Top of the HD80’s other specifications is its contrast ratio, which, remarkably for such an affordable projector, is claimed to be 10,000:1. However, investigate this outlandish figure a little deeper, and you find that it comes with strings attached in the shape of a manual iris adjustment.
This lets you select how much brightness the projector’s iris cuts out of the image, in a bid to boost black level response. But obviously this means – in a situation more commonly found with LCD projectors – you can only get the maximum contrast range if you’re prepared to make potentially dramatic sacrifices to the image’s brightness.
Given that the HD80 sports an adjustable iris, it’s perhaps surprising that there’s no ‘automatic’ iris adjustment setting, whereby the projector might calculate for itself when and by how much it needs to close the iris to deliver the right sort of black level response. This automated approach is certainly favoured by many projectors that use rival LCD technology.
But then perhaps adding the necessary contrast analysis routines to the HD80 would have pushed its eye-catching price higher. And also, of course, not having an automatic adjustment does at least mean you won’t have to worry about seeing overt brightness ‘jumps’ when an automatic iris fails to make its adjustments subtly enough.
Considering how affordable it is, the HD80 isn’t short of useful adjustments in its onscreen menus. Highlights include gamma adjustments, degamma presets, noise reduction routines, an edge enhancer, Optoma’s True Vivid processing for producing richer colour saturations and, bizarrely, an ‘AI’ system that can automatically adjust the projector’s picture settings in response to the amount of light in your room. Why is this bizarre? Because frankly anyone who spends £2k on a projector and then watches it in anything less than a totally darkened room clearly has a screw loose.
Aimed as it is at a relatively ‘entry-level’ consumer, it’s a relief to find the HD80 an absolute doddle to get up and running. The remote control is unusually well thought out and comfortable; the onscreen menus are well presented and terrifically organised; and the projector carries both vertical image shifting and vertical keystone adjustment to help you get the picture perfectly aligned on your screen.