Optoma ThemeScene HD82 projector review

4.5 out of 5
£2999

For

Smooth pictures, no "rainbow effect", easy set-up, great build quality, high detail

Against

Heavy, too big for occasional use, works best in blackout

Now for some years DLP technology - which is what the HD82 uses - has been considered more cinematic and colourful. LCD projectors have caught up considerably, and to some eyes, crucially, because there’s always been one reason why DLP will never appeal to some: "rainbow effect".

Quickly scan an image from a DLP projector (something you will find yourself doing if you’re watching a particularly large image) and your eyes might suffer from lines of bright colour suddenly flashing. It’s only a problem for some people, but it can be a ruinous experience - especially during black and white, or particularly bright movies. What you’re seeing is the colour wheel as it spins around, but on Optoma’s HD82 we couldn’t see any rainbows whatsoever.

It uses a slightly different colour wheel configuration to most DLP models. Called RGBRGB, the HD82’s six-segment wheel sees those primary colours - red, green and blue - flashed on the screen twice in one spin, effectively making it quicker. It’s one of a several features on this single-chip Full HD DLP projector that help make it a very enjoyable product to use.

With a huge 1.5x zoom, keystone correction and some manual levers for shifting the image left, right, up and down (dubbed PureShift), you can put the HD82 almost anywhere. A centred lens makes it easy to mount permanently on a ceiling, which essentially is where it’s supposed to go. You could easily use it on a coffee table and adjust the unit to project upwards, but it’s far too big to put on a shelf at the back of a room.

If it’s too large for casual use, there is a very good reason: noise. In an effort to get the HD82 as quiet as possible, its gloss black chassis is a third larger than it needs to be. That extra bulk effectively houses a silencer, similar to a car exhaust system, which funnels all the air (used to cool the unit) around a series of pipes and out of the back. Designed to keep the sound in, it works well and produces a sound that, while not the quietest projector we’ve ever heard, is definitely among the best.

Another characteristic of the HD82 is its 1300 ANSI Lumens of brightness, which isn’t terribly high for a projector. It therefore performs at its best only in a blackout (or near blackout), though you can get away with watching bright footage in some ambient light (say, with the curtain closed). That may seem restrictive, but it’s not different to its competitors and there is a trade-off to be had; Optoma has obviously chosen home cinema perfection as its goal, rather than all-round versatility.

It’s a wise decision, because the HD82 comes with 680:1 ANSI contrast, a very high - and unusually reliable - figure that, again, is aimed at home cinemas. The resulting images boast inky blacks and impressively clean whites. Like a lot of projectors, the HD82 has a DynamicBlack mode that adjusts the brightness of the lamp (and therefore makes it quieter) depending on the colours present in any given image.

This is to further increase the quality of blacks (which for a projector is a complete absence of light), though during our test the DynamicBlack proved unsuitable to some footage. One scene where the camera panned between characters in a dark room and the bright lights outside the window, there was a distracting change between brightness levels. It’s best switched-off, or used on its lowest setting.

Like a lot of TVs, but new in the world of projectors, the HD82 is fitted with circuitry that inserts frames into the movie to reduce any image lag or blur. Called PureMotion, it can actually double the frames on a Blu-ray disc from the increasingly popular 24 frames per second (dive into your Blu-ray player’s settings to find it) mode to produce an image as close as possible to the director’s intentions - but, crucially, without any off-putting blur or judder.

PureMotion is part of PureEngine, the HD82’s suite of processing that also includes PureColour and an especially effective PureDetail mode. PureMotion itself isn’t always useful. Set to high it produces some unwanted side effects such as fuzzy edges and fizz around fast-moving objects, though turn it down to the low setting and the result is certainly more fluid and involving than if the feature is ignored.

Verdict

While its size makes it unsuitable as an occasional projector, this otherwise carefully thought out and versatile single-chip DLP projector should have wide appeal among home cinema nuts. With impressive smoothness, high detail and the banishing of the dreaded rainbow effect, the hushed HD82 is a perfect partner to a Blu-ray player.