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Optoma HD8600 - Review Summary-2

Posted on December 6, 2009 by Art Feierman

Fancy features

The Optoma HD8600 is well endowed with fancy features. It has, of course, the dynamic iris for better black levels, it's got CFI (Pure Motion) for some types of source material, and other "Pure" (Optoma's marketing term) dynamic functions, including Pure Detail, Pure Color (the #2 setting is impressive). There's also a "Pure" demo mode which allows you to spit the screen, horizontally or vertically, to show the effects of setting changes to the original.

And of course, interchangeable lenses. While the combination of the standard zoom and long zoom barely has the range of many LCD and LCoS projectors, none of those others reviewed can do the ultra short throw of the fixed wide angle lens option. This allows for some very close mounting, or for rear screen projection. Nice touch!

The very bottom line: The Optoma HD8600

It is the combination of the sharp image, the brightness (in "best" and "brightest" modes), and the color accuracy, that lands the Optoma HD8600 our Hot Product award. The HD8600 should also prove to be a serious contender for our Best In Class award or Best In Class, Runner-up award in our upcoming 1080p Projector Comparison report! (still a few more competitors to review).

I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent watching the Optoma HD8600 projector, which is something in the 50+ hour range, last I looked.

I have but one serious complaint, and that is the dynamic iris. Optoma - hear me - per our discussions, the HD8600's iris really should be improved. At this price point, no one wants to turn off the dynamic iris and give up a whole lot of black level, but at the same time, the iris is readily visible on a lot of slower, medium to dark scenes. It doesn't scream "FLAW" but it can be noticeable.

I strongly suggested to Optoma that they take another look, and see what they can do to improve the iris action, to make it a bit less disturbing at times.

Other than the iris, this projector puts up an image that most will rave about. Keep in mind, we tend to really get nit-picky with these better projectors. For that reason I warn you now: Even with all the quibbling, this is a particularly fine projector.

With an improved iris, the HD8600 would pretty much impress just about everyone except the most jaded of us. With the current iris action, though, we have a projector with otherwise excellent performance, that's still impressive, but not living up to its own potential.

Firmware, with an improved iris function, should definitely put the HD8600 up there as fair competition with any other 1080p projector I've seen under $10K, and that includes my RS20, and the newer RS25. Even with the iris improved, the JVC will still have visibly better blacks, (and less image compression) but the color and skin tones are, though slightly different, about equal.

On the plus side, the Optoma HD8600 projector has a distinct advantage in brightness, in sharpness, and a slight advantage in dark shadow detail. (And that's not even counting the generally more dynamic looking image (wow and pop) of the Optoma), especially with a little Pure Color added.

That is likely enough to convince a lot of potential JVC RS25 shoppers to seriously consider the Optoma instead. That said, with the current iris action, I personally would still stick with the JVC projectors. Fix the iris, and I'd personally really consider the Optoma as a viable alternative to the JVC, and you should too. And, I'm serious about th HD8600. I'd hate to give up the black level difference, but I'd just love the extra sharpness, and extra brightness. Interesting trade-off, very interesting!

The ball, as they say, is now in Optoma's court. I have expressed my concerns at a recent conference call, and am waiting to hear back. At this point, however, I have no confirmation or reason to believe any change is in the works. For now, therefore, what you see, is what you get. If Optoma decides to improve the iris, I will be the first to let you know.

I've been trying hard to balance my thoughts on the iris, with the overall value of the projector. Some times in this review it sounds like, "minor detail" other times - it's a " real problem". Ultimately, how you feel about such things will determine which it is for you. I want to say, that while I was well aware of the iris action in a number of scenes, it never ruined the viewing experience. It merely detracted a bit.

As a final thought - I loved the old InFocus IN83 for its overall color, dynamics and especially skin tones, and it was pretty bright. The Optoma HD8600 is probably the closest thing I've seen to it. The Optoma can outmuscle it slightly, is just as sharp, and with iris engaged, produces far superior black levels. In my book this is the new, bright, premium DLP projector on the playground. It just has a couple of rough edges.

Nice job Optoma! Now finish it, with an iris improvement, and you will have a truly great projector.

Overall, the Optoma HD8600 is a very sharp, bright projector with a dazzling image!

Optoma HD8600 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities

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