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Optoma HD33 Home Theater Projector Review

Posted on August 28, 2011 by Art Feierman
Optoma's HD33 projector is Optoma's first 3D capable, low cost 1080p resolution home theater projector. Like it's more expensive HD3300 sibling (almost identical but sold through big box houses and local dealers, instead of online, where prices tend to be less), the HD33 is rather capable, and claims to be a very bright projector, something needed for decent 3D. Let's see how good this HD33 is. If you are familiar with Optoma's HD20, the HD33 will remind you of it. They are similar in some areas of performance, though the HD33 looks a bit better.

Specs Preview

Optoma HD33 Specs
Price 1499
Technology DLP
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 1800
Contrast 4000:1
Zoom Lens Ratio 1.2:1 Manual zoom and focus
Lens Shift No
Lamp Life 3000 hours at full power, 4000 hours in eco mode - $249 replacement cost
Weight 10
Warranty Warranty: 1 Year Parts and Labor (3 mo. on lamp)

Optoma HD33 Projector Overview

The Optoma HD33 physically looks good. It seems more finished and has a better mechanical feel than most of the competition around it's price.

It is a single chip DLP projector that's pretty bright. That is to say, it's Best mode, even after calibration is noticeably brighter than most of the home theater projectors we review in their best modes

For a family room type environment and 3D, while also great that the HD33 claims plenty of lumens, it came up well short of claim. That still makes it rather bright in "best mode" but, it's only slightly brighter than the average projector at its brightest, a far cry from the 1800 lumens claimed, which really would have been impressive. More on this later, let's just say we would have loved to have seen something like 1600 hundred of those 1800 claimed, but almost 1200 lumens was it.

Overall, 3D looked rather good. Brightness can be a minor limitation, depending on your screen. This projector, though has generally not looked dim, during viewing in my rooms. It is a bit brighter than any of the previous 3D projectors to roll through here, but for the big LG CF3D. Most of the rest are fooling around in the 600 to 1000 lumens maximum, so very thin when it comes to 3D. Even this projector could really stand to be half again as bright - or more, for really nice 3D brightness.

No matter. 3D and 2D are generally very impressive. Add to that Optoma's first to market with an under $3000 3D projectror, - and they come in at exactly half that - $1499.

For shear value, the Optoma HD33 should be the projector to beat as other models hit the market in the next few months. For the HD33's solid 2D performance, and pretty darn good 3D as well, for a nice low price, earns the HD33 our Hot Product Award.

I viewed my favorite all around 3D disc, Ultimate Wave 3D Tahiti, extensively, in addition, I watched most of Tron, some Monster House, some Step Up 3D, and a variety of concerts and content I've saved on my DVR, including Olympics 3D Tourist, San Francisco 3D (on DirecTV's 103 n3D channel), Yellowstone 3D (107 3net), Tennis 3D (103 n3D), some basketball on channel 106 - ESPN 3D (as well as the X Games 3D), and even Social Distortion in 3D as part of the Guitar Center 3D series.

Give or take the cross talk and or any other artifacts, the 3D was pretty solid. I don't see it being noticeably inferior to some of those projectors selling for 3-4 times the price. I will give the 3D on the Mitsubishi a slight edge, though. (It's the only one I had here, in close proximity to the HD33 arrival.

So, what we have here, is a good entry level projector, not disimmilar to the now older HD20. It's got good brightness, and is better overall, but the real difference, and primary reason for $600 more dollars is the addition of fully functional 3D.

While this projector does a nice job on 3D, remember, it's still very much an entry level 2D projector, although one with some advanced features, such as CFI.

Ok, that's enough of a start, and special features. Let's see how the HD33 projector performs in all the usual areas, from color accuracy to black level performance.

Optoma HD33 Projector Highlights

  • 3D capable, includes supporting both 720 and 1080i/1080p 3D, including Blu-ray 3D and all DirecTV 3D we tested with
  • Bright overall, with exceptionally bright best mode, and above average overall brightness
  • Color performance is good, for the class, calibrates fairly well
  • Black level performance of a typical entry level DLP projector, not bad, but not "enthusiast" calibre
  • 3000/4000 lamp life - very good, in fact, better than average, though some competition does better still
  • Creative frame interpolation for smooth motion, a feature found on few projectors this price or less

Optoma HD33 Special Features

HD33 Lamp Life

For years lamp life stats for most projectors stayed stuck at 2000 hours at full power, and 3000 in eco-mode. This has started improving dramatically in the last 2-3 years. At best we're now seeing some projectors in eco-mode reaching claims of 5000 and 6000 hours. This HD33, rated 3000 hours at full power and 4000 in eco, is slightly better than average, but not a match for the best. As a result, better than average cost of operation, but there are competitors with longer lamp life and therefore lower costs. The MSRP of a replacement lamp is $249, which is less than average. Overall, that helps keep long term costs down!

1.2:1 Zoom Lens

Although 3D capable, the HD33 is still pretty entry level in 2D, and in design. A 1.2:1 zoom lens is typical of low cost DLP projectors. The lens is manual focus and zoom. More on placement, lens offset, on the Physical Tour page.

HD33 Projector 3D

The HD33 home theater - home entertainment projector, is, at this moment, the least expensive 3D projector out there at $1499. Mind you that gets you an emitter, but no active shutter glasses (which are $99 MSRP, so about $200 for a pair.

Unlike early rumors, and even Optoma's own preliminary data sheet, the HD33 is very capable, 3D wise, supporting Blu-ray 3D (has HDMI 1.4a), 3D 1080p HDTV (such as DirecTV).

Overall, 3D performance is good. Crosstalk is nothing to write home about, it's there, and it's comparable to some of the first gen projectors such as the more expensive LCoS 3D projectors. That said, the bar, at least as best I can tell, is the roughly twice the price PT-AE7000, which I haven't reviewed, but when I got a decent look at Panasonic's rollout for the press in Hollywood, it seemed to be cleaner on crosstalk than any previous projector I've seen, and also this HD33. So, not bad, but could be improved!

I watched a wide variety of both Blu-ray 3D content, and HDTV 3D content. I'll leave the gaming to one of my bloggers to take a look at.

The Optoma HD33 does not offer 2D to 3D conversion, such as found on the Sony VPL-VW90ES ($10K!), which is fine. I'm definitely not sold on "pseudo" 3D, especially needing glasses, and being a bit dark.

The HD33 projector options, though, do include 3D to 2D, if need be.

HD33 Creative Frame Interpolation - CFI - smooth motion

The HD33 adds frames between existing ones to improve motion smoothness. Their trademarked name for their creative frame interpolation is PURE Motion. Engaging PURE Motionduring during 24 fps movies, is a bit over the top, certainly nothing any "purist" would want to tolerate. I'll personally, definitely, pass on using Pure Motion - creative frame interpolation, with movies.

I found Low and Medium settings effective on sports. Note, that if the source is 120 hz content (probably 3D), then the CFI will not operate.

Keep in mind not everyone cares. My daughter and her friends barely care whether a movie is in natural 24fps, or is suffering from too much "soap opera" effect, due to CFI. She can quickly tell the difference, but as a college student, growing up with different sense of "video" than I did, just doesn't care, or recognize one as being more "right" or "director's intent" than the other.

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