In the $5K and under price range, single chip DLP choices have been few and far between. The Optoma 8200 is targeted directly at this niche and is packed with many features designed to make for a very compelling buy. Here is a quick overview of the rich feature set:
- Dynamic Black (DB) - an exciting new contrast enhancement technology (more on that later).
- New TI .65" DC3 DMD that helps to reduce cost and also the long throw requirements of typical 1-chip DLP projectors.
- 6x/6-Segment color wheel which helps to minimize rainbows.
- Quiet operation (24db economy / 26db standard setting)
- ISF friendly with RGB gain and offset settings available in the user menus
- Adjustable horizontal and vertical lens shift
- 1.48:1-2.28:1 throw range.
- Pure motion enhancement (reduces motion judder and motion blur - more on that later).
- Bright mode for applications where ambient light may be present.
- Several different gamma curves and gamma settings
- Noise Reduction
- Multiple display formats (16:9, 4:3, letterbox, etc.).
- Superwide (more on this later).
- Image AI (A lamp modulation scheme - more on that later).
- 2 12V triggers. One is a standard trigger for a screen, while the second is a selectable trigger than can be used to control an anamorphic lens based on source aspect ratio.
- Auto235 - A nice feature that automatically detects when 2.35:1 content is being displayed and will activate the lens and format the image automatically for a 2.35;1 CIH setup.
- Standard and bright lamp modes.
- 2 remotes
- Lots of interfaces (VGA, DVI, HDMI, component, S-video, etc.).
- And much more!
People who have followed my posts know that I have avoided most 1-chip DLP projectors because I see rainbows and find them to be distracting. For this reason most of my viewing perspective has tended to come from the LCOS camp and I currently use a JVC RS20 and before that a JVC RS1. If you think that this is going to sway me away from the 8200 however, I think you'll find some surprises as you read further into this review.
The first three things that I noticed when I plugged in the Optoma were: 1) Wow this thing is very quiet, amazingly quiet considering the fact that it has a 6x color wheel and also a dynamic iris. 2) Rainbows while sometimes noticeable were tamed to the point where I could easily be happy with this unit in my home theater. The first 1-chip DLP projector where I felt the same way with was a Marantz 11S1 which also has a 6x color wheel. The Optoma provides this 6x color wheel for a much lower price point than it's more expensive 1-chip brother however. 3) It delivers a beautiful and vibrant image, with lots of depth in bright and mixed scenes which is something that DLP is known for.
Initially I started viewing with the medium color temperature setting, but this looked colder than D65 so I spent some time calibrating the unit as discussed in the calibration section. After settling on the warm color setting and calibrating the unit to D65 at this setting, I settled in for some extended viewing.Colors
The 8200 color gamut is shown below. As can be seen, the color primaries are significantly oversaturated and also slightly skewed in hue. The most interesting result of this gamut is what happens to deeply saturated reds. The hue takes on a very deep "red wine" hue that while technically not very accurate is an interesting and unique color of red that many people might find appealing. The hue of deeply saturated reds is very unique to the 8200 and is the one aspect of color that makes the 8200 stand out from other displays.
I found that skin tones tended to be pushed a little red so I reduced the color setting about 5 notches which helped to mute the slight oversaturation and made the skin tones look a bit more natural. While not technically color accurate, I found that this improved the colors and I wasn't distracted by colors while viewing. I think most users will find the colors on the 8200 to be rich and vibrant, although, true videophiles including many AVS forum members with experience with color accurate displays and displays with a color management system will find the colors to be a little pushed.Sharpness
Another thing that I was curious to take a look at is the sharpness of this unit to see how the new .65" DC3 DMD compares as far as sharpness to other projectors at competing price points. Being a 1-chip DLP, the 8200 suffers from none of the issues of 3-chip panel alignment, it has no convergence or color bleeding issues for example. Resolution test patterns like the blu-ray test pattern below look very good.
Viewers familiar with the BD test pattern know that the finest detail on the test pattern is the text that appears at the very bottom. I've included a close up so that viewers can see how well it resolves this pattern:
The optics looks very good, particularly so considering the price range, although I did notice a softness at the extreme edges of the lens. Detail at the center is excellent however. The overall resolution isn't on par with top-end 1-chip DLPs that use a larger .95" DMD and expensive Konica-Minolta optics, but the 8200 also costs almost 1/3rd the price of say a Marantz VP-11S2. Overall, I'd rate the sharpness as being very good and not a limiting factor in the performance of the system.
