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Optoma ThemeScene HD80 Projector
A few months back the Optoma boys set the projection market alight with the HD73: a DLP projector that gave you Texas Instruments' then bleeding-edge DarkChip 3 chipset technology at a price hundreds of pounds lower than anyone else could manage.
And now they're up to their old tricks again with the HD80: a DLP projector with a full HD resolution that costs just two grand - way less than any of its full HD DLP competitors. But is it really the dream solution it first appears?
A quick glance at its exterior keeps our hopes alive, as it's really quite a pretty thing in its semi-glossy white exterior and extravagant curves. However, we'd recommend that you keep your attentions to a discreet distance, for if you get up too close you can't help but notice that the build quality seems a little flimsy - especially in the all-important area of the lens barrel and zoom/focus ring, which all appear extremely plasticky. Hmm.
There's absolutely nothing not to like about the HD80's connections, though. For starters they include no less than three digital video inputs: two HDMIs for HD video sources, and a DVI that can be used for digital PC connection. Plus there's the component video jack now expected as standard on any HD device, and a couple of extras designed to catch the eye of the custom installation market: a 12V trigger output for automatically firing up a motorised screen, and an RS 232 port for system control.
Closer inspection of the HDMIs reveals that they're built to the new v1.3 standard, enabling compatibility with the much-vaunted but never-seen Deep Colour standard, for delivering enhanced picture quality from suitably encoded HD discs. We actually have our doubts that any Deep Colour film titles will ever appear commercially, but hey; if they do, then the HD80 will be more than happy to show them.
Two further HD-friendly tricks are a pixel-for-pixel mode that removes overscanning when showing 1080-line sources; and support for the hot new 1080p/24fps video standard used to master the majority of movies to Blu-ray and HD DVD discs.
The ability to accept video in this format, so the argument goes, means that images can travel from disc to screen with less picture-spoiling disturbance from the internal processors of either the Blu-ray/HD DVD player or the projector.