After the Optoma HD8000 replaced last year’s HD80, Optoma created the HD806 for a different segment of projector enthusiasts. While the projector is still being positioned in their home theater line, the HD806 excels in more light output than other projectors in the Optoma line. According to the specs, the Optoma HD806 has a maximum of 2,000 lumens, but contrast and color saturation are somewhat reduced.
The HD806 is nearly completely white with silver trim for the lens. The lens is mounted on the left side of the projector, which pushes out beyond the sloped front. The manual zoom correction is inset at the back of lens and the remote control sensor is mounted just to the right of the lens. The top of the unit displays the control panel including the power, menu, directional and enter buttons. These buttons are lit in bright blue when the projector is on On the bottom of the front of the projector, there are two adjustable feet for positioning it on a coffee table.
The input panel is placed on the rear of the unit and contains one composite RCA jack, one S-Video jack, one component video input, one DVI input with HDCP, on RS-232 control port and two HDMI 1.3 inputs. The projector can output video from 480i to 1080p resolution. The projector is fairly light, approximately 10 pounds. I hooked up a few different sources, a Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray player, an HD DirectTV DVR and a Xbox 360. Start-up time is fast, approximately 30 seconds until it’s ready to go. Shutdown takes a bit longer, clocking in around 50 to 60 seconds.
The on-screen setup menu was generally simply to navigate. In the general setup section, there are language options, a switch for users at high altitudes, an auto power off option and the reset function. The system menu contained lamp setting including hours used and reminders for replacement. There are also settings to modify the projection angle, adjust the screen with a test pattern and change the background colors upon startup. The display menu was fairly standard including overscan, edge mask, image shift, vertical keystone and superwide options. Extended Image options included noise reduction, gamma / degamma adjustments, edge enhancement and color temperature Overall, the menus are simple to navigate, but you do end up pushing into about 3 levels of sub-menus in certain sections.
The remote offers direct access to some picture adjustment functions including brightness, contrast, image AI, gamma, iris and Bright mode. There was also preset buttons for source adjustment including 16:9, 4:3, Native and Letterbox. I also liked the direct buttons for inputs as I despise rolling thought inputs to find the one I need. The remote has direct buttons for both HDMI inputs, DVI, component, S-video and composite. The shift up and down buttons allow for movement of the picture position in case you like repositioning a widesceen output. The remote has an excellent range as the IR sensor is very sensitive. The green backlight is turned on by hitting any button on the remote. I loved the number of options on the remote, but it does feel somewhat crowded.
Our test sampling measured 1,058 ANSI lumens, quite high compared to the Optoma H80. I found this level of brightness most enjoyable when watching the NBA finals on the DVR. In fact, the surrounding ambient light of the room had little effect on the picture quality. The color temperature was quite accurate out of the box and only required some minor tweaking during testing.
For Blu-ray testing, I used The Dark Knight, Kung Fu Panda and Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I found the black levels on The Dark Night to be somewhat lacking for my taste. Perhaps I’m spoiled by recent LCD projectors, but the contrast in the chase scene that was filmed specifically for IMAX theaters was overexposed. The drab, interior shots of Prince Caspian exhibited the same issues. That being said, ambient light doesn’t effect the contrast levels as strongly as LCD projectors.
Kung Fu Panda was brilliant, with or without ambient light. The high brightness levels offered up a vivid level of detail, but did produce the occasional rainbow artifact. The Xbox 360’s HD menu benefited from the high level of brightness and excellent color production. Streaming video from Netflix offered an above average picture quality as well as some darker video games such as EA’s Dead Space.
The fan noise is generally loud (30 to 35db range), but is even more noticeable when Bright mode or Image AI is turned on as the 300 watt blub gets very hot. The noise would become very distracting when using the projector in a small room or sitting nearby. A byproduct of the loud fan noise is tons of heat pumping out of the side vent. I felt the constant rush of heat during my testing sessions and would likely raise the temperature of a small room by several degrees.
One setting that I found to be fairly useless during testing was the automatic iris adjustment. Auto Iris adjusts the contrast range on the fly based on a particular scene’s lighting conditions. In most projectors, auto irises are adjusted several times per second. In the HD806, the auto iris function only adjusted itself every 20 to 30 seconds.
The projector has a limited number of placement options due to the 1:2:1 zoom lens. As there’s also no lens shift, finding a good position on a shelf in the rear of the room can be extremely problematic. Mounting on the ceiling is likely the best option to avoid shooting the fan’s heat if it was sitting on a coffee table. That being said, there’s no motorized zoom of focus function and all adjustments require a manual change.
For those sensitive to DLP rainbows, the dreaded rainbow effect can come into play at times. While it’s not excessive, the 2x speed color wheel does produce the occasional artifact. The Rainbow effect is most common with projectors using a 4 color wheel, but the wheel inside the 806 uses 6 colors, 3 primary and 3 secondary (still a step down from the H80). This likely reduces the amount of artifacts, but I still caught several during my viewing session. Changing my seating position in the room helped reduce the noticeable artifacts, but it’s still somewhat annoying.
The 806 would excel in a venue with large amounts of lighting and a moderate level of background noise. I could see this projector being used in a room designed to watch the upcoming NFL season with a group of rowdy friends or perhaps for few rounds of Fight Night on the Xbox 360, but this projector isn’t ideal for the home theaters. Typically, home theaters would be darkened considerably and wouldn’t require the extreme brightness of the 806. Combine that with the annoying level of fan noise and smaller home theaters would suffer noise / heat issues with the HD806. Check out the HD806 if you are looking to outfit a family room with existing levels of ambient light, otherwise take a look at the Sanyo Z3000 or Panasonic AE3000U for home theater projectors in a similar price range.