Below are some more photos taken from a Windows desktop.
I was also curious to see how the new .65" DC3 chip stacks up as far as sharpness against the same size chip used in JVC DILA projectors. Rather than take up time in this review however, I'm going to discuss the details in another thread devoted to this interesting issue. I'll just summarize the results here by saying that the screen door grid looked nearly identical between the projectors. So long as convergence is very good on a 3-chip RS10 or RS20, their shaprness performance is very similar to an 8200.
Compared to an RS1, the optics on the 8200 is better. Compared to a well converged RS10 or RS20 however, the 8200 is about the same at the center of the image. The optics on a good RS20 or RS10 is sharper across the full field though because as mentioned earlier, the 8200 is slightly softer at the edges.
What I found most interesting however, is that while resolution test patterns look very similar between a well converged RS20, the images between the projector look a little different when video content is displayed and the 8200 seems a little sharper. As I discuss below, I attribute some of this to much higher ANSI contrast on the 8200, which delivers about 3x the contrast as the RS20.ANSI Contrast
The 8200 delivers excellent ANSI contrast performance. It delivered a modified ANSI (single center probe position) contrast of 735:1 at close to long throw. In my opinion the excellent ANSI contrast of this projector sometimes gives the image more depth in bright and occasional mixed scenes and a more vibrant and dynamic look in those same scenes than projectors with lower ANSI contrast. When watching the Super Bowl on the 8200 for example, the NBC logo just seemed to hang suspended above the screen.
Not every scene had added depth, but every once in awhile a scene would come along that was stunning. Usually it would be a bright scene with some dark content where there is an abrupt change in luminance. The higher ANSI contrast handled these abrupt luminance changes better and seemed to contribute more depth in those scenes.
After living with the 8200 for awhile and comparing it head to head with an RS1 and RS20, it's my belief that it's the ANSI contrast that gives DLP the "pop" and "wow" factor that people use when discussing DLP. In dark scenes however, the situation was reversed and LCOS machines can (depending on the scene) have more depth and "Pop" due to their higher on/off contrast. Also not in every scene, but usually in dark scenes with small amounts of bright content. The end of the second Harry Potter movie is a good example of the sorts of scenes that look stunning on an RS20.The combination of High ANSI and average on/off contrast performance
The 8200 also represents an interesting case where the projector has high ANSI contrast, but fairly average on/off contrast. My expectation before viewing the 8200 is that the relatively low on/off would render most scenes relatively flat looking because of the elevated black level. Film being a dark medium seems to favor projectors with very good on/off, at least that was my belief. After viewing the 8200, I was surprised to see how good the image was and how the on/off seemed to be much higher than it measured. If I hadn't known better I would have assumed that it was delivering at least 15k:1 or thereabouts, but with Cinema1 it only measured in at about 6.5k:1. I think the high ANSI contrast helps in this perception of blacks in that it allows the blacks to be as good as they can be in the presence of surrounding luminance. There isn't a hidden veil for example that might prevent blacks from reaching their best.An Examination of Dynamic Black (DB)
One of the key features of the Optoma is it's use of dynamic black to enhance contrast and improve blacks. According to Optoma, dynamic black makes no use of dynamic gamma which is common in Sony and other dynamic iris equipped projectors. Instead it boosts brightness by increasing and modulating the lamp intensity while simultaneously decreasing the iris aperture. In principle this sounds intriguing because it implies boosting something akin to native contrast. By comparison, dynamic contrast technologies that rely on an iris and dynamic gamma, gain improvements to black levels and contrast at the bottom of the luminance range by trading off some luminance and therefore contrast at the top of the luminance range. This can be done to various degrees, but the premise is always the same, a benefit to shadow detail and black levels at the expense of some brightness compression at the higher end of the luminance range. So let's take a look at the Optoma implementation of dynamic black and see if the same sort of tradeoffs exist. First let's look at the on/off metrics:
The sequential contrast for the 3 settings are shown below:
It was interesting to note that the on/off in all of these settings is well below the advertised 20k:1 spec. Optoma indicated that Cinema2 should be delivering closer to 10k:1 so this particular unit may have lower than spec'ed on/off. It was a random unit and not hand picked.
