We honestly never thought we’d find ourselves quoting Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren in a projector review. But it’s a simple fact that the first phrase that sprung into our heads as we started to watch Optoma’s HD33 projector was ‘Goodness gracious me’ - only without the, um, dubious Peter Sellers accent...
When you’ve tested as many TVs and projectors as we have, it’s actually quite unusual for a product to inspire such a feeling of surprise, nay shock. Especially when you’re talking - as we are here about a product that sits very much towards the bottom end of its market. But the HD33 really is, on some levels at least, a truly remarkable machine.
The key to this ‘remarkableness’ is its price. For despite costing under £1300, it delivers genuine, active, full HD 3D. Just to be ultra-clear about this, we’re talking about the full HD 3D pictures you can get from 3D Blu-rays, not just the 720-line 3D images Optoma delivers on cheap ‘3D Ready’ projectors aimed mostly at the PC market.
Incredibly, the HD33‘s £1250 price undercuts the previous cheapest full HD 3D projector we’d seen - the Optoma HD83 - by more than £1,000. So cheap is it, in fact, that it pretty much invents a new 3D projection category - and for now, at least, it’s a new category that it’s got all to itself. Meaning it could clean up if its performance is good enough.
The omens aren’t particularly good, though. For the HD83 turned out to be something of a disappointment as a 3D option, despite its much higher price. So common sense would suggest that the HD33 isn’t going to impress us either.
It’s clear right away, though, that the HD33 is no mere ‘strip down’ from the HD83, but a totally different model. It couldn’t look more different for a start. Gone is the startling bulk and scary black colour of the HD83, in is a much trimmer design with a perkier shape and a gloss white finish that looks cute as a bug when sat on a coffee table. In other words, the HD33 has clearly been designed from the ground up to appeal to a more casual, ‘living room’ market.
The only downside to the HD33’s design is the size of the vents down its sides - especially as these really do pump out considerable amounts of heat and even a small amount of light while the projector’s running.
On the upside, giving such a direct outlet to so much heat seems to help the HD33 to run passably quietly. But if you’re sat near to the projector’s sides you might find yourself feeling a bit clammy by the end of a film.