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First off, I have to come clean ......not only have I never reviewed a projector before, this is the first projector I've ever owned. And while I try to keep myself abreast of the newest info,...
Picture quality, 2D Brightness, Noise Level, Black levels, Frame Interpolation
3D brightness, Placement flexibility, Remote Control, Minor HDMI Handshake Issues
First off, I have to come clean ......not only have I never reviewed a projector before, this is the first projector I've ever owned. And while I try to keep myself abreast of the newest info, trends, and technology that floods the AV market, by no means am I professional. So if you are looking for tech specs, industry jargon, or someone with a time tested trained eye that can decent the slightest bit of variance in the black levels, then I'm not your man. What I do bring to the table is a guy who loves AV, can tell when a picture is true, enjoys his self made man cave, and knows when he sees a good thing!
The first thing I noticed about the HD33 was it's design. Not over the top but not nondescript either. Very HD20ish, but a bit more slick and smooth, with all vents removed from the front ( to prevent casing light leak I assume). Both sides are for main venting with the rear you're typical I/O panel of today's projectors: Two HDMI v1.4a connectors, Component Video, VGA-In, Composite Video, Mini-din (for the IR Emitter), an RS-232 with +12V Trigger, VESA 3D Port. The remote is by far the projectors biggest flaw. Tiny, minimal, and glowing a brighter blue than a neon on bourbon street, it's best left in a drawer and quickly replaced with a universal remote.
Mounting was your typical fare when it comes to most sub $3000 projectors (ie: no lens shift), so it's all about planning and measuring when it comes to mounting projectors like this. A good mount always helps, especially since the HD33 does seem a bit front heavy, so keep that in mind when finding your center point to avoid shifting over time.
As for the HD33's user interface, while it wont win any awards for style, it is intuitive and straight forward. All you're favorites are there for calibration and control: Brightness, sharpness, color adjustments, lamp level, test grid, etc ...... the only glaring omission is gamut controls. But probably the most welcome picture setting the HD33 hast offer over the typical stuff is it's frame interpolation, or as Optoma likes to call it, PureMotion. While frame interpolation can give that other worldly "soap opera effect" on regular 2D movies and TV shows, it can be a lifesaver for those who like sports, or fast moving scenes while in 3D mode, removing that hated judder that usually accompanies such viewing.
Out of the box the HD33 is a beamer, throwing 1800 Lumens. But out of the box is not the true test of a projector, and while I never measure the light output personally on my HD33, on low lamp mode, tuned with a combination of The Disney wow Blu-ray and AVSforums own AVS HD 709 disc, it's plenty bright for bat cave viewing on my 100 inch, .8 to 1.0 gain BOC screen. It's still very view-able with light ambient light, especial if you bump the lamp mode into high. But daylight or high ambient light viewing gets a little rough, as is expected with most projectors. 3D mode brightness leaves me wanting for just a little bit more lumens, but I attribute this to my low gain screen in combination with 3D glasses being the equivalent of sunglasses. Give me a 1.3 gain screen and I think I would be signing a different tune.
Lamp life in quite nice also, coming in at 2000 hours at full power, and 3000 in eco-mode. I've had my HD33 since September 2011, and I use it as a daily driver, so I'm up to about 1,600 hours on the bulb (almost exclusively in low lamp mode), and she's still is going strong.
HDMI handshake issues, while rare, have reared it's ugly head from time to time. Not so much loss of signal/screen going blank, but a quick adjustment/re-handshake that looks like a color shift, can happen from time to time on my set up (HTPC/PS3 to AVR to 25 foot 24 gauge HDMI run), but is rare enough to where I wouldn't mention it other than trying to be thorough.
Performance wise, I couldn't ask for anything more at the HD33's price range. The sharpness and film like image of the HD33 in both 2D and 3D mode is beautiful in my eyes. Calibrated properly, the colors just pop off my screen, and the blacks are just about the best I could imagine for it's price point. Throw in a 6x speed (3x-speed 60hz/3D), 6-segment RGBRGB color wheel, I personally never experience any rainbow effect that I seem to be prone on slower/ lower segment color wheels. With a properly calibrated set of DLP glasses receiver, 3D ghosting is also almost non existent on this projector.
Gaming is an utter pleasure on this machine. I spend 3-6 hours a day, 5 days a week on the HD33 and I would estimate half that time is spent on gaming. Both my Nvdiia GTX 670 based PC and PS3 perform flawlessly in conjunction with the projector. 2D and 3D is beautiful, colors are great and the action is smooth, but more importantly the lag is minimal (comparable to an LCD/LED TV), which is quite important to me. Turning on PureMotion does seem to increase the lag a bit, but still way less than LCD projectors in this price point.
Again, I'm not a professional by any means, just an educated enthusiast. But for my money and eye, while I could see another projector beating the HD33 at specific aspect, in consistency of performance across the board, I can not see a projector in it's price point/life cycle outperforming the HD33 .