As some people may know I'm a firm believer in supplementing on/off measurements with other measurements that measure intra-image contrast at low APL levels because on/off measurements alone provide little clues about what is going on with intra-image contrast with dynamic technologies. It's unclear for example if an iris is simply reducing the light output from a projector to get an improvement in on/off or if it simultaneously boosts whites as the iris is reduced which would provide real intra-image contrast benefits as the iris aperture is engaged.
In order to better gauge the effect of DB, I used two methods to gauge the effects. One is a very small area 20 step greyscale which has a very low APL. The test pattern quickly shows what will happen to an image with a simultaneous mix of greys from full black to full white. The second is a suite of small area test patterns that have a very low APL which can be used to get a feel for intra-image contrast by measuring both the black level and the intensity of white from 0-100% stimulus in steps of 10% (and also 1%, 2% and 5% steps to gain information on shadow contrast).
It's important to mention that this test pattern suite is very dark with the intent being to measure the contrast behavior when the dynamic technology is providing maximum boost and therefore maximum benefit. The actual degree of contrast enhancement with real content will therefore be somewhere in the range where the contrast enhancement is disabled (no boost) up to the degree of enhancement displayed by these test patterns.Method 1 - DB Greyscale
The greysccale test pattern used is the one below, but it should be noted that the area of the test pattern is much smaller than the image suggests and it's surrounded by video black.
Cycling between DB=off and the two dynamic black modes produced very noticeable changes to the low APL greyscale test pattern. Using DB=0ff as a guide, each 5 IRE increment to the greyscale was very discernible from the others and the greyscale looked perfect.
With DB enabled in Cinema1 mode, The whites from 80-100% were completely crushed and were not discernible from each other. As shown below:
The camera has added some additional white crush to 75%stiim whites that wasn't really there. I should also mention that the greyscale test pattern is actually two reversed ramps so that it's easy to see what is happening in the bright ranges and the dark ranges while they are both in close proximity to one another. (Note: I should give credit for this nicety to William Phelps who helped immensely when I developed the dynamic contrast test patterns).
The cinema2 setting seemed to fair better and while some of the whites were crushed, it was still possible to discern most of the 5% greyscale increments.Method 2 - Dynamic Contrast Measurements using low APL Intra-Image test patterns
It's interesting to note that the results of the low APL intra-image contrast measurements didn't exactly match with the results of the greyscale test pattern used above. Both are very low APL benchmarks, but I think that the reason for the difference may be the fact that the greyscale test pattern contains a mix of whites and the DB algorithm may treat it a little differently than each of the intra-image test patterns which contain only black and a specific intensity of white at each point along the curve. This goes to show how difficult it is to characterize something as complicated as dynamic contrast and rather than attempting to completely characterize DB what we are doing is providing additional insight. The fact that the results differ slightly isn't really a problem as it provides the benefit of seeing how the iris/lamp modulation algorithm treats different source content.Dynamic Luminance
First let's take a look at what happens with the white level with dark content with the various test patterns:
The key thing that can be seen from this graph is that even in dark scene performance, the whites are very bright and the combination of lamp modulation and iris reduction is even brighter (over 15%!) than with DB disabled. This is a key benefit that can't be understated as other dynamic technologies like a Sony DI have significantly reduced brightness when the iris aperture is reduced. This is because dynamic gamma alone does not provide sufficient boost in the higher IRE ranges to make up for the loss of light from the iris aperture reduction.
For comparison, the graph below shows what happens with the Sony DI implementation on a VW50. The graph was taken using the identical test patterns and methodologies. As can be seen, 100 IRE white can be reduced by as much as 2/3rds once the iris apeture is reduced.Dynamic Contrast
Next let's take a look at what happens with contrast along the curve. The graph below shows the intra-image contrast in a dark image as grey is swept from 0-100%.
