Optoma HD 806 1080P 1-Chip DLP Video Projector Reviewed

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optoma-hd-806-projector-review.gif1080P is the latest benchmark resolution everyone wants for his or her home theater and media/gaming room. Achieving that high resolution up on a big screen totally changes the degree of immersion one experiences. Usually, a big front-projection image needs to be observed in a totally darkened room, like a movie theater, which limits ease and frequency of use. Thankfully, Optoma has released the third in a series of recent one-inch (actual 0.95-inch) DMD single-chip 1080P DLP front projectors capable of a claimed 2,000 ASNI Lumens of light output, which is sufficient to light up a big screen (up to 106 inches diagonally) in a room with some degree of ambient light. The (reported) 8,000:1 contrast ratio is certainly respectable enough to portray both light and shadow detail with equal complexity, powered by a 300-watt UHP user-replaceable lamp with an expected bulb life of 3,000 hours, and a replacement cost of less than $500 USD. Images are rendered through a 1.2:1 manual zoom lens, with a 17-step auto iris system that features a +/- 36 percent vertical lens offset (but no horizontal shift) and (amazingly) the option to accept an accessory 2.35:1 anamorphic lens adapter, making possible the use of the full DLP panel resolution (2,073,600 pixels) during the viewing of scope widescreen films (no more black bars) completely automatically. 

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The proprietary Optoma Image AI-II• three-stage video processing technology offers a 10-step gamma adjustment and feeds signal to the new brightness enhanced color wheel (necessary in a single-chip color projector) that spins at two times the refresh rate and is composed of six sections: red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow. This allows for an amazing 1.07 billion colors to be displayed. The generous input options include two HDMI 1.3 jacks, one DVI (both A & D) with HDCP, one component video input, RGB on D-sub HD 15-pin for your computer, one S-video jack, a legacy composite input on RCA jack and, finally, an RS-232C control port. The projector can accept signals from 480i (NTSC) and 576i (PAL) up to 1080P at 24, 30, 50 and 60 fps and is therefore compatible with all current formats used throughout the world. The tiny (16 inches wide by 4.6 inches high by 12.2 inches deep) 10-pound, white plastic-cased portable Optoma HD 806 is priced at a very fair $5,199 retail.

Given that people typically live, work and enjoy much of life in environments that feature ambient light, it seems a shame that there aren't more solutions that address making a really big video image (less than 80 inches diagonally) both bright and affordable. Well, the multimedia Optoma HD 806 has both, while preserving the image quality found in their earlier 1080P single-chip home theater front projectors, like the HD81LV, HD81 and HD80. There are quite a few 1080P projectors available these days at this price point, and most are well-suited to completely dark viewing conditions. These include the HD81 and HD80.  Now, with the HD 806, a new side to daylight front-projection viewing can be seen and appreciated. The measured performance (after calibration) of 1,089 ANSI Lumens (although understandably lower than the rated output of 2,000, but still almost twice that of the HD80) is still more than bright enough to compete with ambient light in a lit room and still look amazingly good. Given a high-quality HD source, such as a Sony Playstation 3 and a white wall or, better yet, a professional screen like my 106-inch Stewart StudioTek 130 (non-perforated), action films and video games take on a much more compelling quality and, because of its light weight (10 pounds) and simple manual zoom, focus and vertical shift adjustments, one can easily take this projector almost anywhere and get a solid, detailed, colorful image quickly. There is certainly more than enough contrast range for low to medium interior lighting conditions, such as would be found in an average living room during the day; I measured a good CR performance of 1,257:1.

The newly designed six-segment double-speed color wheel offers a rich palate of hues and tones that are specifically tuned to look properly saturated and accurate under "lit" conditions. The generous input apron allows for sufficient space to get one's fingers and several connectors in and out fairly easily, and the legacy analog inputs make this projector a good choice when connecting to an older Xbox, Nintendo Wii or PS2 gaming systems. If your penchant is for widescreen movies, this projector offers an add-on anamorphic adapter that moves into and out of the way on an included sled that is good for either ceiling or tabletop installation. The projector automatically senses the incoming signal's aspect ratio and processes for perfect geometry, every time. The AI-II• three-stage video processing allows for the ability to set up individual picture memories for each input, allowing some real fine-tuning during a full calibration, which this projector takes to very well.

Read more about the Optoma HD 806 on Page 2.

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