Component Reviews

Optoma HD33 1080p HD 3D/2D Video Projector SRP: $2999; St.:$1499

An incredible 3D home theater performer for its price.

Published on February 28, 2012

Optoma HD33 1080p HD 3D/2D Video Projector

Specs:
S.R.P.: $2,999.00
Street Price: $1,499.00
ANSI Lumens: 1800
Contrast Ratio (Full On/Off): 4000:1
Display Type: 0.65” Single-chip DMD DLP
Resolution: Native 1920×1080 (1080p) 2D/3D
Aspect Ratio: Native 16:9; 4:3 and 16:10 compatible
Image Size: 37.6” to 301.1”
Lens: 1.2X manual zoom and focus
Video Compatible Formats: HDTV (1080i/p, 720p); 480p/I, NTSC, PAL, SECAM
Lamp Life: 3000 hours (4000 hours in eco-mode)
Dimensions: 4.52”H x 14.17”W x 12.24”D
Weight: 10 pounds
3D Glasses Type: active shutter (sold separately)
Warranty: 1 year parts and labor, 90-days lamp

Optoma USA
3178 Laurelview Ct.
Fremont, CA 94538
510-897-8600
www.optomausa.com


The reference home theater components used in this review:

Draper Inc. Onyx 133” 16:9 projection screen, M2500 1.5 gain material
Oppo Digital BDP-93 3D/2D Blu-ray/universal player
Audioquest 10 meter high-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet, Forest model
Peerless-AV PRG-UNV universal flush-mount projector ceiling mount system
Sherwood Newcastle R-965 AV Receiver
BIC America Venturi 7.1 channel loudspeaker/subwoofer system
D-BOX SRP-230 motion control platform and Series IV controller

The software used in this review included the following:

3D Blu-ray Discs: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Green Lantern, Shrek Forever After
2D Blu-ray Discs: Salt, Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Edition, Wall-E
Standard DVDs: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Men in Black II (Superbit)

In August of 2011, Optoma introduced its HD33, a Full HD 1080p 3D and 2D capable projector.  With a very reasonable $1,499 street price, the HD33 not only competes with flat panel 3D displays from a price standpoint, but it is also capable of producing much larger image sizes to maximize the 3D experience.  I was anxious to take the HD33 out for a test drive to see how well it performed.

 

Physical Appearance:

The projector chassis is glossy white in color which makes for less-obtrusive looking ceiling mountings for most consumers.  There are no unit controls located on the HD33 other than the power button and the manual zoom and focus rings.  The connections panel is located in the rear.  Overall, the HD33 has a very sleek and aesthetically-pleasing appearance.

 

Input Connections:

The HD33 incorporates two HDMI 1.4a inputs, one set of YPbPr component inputs, one composite video input, one VGA port, one USB input, one RS-232 input, one 12-Volt trigger and one VESA 3D port for the RF emitter.  There is not an S-Video input nor an audio input as the projector does not have an internal audio speaker.  While an additional HDMI input or two (beyond the two that are included) would have been ideal, most home theater enthusiasts will be pleased with the array of video connections included with the HD33.

 

Installation and Set-Up:

The HD33 can be placed on a table top/shelf or ceiling-mounted.  I chose to ceiling mount the projector for this review and my reference mount of choice is Peerless-AV’s model PRG-UNV.  The PRG-UNV is a flush ceiling mount that is perfectly suited for users that like a mount that doesn’t protrude very much from the ceiling and that securely locks the projector in place.  The projector was placed approximately 15 feet 6 inches away from my reference projection screen, a 133” Draper Inc. Onyx (16:9 aspect ratio, M2500 1.5 high-gain screen).  The lens of the HD33 sat approximately ten inches above the height of the top of the screen.

Next, I directly connected my reference 3D Blu-ray player, an Oppo Digital BDP-93, via my reference high-speed HDMI cable (AudioQuest 10m Forest model).  After plugging in both units’ power cords, I activated the power switch located on the HD33.  I let it warm up for sixty seconds and then I activated the Oppo BDP-93’s power switch.  The HD33 automatically detected the Oppo as the HDMI 1 input source and thereafter projected the start-up screen of the Oppo player.  Manual detection of video input sources can also be done on the HD33 via its remote control.  I quickly fit the display image to the Draper Onyx screen with the zoom ring and then sharpened the on-screen image with the focus ring.

 

Remote Control Unit:

As the HD33 does not have an on-board control panel, the remote control is rather important as it handles all of the projector’s video adjustments.  The remote uses infrared technology and has a blue backlight whenever a button is pressed.  The backlight is adequately bright to view the buttons on the remote even in a low light environment.  Although it may not have a fancy LCD screen, the HD33’s remote fits comfortably in hand and is fairly easy to navigate once its functions are learned.

 


Video Adjustment Options:

The HD33 has an on-screen menu system which is accessible via the remote control.  From the main menu, adjustments can be made to the display mode (the projector’s lumen output varies based upon the display mode selected), contrast, brightness, sharpness, color, tint and advanced functions (including noise reduction, gamma, PureEngine, color settings, RGB gain/bias, and color space).  Included within the PureEngine adjustments is a nice little feature called PureMotion which reduces judder.  PureMotion has three settings and is very useful in making video content with fast action sequences appear less jerky.  Among the more notable remaining menu options are vertical image shift, keystone correction, aspect ratio format, test pattern, lamp settings and 3D settings.

