and LCoS projectors, there’s no misconvergence, to begin with, but, the lens displays a bit if flair down at the pixel level. Get a little close and small letters grow spikes. Perfect focusing tends to make that go away, but you can’t get perfect focusing from center to corner, so, this isn’t the best affordable single chip DLP I’ve seen of late. The recently reviewed BenQ W1200 (with it’s 1.5:1 zoom) definitely has a sharper looking image due to optics. Still, those of us used to 3LCD projectors will still think the HD33 to be at least comparable.

Optoma HD33
Viewsonic Pro8200
Mitsubishi HC4000
Panasonic PT-AE4000
Epson Home Cinema 8350
BenQ W1200
Optoma HD33
+Viewsonic Pro8200

Optoma HD33: Bottom Line Sharpness

Bottom line: Pretty good sharpness, but I had hoped for more, for something that can just plain look sharper than projectors like the LCD PT-AE4000 from Panasonic. Not the best of the low cost single chip DLPs, but average overall. There are times it seems really sharp, but it’s on the cusp, again, much like the sharper of the 3LCD projectors.

Light Leakage

Image Noise

I really didn’t see any overt artifacts other than those discussed about 3D. background mosquito noise is better than I’m used to on many DLP home entertainment projectors. Nothing noticed in general watching. A quick look at the Silicon Optix test disc didn’t point to any significant issues.

Audible Noise

Single chip DLP projectors generally are a bit noisy. This HD33 though, in Bright lamp mode, isn’t bad. It’s lower pitched than I expected and that’s a real plus when it comes to not noticing sound. I’d say this projector is fairly average overall, claiming 30 db at Bright lamp, and 28 in Standard. If anything, they might be a bit conservative here.

Compared to several other entry level type DLP projectors this one is likely slightly to moderately quieter than many of them.

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