Optoma ThemeScene HD81 review

You pay a lot, but you also get a lot

TechRadar Verdict

A magnificent projector that delivers excellent results, but you may need a professional to set it up for you


  • +

    Separate connectivity box

    Good basic spec

    Superb picture performance


  • -

    Difficult and limited setup

    £5,000 is a lot of money

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Couple '1080p projector' with '£5,000' and you've got an exciting proposition. Optoma's new DLP video projector is the first to offer full-on HD at this price point, and it has many other tricks up its sleeve too.

With a claimed contrast ratio of 10000:1, brightness of 1300 ANSI lumens and the benefit of a DarkChip3 optical processor under the bonnet, the HD81 has an impressive spec.

Connectivity is much better than you usually see because a separate box handles that side of things. The Gennum Visual Excellence Processing box packs in multiple HDMI and component HD inputs, as well as offering quality upscaling of standard video sources to 1080p levels.

Keystone cops

There's a minor drawback for some in that the projector setup is complicated; matters aren't helped by the absence of an optical lens shift and, unfortunately, only basic digital keystone correction.

Other minor quibbles include the noise of the cooling fan and the fact that the supplied cables are a bit on the short side.

Assuming you get everything up and running, however, any concerns will soon be allayed. The pictures that the HD81 delivers are simply breathtaking when you hook up a 1080p HD DVD deck.

The level of depth is unsurpassed, with no visible artefacts or lines intruding on the image.

There is a clear and unmissable step up from a 720p or 1080i projector. Serenity is great in 720p, but becomes mesmerising at 1080p. Colour fidelity, black levels and resolution all score top marks, but (and despite the quoted figures) the contrast is merely very good (but that's hardly that's any real sort of criticism!)

The visual results of hooking up the likes of an XBox 360 is overpowering in the best possible sense: your gaming experience can now be measured in feet rather than inches.

Upscaled DVDs also impress thanks to the fine job done by the Gennum video scaler. The system does not introduce its own artefacts and does a solid job of extrapolating more data from that supplied.

Your existing DVD collection still won't rival the high definition formats, but you'll be satisfied for a while, until you build up your new HD collection.

Inside job

The slightly complicated setup procedure (when compared with other projectors) means that this may require a professional installation for some potential buyers, but the benefits will be clear when you have a home cinema to rival the smaller screens at your local multiplex.

A case could be made for waiting for other products to see if some of the wrinkles present here have been ironed out, but the temptation to get out there now and enjoy the magnificent picture the ThemeScene HD81 serves up will be well nigh irresistible to many.

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