Optoma HD33 3D DLP Video Projector - Product Review

Optoma HD33 3D DLP Video Projector
Optoma HD33 3D DLP Video Projector - Front and Review Views. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Original Publish Date: 09/04/2011

Introduction To the Optoma HD33

With an MSRP of $1,499, the Optoma HD33 is a very reasonably priced 3D-capable video projector. In addition to 3D capability, the HD33 has a stylish design that is compatible with almost any decor. Under the hood, the HD33 features a native 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 1,800 lumens output capability, two HDMI inputs, and an RF 3D emitter.

The HD33's fan noise is not excessive and it also has a very quick turn-on and cool down shut off time. Optoma HD33 provides great 2D and 3D performance and is also easy-to-use. After reading this review, check out my additional HD33 Product Photos and Video Performance Tests.

Features and Connectivity

1. General Description: DLP Video Projector with 1,800 Lumens of light output, 1920x1080 (1080p) Native Pixel Resolution, and 120Hz refresh rate.

2. 3D Compatibility - Supports all HDMI 1.4a mandated 3D formats, including Side-by-Side and Top-and-Bottom.

3. Lens Characteristics: F=2.55-2.87, f=22.4–26.8mm, 1.2x Manual Zoom and Focus

4. Image size range: 37.6 to 301.1 inches - adds flexibility for both small and large screen sizes and room environments.

5. Projection Distance: 4.92 feet to 32.8 feet.

6. Aspect Ratio: Can be set for both 16x9 and 4x3. The 16x9 aspect ratio is desirable for widescreen films and HD sources.

The aspect ratio can be switched to 4x3 for projection of material shot in the 4x3 format.

7. Contrast Ratio 4000:1 (full on/full off).

8. Lamp Characteristics: 230 Watts, 4,000 hrs/bright mode, 3,000 hrs/standard mode.

9. Color Wheel: Six-segment 3X speed color wheel (3X speed based on 120Hz refresh rate - equivalent to 6X speed at 60Hz refresh rate).

10. Video Inputs and Other Connections: Two HDMI, and one each of the following: Component (Red, Green, Blue), Composite Video (Yellow), RS-232 (for custom control functions), Mini-din (IR emitter), and VESA 3D Port.

11. Input Signal Support: Compatible with input resolutions up to 1080p. NTSC/PAL Compatible.

12. Video Processing: Deinterlacing and upscaling to 1080p via Pixel Works-based video processing. Upscaling can be bypassed by activating the "native" function.

13. Controls: Manual Zoom and Focus controls, On-screen menu system for other functions. Wireless remote control provided/

14. Input Access: Automatic video input Detection. Manual video input selection also available via remote control or buttons on projector.

15. Dimensions (WxHxD): 14.17” x 4.52” x 12.24” (360 x 115 x 311 mm)

16. Weight: 7.7 pounds.

16. Power Consumption: 330 watts (bright mode), 270 watts (standard mode), Less than .5W watts in standby mode.

17. Included Accessories: AC Power Cord, Composite Video Cable, RF Emitter for 3D Glasses, Remote Control, Batteries for Remote, Lens Cap, User’s Manual, Warranty Card and Quick Start Guide.

Setup and Installation

First set up a screen (size of your choosing). Then, position the unit at the optimal distance from the screen (your choosing or refer to Optoma's HD33 screen distance calculator).

I chose to place the unit on a mobile table to make screen distance calculation easier, but the HD33 can be ceiling mounted with an accessory mount.

Next, plug in your source component(s). Turn on of the components on, then turn on the projector. The HD33 will automatically search for the active input source. You can also access the source manually via the remote control.

NOTE: There are no controls on the projector, all functions (except focus and zoom) can only be access via remote control.

At this point, you will see the screen light up. To fit the image onto the screen, raise or lower both the the front and rear of the projector using the adjustable feet. You can also adjust the vertical image placement using the Vertical Image Shift (shifts image electronically) and Keystone Correction functions via the onscreen menu system.

NOTE: The HD33 does not have a physical lens shift function.

Next, use the Zoom control on the lens to get the image to fill the screen properly. Finally, use the manual focus control to Optimize your image.

