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Optoma GT1080 Projector Review

    Home cinema projectors are great as they can give you really big images and truly make your home like a cinema, but one of the key issues is that you also need lots of space to create the image, and that rules out such a set up for most people’s living rooms.

    We’ve spent some time with Optoma’s GT1080 short throw projector, which reduces the amount of space needed and is being aimed at gamers. So what is it like?

    .

Build

As projectors go, it is relatively small and elegant. It’s made from white plastic, is well designed and doesn’t look out of place in a home. It comes with a carry bag, remote control, a power lead and HDMI cable.

It has a large bulbous lens on the front, some simple controls on top and two HDMI sockets, 3.5mm Headphone socket, a mini-USB port and also has a 12v trigger port (in case you wanted to connect it to an automated screen). Some people might complain about the lack of VGA or DVI ports, but in this day and age, virtually everything can output via HDMI.

Inside, it’s optics are based around a single chip DLP system, with a claimed brightness of 2800 lumens and a contrast of 25000:1. Impressive numbers, but ones which we take with a pinch of salt in the real world.

It’s also worth noting that it has a built in 10w speaker.

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Performance

Setting up the projector is interesting in itself. Firstly as it’s very simple. Stick it on a coffee table in front of a screen/wall, and turn it on. I would like to complain a little though. Given it is a projector, and is likely to be that bit further away from the rest of your AV gear, it wouldn’t have hurt to have included slightly longer power and HDMI cables than the 2 metre ones included. Although technically long enough, it does make things look a bit messy.

The next thing to note is that as it’s a short throw projector, you only have to place it a metre away from the screen to get a lovely big picture. As it has a fixed lens, it does mean that you need to move the projector closer/ further away to adjust the picture size. The GT1080 also has three adjustable screw feet (one front / two back) to help adjust the positioning of the image, and also a digital keystone system to straighten the edges.

The back-lit remote control helps adjust picture images further. You can adjust all the typical colour settings, but there are also a couple of presets included depending on the type of viewing your making. I did fiddle with the Brilliant Colour and Dynamic Black settings, but I found they created artificial looking images.

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Once set up, I found the images to be sharp, with good detail, and there were few signs of other issues such as motion blur and judder which often affects affordable projectors. It did suffer occasional rainbow effects when watching bright objects against dark backgrounds, but it rarely interfered with overall enjoyment.

I’ll be blunt. This is never likely to be your main home display for films/ TV programmes. Although pictures are large and sharp, I found the blacks / contrast limited compared to any decent flat screen TV. The built in speaker is at best also comparable to a budget TV. It’s nice to have, but I’d recommend connecting this to some external speakers. Where this projector does come into it’s own, is with gaming.

The Optoma GT1080 has a gaming mode which improves the response time. If you’re the type of person obsessed by response time, I’m guessing this isn’t the type of display you’re looking for, but for the rest of us, this is really good. As this is a short throw projector, this came into it’s own set up with the Xbox Kinect. The problem with most conventional projectors is that you’re jumping around infront of the image, and creating shadows. With this, it’s not a problem at all. So it becomes an instant hit with any people who like to jump around in front of their console. For more sedate people sitting on their sofa and shooting baddies or racing around etc, this still provides a large and involving picture which adds an extra dimension to your enjoyment.

Speaking of extra dimensions. This is also able to pump out 3D images, but rather annoyingly doesn’t include the needed accessories to do so. A single pair of glasses and transmitter costs an additional £90.

I should mention operating noise. The fan does kick in immediately and it’s not quite. You will hear a consistent whirr in quite scenes, and even when on standby, it does continue to make a quite noise. If you’re playing games, then it’s not really a problem, if you’re watching a tense psychological drama, then it does ruin the ambience a bit…

Getting back to the images. They’re bright, with vibrant colours. Unsurprisingly, you do find you need to use the GT1080 projector in a darkened room to get the best out of it. You can use it in a dimly lit room, but everything looks washed out.

Summary

I must admit that I’ve really enjoyed using the Optoma GT1080. It opened up a new world of gaming for me. Whether it was playing football, shooting baddies or jumping around and making myself look a fool in front of the console (and my friends), the big screen action created by the short throw projector made for a compelling experience.

Would I buy one myself? Available around £590, in terms of picture quality, it’s not going to replace a conventional TV at that price, but it does make an excellent second room option if you’re lucky enough to have a games room. It also makes an excellent option for doubling up to show the big game with a few friends. You can watch football matches and other sporting events and make it more of a social event with this short throw projector.


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