As we saw on the greyscale test pattern, the contrast in the upper registers (>70%) flattens out and we see this behavior with these dynamic contrast test patterns also. It's also interesting to note that the curve is not smooth and has pronounced dips and points. These dips and points were reproducible and not related to noisy data or measurement inaccuracies. It's possible that unlike dynamic gamma based technologies, dynamic black may be a little more difficult to control and lamp variances combined with the iris behavior may be difficult to calibrate and control precisely.
What's also possible is that we may be seeing the lamp/iris modulation change as luminance is stepped. There is no guarantee for example that when a test pattern is displayed with 100% whites, that the iris/lamp combination will remain unchanged when the same exact test pattern is used with say 50% whites. Using a very small area test pattern as these do helps to minimize this risk because the images are very dark, but the iris/lamp algorithm may still handle small amounts of bright whites differently even though the overall darkness of the image doesn't change significantly from test pattern to test pattern. By comparison the Sony VW50 DI seemed to view the test patterns consistently and it applied what seems to be the combination of maximum amount of dynamic gamma and smallest iris aperture consistently with each test pattern in the suite..
Regardless however, it's still very easy to compare relative results using the same test pattern suite and see the improvement gains. As we can see the intra-image contrast improvements are significant and in some ranges a greater than 6X improvement in intra-image contrast is being measured. Unlike a DI implementation however, there is also a large amount of benefit to bright whites also.
For comparison purposes, I've included a graph of the same data also taken from a Sony VW50. It shows how smooth the graph is, as apparently, the combination of dynamic gamma and iris reduction is easier to predict or control, or perhaps because the combination of dynamic gamma and iris aperture remains unchanged for each point along the curve.
The last thing that I'll show is a comparison of intra-image black level using the same suite of test patterns used above. This graph shows the large benefit to black level that DB can provide. Up to a 4X reduction in intra-image black level can be seen. It's also interesting to note the dip between 50% and 80% stimulus which is responsible for the corresponding peaks and dips in the contrast graph. As mentioned above, this dip is reproducible and it looks like what is happening is the lamp/iris modulation does not remain fixed as the white is stepped in this region.
By comparison the DI algorithm in a VW50 views the dynamic contrast test pattern suite consistently and does not change its iris setting across the range. The fact that the two implementations differ in their response to the same test pattern is not an issue, it does however need to be explained why the data looks a little differently between the two implementations.Subjective Viewing perceptions of DB
Now that we've delved into the details of DB, let's talk about the subjective benefits to contrast that DB is capable of delivering. Based on the measurement data, the Cinema2 setting looks like it would yield the best images. It has better shadow contrast in the 0-50% range and the greyscale test pattern also showed that it had less brightness compression in the >70% range.
Unfortunately, however, this mode is mated to an agressive iris/lamp algorithm that makes itself too apparent when watching real content. In some relatively static scenes for example, the camera may be stationary and there may be little movement, but the iris/lamp modulation may change and be a little distracting. For this reason I recommend the Cinema1 mode only. The cinema1 mode provides a good reduction in black level and improvement in contrast but it's much less noticeable than Cinema2.
Overall, with most content I didn't notice the iris change very often with Cinema1 and when I did, it was usually just a split second after an abrupt scene change as the iris was settling in. If I watched a dark movie where the iris is working almost all of the time and where the lighting is dynamic within a fairly static scene ("Dark City" for example), I would notice the iris and lamp modulation in the occassional scene, but overall I would say that this mode works pretty well.
EDIT: One thing that I'll also mention is during normal viewing I never noticed any brightness compression or clipped whites with regular content. The test patterns used are intentionally designed to represent an extreme case of the darkest possible content that is easily measured, which will generally correspond to the case of maximum dynamic contrast. This was designed so that the maximum benefit of dynamic contrast can be measured. During regular viewing there is likely less dynamic contrast being used and any white crush if it existed was not detected during normal viewing.Calibration
After noticing that the medium color temp was shifted blue (high), I broke out my colorimeter and measured 9500K which is very high and probably close to the native color temp of the UHP lamp. Sometimes manufacturers push the color temp high because this helps to maximize lumens and give the impression that the unit is brighter than others that adhere to D65. The "warm" color temp measured about 7800 at 100 IRE which is still very high so I calibrated the unit using the warm setting in conjunction with the "User" mode and standard gamma. I'll include the calibration details below in the off chance that others will find it useful. The uncalibrated graphs can be seen below:
As can be seen white was shifted towards blue which yields a high color temperature and I initially tried to get it to D65 by reducing blue only. Unfortunately once a color is reduced below a certain level on the 8200, it no longer seems to work effectively and can impact the other colors so I had to find a good compromise by increasing red and green while also reducing blue. Once I figured out the blue limitation, the rest of the calibration was done pretty quickly. I probably could have spent longer and fine tuned it more, but for the purposes of this review a quick calibration was all that was needed.
