Projectors

Optoma HD8600 Single-Chip 1080p DLP Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

The HD8600 is a single-chip projector utilizing Texas Instruments’ DarkChip 3 DMD. The interchangeable lens system includes three options all manufactured with extra-low dispersion glass. The standard lens which came on my review unit covers a throw ratio of 1.54 to 1.93. The long throw lens, which costs $500 more, covers 1.93 to 2.90, and the short throw lens, for an extra $1000, is fixed at .77. This would be the lens of choice for a rear-projection or close-up tabletop installation. The case is simply styled with a piano-black top panel and horizontal grill slats around the front and sides. The lens is dead-center with rings for focus and zoom adjustments. Installing it was a snap with its camera-like bayonet mount. A flip-up panel on top reveals the lens shift dials. The rear panel has three HDMI 1.3 inputs with deep color support. Analog inputs include one each of component, S-Video, composite and VGA. Control options consist of two 12V triggers and an RS-232 port. This is also where you’ll find the power switch and LED indicators for power, lamp and temp.

The remote is small and efficiently laid out. Discreet power controls are at the top followed by keys for brightness, contrast, Dynamic Black (iris), PureEngine, Brite Mode (lamp power) and direct access to the Color and Advanced menus. In the center is menu navigation and picture mode selection. Next are the overscan and edge mask buttons. The final block has trigger controls and discreets for the different aspect ratios and direct selection of inputs. The handset is fully backlit though most of the buttons have icons rather than text on them. The text labels are printed on the plastic face of the remote and therefore unreadable in the dark. The remote worked well, bouncing its commands off the screen reliably. Also included is a tiny secondary remote with power buttons, menu navigation and an input toggle. This half-credit card sized unit snaps into the HD8600’s back panel and is designed as a backup.

Menu System & Options

The menu system is one of the better designs I’ve worked with and is very similar to that of Optoma’s other projectors. Of course since the HD8600 is a top-line model, every feature Optoma has to offer is included. The first sub-menu is labeled Image and contains everything you’ll need to perform a thorough and accurate calibration. There are seven picture modes labeled Cinema 1 & 2, Reference, Photo, Bright, Graphic and User. An ISF technician can also enable Day and Night modes which are locked after adjustment to prevent further changes. After the brightness, contrast, color, tint, and sharpness controls is the Advanced page. Here we have 10-step noise reduction for interlaced signals, gamma with four presets (all adjustable), PureEngine (detail, color and motion), Dynamic Black (auto iris, two settings), 9-step manual iris, and color settings which takes you to a third page. This page accesses the color temp presets, gamut selection (Native, DLP Cinema, HDTV (Rec 709), EBU or SMPTE-C), the color management system (CMS), RGB gain and bias, color decoder matrix (RGB or YPbPr), and RGB Channel which gates the individual primary colors for decoder adjustments.

The PureEngine menu, which is accessed from the Advanced page or directly from the remote, contains a set of Optoma-specific image enhancements that include choices for Detail, Color and Motion. PureDetail adds edge enhancement which I found excessive. Even on the lowest setting, there was obvious ringing in a sharpness test pattern. The effect was more subtle on actual content. PureColor manipulates the brightness, contrast, color and tint to pump up the image’s vividness and saturation. The effect was pleasing on the first couple of settings but on 5, the maximum, the color looked overblown. PureMotion is Optoma’s take on frame interpolation with choices of Low, Medium or High. The different options govern how much of each frame is de-blurred. The Low setting was still noticeable and really increased the perceived resolution. Motion was much smoother as well. There were no artifacts that I could detect. Finally there is a PureEngine Demo option that lets you set up a split screen to compare the effects of the various PureEngine adjustments.

The Display sub-menu has all the options for aspect ratio to include 16:9 with no overscan, 4:3, Native (no scaling) and LBX for anamorphic lenses. Following that are controls for Overscan and Edge Mask. There are controls for Vertical Image Shift (digital, not actual lens shift) and Vertical Keystone. I always recommend avoiding the keystone correction as it does degrade image quality. The final control is called SuperWide. This is a zoom function that stretches the image proportionally to fill a 2.0:1 aspect screen. SuperWide can be set to Off, On or Auto in which the zoom is adapted to the different aspect ratios used in film content.

The System sub-menu lets you specify the menu location, the installation type, bring up focus grid and white-field test patterns, specify the no-signal background color, and control the two 12V triggers. The B trigger can be set to fire when a 2.35:1 aspect signal is shown in order to activate an anamorphic lens sled, very cool! There is also a sub-menu for Lamp Settings which lets you choose the Bright Mode, view and reset the lamp hours and turn on a lamp replacement reminder. This will warn you up to 30 hours before lamp replacement is needed. You can also specify whether or not to display the Optoma logo on projector startup, or choose one of your own from a screen capture.

The final sub-menu is called Setup. Here you can choose the menu language, disable unused inputs, set the High Altitude mode to increase fan speed, set an Auto Power Off timer, change phase and timing and other options for PC and analog signals, and choose the black level setup for HDMI signals. Finally there is a factory reset that will return the HD8600 to its default settings.