How does the Optoma HD8200 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?
This section compares the Optoma HD8200 home theater projector to the competition. You will find our impressions of the Optoma projector as it stacks up to existing projectors we have reviewed, and a couple that are about to ship, and not yet reviewed.
HD8200 vs. Epson Home Cinema 6500UB
Both projectors have a dynamic looking image - pop and wow, if you will. The Epson, however has far more muscle in terms of lumens, if you need to deal with intentional or unintentional ambient light. We're talking 1566 measured lumens vs. 660 for the Optoma. Thus, for example, those who want to watch HDTV/TV (especially sports) with some lights on, will find the Epson has a big advantage. For most serious movie viewing, on the other hand, the two projectors are almost identical in brightness, with the Optoma's measured 525 lumens just slightly beating the Epson's 491.
On the plus side for the Optoma HD8200 it definitely offers a slightly sharper image. As I state repeatedly, all of the 1080p projectors look pretty sharp, but some are sharper than others. You don't really notice until you have seen two side by side, but do be aware that this small difference exists. It is, in my opinion, more visible with digital content, such as HDTV sports and general programming, than say movies, where other factors, including the grain of the film tends to soften the overall image.
Placement flexibility is all in favor of the Epson. It can be placed closer to a given sized screen, or much further away. In addition it can easily be rear shelf mounted in most room setups. The HD8200 - despite its strange vertical lens shift setup, is not suitable for shelf mounting.
Black level performance of the HD8200 is actually very good, but no match for the Epson, which is still the champ in the under $3500 price range. Still, the Optoma is not bad, at its best. The issue though is the dynamic iris. Without it, the black levels on the HD8200 are not that impressive, and with the dynamic iris engaged, the iris action is more visible than on most other projectors using one. (You can see good side by side images comparing black level performance in the HD8200 review. The Optoma also has a very slight advantage in terms of dark shadow detail.
When it comes to audible noise, the HD8200 definitely could be quieter, we considered it the noisiest projector in the price range. Oh, it's not really loud, but for those really wanting a pretty quiet projector, look elsewhere. The Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, it should be noted, is also not particularly quiet, in fact, the Epson specs would indicate that it is a touch noisier. My own take is that the Epson, in full power, is slightly quieter. This difference won't be enough to factor into a decision.
And that finally brings me to overall picture quality. Despite the assorted advantages mentioned above, the Optoma HD8200 (if you can get over that iris action), really does put up an impressive picture. Post calibration I give it a slight advantage in terms of color accuracy, compared to the Epson. I do favor the HD8200's skin tones over those of the Epson.
The HD8200 will have strong appeal to those that favor the "look and feel" of DLP projectors, when compared to the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB.
One key issue, however is pricing. The HD8200 is sold through local dealers only, and internet pricing is scarce to say the least. As such, it is at the high end of our artibrary $2100 - $3500 street price range, that we used in our recent Comparison Report. The Epson, on the other hand, streets at no more than $2500 right now with current rebate. That's close to a $1000 difference, best we can tell.
Add it all up, and for all but diehard DLP fans, the Epson is likely to be your choice.
Optoma HD8200 vs. Mitsubishi HC7000
This is a similar comparison to the one above, but with exceptions. First, the HC7000, like the Optoma HD8200, is sold through local dealers only. I suspect that the HD8200 still costs more, but these two should be within a few hundred dollars of each other, at least in the US.
The HC7000 is an exceptionally sharp 3LCD projector and I consider it to be comparable with the HD8200 in sharpness.
While the HC7000's black levels aren't quite as good as the Epson's, the Mitsubishi should still have a slight advantage over the HD8200. (I did not have both projectors present at the same time to do any side-by-sides, but did get to do side-by-sides of each, against the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB.
Placement flexibility strongly favors the HC7000 since it can be ceiling or shelf mounted. It only has slightly more zoom range (1.6:1 vs. 1.5:1), but it can be shelf mounted in most rooms, and the HD8200 cannot be shelf mounted
Audible noise - well, the HC7000 is one of the quietest home theater projectors we've ever heard, or, rather, not heard! The HD8200 is one of the louder ones. No contest here, it would probably take at least 3 Mitsubishi's to exceed the audible noise of one HC7000. Although, the HD8200 is quieter than a lot of other DLP projectors out there, and should be acceptable to most in full power mode, the HC7000 is, by comparison, virtually silent, being even quieter at full power, than the HD8200 in low power mode.
Overall picture quality of the two projectors is more different, than better/worse. Skin tones which I consider to the the toughest measure of good overall color are handled excellently by both the HD8200 and the HC7000.
Brightness definitely favors the Optoma HD8200. The Mitsubishi HC7000 is not a bright projector, in any mode. It had the second lowest measured brightness in "best" mode - at only 278 lumens, just more than half of the HD8200's 525 lumens. Thus, if you are choosing almost exclusively for movie viewing, the HD8200 can handle a much larger screen. The Mitsubishi is pretty much limited to about 100" diagonal or less (with typical gain screens). When it comes to brightest modes the HD8200 still has the advantage, though far less significant - 660 lumens vs. 536 lumens.
All considered, that makes brightness, audible noise and placement flexibility probably the three key deciding factors between these two. (Brightness - favors Optoma, audible noise and placement flexibility favor Mitsubishi.) Black level performance, including the iris artifacts of the HD8200, favor the HC7000.
Because of the types of key differences, choosing between these two projectors should be fairly straightforward, but ultimately both produce very sharp images with very impressive color accuarcy (post-calibration), and very good black level performance.