The HQV Benchmark DVD revealed an exceptional video processor. Detail was excellent, as were lowangle diagonals and the waving flag, with virtually no jaggies. The noisereduction controls didn’t seem to do much with the noise tests, but noise wasn’t much of a problem in any event. It picked up 3:2 pulldown faster than any other display I’ve seen, and it passed all the assorted cadence tests with flying colors.
The same was true with 1080i tests on HD DVD. Horizontal and vertical detail were excellent at the highest frequency, it picked up 3:2 pulldown instantly, and it handled bad 3:2 edits flawlessly. The Native and 16:9 aspect-ratio settings both mapped pixels at 1:1 as long as Overscan was set to 0.
DVDs looked uniformly excellent. The black of space in The Fifth Element was inky and deep, and the black letterbox bars were not at all distracting. Equally beautiful was Master and Commander, with good shadow detail in the below-deck walk, no contouring in the transition to morning fog, and gorgeous color and detail throughout. During very dark scenes and black transitions, I noticed some light leakage in a circular pattern around the screen. According to Optoma, this is a problem only with early pilotrun samples, such as the one I reviewed, and has been corrected in massproduction units.
HD DVDs were even more beautiful. There was a bit of contouring in the opening sunrise of Training Day, but the Los Angeles skyline was crisply detailed, and the color was excellent— green foliage didn’t pop as much as I expected from the primary measurements. The Last Samurai was also gorgeous, with superb detail in the water ripples and blades of grass, excellent color (especially flesh tones), and good shadow detail in the foggy forest.
In terms of picture quality, the Optoma HD81 is difficult to fault. Color, detail, black level, shadow detail, and video processing are all exceptional. The only drawback—and it’s a big one—is the lack of lens shift, which makes placement problematic. If you can live with this limitation, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the superb picture projected by the HD81. TPV