 

RF 3D Glasses:

While the HD33 does support use of DLP-Link 3D glasses, the active shutter RF 3D glasses are my preferred choice here.  The HD33 uses a radio frequency (RF) emitter to synchronize the 3D glasses to the projector.  Since RF does not require a line of sight between the emitter and the glasses (unlike DLP-Link glasses), the RF glasses will not lose its signal should you look down to use the remote or turn your head away from the screen.  The RF glasses are lightweight, comfortable and have large lenses to accommodate those who wear prescription glasses.  My only quibble with the RF design is that the emitter is a small standalone plastic device that might be broken or lost if left around children or pets.  I would like to see Optoma build the RF emitter into the chassis of future models if that is a possibility.  The RF emitter is an included standard accessory with HD33, but the RF 3D glasses must be purchased separately.  The shutter glasses retail for around $75 a pair.

 

3D Performance:

The HD33’s 3D performance is outstanding, especially given its price.  The projector produces a bright image which helps compensate for the natural loss in brightness caused when looking through the lenses of the 3D glasses.  Even though the HD33 has nice brightness, I opted to go with a high-gain (1.5) screen material for a little added boost.  If you plan on watching a fair amount of 3D software, I would recommend a high-gain screen to offset any loss in brightness over the course of the HD33 lamp’s life.  The colors produced by the HD33 in its 3D mode are vivid, bold and accurate.  Images have superb clarity of detail.  Black levels are satisfactory and there is excellent contrast.

Perhaps the biggest contribution of the current 3D technology is the wonderful sense of depth that it creates and I was thoroughly impressed with the level of depth displayed by the HD33.  The spatial relationship between characters in the foreground and their backgrounds was quite amazing.  When watching Shrek Forever After, it appeared as though I could step into the screen and walk completely around the big green ogre.  While ‘pop-out’ effects are highly appreciated by some viewers and considered gimmicky by others, I am in the camp of people who enjoy them.  To that end, the HD33 deftly recreated moments where objects appeared to extend out beyond the plane of the projection screen and into my viewing room.  The HD33 also does a great job of reducing crosstalk/ghosting problems as I did not encounter any in the three 3D movies that I watched.  The bottom line here is that the HD33 creates a fantastic 3D home theater experience that certainly helps draw the viewer deeper into the movie.  (For the ultimate home theater experience, those 3D Blu-ray movies that also incorporate D-BOX motion code are a real treat.  3D video, plus D-BOX’s motion/vibration, is like experiencing a movie in 4D).

 

2D High-Definition Performance:

Similar to its 3D performance, the HD33’s 2D high-definition performance is also outstanding.  Colors are again vivid and bright, images are crisp and highly-detailed, and there is solid contrast.  Black levels are not quite as dark as they are in 3D mode and this is likely due to the darker appearance created by the 3D glasses.  I am mildly susceptible to viewing rainbow effects but they were non-existent with the HD33.  According to Optoma’s engineers, the HD33 has a 6-segment, 3x color wheel when displaying 3D material at 120 frames per second.  The color wheel’s performance is equivalent to that of 6x when displaying 2D at 60 frames per second.  Overall, the image quality is remarkably smooth and film-like with plenty of brightness to spare for rooms with low to moderate levels of ambient light.

 

2D Standard DVD Performance:

To measure the HD33’s deinterlacing and upscaling abilities, I set the Oppo BDP-93 to output a 480i signal from a composite video jack.  Not surprisingly, the upscaled image produced by the projector is softer than and nowhere as sharp as when it is displaying 2D high-definition material.  Colors, though, are accurate and vibrant while the brightness levels remain high.  To my eye, no major artifacts were introduced into the image by the HD33.  Overall, the projector does a good and capable job with deinterlacing and upscaling of standard DVDs.

 

Conclusion:

If you’ve been on the fence about 3D, or you are a proponent of the technology who has been waiting for an affordable 3D big screen option, the Optoma HD33 may very well win you over.  There is no doubt in my mind that the depth and pop-out effects of 3D have a much greater impact when displayed on a large screen and the HD33 enables that to happen.  The projector has better than average brightness and offers a fantastic 3D image with minimal, if any, crosstalk.  Its high-definition 2D picture is vivid, smooth and film-like.  While its black levels are not as deep as higher-end projectors and it does not offer lens shift or motorized zoom functions, the HD33’s positive attributes more than make up for those deficiencies.  Simply put, the Optoma HD33 is an incredible home theater performer for its price.  Very highly recommended!

 

Optoma HD33 Pros:

-Good brightness
-Great 3D/2D image
-No rainbow effects
-Minimal crosstalk/ghosting in 3D
-RF glasses are comfortable and don’t lose sync with 3D signal
-Reasonably priced

Optoma HD33 Cons:

-Black levels are only average
-No lens shift or motorized zoom so there is less flexibility in placement of the HD33
-3D glasses are not included with HD33 purchase

Calvin Harding Jr. 




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