December 13, 2011 by Grant Clauser
While I’m largely neutral when it comes to excitement over 3D; I’m neither for nor against it. I was pretty impressed when I first learned of the price-rebel Optoma coming out with a $1,500 3D home theater projector, the HD33.
I like 3D well enough, but prefer it in a theater rather than in my living room. Even on a 55-inch TV, 3D just isn’t something to go out of my way for. That changes a lot when you’re viewing it on a 100-inch screen. Home theater projectors under $2K have been around for a couple of years, and some of those projectors perform very well, but a 3D projector at this price is something to take notice of.
So when the Optoma HD33 showed up, I opened up the box with a mix of anticipation and caution. How good could it be at this price?
First off, the HD33 is a single-chip DLP projector with a 6x color wheel and 1.2x zoom lens. It sports conservative but sufficient specifications for a budget-priced home theater projector. The limited zoom and lack of lens shift means you need to be extra careful when you make your mounting calculations. With 1,800 ANSI lumen light output, the Optoma puts out enough glow to use in partially lit rooms, but it’s best suited for a completely dark room if you want to get the most punch out of it. On the other hand, the similarly priced Panasonic PT-AR100U boasts 2,800 lumens, but that’s not a 3D projector. The light output issue is actually more important for a 3D projector than a 2D because the 3D glasses will reduce the amount of light that reaches your eye. That said, the HD33 does have light to spare. If you’re viewing this in a dark room, you can safely set the lamp to the standard setting without worrying about sacrificing anything (this will depend on the screen gain and size).
The Optoma lists a contrast ratio of 4,000:1, which again is conservative when viewed next to similarly-priced 2D models. It also doesn’t include an iris feature which many projectors offer to improve contrast.
On the back you get two HDMI inputs, one set of component, S-video and composite video. There’s also a 12-volt trigger, VGA, RS-232 and a port for the 3D RF emitter.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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