Shifting our attention to 2D, hopes are now high that Optoma’s changes will deliver lots of good here too. And so they do - though not quite as all-round effectively as they did with 3D.
Pictures certainly look brighter and more contrast-rich, which in turn leads to colours looking more nuanced and more natural. There also seems to be a slightly crisper look to HD images as a result, most likely, of us being able to use more neutral image settings than we needed to in order to get the previous Optoma ThemeScene HD83’s 2D pictures looking in any way balanced.
With the latest HD83 able to produce good brightness levels while working less hard than the previous version, it’s also easier to be very impressed by how little noise its pictures display. Particularly gratifying is the almost complete absence of DLP’s dreaded rainbow effect - no mean feat on a single-chip DLP projector that costs just £2,400 and pumps out 1600ANSI Lumens of maximum brightness.
Thanks to all the strengths just described, bright scenes look nothing short of superb on the latest HD83.
There does remain an issue with the HD83’s 2D pictures, though: their black level response. Watching very dark scenes reveals a distinct grey wash over parts of the picture that should look black. This leads to a few dark colours looking a touch off key too, as well as hiding shadow details so that the darkest corners can look rather hollow.
Trying the simple Gears of War 3 Gamma test (it’s in the game’s video options menu) that we stuck into the original HD83 we tested, we found that while the new HD83 is certainly much better than the previous one, it still struggled more than we would have liked to bring out the left most ‘cog’ on the five-cog scale. Basically we had to turn the game’s brightness almost up to its maximum level again. This is much higher than we’ve had to go with any other projector we’ve tested in recent times, and definitely suggests that the HD83 has had its brightness/contrast balance tuned with 3D in mind more than 2D.
The final thing we should talk about with the new HD83 is its running noise. Happily, with its lamp in standard mode it’s really not distracting at all, even if you opt to use its dynamic iris system. And actually volume levels don’t by any means go through the roof when the lamp is driven harder to support 3D viewing.
It’s difficult to be sure how much the improvements we’ve noticed on the latest ThemeScene HD83 projector we’ve received are down to Optoma’s firmware tinkering and how much they’re down to the previous sample possibly not having a fully functioning lamp.
But whatever the main cause of the differences, we’re very pleased indeed that Optoma persuaded us to look again at its mid-range 3D model. For while it’s still not quite good enough with dark scenes in 2D mode to earn an unbridled recommendation, it’s certainly a vast improvement on what we saw before. So much so, in fact, that this time round it’s worthy of a qualified Trusted Reviews Recommended badge.