At least the Optoma ThemeScene HD83’s focus ring is slick and easy to use, though, and the onscreen menus, while not glamorous, are pretty easy to find your way round.
The only downside to them is that they do contain a few important but rather inscrutably-labelled features (such as Image AI), meaning that we’d strongly recommend that anyone buying this projector takes the time to read its instructions manual quite methodically.
The changes that have been brought to the HD83 all reside inside its presets and firmware. And as detailed in Optoma’s own words, they stack up like this: ‘The offset, gamma and colour balance have been tweaked to provide a brighter and more natural colour balance while playing 1080p 24-frame 3D content. The NATIVE colour space setting also now allows for a more accurate representation of the production companies’ enhancements to Blu-ray material in 3D, allowing for a brighter, more saturated 3D image with excellent contrast and black levels.’
While the apparent extent of these improvements certainly seems to support the findings of our initial review of the HD83, they also, of course, raise big hopes for the 3D performance of the current model. So without further ado, let’s don a pair of Optoma’s chunky but effective 3D glasses, and see if all the promised changes – and potentially better-performing lamp – really do make a difference.
Substantial improvements ahoy
Actually, they do. In fact, they make a very substantial difference. Feeding the ‘reborn’ HD83 the same 3D material that caused the original version so much trouble, the results are night and day. Where previously dark backgrounds were so dark they were basically just black holes, now you can make out plenty of shadow details in all but the very darkest of corners. Which is pretty handy, really, when you consider how important background information is to creating a sense of 3D depth.
Even better, unlike with the previous model this vastly superior contrast performance doesn’t require any OTT upping of the projector’s brightness to get the shadow detail information to appear. Which in turn means that blacks can still look decently black rather than grey, and that colours can look much more neutral, natural, and subtly nuanced than they ever did with the previous HD83.
Perhaps because of the sudden increase in visible shadow detail and colour subtleties, it also seemed to us that the Optoma ThemeScene HD83’s 3D pictures looked sharper and more detailed this time round.
All these new-found 3D ‘skills’ join another considerable 3D strength noted with the original HD83: the almost complete absence of crosstalk. DLP technology’s advantage when it comes to response times usually serves 3D well in this respect, and the HD83 is no exception.
All in all, from being one of the projection world’s biggest 3D disappointments, the HD83 has transformed itself into being one of the most watchable 3D performers around – no mean feat when you consider the affordable price bracket it sits in. Maybe that lamp in our original sample really wasn’t working properly.