Projector Reviews

Optoma HD8200 Home Theater Projector – a Second Look

UPDATE: The Optoma HD8200 Review has been posted.

Greetings!

Confused yet?  The reason I’ve titled this a “Second Look” despite having not written a first look: My opinion of this projector has changed a fair amount from my original assessment (and, I might note, part of that shift is courtesy of one of the folks that commented to my blogs).  I decided to skip the 1st look about the Optoma HD8200.  Reason is, I like the HD8200 now, better than in my first few hours of viewing.  Work on the Comparison Report prevented me blogging about the Optoma HD8200 shortly after I received it.

OK, here are my thoughts:

1.  It’s a breakthrough product, in a couple of ways, for Optoma.  First, it sports more zoom range (1.5:1) than the 1.2:1 typical on Optoma and other lower cost DLP projectors.  More importantly, though, it also offers lens shift.

I guess Optoma has finally gotten tired of limited sales opportunities, because none of their other home theater projectors can be shelf mounted, and further, due to the lack of lens shift, and the significant lens offset, Optoma projectors in the past had to be mounted well above the top of the screen, which probably also eliminated about half (maybe more) of those folks looking to ceiling mount.  Those would be the folks with lower ceiling heights – 7 or 8 feet, or even a bit larger.  (Afterall, even using the closest thing to a flush ceiling mount, with an 8 foot ceiling, and a 100″ diagonal screen, the bottom of the screen surface when used with a number of Optoma projectors, would have to be no more than 12 inches off the floor!

Ok, back to the HD8200.  Bingo!  real lens shift!  Problem solved.

UPDATE:  Or, rather a correction. As it turns out, the Optoma HD8200’s lens shift is unequal.  It really doesn’t solve the shelf mounting issue.  If you want to mount the projector right side up (shelf), it can only be inches above the bottom of the screen.  Therefore, you can shelf mount it, but only low, where people moving in front, will pass between projector and screen, and where the image can be blocked partially by chairs, etc.  As they say:  “Oh well!”

back to the original blog:

2. Another aspect though is throw distance.  With the HD8200, they didn’t do quite as good a job. While the 1.5:1 zoom is a real improvement, the range is still pretty short throw, for that 100 inch screen, the max distance is about 16.5 feet (about the same as the BenQ W5000.  That means for shelf mounting, some folks will find their rear wall, to be too far away.  Still, probably half of those wanting to shelf mount should be able to.  I think Optoma would have been better off, if their lens had a range (for a 100″ screen) of 12 to 18 feet, instead of 10.9 to 16.6 feet, that might have made shelf mounting viable for even more folks.

OK, so what we have here, is a real improvement in terms of placement flexibility, but that’s not all.

3.  Dynamic iris.  Most of the older dynamic irises in Optoma projectors were absurdly noisy, loud, fast dat-dat-dat-dat clicking sounds.  I never could watch movies with the dynamic iris engaged, due to the noise, nevermind whether there were any other iris issues.

The iris is quiet on the HD8200!

Optoma has two iris settings.  When I first looked at the HD8200, with the Cinema 1 iris setting, I noticed that minor changes in scene brightness was getting a small adjustment from the dynamic iris, enough to occasionally notice, so I decided to concentrate on Cinema 2.  Well, Cinema 2 definitely didn’t work for me,  seems like from a dark to bright scene, the iris would snap open a very visible amount, but 4-8 seconds after the scene change.

So, recently, thanks to a comment, I decided to go back to the Cinema 1 iris setting.  Yes, I can, in the right scenes, still spot minor changes in brightness, but it tends to be not frequently noticeable, unless you are looking for it.  The main change between dark and bright scenes seems to happen a fraction of a second after the scene changes, and that’s pretty good, and not an isse.

4. Newer DLP technology.  The HD8200 has a new implementation (apparently of Brilliant Color, and other processing from TI.  It also has a 6x color wheel I believe.  But that doesn’t matter – what does:

Rainbows are almost completely gone (from my viewing perspective).  I’m moderately rainbow sensitive, so I can’t speak for this improvement for all of us rainbow sensitive, but I watched Quantum of Solace, all the way through, the other night.  There are plenty of dark scenes, and in them plenty of of the ideal circumstances to “grow” rainbows – fast moving white objects on a black or near black background (or the other way around).

I was about halfway though the movie, when I realized I hadn’t seen a rainbow.  Now I was on the lookout.  I spotted only one rainbow after that, until the credits where they occured more frequently, (but who cares).

I see this as a real plus for Optoma, and for those  rainbow sensitive.  I know I weigh the rainbow effect in with significance in my own projector choices, for my home.  I bought 3 different DLP projectors from BenQ over the years – “despite” the rainbows.  But more recently, with other technologies rivaling or beating DLP in black level performance, I’ve been able to find 3 chip (LCD or LCoS) devices that looked great, without having to go DLP and rainbows.

Look for this technology in other DLP projectors, most likely including BenQ’s summer releases, and anything new from InFocus.  We shall see.

Last thing, then back to the review.   Plenty of brightness in best mode, one of the best.  Brightness in “brightest” mode, though, is only slightly brighter.  Looks like this is a projector for those primarily concerned about movie viewing, and never have more than the minimum of ambient light to deal with.

I must admit, Quantum of Solace really looked great.  I could tell that the black levels were no match for my JVC RS20, but I actually stopped the movie and switched to the JVC for a quick look, just because the Optoma HD8200 looked really good, and I wanted to see, if, overall, there was a great difference.  No worries, the JVC is still easily better, but the HD8200’s overall picture quality is impressive, and the projector, let’s say, should be real competition for BenQ’s W5000, and most of non – ultra high contrast projectors out there.

Other thoughts – it’s bigger than previous Optoma Home Theater projectors, and it’s got clean lines and a black piano finish.  Nice looking!  I hope Optoma has an HD8200-LV – a much brighter version, in the works.

OK, I think I covered the most notable things about it.  For the rest, the full report, real soon.  -art

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