The final greyscale color temp and gamma can be seen below:
Others may find the default and calibrated settings useful so I will provide those here:
Default red,green, blue gain: (4, 0, 3)
Calibrated red, green, blue gain: (5, 2, -4)
Default red, green, blue bias: (0, -1, 0)
Calibrated red, green, blue bias: (0, -1, -1)
I also noticed that the gain and offset settings do not work globally across interfaces (HDMI-2 for example) or across modes (Cinema for example). So a person will need to calibrate each of those separately.HDMI Levels
Optoma passes blacker than black (<16) and white than white (>235) video levels. I did find it a little difficult to dial in the brightness and contrast settings exactly though. For example, One click on the brightness setting would cause the video levels to either crush a few levels above 16 or elevate some of the blacks below 16.
Unfortunately there isn't a HDMI video level shift setting so that PC or video levels can be specified. For this reason I found it difficult to calibrate the greyscale luminance on a HTPC. The brightness and contrast settings were even more difficult to dial in exactly when using a HTPC and it often seemed as though whiter than whites were being clipped.
I did run into one issue related to setting the brightness and contrast settings. After the unit was calibrated and the brightness and contrast settings were set on HDMI-1, I connected a HTPC to HDMI-2 and calibrated that interface. When I went back to HDMI-1 the video levels had changed and the original brightness and contrast settings no longer applied. Later the video levels inexplicably shifted again and the original brightness and contrast settings were correct again.Measurements
One note about lumens, ANSI and on/off contrast. Lens throw plays a role in all of these numbers, but in a sometimes mutually exclusive relationship. For example, lumens at shortest throw will usually be maximized but at the expense of on/off contrast which is typically better in longest throw. So rather than play the numbers game, I measured everything at the same consistent throw which was convenient with my setup and which works out to close to longest throw distance. Most of these numbers were also measured with about 20 hrs on the lamp.Lumens
Low Lamp: 461 lumens (after D65 calibration)
High Lamp: 560 Lumens (after D65 calibration)
There is also a bright mode which uses a color temperature closer to the native UHP temperature and resulted in about 6% more brightness above high lamp mode (~600 lumens). This compares favorably with a JVC RS20 which delivered 535 lumens in high lamp mode, iris open with identical throw. It does however fall well short of the spec'ed lumens of 1300.
One comment about the high lamp mode. It's not documented in the manual, but AI mode requires additional lamp headroom and is not compatible with the high lamp mode. Once high lamp mode is enabled, the menu selection for AI is removed rather than greyed out, so knowing this can avoid some confusion. I also assume that the two dynamic black modes (Cinema1 and Cinema2) also require lamp headroom, although I was able to enable both of these modes along with high lamp. It's unclear what happens when both of these modes are enabled.Comparison with JVC RS1 and RS20
The Optoma sales representative that I initially spoke with encouraged comparisons of the 8200 against the RS1 so I decided to take him up on it and compare the 8200 head-to-head with both a JVC RS1 and RS20.8200 vs RS1
As I mentioned earlier, I've tended to favor LCOS over the years because of a lack of rainbow artifacting. So I'm very familiar with what the technology can do and I've owned most of the JVC projectors over the years (G11, SX-21, HD2K, RS1 and RS20), I've put well over 1000 hrs on a RS1 and I'm working on my second hundred hrs on a RS20. The RS1 that I have is not the best as far as on/off, measuring only 9800:1 on/off in a little less than longest throw. Overall, I thought the blacks on the 8200 looked about equal to the RS1, probably because the high ANSI contrast helps to improve the crispness of blacks even though the on/off contrast is slightly less. In brighter scenes though, I thought that the 8200 was noticeably better than the RS1. It had more depth in bright scenes on average than the RS1.
