You’ll come up short if you go searching for an LCD projector within Optoma’s extensive lineup, since the firm is as “DLP faithful” as they come. The HD806 sits above the company’s entry level 1080p single-chip DLP offerings, and is distinguished by a 300 watt UHP lamp for brighter images on large screen sizes.
Powered by a PixelWorks video processor chip (a popular choice among projector makers), the HD806 also features Anamorphic Mode 1 1.33 vertical stretch scaling for compatibility with an optional external anamorphic lens for true 2.40:1 widescreen viewing. Optoma has teamed up with Panamorph (the market leader in anamorphic widescreen lenses) to provide their dealers and customers with a dedicated Optoma-compatible lens/sled combo.
Unlike some LCD-based projectors which feature automatic iris via motorized “french door” mechanical light control, the Optoma features a conventional “stop-down” iris, which can be preset among 17 settings or set to Auto where the projector ratchets the iris opening size up or down according to the average picture level. The trouble with this approach is the quite noticeable lag and subsequent picture brightening and darkening artifacts that can’t be escaped. It’s best to leave the iris at a single setting—the 17 settings range should allow anyone to find the right combination of light output and best deep black performance.
In addition to Texas Instruments’ TrueVivid color enhancement processing, Optoma also tosses in their automatic improvement technology (AI-II) for extra image manipulation with lower resolution images, such as SDTV, VCR, or camcorder sources. I also like the Edge Masking function, which provides cropping of the four edges to eliminate the edge flicker that often accompanies SD segments of HD shows, for example.
The lens system is all-manual, with conventional focus ring and zoom lever adjustments—something to consider if the projector is to be mounted far from the screen. On the plus side, the HD806 features Optoma’s 02 filter-less air filtration system, which promises to reduce maintenance over the life of the projector.
Just about what you’d expect. The Optoma includes two HDMI and one each component, S-video, and composite inputs. A DVI input is useful for PCs and laptops so-equipped, but for non-European models, the HD806’s DVI input is digital only (a DVI-A input, as supposedly found on the Euro version features analog RGB PC compatibility, as long as a suitable adapter is employed).
On Screen Display
Devoid of fancy graphics, the OSD is simple and straightforward, with logical groupings. I like that the OSD can be placed at screen center or at any of the four corners, which aids external anamorphic lens compatibility when adjusting the set while in 2.40:1 widescreen mode.
A tad smaller than I’d like, the remote control is nonetheless well-designed, with a number of positive attributes, not the least of which is backlighting (in this case, a nicely vivid green). Many of the buttons feature imprinted icon overlays, aided via printed nomenclature on the remote’s smooth white surface. Other plus points include direct source selection buttons, as well as some of the more oft-used picture controls, along with direct aspect ratio buttons. In all, the remote is one of the better-designed types I’ve come across lately.
Consider this HDTV if:
you’re looking for a sharp and vivid picture. The HD806 features an extended color gamut (no compatible Rec.701 HDTV gamut choice is provided), which tends to give colors some extra punchiness. The HD806 also features a DVI input for PCs and laptops so-equipped, but only the European version is equipped with a DVI-A input, which allows for hookup to a conventional RGB analog PC output (a suitable adaptor is also necessary).
Look elsewhere if:
you need installation flexibility, as the HD806 does not feature adjustable lens shift. The amount of built-in offset is quite generous (136%), which allows above-the-screen ceiling mounting, but if you’re considering shelf or tabletop mounting, forget it.
overall picture quality (SD): 7
overall picture quality (HD): 8
user interface: 7
Picture Mode: Cinema
Color Temperature: Warm
HD size (1:1 pixel-to-pixel): 0 (Cropping)
Gamma: Video (closest to 2.2)
Image AI-II: Off
Auto Iris: Off
The Optoma HD806 is a no-nonsense 1080p DLP projector that produces sharp and vivid images, which stop well short of the garish color exaggerations some projectors impose (though you’ll want to back color down a bit to achieve more accurate skin tones). We also applaud the fact that Optoma has worked out a good anamorphic lens option with Panamorph—an option that can make home theater experiences much more involving. Our only cautionary note: bear in mind that the HD806 is not suitable for shelf or tabletop mounting. But when mounted on the ceiling, it’s a winner.