Extra dimensions don’t come cheap. If you’ve dreamed of a Sam Worthington-shaped avatar running through your living room, you know that 3-D projectors — the few that are available — have price tags in the $3,000-and-up range. (You also know that Avatar has yet to see a public 3-D Blu-ray release, but that’s another story.)
Optoma’s HD33 brings 1080p 3-D home for a 2-D price. At $1,500, it costs less than many 3-D-ready TVs, which, incidentally, can’t produce images as large as 300 inches. That’s 25 feet, in case you’re math-challenged. Eat it, local Cineplex!
Actually, don’t shred your concession-stand punch card just yet. Although the HD33 manages some impressive feats of 3-D magic, the reality is there’s just not that much material to watch at home — yet. Most cable providers offer few, if any, 3-D channels, leaving you with a smattering of movies on Blu-ray — and neither Blockbuster nor Netflix rents 3-D versions. Again, yet.
Of course, movies like Despicable Me and IMAX Space Station are worth owning anyway. All you need is a 3-D-ready Blu-ray player, the HD33, and a nice big screen or wall. Oh, right, and glasses: Optoma sells its active-shutter specs for $100 per pair, though you can also use any DLP-Link glasses you might already own. Depending on the size of your family, you’re looking at a sizable extra chunk of change for your minions to see those minions.
The painful irony is that the projector does come with an RF emitter that links to as many pairs of glasses as you can afford, and without the hassles of line-of-sight. Once the HD33 switches into 3-D mode, it takes no more than five to ten seconds for the glasses to sync up.
And when they do, you’re in for a treat. A movie like Despicable Me looks nothing short of fabulous on the HD33, with smooth and convincing 3-D that’s just shy of what you’d see in a theater. (For whatever reason, the effect isn’t quite as pronounced.) And with 2-D and 3-D movies alike, the projector delivers a blazing tableau of colors and a picture crisp enough to be the envy of any HDTV.
Only the black levels aren’t quite as deep as they could be, but that rarely detracts from what you’re watching. And despite its fairly modest 1800 ANSI lumens, the HD33 shines its images brightly, even in rooms with some ambient lighting. Optoma’s three-setting PureMotion technology helps reduce judder, but the need to manually tweak it depending on what you’re watching can be irksome.
That’s a minor gripe. For not much more than the price of an entry-level 1080p projector, the Optoma HD33 gives you a delicious taste of the 3-D life. It’s an ideal and affordable fit for any budget-minded home theater.
WIRED Half the price of most competing 3-D projectors. Superb picture quality, especially in 3-D. 3-D glasses fit comfortably, even over regular glasses.
TIRED No 3-D specs included in the box. A bit noisy, especially when switching display modes. Backlit remote is actually too bright to use in a dark room.
Photo courtesy of Optoma