3D Performance

The HD33 produced a bright image for both 2D and 3D viewing without the need for much adjustment. When viewing in 3D mode, the projector automatically activates a special 3D settings preset that optimizes brightness and contrast in order to compensate for the natural brightness loss that occurs when viewing through 3D glasses. However, if you prefer a picture setting, or wish to tweak individual color and contrast characteristics to your own viewing taste, you go into the image settings menu and do that as well.

To evaluate the 3D performance of the HD33, I enlisted the OPPO BDP-93 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player and a Samsung HT-D6500W 3D Blu-ray Player/Home Theater System (on review loan), in conjunction with the Optoma 3D RF Glasses provided for this review

I found that the 3D viewing experience was excellent, with very few instances of crosstalk, and only minor glare and motion blurring. In fact, 3D performance was better than I would have expected, especially considering that the HD33 is about $2,000 less (at the time of this review) than the next lowest-priced 3D DLP or LCD-based video projector. Also, the RF glasses stayed in synch, even with head movement or when changing seating positions.

The titles that provided the best 3D viewing experience were Avatar, Resident Evil: Afterlife and Tangled. Drive Angry was very good as well, the whites were a little hot, which has more to with the disc transfer than the projector (refer to my Drive Angry Review).

However, where the HD33 really showed its 3D capability were on the films My Bloody Valentine and Space Station, which often exhibit crosstalk (ghosting) on some scenes when viewed on some 3D TVs and other active shutter 3D glasses I have used. On the HD33, the crosstalk was greatly minimized.

As a final 3D performance example, the 3D Blu-ray Disc Goldberg Variations: Acoustica, which is actually mastered in 720p, also looked good as well (albeit a little softer in appearance), showing the flexibility of the Optoma HD33 with both 720p and 1080p 3D source material.

2D High Definition Video Performance

With regards to 2D source material, the HD33 also did a great job, colors were accurate, and brightness levels and detail were near-excellent.

However, the black levels could use improvement. As the blacks get lower on the HD33 they tend to get flat and detail in very dark scenes can go wanting. Even in dark scenes, if the camera can pick up the detail and texture of an object, as well as subtle gradations in the degree of black, and that has been transferred accurately to the Blu-ray Disc or DVD, it is reproduce-able on screen, depending on the capability of the projector.

On the other hand, the HD33 does provide adequate black level performance for a projector in its price range. Also, as mentioned above, color accuracy and overall detail for high definition sources (2D and 3D) was top notch.

Deinterlacing and Upscaling of Standard Definition Material

In a further evaluation, tests were conducted using a standardized test disk in order to asses the ability of the HD33 to process and upscale standard resolution video sources. In order to do this, I set the OPPO DV-980H DVD player to 480i output and using the standard RCA composite video connector between the player and the projector. By doing this, all of the video processing and upscaling was done by the HD33.

The test results showed that the HD33 did a good job with both deinterlacing and scaling, but did not fair as well on extracting detail or suppressing video noise when handling challenging standard definition source material.

On the other hand, the HD33 did a good job minimizing jaggie and moire patterns, producing images free of obvious deinterlacing and scaling artifacts. This projector also did an excellent job with the 3:2 Pulldown film cadence and rendering video titles over film elements. Where the HD33 did show some weakness was in the softness of the upscaled images as well as in processing some film cadences. Check out a closer look at, and explanation of, some of the test results.

What I Liked

1. Very good image quality, in terms of color and detail with high definition material. Accepts input resolutions up to 1080p - also accepts 1080p/24. The Optoma HD33 also accepts both PAL and NTSC frame rate input signals. 480i/480p conversion and 1080p upscaling is mostly artifact free, but a little soft.

2. Excellent 3D Performance - minimal crosstalk or motion blur effects.

3. High lumen output produces bright images for large rooms and screen sizes.

4. No noticeable rainbow effect. This was a happy surprise. There are a segment of consumers that are susceptible to the rainbow effect, which is an artifact created by the spinning color wheel in a DLP projector or TV. It is almost always noticeable in least some instances in projected DLP generated images. However, in the case of the HD33, I realized, after watching several movies, that I hadn't noticed the rainbow. For a moment, I thought that Optoma had switched to the 3LCD video projector camp. I must confess, I checked the box label to make sure...

