Projectors

Optoma HD8300 3D DLP Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Design of the Optoma HD8300 3D DLP Projector

The HD8300 uses the same case design as its predecessor, the HD8200 except for the finish of the top which is now matte instead of gloss. Cooling fins extend around the front and sides of the projector and the optics are center-mounted. Lens controls are manual, with rings for focus and zoom, and dials underneath for shift functions. At the minimum vertical shift, the offset is 5% above the lens axis which means the projector will need to be mounted slightly above or below the screen. The zoom and focus controls interact which makes getting the size and sharpness right a bit more time-consuming. The final result however is outstanding. DLP usually provides a sharp image but the HD8300 is well above-average. This is one of the best lenses I've seen at this price point. A grid pattern is provided in the System menu to aid in setting the geometry. To provide another means of tweaking image alignment, the four feet are independently adjustable.

Optoma has always relied on Texas Instruments' DLP technology in its home theater products. The HD8300 uses the latest iteration of that with DarkChip3. This is the same chip used in the $13,000 Samsung/Joe Kane projector I reviewed back in 2010. The most significant feature of this newer chip is its superb black levels. It's not quite as black as the top LCoS projectors out there but it's a lot closer than ever before. It was obvious when I first turned the unit on that contrast was noticeably improved over last year's models. This single-chip implementation with its 280-watt bulb puts out plenty of light which is so important for a good 3D presentation. The other plus of a single-chip DLP is the lack of any convergence error. Image clarity is governed completely by the lens and Optoma has done extremely well in that regard. Only the more expensive models I've reviewed from Runco are in the HD8300's league for clarity and perceived resolution.

The input panel is around back and has a full complement of connection options. Two HDMI 1.4a jacks are included for full 3D support. Optoma provides one each of component and composite video. There is no S-video. There is a VGA port for computer support along with a VESA 3D DIN connector for the included 3D sync emitter. Like the HD33 I reviewed recently, Optoma's 3D sync is via RF rather than IR so the transmitter can be left near the projector. No line-of-sight is needed for the 3D glasses which are sold separately; super-convenient for both installation and use. Control ports include two 12v triggers and RS-232. The triggers are customizable in the menu to activate a motorized screen and/or slide an anamorphic lens in place when a particular aspect ratio is selected. Also on the back panel is a small secondary remote. This can control all the basic functions of the projector when the primary remote is MIA.

The remote will be familiar to anyone who has used an Optoma product before. It is compact but provides one-touch access to most projector functions. There are separate power-on and power-off keys; a nice touch when programming theater control systems. The next set of buttons brings up menus for setting brightness, contrast, gamma, iris, CMS and lamp power. In the center of the wand are the menu controls. On the bottom half are more keys for PureEngine, aspect ratio, and a full set of discrete input selectors. Backlighting is a soft blue and activates when any button is pressed.

Included with my review unit was one pair of glasses and the RF emitter. The emitter is always included with the HD8300 and the glasses are an extra $99 a pair. Though they feel heavy in the hand, their soft nosepiece and good balance make them the most comfortable active glasses I've encountered yet. If you think they look just like the ones pictured in my recent HD33 review, that's because they are the same. All Optoma 3D projectors use the same glasses and RF emitter. Also included is a USB cable for recharging; no battery changes!