Things are really heating up in the world of 3D projection. At the time of writing, we’ve recently seen excellent new 3D projectors from Sony and Panasonic, we’re about to take delivery of Sim2’s new Nero 1 3D model, Epson’s new remarkably cheap 3D models are inbound in the next couple of weeks, and JVC’s second generation of 3D projectors are due by the end of November.
And then there’s Optoma. The brand has announced two new 3D projection models with remarkably affordable prices: the £2,400 HD83 and the £1,350 - yes, £1,350 - HD33. The HD33 will be getting our attention soon. But on our projection stand right now is the HD83, which we’re hoping will deliver mid-range 3D thrills at a less than mid-range price...
The HD83 is passably easy on the eye. Its elongated shape and quite large footprint make it quite distinctive, as does the way the top panel curves round to follow the shape of the centrally mounted - and promisingly large - lens. Its matt black finish looks and feels plasticky, though, and we’ve never been particularly great fans of the sort of ‘ribbed’ finish used down the HD83’s sides and front.
The one good thing about the gloss-free black finish is that the projector pretty much ‘disappears’ when installed in a darkened projection room.
Under a long overhang on the HD83’s rear can be found a more than acceptable collection of connections. The two HDMIs are built to the v1.4 specification for full HD 3D compatibility, while other highlights include a component video port, a D-Sub PC port, two 12V trigger ports, and an RS-232 socket to aid integration of the HD83 into a separate control system.
One final, telling jack is a DIN socket for attaching the projector’s 3D Sync transmitter. Which means, of course, that the HD83 does not have a 3D transmitter built in. This isn’t necessarily a big deal, though - especially as the transmitter itself is unfeasibly small and is provided free of charge. Our only complaint would be that its cable is very short, limiting your placement options.
Intriguingly, the transmitter and Optoma’s active shutter glasses - two pairs of which are included with projector - use RF technology rather than the usual Infra-Red system. This proves an astute move, as during our tests the sync signal remained rock solid from start to finish, even if we moved around the room.
The glasses are rechargeable using a provided USB cable, enhancing the HD83’s value potential even further.
The HD83’s spec sheet reads pretty respectably for what’s currently the cheapest full HD 3D projector we’ve seen. Its contrast, for instance, is quoted at 50,000:1 using the projector’s iris adjustments, or a very respectable 700:1 ‘native’. Perhaps even more important, at least where the HD83’s 3D aspirations are concerned, is its fairly impressive quoted brightness output of 1600 ANSI Lumens, which should prove handy in combatting the inevitable dimming effect of the active shutter glasses when watching 3D.
The projector is also reckoned to only produce 22dB of running noise - though it should be stressed that this figure applies to the projector in its ‘Standard’ mode only, where the lamp is running at a reduced brightness level. The running volume certainly jumps when the lamp’s pumped up for 3D viewing, though provided you avoid the projector’s Image AI lamp setting (more on this later), it remains a smooth sound and so shouldn’t distract much unless you happen to be sat right next to the projector.