Projectors

Optoma HD8300 3D DLP Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

The Optoma HD8300 3D DLP Projector In Use

Takers is a fun crime-caper/thriller based in Los Angeles. The bank robbers are young and pretty, and despite their evil intentions, you can't help but root for them. Color is very saturated with a cool look for outdoor scenes and a very warm presentation for indoor material. The more dimly-lit sequences always looked good with excellent detail and good black levels. It's not quite as deep as the higher-end LCoS projectors but it sure comes close. I really didn't miss my Anthem LTX-500 too much as I watched this film. DLP has really come a long way in this regard and with generally superior light output, makes a compelling choice even in smaller theaters. The clarity and sharpness of a single-chip display like this are hard to equal with the three-panel technologies like LCD or LCoS. It's definitely a good thing when convergence is taken out of the equation.

I've been watching the CGI-based Clone Wars series for quite a while now and I just received Season 3 in my mailbox. Thank you Lucasfilm for finally including a hi-res soundtrack by the way! I really like the way surfaces are presented in these 30-minute episodes. Rather than the 3D textures found in most computer animation, objects have a painted look which gives them a lived-in feel that I think we're all accustomed to from Star Wars films. Of course, CGI looks good on practically any display but a few projectors provide that little extra punch; the HD8300 being one. Space scenes looked great with sufficiently black starfields and ships that moved smoothly as the camera panned across the screen. Color was also superb with bold, bright hues and a very natural look. Contrast was also deep and three-dimensional thanks to the DarkChip3 imager from Texas Instruments.

Staying with the latest from Lucasfilm, I managed to get in a viewing of Star Wars Episode 3, The Revenge of the Sith. These new Blu-rays are extremely well-done and Episode 3 is by far the best of the new trilogy. This is reference-level material all the way and it was nothing short of breathtaking on the HD8300. Even the most subtle textures and color gradations leapt off the screen in razor-sharp hi-def glory. My favorite scenes were the panoramic daylight shots of Coruscant. The digitally produced cityscapes were incredibly realistic with bright color, high contrast and amazing detail. Motion during panned shots (and there are many) was buttery smooth. Not smooth like the frame interpolated kind of smoothness (which I had turned off) but a perfect film-like motion that highlights the super-fast response of DLP technology and the cadence-matched performance of Blu-ray. Even space scenes looked nice and black thanks to the excellent iris control. Optoma has really improved this aspect of their products. I never noticed any brightness pumping at all.

Next up was the somewhat odd but entertaining Cowboys and Aliens. Being that it's a recently released film, I expected a bright, sharp image, and the HD8300 did not disappoint. Every bead of sweat, blade of grass, tumbleweed, splinter of wood; you name it, detail just popped. I literally wanted to reach out and touch what I was seeing. This is a superb transfer, nearly flawless in fact, and this projector made it a sight to behold. This is DLP at its best and the level of clarity is almost intoxicating. To make a picture look this good on a big screen, viewed close up, a projector has to be really good and this one is.

Nirvana Live at the Paramount was originally shot on high-speed 16mm film and it shows. Detail is soft with a high level of grain throughout. Black levels are also elevated which all adds up to a torture test for any display. Lesser projectors would have a hard time rendering any dimension at all but the Optoma takes care of business very well. Close-up shots of the performers' faces were not loaded with detail but everything that made it onto the film, made it onto my screen. The gritty look fit the material perfectly and I was instantly transported to the Paramount Theater in Seattle on Halloween, 1991. I was easily able to see detail in the audience shots, or when the lights dropped to low levels. The HD8300 made the most of some very challenging content.

Of course 3D is the main reason for this new model from Optoma so I pulled out my small but familiar stack of titles. I sampled the Imax films Grand Canyon Adventure and Wild Ocean. I saw no crosstalk whatsoever at any time. Of the 3D displays I've reviewed so far, DLP is still the undisputed champ when it comes to artifact-free images. Putting in any 3D Blu-ray automatically kicks the projector into the 3D picture mode. This includes turning the lamp to the high setting which is necessary to overcome the light loss caused by the glasses. All calibration settings are still available in this mode. Optoma's end result is a perfect balance of light levels between 2D and 3D. I didn't have to make any extra adjustments to see a perfectly accurate image. The glasses are also the most comfortable I've used. Other brands manage to dig uncomfortably into my nose after 30 minutes or so. Optoma's soft rubber bridge and light weight mean I can wear the glasses for two hours or more and feel nothing. The RF sync allows me to turn my head without breaking the signal and the emitter sits out of the way above my head; very cool!

In addition to the Imax titles, I also watched A Christmas Carol. This is a conversion done by Disney that is of superb quality. The 3D effect is always just right, never too much or too little, and never distracting. The challenge of this film is its darkness. Almost the entire movie takes place at night. Even the daytime street scenes look gray thanks to overcast winter weather. Though the HD8300 is one of the brighter projectors I've reviewed, I found this title too muted for my taste. Detail was always there thanks to accurate gamma and a proper calibration but I was wanting for more brightness. I attribute it more to the movie than the projector but if 3D is going to succeed in the marketplace, displays need to put out more light or the glasses need to let in more light. Other discs I watched like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Meet the Robinsons looked great since they make generous use of bright images and bold colors. No matter what title I watched, there were no ghosting artifacts at all. I was even able to turn and tilt my head without penalty.