Optoma HD33 Home Theater Projector Review

HD33 Menus

The Optoma HD33 menus look very much like many previous Optoma projectors that we have reviewed. Of course it’s got a couple of extras relating to 3D capability, but other than that, no real surprises. Let’s take a look at the main menus and a few of the more advanced ones:

Above, the main Image menu. Below, the Display mode pull down, which can be reached from the menu above, or directly from a button on the Optoma HD33 remote control.

Above, the Advanced setting on the Image menu. Calibration is done in the Color settings area. Below, the PureEngine sub-menu.

Above one of the Pure submenus, PureMotion, which is the CFI control, with three settings and off.

The Optoma HD33 has some nice touches on the Display menu. They offer Edge Masking, my preferred solution if you have edge noise around your image. Note, 3D settings are here, not the image menu.

Blu-ray 3D automatically configures the HD33. You can manually set the controls for other formats, if they do not come up correctly.

 

 

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Menus

Optoma HD33 Remote Control

The HD33 remote control is nicely laid out. In addition, it’s range seems pretty good, better than many, although the beam is relatively tight, so you quickly have to learn where to point it at your screen to get a good bounce.

I have one major complaint about the Optoma HD33 projector’s remote, and it’s an old complaint, I’ve leveled at Optoma before. Strangely: The backlight is too bright!

A few years ago, I never thought I’d say that, but, if you want to adjust the brightness and contrast, say of the projector, using a pattern, the remote’s backlight will blind you. When I was using the controls for adjustments I had to hold the remote upside down, with the lighting away from me so I could get a feel for the subtle changes on the screen.

OK, it’s great going with blue LED lights for backlighting, but please, pick a dimmer LED bulb or cut down on it’s brightness another way.

As to the layout itself: Power On and Off have separate buttons on the top row. Press twice, to power down.

Next come four aspect ratio buttons.

After that, it gets more interesting, the remote goes to 3 buttons across with the center button a bit higher on the remote. That row gets you directly to key menu functions. From the left to right:

Brightness, Pre-set modes (ie. Cinema), and Pure, which gets you to the menu for adjusting dynamic features; Pure Detail (dynamic sharpness?), Pure Color (dynamic color, plus – think like Brilliant Color), and Pure Motion: creative frame interpolation for smoother motion.

The next three button row: Contrast, Lamp mode (Standard, Bright, and Image AI), and finally 3D Modes.

Next comes four arrow buttons in a round configuration with a center Enter button.

Finally below that to the left, is a small Menu button. All that’s left below that are direct input buttons – HDMI 1 and 2, and PC, on one row, and on the bottom row, Component Video and Composite (a trend seems to be starting – home projectors without an S-video. I’ve seen others recently, as well.

All considered, a perfectly fine remote, other than being too bright. Button feel is reasonably good. Learn where the buttons are, and the LED light brightness can be dealt with. On the “bright side” when the room is fully darkened, the remote can double as a nice (blue) flashlight for reading Blu-ray disc boxes, finding your snacks, etc. I guess there is a silver (blue?) lining to many issues.

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Optoma HD33 Lens Throw

Optoma’s lens offers pretty basic 1.2:1 zoom ratio, providing minimal distance placement flexibility. 1.2:1 is common on lower cost DLP projectors although some have even less, a few 1.1:1 and 1.15:1 are out there. Lens throw distances work out like this for the normal 100″ 16:9 aspect ratio, HDTV shaped screen:

Measured from front of the lens, to the screen, the HD33 projector can be placed as close as 10 feet, 11 inches , and as far back as 13 feet 1 inches. These are rounded numbers, taken from the HD33 manual. Generally manufacturers caution with their published numbers as approximate, so try to stay at least one inch inside their claimed range.

Lens Shift

No lens shift for the Optoma HD33, so mounting properly is critical if you don’t want to have to use keystone correction (which does slightly degrade the picture.

Firing the Optoma HD33 at a 100 inch, 16:9 diagonal screen, the center of the lens needs to be approximately 7 inches above the top of your screen (if ceiling mounting), or 7 inches below the bottom of the screen if sitting on a table…

The amount of lens offset is modest compared to many single chip DLP projectors including some other Optoma’s. In fact, most such low cost DLP projectors have about 16.5 inches of offset, a real problem for theaters or family rooms with 8 foot or lower ceilings, if you want a fairly large screen.

With the more modest, roughly 7 inches of offset, this will work much better for most folks. On the other hand, if you have a rather high ceiling, then the HD33 will have to mount further down on a longer pole than projectors that offer more.

I believe Optoma’s decision to limit the amount of offset to only about 7 inches, is a major plus compared to the competition, in most cases. Of course, the HD33 is no match for one of the 3LCD projectors, all of which offer genuine lens shift, and far more placement flexibility.

Anamorphic Lens - Wide Screen

I find it strange that a $1499 projector supports an anamorphic lens and sled, which normally means $3000 – $5000 extra. None-the-less, the Optoma HD33 projector offers an LBX mode, which when engaged, stretches the vertical, which is exactly what is needed for working with an anamorphic lens.

So, thanks, Optoma, for the extra aspect ratio, but I suspect very, very, few people will go this route.

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