Optoma HD8200 Projector Review

The two issues of greatest concern with the HD8200 relate to the aforementioned lack of lumens in brightest mode, and some issues with the HD8200′s dynamic iris. The Cinema 1 iris setting is the one I prefer, but you can detect the iris doing minor changes within scenes as light levels in a scene change slightly. It also snaps quickly from a dark scene to bright (or the other way around), probably around 1/2 second after the scene changes. Cinema 2 doesn’t have constant changing issue, but the iris tends to snap into a new position 5 – 8 seconds after a scene change from dark to light (and the reverse). This noticeable adjustment several seconds after the scene change, (when you aren’t expecting it), I find very annoying and could not enjoy watching the projector while in the Cinema 2 iris (“Dynamic Black”) mode. Optoma needs to further refine their dynamic iris operation, if they want the HD8200 to be a significantly better projector. Most projectors today, with dynamic irises, do the job better than the HD8200.

Still, there’s a bright side. Thanks to the HD8200′s Darkchip3 processor, even with the dynamic iris turned off, the HD8200′s black level performance is still better than those standard, lower cost, home theater projectors. It’s just that with its iris off, the difference between its black levels and the better ultra-high-contrast projectors is greater still. For those of us who still consider great black levels to be the “holy grail” of home theater, the HD8200 won’t score well without the dynamic iris in operation, and when it is in operation, (Cinema 1 iris), its action is definitely more visible than with most dynamic iris equipped projectors. Bottom line – Cinema 1 iris should be “ok”, for most people, but there will be a significant number of folks who won’t be happy with its operation.

The HD8200 is a local dealer only projector, and as such is expected to be more expensive than those sold online. In this regard, it most closely competes with other local dealer only projectors, such as the Mitsubishi HC7000, Epson Pro Cinema 7500UB, BenQ W20000 (a bunch more money), InFocus IN82 and IN83 (again, the IN83 is also a lot more money.

Those going the local dealer route, are most likely to be paying that dealer to do the work – installation, calibration, room, and more. Most non-hobbiests understand that if they want the services of a local dealer, they will pay more for the projector. Buy a projector online, and ask a local dealer to install it, and I’ve always expected, you will pay more for the installation, than if you get the projector from the local dealer. Afterall, local dealers have higher overhead, and need to make a reasonable profit.

All considered, the HD8200 earns one of our Hot Product awards. While I initially didn’t think it would qualify, the more I watched the HD8200, the more impressed I became with the overall picture quality (even considering the iris issues). I see the HD8200 as a much lower cost alternative – a “poor man’s” InFocus IN83, and most of you know that I highly regard that projector. It may not be as bright as the IN83, but easily matches and slightly beats the IN83 in black levels, and, while the IN83 has the best color of any projector I’ve reviewed in the last year, the HD8200 isn’t far behind. Good job Optoma!

In next year’s model, though, let’s see a better dynamic iris. With that improvement the next generation may well be one of the very best performers out there. And, a few more lumens in brightest mode, wouldn’t hurt either!

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