Projectors

Optoma HD33 3D DLP Projector

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The Optoma HD33 3D DLP Projector In Use

I was quite anxious to try a few 3D movies on the HD33 so I pulled out my trusty (and small) stack of titles and put on the glasses. I started with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs knowing it had a few scenes that would show crosstalk, if there was any. First off, the glasses synced up right away without any intervention from me. I used an Oppo BDP-93, which also switched into 3D mode automatically. The projector kicked into its 3D picture mode and the lamp clicked to the Bright setting. Light output was not an issue as I started with nearly 30fL of calibrated light output. I wasn’t able to measure output in 3D mode since I lacked 3D patterns but the picture was still had plenty of punch and brightness.

So was there crosstalk? Not a bit of it. In fact, the 3D effect was pretty much perfect. This is way beyond the gimmick-level 3D that flat panels generate. Having such a large image with no artifacts in front of me gave me a whole new appreciation for this technology. In the ice cream scene, there are lots of small dark objects against bright backgrounds like chocolate chips and kids running around. This is a prime candidate for ghosting artifacts and there weren’t any at all. Only if I tilted my head upward, thus mis-aligning the polarization of the glasses, did I detect the tiniest hint of crosstalk.

The two live-action titles I have, Imax’s Wild Ocean and Grand Canyon Adventure also looked amazing. The opening credits of Grand Canyon show CGI-generated water droplets floating in front of the screen. Since the picture was so large, they literally floated in front of my face. Flyovers of the spectacular landscape were breathtaking and I could feel my equilibrium being affected as I sat there. Undersea shots in Wild Ocean literally had me surrounded by schools of fish and other sea creatures. The well-saturated color from the HD33 made even monochromatic material pop.

I had a chance to check out two brand new 3D Blu-rays from Disney Pictures – The Lion King and Beauty & the Beast. Hand-drawn animation is a little different than CGI in that objects still appear two-dimensional. They just move and exist on different planes front to back. It’s a neat effect and I enjoyed it. I won’t say it’s better than watching it in 2D, just different. Once again, the color and image contrast were spectacular. Sharpness and detail were also first-rate. This is the best lens I’ve seen on a sub-$5000 projector.

For 2D viewing, I grabbed a few familiar discs. Seabiscuit is always a great film for its natural saturated color and beautiful landscapes. The movie looked fantastic with its bold bright colors and warm palette. Night scenes held up well too thanks to the HD33’s accurate gamma. Blacks aren’t the deepest I’ve seen but they don’t look murky or flat either. The extra brightness more than makes up for what the HD33 lacks in black level. I, Robot is a benchmark of image quality with the sharpest and most detailed picture of any Blu-ray I’ve viewed. The HD33’s excellent lens left nothing under the table. Whether the picture was a facial close-up or a wide shot, detail was razor-sharp. The Last Samurai is a great test for a display’s noise reduction abilities. The HD33 exceeded my expectations when I turned off the BDP-93’s video processing. Though I could see a little more film grain, it was far from objectionable. I finished up with a DVD of Nirvana’s performance on MTV Unplugged from 1994. It was pretty soft but I was impressed with the scaling of the HD33 when I set the player to source direct. Detail was only reduced by the smallest amount. The projector didn’t do that well in my video processing tests but actual content looked pretty good. Of course all this is moot if you hook up a decent player which will always give you a better image. Even projectors that have advanced processors like the HQV Reon look better when you let the player handle scaling duties