Posted on March 29, 2009 Art Feierman
The HD8200 projector is Optoma’s latest entry, and, in my opinion, a significant leap for Optoma. Picture quality is very good, placement flexibility dramatically improved, and, check this – at least for me – the HD8200 sports improvements that have essentially eliminated the rainbow effect for many of us. (Most folks are not at all sensitive to rainbows, but I consider myself to be moderately sensitive.) In addition, the HD8200’s dynamic iris is near silent – as it should be. My experience with most recent 1080p Optoma projectors has been that their iris has been excessively noisy, enough so that I couldn’t use it. Considering that I really don’t have many issues with projectors with fairly loud fans, to have an iris so noisy that I can’t leave it on, means that the iris noise on older models was a problem for most people.
The HD8200 is one of the most expensive projectors considered in the mid-priced Class in our recent comparison report. I didn’t have a chance to spend much time with it before publishing the Report. With a list price of $4999, and a MAP (minimum advertised price), I believe, of $3999, it was questionable as to whether this projector – officially sold only though local dealears – could be had for $3500, but that price did seem reasonable, after much searching the internet. In reality, perhaps the HD8200 belonged in the higher priced tier, but the mid-priced tier is where I ended up placing it.
Keep in mind that Optoma offers a slightly less expensive version called the Optoma HD808, which does sell online for about $3000 at this time. The HD808 home theater projector seems very similar. The primary difference is that the HD8200 uses a Darkchip3 DLP chip, while the HD808, I believe uses the less expensive Darkchip1 or Darkchip2. The HD808, because of the different chip, claims 15,000:1 contrast compared to the HD8200’s 20,000:1. The HD8200 claims an extra 100 lumens as well.
Overall, the Optoma HD8200 is very bright in “best” movie viewing mode, and on the dim side in brightest mode. For those only interested in movie watching, or who don’t mind other viewing (general HDTV, TV content, and sports) in an almost completely darkened room, the HD8200 is capable of handling fairly large screens. I’ve been watching it on my 128″ Firehawk G3, and it’s definitely got the necessary horsepower with the room darkened. Reducing the screen image to 100″ diagonal, and it’s downright bright!
And of course, as a DLP projector, it exhibits those characteristic rich colors, sharp image and good depth that still have many folks swearing loyalty to DLP. That is even though DLP projectors, as a group, no longer have any black level advantage (their strong suit for years). In fact, the HD8200’s black level performance is pretty good, but really no match for those ultra high contrast LCD projectors it competes against. All considered the HD8200 seems to be on the expensive side, but that is typical of projectors sold only through local dealers.
The combination of a really impressive picture, more placement flexibility than any competing DLP projectors, and lots of lumens in best mode, will allow the HD8200 to be more viable for more potential buyers, that most DLP projectors. The fast (6x) color wheel, and improvements from TI, have dramatically reduced the rainbow effect, affecting far fewer folks than most other DLP projectors. For all of that, and more, the Optoma HD8200 earns our Hot Product Award. It’s pricing, however, low “brightest” mode lumens, and some definite issues with its dynamic iris operation did prevent it from picking up an award in our recent 1080p Projector Comparison Report.
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