Optoma HD33 Home Theater Projector Review

A short summary of the Optoma HD33 projector’s pros and cons and capabilities will post Tuesday.

In the meantime, all the images below were of content projected with the Optoma HD33 home theater projector. Enjoy!

Optoma HD33 Projector - The Bottom Line

The Optoma HD33 definitely earns its Hot Product award. The breakthrough price is one great reason, although I expect it will see some 3D competition near the price real soon. The thing is, the HD33 does everything reasonably well. It’s not the most feature enabled projector but it does have some bells and whistles not often found on low cost projectors (such as CFI). Mostly, the award goes to the HD33, because it does some real respectable lower cost 2D, but it does some rather dazzling 3D compared to projectors costing several times the price. Look, if you have no interest in 3D, save a few bucks, the Optoma HD20 is still out there, or pick up a higher performance, 2D only projector. But, if you want to play and enjoy 3D, the HD33 from Optoma gets you in the game, for a relative bargain. 3D performance is pretty good in terms of image quality. Hey, even blacks look better (thanks to the darker overall image with 3D light loss). What’s great about the 3D though is that it’s a bit brighter than most of what we’ve seen to date. Oh, it easily could use another 40-60% more lumens, but, this Optoma HD33 has a reasonable amount for 3D, more than we can say about most of last year’s 3D capable projectors. 2D performance is overall rather nice, but for the mediocre – entry level quality black level performance. Still, in a family room or other non-dedicated home theater, the HD33 works great as a family projector, and can even handle a bit of ambient light for sports viewing. Color turned out to be pretty impressive, despite the lack of a CMS, and some limits with the provided controls. We couldn’t calibrate as well as we would like, but can’t complain about the end result. What the HD33 post calibration, missed in terms of pure accuracy, it makes up in a forgiving picture. For the average consumer, one who never worried about the settings on their LCDTV, this baby will dazzle you. You won’t have any problem with the color accuracy, you’ll just be able to watch – in 2D or 3D, and enjoy. As mentioned earlier, the HD33 can view 3D content as 2D, but cannot do the reverse. To do so you select left or right settings instead of 3D. That’s ok. Better would be if they offer to also sell glasses that come with two left, or two right eyes, so that someone who can’t watch 3D (like my mom, due to vision issues), can still watch 2D while others see 3D. This Optoma can’t do that, which is unfortunate for some families (and friends). Let’s hope that minor firmware addition will be in their next generation 3D capable projector. Over 1100 lumens is pretty good for 2D, and supports rather large screens. For 3D though figure an effective loss of at least 75%. That still, however, reduces about 1114 lumens to a bit less than 300 lumens. That’s plenty, for a 100″ screen based on the somewhat absurdly low 3D brightness standard. In terms of 2D however, the 37 ft-lamberts that measure out with a new lamp in 2D is way more than the 12 ft-lambert minimum that theaters standardize on. For 3D though that will be less than 9 ft lamberts – only 4.5 when the lamp is near replacement. Way down from what we normally consider OK, although the 4.5 is still almost double the SMPTE standard for 3D, which was probably seriously compromised by the limited brightness of 3D capable digital projectors for the cinema market. Bottom line, in 3D with a new lamp, the HD33 is only slightly less bright than the average 2D movie theater. By comparision, it’s probably 2-4 times brighter than 3D at your local cineplex (which most folks find a bit dim).C CFI – PUREMotion, on the HD33 is a nice bonus. We’re not used to what are generally “entry level” projectors sporting a major enhancement feature like CFI. Oh, you can live without it, for sure, but, I always figured projectors like the Optoma HD33 or it’s older 2D HD20 predecessor, as home entertainment projectors, are more likely to be used for a lot of sports and TV viewing, relative to movies. As such, with the sports, CFI is always nice to have. Low cost projectors from the likes of BenQ, Epson, Mitsubishi, and Sanyo, for example, all lack CFI even though they are all in the same price range. Kudos to Optoma for including creative frame interpolation on a projector in this class.

In the week plus I’ve been viewing the HD33 in my dedicated theater, it’s done a fine job. Oh, I’ve got a bunch of projectors here that can do better work in 2D, in some cases far better, such as my JVC RS20, or the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB that Epson will be wanting back soon. The thing is, you also get 3D that’s pretty much comparable to that found on projectors 2 to 8 times the price. That is impressive. What it loses in pure 3D picture quality (not that much) it makes up with better than average 3D brightness.

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