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Optoma HD8200 - Competitors - 3

Posted on December 15, 2008 by Art Feierman

HD8200 vs. InFocus IN83

One might consider the HD8200 to be sort of a "poor man's IN83", in that both are DLP's with really good color handling, but the HD8200 simply isn't dramatically less expensive than the InFocus. I expect that from a street price standpoint, the pricing difference at this time, is probably less than $1000.

Where the two are perhaps closest, is in overall color performance. The HD8200 is extremely good, but the IN83 is simply better. Of the 25 projectors considered in our recent Comparison, the IN83 produced the best skin tones of any. The HD8200 may do a really good job, but it only comes close.

Where the HD8200 has the advantage is in black level performance. Despite the IN83's use of a Darkchip4 DLP chip, compared to the HD8200's Darkchip3, the IN83 lacks a dynamic iris, and you can see the difference in black level performance. That's a particularly attractive advantage for the Optoma.

Brightness, on the other hand, is "all InFocus" Consider the substantial differences: In best mode, the Optoma's very respectable 525 lumens is easily trumped by the InFocus'es "Best In Class" 787 measured lumens. It gets even more significant when comparing brightest modes where the HD8200's 660 lumens pale in comparison to the IN83 projector's twice as bright 1382 lumens. Want a larger screen? No comparison!

Placement flexibility favors Optoma. It's zoom has that additional range (1.5:1 vs. 1.2:1), but lens shift also comes into play. The Optoma, like the InFocus cannot be rear shelf mounted, but the lens shift does help significantly even with ceiling mounting. The IN83 has a lot of fixed lens shift, requiring it to be placed well above the top of your screen. This is a huge problem for anyone wanting a larger screen but not having fairly high ceilings in their theater. Let's say you have room for a 120" diagonal screen, but an 8 foot ceiling height. The IN83 just won't work in that situation. The Optoma might not work out well in that situation either (but that would be due to lumens, not placement issues).

Overall, despite the lower price of the Optoma (and better black levels), I strongly favor the IN83 (if it will place in your room) for its almost flawless color, and extremely bright image.

Optoma HD8200 vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000

For the most part, in this comparison, it's almost "all Panasonic". True, in absolute best modes the HD8200 is much brighter, but Panasonic does very well in it's "not quite best" modes, where it can actually outpower the Optoma. (Panasonic: 293 lumens and 683 lumens respectively, vs. the HD8200's 525.) In brightest modes, the Panasonic has a distinct, but not drastic advantage with 824 lumens vs. 660. In brightest mode, that makes the Panasonic on the low side of average, while the Optoma is the second least bright of 11 projectors we considered in its "price range" in our report.

Black level performance favors the Panasonic. True, it's not by a large amount, but enough to be considered a moderate factor for those really into black levels.

Color accuracy and overall picture quality, does favor the Panasonic, though slightly. In terms of skin tones, both projectors I would say are comparable. This is where that slight advantage in black levels tilts the balance in favor of the PT-AE3000.

Placement flexibility is a no brainer - that is, not even close. The Panasonic is as flexible as it gets. I won't repeat the limitations of the HD8200 again, as it's mentioned in most of the comparisons above.

Special features is another strength of the Panasonic PT-AE3000. It's motorized zoom and focus allow for its "anamorphic lens emulation", a feature that had received a lot of interest, and has no doubt swayed many buyers. It's CFI (creative frame interpolation is the best we've seen, although, in fairness, I'm taking a new look at the PURE feature set of the HD8200 to see what it can do.

Where I really like the Optoma HD8200 over the PT-AE3000, is in the "pop and wow" factor area. The Optoma has that rich dynamic look overall, whereas, by comparison, the Panasonic seems very muted. (This by the way is also a reason I favor the Epson 6500UB over the Panasonic).

The other strength of the Optoma is image sharpness. It definitely offers a sharper looking image compared to the PT-AE3000, which is strictly average in this regard.

Pricing also favors the Panasonic, by a rather dramatic amount, as of the time of this writing.

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