The extra brightness also allows the HD33 to deliver a little more colour ‘pop’ in 3D mode, which is again important given how much active shutter glasses can dent colour vibrancy, especially with projectors.
The trade off for the HD33’s much stronger reproduction of dark scenes in 3D and richer 3D colours is that there’s a slightly greyer look to the darkest corners of pictures than you get with the HD83. The HD33‘s full HD 3D images also look a touch softer than those of the HD83. But so far as we’re concerned, overall the HD33’s 3D ‘balancing act’ is much more watchable and engaging.
Especially as the HD33 has another remarkable ace up its sleeve in the shape of its resistance to crosstalk noise. The dreaded double ghosting noise problem crops up only rarely here, and even when you do see it its impact is generally subtle. This is a truly outstanding achievement on such an affordable projector, humbling the crosstalk efforts of many 3D projectors costing far, far more.
It could be argued, we guess, that there’s also a price to pay for the HD33’s 3D performance with its 2D performance. Certainly the brightness that serves 3D so well can leave dark 2D scenes looking washed out and grey compared with how dark 2D scenes look on the HD83. Also, if you don’t calm the brightness down a bit it can cause you to see more rainbow effect (where stripes of red, green and blue momentarily flash up over very bright image elements).
However, we actually found we still ultimately preferred the HD33’s 2D black levels, as at least they manage to deliver a degree of shadow detail that the HD83 seemed to struggle with. Also, in reality the rainbowing is pretty restrained for such a phenomenally cheap projector, only really becoming distracting when you’re watching particularly stark bits of black and white, such as our constantly used Casino Royale pre-credits sequence.
The HD33’s motion handling is again more assured than expected for such a cheap projector, with acceptable judder levels, minimal motion blur, and seemingly none of the dotting noise you sometimes get with motion on cheap DLP projectors. You can remove judder almost completely if you wish via the PureMotion tool, but we doubt many people will find that this delivers a natural look for films.
The HD33 is decently sharp with HD sources too (though some of Epson’s similarly priced 2D LCD models look a little sharper), and colours are both more expressive with their range and more natural than we would have anticipated. The worst that can be said is that we had to calibrate around a slight yellow dominance with 2D and a slight green dominance with 3D, but the HD33 just about has enough colour tools to make this possible.
There’s no denying that the HD33’s 2D pictures lack some of the refinement you’d expect to see with more expensive DLP projectors - including Optoma’s own HD83, notwithstanding that model’s curious shadow detailing issues. Considered fairly, though, in its context of being by a country mile the cheapest full HD 3D projector yet launched in the UK to date, the HD33 is actually such unexpectedly good fun to watch - especially with 3D - that it’s almost silly.