The 8200 did throw an occasional rainbow and this was more prevalent in dark scenes of movies than when watching video content like a football game. The iris was also noticeable in the occasional scene but the RS1 also has some issues. It has slight yellow banding in white field uniformity and it has a color shifting artifact that was sometimes noticeable. Overall, I was surprised to find that I preferred the 8200 compared to the RS1 mainly because of the depth from the much higher ANSI contrast.8200 vs RS20
The RS20 that I have has excellent convergence, excellent full field sharpness and measured 27k:1 on/off with the iris wide open and 44k:1 with the iris aperture reduced. Blacks are clearly crisper on the RS20 than the 8200 and it has a noticeably lower black level. Blacks still looked good on the 8200, but in dark scenes the RS20 was clearly superior. The RS20 also has excellent white field uniformity and no color shifting artifacts. Overall I preferred the image on the RS20 but one thing that surprised me was that after living with the 8200 for awhile, I was shocked to find that I could sometimes perceive a slight haze to the image in some scenes that I hadn't noticed until I had spent a lot of time with the 8200.
In close to long throw the RS20 measures only about 220:1 in ANSI contrast which is a drop from the 308:1 that the RS1 has and much less than the 735:1 that the 8200 has. In some scenes I could see a slight veiling haze to the image that the 8200 doesn't have and I attribute this to the lower ANSI contrast on the RS20. The 8200 clearly had more depth in some bright scenes than the RS20. In fact, after viewing the two projectors I came to the conclusion that the best thing that JVC could do to the RS20 is follow Sony's lead and improve the ANSI contrast to 400:1+ or thereabouts. I still
prefer the RS20. but now that I've viewed the 8200 I'm less ecstatic with it than I was before and I've become aware of the chink in the RS20 armor.Other notes about DILA vs the 8200
Motion blur seemed about the same on the two projectors when PureMotion was disabled on the 8200. Once PureMotion was enabled on the low setting though, the 8200 had less judder and motion blur than either of the JVC's.
I did notice added dithering noise on the 8200 in particular with dark content. The noise reduction feature on the 8200 helped to reduce this though. I didn't find the slight amount of dithering noise distracting though so I usually used the 8200 with the noise reduction set to off.A look at some of the interesting featuresAI
AI is a lamp only modulation feature where the brightness of the lamp is changed depending on the scene. The implementation on the 8200 seemed to react too slowly to scene changes however and after an abrupt scene change there was about a 2 second delay before the lamp would flicker and change intensity. This was very distracting and I quickly turned it off and I think that most others will also disable this feature.Pure Motion
This is a great feature that reduces both motion blur and judder. Optoma uses the Pixelwork PW9800 chipset to perform frame insertion and it has various settings where a user can increase motion smoothness but at the expense of additional artifacting.
The results are immediately noticeable in the high setting and can have a pronounced affect on 24hz film sources. For those who are old enough to remember the fluid motion in daytime soap operas on broadcast TV using CRT, will understand the effect that I'm talking about. The high setting makes film sources look a bit soap operaish. On the low setting, the effect is much more subtle, but it is still effective at reducing motion blur and judder.
One of the best features of Pure Motion is a split screen demo mode which is the best way of seeing the differences from Pure Motion settings. The split screen demo mode is also a great way to get a feel for motion blur and judder in general and I hope more members get a chance to demo this mode and gain a better understanding of both judder and blur.
Pure motion wasn't without some issues however, I did notice that fast motion coupled with pure motion set to high can produce what looks like ghost images. Sometimes there was also a scene with a noticeable, but brief pause to the motion. In these scenes, the projector didn't seem to be able to maintain smooth motion at all times and the artifact looked like an instant of severe motion judder in between smooth periods which seemed to accentuate the problem.
Overall though, the low setting worked very well and was a great feature that I wish more manufacturers would add.PureColor
PureColor adds additional color saturation to the image. The color primaries on the 8200 are already oversaturated to begin with however, so adding additional saturation makes the colors less realistic and too over the top. What would have been a great feature would be to mate this feature along with color acccurate primaries (or a color accurate preset) so that a user could select between a color accurate mode and various degrees of oversaturation. This is an area that would be great to see Optoma explore in the future.SuperWide
The Optoma Superwide feature relies on a 2.0:1 aspect ratio screen. 2.0:1 AR screens have many positives and will be something that will gain in popularity in the future. I'm going to start another thread soon to discuss 2.0:1 screens and also share some information that I received from Anthony Grimani, the President of PMI while visiting Stewart Filmscreen this past week. For now though, I'll just focus on Optoma's implementation of Superwide which utlizes the 2.0:1 AR screen format.
