Overall Color & Picture Quality
Dazzling! The HD8600 is bright, it has excellent skin tones, and color overall looks great. As an added bonus, the Optoma has an extremely sharp image. If you didn't know that a few projectors could do a bit better in the blacks department, you'd be hard pressed to find fault with the picture. I just happen to have on some boxing right now as I write. I'm seeing a truly gorgeous picture. You won't find better in any sports bar. It's evening so I can have moderately low lighting, I actually watched with the projector in "best" mode, and it was still nice and bright.
Watching movies, I again, immediately appreciate the lumens, the HD8600 has plenty of punch on my 128" screen, though, of course, it will lose some of that as the lamp gets old.
The picture is naturally vibrant, and that's without using their Pure Color, (their version of Brilliant Color, I presume). With Pure Color on 2, it will bring up the life in dull material. If you like that extra pop, without it being offensive, 2 should do it. I watched a lot of material at 2, and about the same on 0. I tried 4 and 5 both they were over the top. Maybe for animation?
The flaw of the HD8600 isn't overly serious, but it does detract from the overall effort. I speak of the dynamic iris action. Forget the Cinema 2 (iris) mode, its action is way too visible. The iris even seems to "cast a shadow" across some scenes.
Overall the iris is more noticeable on slow moving darker scenes, than many other competing projectors. I watched the scene in Superman: The Movie, with Superman and Lois on the roof garden. The iris softly bobs up and down as the scene slowly changes. It's not overly distracting, it's just more evident than on some other projectors. Similar action is visible in Red October, and for that matter, most movies. Of course, that's one reason why I love my JVC. It doesn't have a dynamic iris! (yet still has the best blacks). But, I digress.
An improved iris would make this an even better projector. It's not a disqualifier, for sure, but a disappointment to what otherwise is, well, dazzling! Well, for that matter, since the iris is only occasionally an issue, let's say the HD8600 is dazzling almost all the time!
The very bottom line on overall image quality and color: The HD8600 looks truly great. The dark scenes could, of course stand to have even blacker blacks but the HD8600 delivers perfectly good black levels for a premium projector.
Only the dynamic iris action, on some darker scenes, blemishes the overall image performance. And that's primarily a technical complaint as you'll only occasionally notice it, and very few likely to overly object. Great picture!