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Optoma ThemeScene HD82 review

John Archer

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Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82
  • Optoma ThemeScene HD82

Summary

Our Score:

9

Aside from a couple of interesting little diversions in the shape of its ultra-cheap GameTime projectors, Optoma has been a bit quiet lately. Certainly we haven't seen anything really significant on the quality home cinema front from them for what feels like an age. But that's changing - in emphatic style - today, with the arrival in our blacked out test rooms of Optoma's Themescene HD82.

This, as its name suggests, is the long-awaited follow-up to the eminently likeable HD80, reviewed towards the end of 2007. And a run-down of its specifications soon reveals that Optoma certainly hasn't spent the time between the HD80 and HD82 sitting on its hands.

For starters, the HD82 has undergone a complete design revamp, with likeable results. Out go the cutesy but rather overcooked curves and white but flimsy finish of the HD80; in for the HD82 comes a gorgeous black finish, a much larger and immensely heavy chassis, and curves that feel like an organic extension of the projector's innards rather than the doodling of some drunken artist. In short, where the HD80 looked and to some extent felt like a bit of a toy, the HD82 looks and feels like every inch the serious home cinema machine.

This impression merely grows once you start to explore why the bodywork has changed so much. For it turns out that nearly a third of the HD82's depth is effectively a huge baffle, designed to reduce running noise. And this baffle effect works superbly well, making the HD82 run with only a fraction of the noise heard from its predecessor. In fact, it's one of the quietest DLP projectors I've ever come across, particularly if you run it in low lamp mode.

Sticking with the issue of running noise, it also struck me that the customary noise made by the cooling fans was joined by only a little extra whine from the colour wheel that's inevitably found inside any single-chip DLP projector. Optoma claims to have put considerable effort into introducing acoustic dampening into the HD82's construction, using steel in places where it would previously have just used lighter but less absorbent aluminium. Its efforts appear to have paid off handsomely.

The colour wheel I just mentioned is a six segment affair, based around the RGBRGB configuration. Some rival projectors now use RGBCMY six-segment colour wheels, which can generally deliver brighter images. But experience suggests that these sorts of colour wheels also tend to generate considerably more evidence of DLP's rainbow effect problem, where stripes of pure colour appear over bright parts of the image.

This situation seems entirely borne out by the HD82. During my testing period, the only time I noticed the rainbow effect from the RGBRGB wheel was if I flicked my eyes deliberately left and right while something extremely bright was being shown - such as white text credits on a black background. Frankly, under normal circumstances, anyone daft enough to deliberately flick their eyes left and right while watching a film deserves everything they get!

So far as I'm concerned, the HD82's level of suppression of the rainbow effect is unprecedented on a £3k DLP projector. And, for me, this removal of an artefact, which really can distract you from what you're watching, is a hundred times more important than any amount of extra brightness, especially if you've got the projector installed in a properly blacked-out room.

Chocoa

April 21, 2009, 9:51 pm

John, How does this Pj compare with the cheaper Sony Bravia VPL-HW10 and the more expensive JVC DLA-HD350?


- i am intrigued by your comments, as the three Pj's seem all to be highly rated. As I might be in the market for a new PJ and do take issue with the flashes etc., associated with colour wheels (I have an Infocus currently). But of course, ita always a balancing act seeking the 'ideal'. I would appreciate your comments, particularly as you reviewed all three...

Chienmort

December 2, 2009, 9:17 pm

Hi John, Can you give more info regarding your comment on the use of D65?

rejith moosa

July 25, 2010, 2:49 pm

hi john, can you tell me if the difference in perofrmance is really very big between optoma hd82 $ hd20, as much as the price differs? Is it really worth investing that much on hd82 or will you compromise a lot with hd20 as compared to hd82? FYI, I am a movie enthusiast, love going to the movies just for the big screen experience and having on top of my wishlist - a perfect class home theater that can last with me a lifetime even for my next generation (not too expensive and not too cheap, for eg: HD82 can be a bit tight on my pocket but can easily come over it whereas hd20 can easily fit my pocket). I am infact almost decided in going for an hd82. I would appreciate your advice so that if i have to make any last minute changes.

MattyF

December 21, 2010, 12:11 am

You asked anyone to correct you if there is any other projector for a similar price that interpolates an extra frame to 24p to make 48p smooth blu ray images. Well, I have a Mitsubishi HC3200 and it cost me £800 and it has this technology. All Mitsubishi projectors have this.

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