There are a couple of limitations you ought to be aware of, though. First of all, the level of optical zoom the HD80 provides is a bit limited, meaning it might not fit comfortably in your room. We suggest you check your preferred screen size/throw distance measurements with your dealer to be sure the HD80 is compatible with them before parting with your money. Second, tilting the projector evenly to angle a picture up – or down if you’re ceiling mounting it – is made trickier than it should be by some annoyingly fiddly height-adjustment legs.
Limitations aside, it is with bated breath that we unleash the HD80 on a variety of our favourite HD things – and for the most part, it doesn’t let us down.
HD images look exceptionally free of scaling ‘smudges’, for instance, provided you use the 1:1 pixel mode. And the full HD resolution also makes its presence felt in the subtle nuances of the projector’s colour reproduction, as blends look smooth and natural rather than distractingly striped as they can on lesser DLP projectors.
The HD80 produces a startlingly good black-level response, too, balancing subtle shadow detailing with profoundly black areas of darkness in the night-time Shanghai scenes in ”Mission: Impossible III” (Blu-ray), without completely losing them to the sort of grey wash that characterises projectors with contrast problems.
Colours also impress with their mostly vivid saturations, especially if you activate the True Vivid function. And we were relieved to find that despite its relatively cheap price, the HD80’s pictures weren’t regularly troubled by those common DLP problems of the Rainbow Effect and fizzing noise over faces as they pass across the screen.
While these strengths mean the HD80 does just enough to warrant its money, there’s no doubt it falls short of the best of its more expensive rivals in a number of ways.
First and worst, its HD pictures just don’t look quite as uncompromisingly sharp and detailed as they do on most full HD projectors out there. Next, colours might look vivid but they don’t always look entirely natural in tone. Third, the picture tends to look slightly short of brightness whenever you’ve got the iris set to a level that best suits black-level response. And last but not least, although the picture is pleasingly free of scaling noise, general dot crawl interference is more rife than we’re entirely comfortable with.
By the standards of a typical £2,000 DLP projector, there’s plenty to like about the HD80. By the standards of most full HD projectors, however, a gentle softness to HD presentations means that it doesn’t live up to its full HD billing quite as satisfyingly as we’d really like it to.