Optoma seems to have a knack when it comes to designing affordable home theater projectors. Their 2D HD20 model was the first 1080p DLP home theater front projector to break the $1,000 price point barrier, and it delivered a surprisingly good picture.
Based on the HD20, the new HD33 model is cosmetically identical, and at a suggested retail price of only $1,499 it’s a downright bargain compared to other affordable 3D front projectors, which typically carry retail prices of around $3,500 on up.
Consider this projector if: you want an impressive 3D front projector that delivers really good 3D and 2D pictures and is by far the most affordable 3D front projector on the market.
Look elsewhere if: you aren’t able to ceiling mount the projector, as the HD33 lacks lens shift, a requisite for tabletop or shelf mounting.
• Overall picture quality (HD): 8
• Features: 9
• Connectivity: 8
• User interface: 8
• Value: 10
The HD33 is a full-on 3D 1080p projector that features active shutter 3D glasses technology. Unlike some other 3D front projectors that feature infrared 3D synchronization emitters, the HD33 comes with an RF 3D sync emitter, which provides superior sync signal coverage to virtually anywhere in the room. The emitter is identical to the one supplied by Monster Cable with their universal 3D glasses.
However, Optoma doesn’t provide 3D glasses with the projector—they’re optional, but their suggested retail price is only $99, which is substantially less than the $180 retail price of the Monster Cable 3D glasses. Like the Monster Cable 3D specs, the Optoma 3D glasses are rechargeable via any device that has a USB port, which shouldn’t be a problem for most (standalone USB power adapters are easily available for under $10).
The HD33 is also equipped with an alternative non-RF 3D synchronization mode that’s compatible with 3D glasses that conform to the Texas Instruments DLP-Link specification. Those 3D glasses get their sync signal from the image itself, as the DLP-Link function has the 3D sync signals mixed in with the viewable image. The sync signals themselves are invisible to the eye as they occur at an extremely fast rate, far quicker than the eye can detect. Having the second 3D sync option provides compatibility with 3D glasses originally intended for Mitsubishi and Samsung 3D DLP rear projection TVs, and there’s a fairly broad selection of DLP-Link 3D glasses still available.
As you would expect for the price point, the HD33 doesn’t come with motorized optics, and it lacks lens shift. That precludes shelf or tabletop mounting, so ceiling mounting is the only way to go with the HD33. There’s also no 2D-3D upconversion capability, something typically found on more expensive 3D front projectors. The HD33 can accept three 3D formats including Blu-ray of course, and top/bottom and side-by-side for broadcast 3D material. As with the HD20 2D version, the HD33 is equipped with Mode 1 (vertical stretch) scaling for compatibility with an external anamorphic lens, such as the popular Panamorph.
For a budget projector, the HD33 is well equipped in the connectivity department, with two HDMI inputs and a component HD video input. There’s a single composite video input as well as an RGB PC input that can accept resolutions up to full 1920x1080 HD as well as 1920x1200 WUXGA. For external system control there’s an RS-232C serial port and a mini-DIN connector for the supplied RF 3D synchronization signal emitter. A single 12V trigger output can be used for motorized screen control or for activating an external motorized anamorphic lens sled. There’s a mini-USB port, but that’s only for service use.
On Screen Display
Reasonably well designed, the OSD features logical sub-menu structures, and it includes two test patterns—a grid for projector/screen alignment as well as a full field white raster, which is helpful for measuring screen brightness. The adjustment slider bars feature numerical indicators, but as with other Optoma models, the OSD disappears after only a few seconds of inactivity with no way to extend the on-screen display time. However, when the Menu button is pressed again, the OSD returns to the last place selected, which is a plus as that saves time having to go from the home menu through two or three sub-menus to get you back to where you were.