I have a soft spot for accurate color. Give me adjustments that let me dial in red, green, and blue, and I’m a happy camper. Add in cyan, magenta, and yellow, and I’ll dance the light prismatic. Why? Well, with accurate color comes realism. Everything is just a bit more realistic, which makes the image more relaxing to look at.
Out of the box, the HD8300’s green and blue color points are pretty accurate. (Surprisingly, red is undersaturated.) But the Optoma’s color management system menu lets you dial in both the primary and secondary colors. The adjustments are frustratingly coarse, but you can use them to get all the colors very close to their recommended levels.
This resulted in the white, green, purple, and other skin tones of the characters in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope on Blu-ray looking incredibly, shall we say, “realistic.” From the vibrant blue Tatooine sky to the rich rust-red Jawa Sandcrawlers to the verdant Death Star Superlaser, every color looked perfect. Subtle variations in human skin tones and lip color showed the advantage of a display with accurate color points. A more real world test (not that Star Wars isn’t real) using various football and baseball games showed lifelike green grass and blue skies.
Detail also looked perfect. The HD8300 has some of the best motion resolution I’ve seen in a projector in its price range. Every hair in Obi-Wan’s beard was visible. (Countable, even, if you’re so inclined.)
Things weren’t as great when it came to contrast ratio. Without any electronic aids, the projector’s maximum light output was a rather paltry (by today’s standards) 12.9 ftL, and its black level was a fairly mediocre 0.0088 ftL. That adds up to a contrast ratio of 1,466:1. Enabling both the Image AI lamp mode and Cinema 2 iris mode increased this to 10,825:1, but as with all such enhancements, there were visible pulsing artifacts as it tracked the video.
Processing was a mixed bag. Shockingly, the HD8300 didn’t seem to pick up the 3:2 sequence with 1080i — the 1080i Racecar clip on the Spears & Munsil High Defi nition Benchmark Blu-ray showed the tell-tale moiré of no 3:2 detection. There were small jaggies starting at 20 on the rotating bar test, which is fairly mediocre, and the same result carried over to the 1080i Ship clip. Results were slightly better with 480i tests, where 3:2 was detected, though the rotating bar on the HQV DVD showed jaggies at 20°, and the Flag clip also showed jaggies. All in all, not great.
What was great, though, was PureDetail, part of Optoma’s PureEngine processing. PureDetail creates an excellent amount of detail, and is by far the best thing about the HD8300. It also adds a small amount of noise, but not enough to be objectionable. Standard-definition content viewed on the HD8300 has a near-HD look that I’ve only seen come from the best scalers.
The other parts of PureEngine, PureColor and PureMotion, are less successful. PureColor “enables the picture’s vividness to be significantly increased.” Since I was able to dial in accurate color, I left this disabled. PureMotion is motion-interpolation processing, something that’s unnecessary in a DLP product. Here’s why: LCD displays use motion interpolation, along with a higher video frame rate, to help counteract their fundamentally poor motion resolution, but DLP (along with plasma) has excellent motion resolution. So adding what is essentially a Band-aid meant to counteract the worst part of LCD performance to something that doesn’t need it is folly.
The Blu-ray 3D image of Green Lantern looked quite decent on the HD8300, with almost no visible crosstalk. The 3D effect wasn’t as pronounced as I’ve seen with some other projectors, but it was still good. The combination of the lightweight RF glasses and the projector’s excellent detail, accurate color, and reasonable brightness made Hal Jordan’s green romp through the universe so pleasing to look at that I watched the whole movie in 3D, which is quite a compliment coming from me.
Given their similarities, it’s fair to compare the HD8300 with the Sharp XV-Z17000. The Sharp has only one thing going for it: brightness. A lot of it. However, it was severely crippled in terms of placement and had inaccurate color. With the Optoma, you don’t get nearly the same light output, but you do get accurate color and slightly better installation options.
Sony’s VPL-HW30ES, on the other hand, is cheaper and brighter than the HD8300, with a much better contrast ratio and just about as accurate color. It doesn’t show quite the same level of detail with motion, but that’s the only way that it’s worse.
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