5. The RF transmisson-synch system for the 3D glasses worked great. I could easily move my head or seating position and still retain a lock on the 3D signal. The only thing I didn't like was that the RF transmitter was a very small external plug-in that could be lost or broken easily. I would have preferred that this portion of the 3D system was actually built into the projector frame, or perhaps a short, flexible, built-in antenna that could be clipped onto the back or side of the projector.

6. Fast cool down and shut-off time. The start-up time is about 30 seconds and the cool down time is about a minute. Video projectors, generally, have improved in this area.

7. Easy to Use Remote Control. I like the fact that when any button is pushed on the remote, the backlight function is activated. This is very practical in a dark room.

What I Didn't Like

1. Black levels just average (however, considering the price point, this is not unexpected).

2. No physical horizontal or vertical lens shift function. This makes projector screen placement little more difficult for some room environments.

3. Auto input detection doesn't always kick in.

4. No Motorized Zoom or Focus Function - must be done manually at lens. No onboard access controls for projector settings.

5. No 3D Glasses Included - requires optional purchase ($99 a pair).

6. Expels a lot of heat through side vent. If you sit within a few feet of the projector, you will notice the warmth, and may catch a warm breeze from the fan expelling heat from the side vent.

7. No carrying case or storage bag included. Although the HD33 is designed as stay-at-home projector, it is light enough to take to other venues. Having an included case would be a nice addition. Certainly not a deal breaker, however.

More Info

Setting up and using the HD33 was fairly easy. The input connections are clearly labeled and spaced out, and the remote control is easy to use. However, the HD33 does not offer power zoom or focus controls.

With 1,800 maximum lumens output capability, the Optoma HD33 projects a bright image suitable for small, medium, and large size rooms in most homes.

The HD33 provides a great 2D and 3D viewing experience, especially for the price. The 3D features were easy to use and the 3D glasses provided for this review were comfortable, and the color consistency was very good. However, the black level and contrast range although acceptable, may not satisfy "videophile" users. On the other hand, the HD33 did a good job of upscaling lower resolution 480i DVD material to 1080p, as well as passing direct 1080p Blu-ray resolution, including 1080p/24 signals.

The HD33 is definitely a good value. In fact, if you have been put off by 3D up to now, the performance of this projector may change your mind, if you have a chance to check out it. Having viewed and reviewed several 3D TVs and video projectors, 3D using a video projector and a large screen is the best way to go, if you have the space, and the HD33 is the most affordable 3D projector I have reviewed so far that delivers the goods.

However, even if you aren't interested in 3D, at a $1,499 at the time of its release, the HD33 is a great 2D video projector.

For a closer look at the features, connections, and performance of HD33, check out my Optoma HD33 Photos and Video Performance Test Results.

NOTE: Since the posting of of the above review, the production run for the Optoma HD 33 has ended, and is now only available on clearance or used via retailers or third-party auction sites. For current alternatives, check out my periodically updated listing of DLP and LCD Video Projectors

Additional Components Used In The Above Review

Source Components: OPPO BDP-93 Blu-ray Disc player (2D and 3D), OPPO DV-980H Upscaling DVD Player, and Samsung HT-D6500W 3D Blu-ray Player/Home Theater System (on review loan).

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for baseline video upscaling comparisons.

Home Theater Receivers Harman Kardon AVR147.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

Projection Screens: SMX Cine-Weave 100² screen and Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 Portable Screen.

Software Used In This Review

3D Blu-ray Discs: Avatar, Despicable Me, Disney's A Christmas Carol, Drive Angry, Goldberg Variations Acoustica, My Bloody Valentine, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Space Station (IMAX), Tangled, Tron: Legacy, and Under The Sea (IMAX).

2D Blu-ray Discs: Across The Universe, Battle Lost Angeles, Hairspray, Iron Man 1&2, Kick Ass, Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder, and Transporter 3

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.