While watching 3D content in the home on a 50-inch plasma is certainly a good time, 3D through a projector on a 100-inch screen is epic. I say "content" rather than movies because my experience has been that sports, certain documentaries and even video games are at least as entertaining as 3D movies and sometimes more so. The problem is that getting a 3D image of that size in the home has, until recently, been cost prohibitive. Enter Optoma, a projector manufacturer well known for their price to performance ratio and makers of projectors for the business, education and home entertainment markets. I've been using an Optoma HD65 for the last several years and couldn't be happier with its performance. The fact that I paid $700 for it is just icing on the cake. The focus of this review is the latest in Optoma's entertainment line - the 1080p, fully 3D capable HD33 DLP projector. The most striking aspect of this model is its price tag, which at $1,500 retail is likely to turn the 3D home theater projector world upside down. Case in point: HomeTheaterReview.com's Adrienne Maxwell recently reviewed the least expensive 3D capable JVC projector, which retails for a whopping $4,500. While I can't speak to its performance, as I haven't had a demo, I can say that I doubt its performance is three times that of the HD33.
• See 3D-capable Blu-ray Players
to pair with the Optoma HD33.
While it cannot be construed as portable, the HD33 measures a reasonable 12.24 inches wide, by 14.7 inches long by four and a half inches tall and weighs just under eight pounds. It features a contrast ratio of 4,000:1 and is plenty bright at 1,800 lumens. It's fully 3D compatible, which means you can use it to watch 3D Blu-rays, broadcast cable or satellite TV signals and video games. Inputs include two HDMI, one component, one composite, one VGA and one S-Video. There's also the standard RS-232 and 12V trigger connectors, the latter of which can be used to control a powered screen. The 3D glasses (not included) use active shutter technology and sync to the projector via a small RF emitter. Some other projectors use infrared, but RF is the superior technology as it will provide better coverage in your home theater. The glasses, while not cheap at $99 per pair, are certainly less expensive than many of the other active shutter glasses
on the market. Optoma also includes another sync mode that allows the use of DLP-Link 3D glasses, which are made by several manufacturers, including Optoma. I actually had a pair on hand from when I tried (in vain) to trick my HD65 projector into displaying 3D content. The Hookup
The packaging of the HD33 was of a sort that I'd never seen before: some strange sort of bubble wrap with long, dense air bubbles that most certainly did the trick in terms of protecting the unit. Truth be told, I didn't pay a ton of attention to the packaging, as I was giddy as a school kid waiting to fire this bad boy up. I connected the HD33 via HDMI to my Cary Audio Cinema 12 processor
, which in turn was connected to my Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
and Sony PS3 game console. It was a good thing I had both Blu-ray players connected, as I couldn't get 3D to work via the Oppo, although preliminary troubleshooting indicated that the problem lies with the Blu-ray player and not the HD33. I stand-mounted it directly behind my home theater seats and used the adjustable feet to get the proper height on the projector. It's worth noting that the zoom and focus controls are manual, but that's to be expected at this price point. It's also worth noting that the HD33 does not have a lens shift feature, so that does limit your mounting options somewhat.
The remote has a nice feel to it and it's intuitively laid out with direct control of the settings you're likely to use most often, such as brightness, re-syncing (convenient when switching from 2D to 3D content), lamp mode, etc.
I plugged in the RF 3D emitter for the glasses, set the projector to its Cinema mode and it was Go time. I have to say that considering this is cutting edge technology, it was a pretty hassle-free setup.Performance
All of my testing was done using my admittedly pedestrian 106 inch Mustang projection screen. That said, I don't think people in the market for a $1,500 projector are going to be using a screen that costs thousands of dollars, such as Stewart Filmscreen's interesting new Daily Dual
. It's a cool design that is basically two screens in one, with one optimized for 2D viewing and the other for 3D. Don't let this scare you away, as I paid $130 for my screen and it looks great with both 2D and 3D content. That said, you can certainly get a better picture than I experienced with a higher end, higher gain screen, but my point is that unless you're a discerning videophile, I don't think it's necessary with this projector.
Read more about the performance of the Optoma HD33 3D projector on Page 2.