Optoma's Superwide feature provides both constant image height and constant image area on a 2.0:1 AR screen by cropping the top and bottom of a 16x9 active image area to fit within the 2.0:1 screen area. A 1920x1080 image is cropped to 1920x960. Similarly, a 2.35:1 active image area is scaled vertically while the sides are cropped to yield the 2.0:1 AR.
In both cases very little image area is lost (5% with 16x9 images and 7% on each side with 2.35:1 images) which shows one of the benefits of a 2.0:1 AR screen. One of the chief benefits of the Optoma implementation is that an anamorphic lens is not needed, nor is zooming of the lens required. Scaling of 2.35:1 images is needed, but the Optoma provides that internally.
As I mentioned, 2.0:1 AR screens are something that we wil be seeing in the future and it's good to see a company like Optoma begin to use features that utilize this novel screen aspect ratio.
I'm including a link to a powerpoint image that was given to me by Optoma that shows how this mode is used:Optoma Superwide powerpoint diagramB/W Extension
This feature is described in the manual as a black and white extension setting that maximizes contrast. These sorts of featues can wreak havoc by crushing blacks and whites and generally ruining a well calibrated greyscale. I looked for this feature in the 8200 but couldn't find it and found out from Optoma that it had been removed just before the units had shipped. So if you can't find it, now you know why.Issues
I did run into some issues with the 8200 that I should mention. The first one that I noticed was when displaying an ANSI test pattern. The lamp would flicker and go black for a split second and this would cycle about once every minute or thereabouts. This made taking contrast measurements a PITA and it also adds a source of error into the measurements because a stable lamp is necessary for accurate contrast results. Optoma is aware of this problem and is addressing it.
I also noticed when displaying an ANSI contrast test pattern that after the lamp had flickered, that the lamp intensity did not come back up to what it had been. After resetting all of the parameters and power cycling the unit the lamp intensity came back up and I was able to measure contrast values on par with what I had done previously, but it does indicate that sometimes the lamp modulation might not work as it should.
A similar thing happened when taking on/off measurements, after taking on/off for all of the DB settings, I repeated the tests and the iris worked a little inconsistently the second time around and the Cinema1 and Cinema2 settings yielded only slightly better numbers than DB=0ff. The white point was about the same but the blacks were elevated indicating that the iris hadn't engaged.
I never noticed either of these issues happening with anything other than sequential or ANSI test patterns though so it may be related to displaying static test patterns only and may not be somethiing that users will typically run into.
As I also mentioned, there was also the issue with video levels changing when different input interfaces were selected. For example, I would calibrate the unit for HDMI-1 and then do the same later for HDMI-2. When returning to HDMI-1 the brightness and contrast settings would still be what I had set them to but the image would be too dark and completely crushed.
All of these units have been reported to Optoma and I hope that they provide a firmware fix in the future.Screenshots
Nope you won't find any beautiful screenshots in this review other than the photos I've posted above. The reason for this is that it's too easy to be misled by good or bad screenshots. Too many times I've seen great screenshots for example that seem to show lots of contrast and great blacks with projectors that have poor contrast and it gives an incorrect perception of the images that the projector is capable of throwing. Similarly, I've also seen bad screenshots that can make a good projector look bad.Conclusions
The 8200 provides a ton of features at a very compelling price point. It renders most images with a very vibrant look and delivers a lot of depth into many bright and mixed scenes. It's quiet and reduces rainbow artifacts to a level that even rainbow sensitive viewers can tolerate. It delivers excellent ANSI contrast and as we have seen, it includes dynamic black technology which can improve intra-image contrast by as much as 6x while reducing black levels by almost a factor of 4X. The 8200 delivers a lot of performance for the price. The only real downside is a few software issues that need to be resolved which Optoma will hopefully take care of in the near future.