Ever since my first experience using them, I always find myself asking why people don’t look more closely at entertainment projectors as a proper replacement to flatscreens. True, they’ve long been considered the go-to choice for expensive home theater builds, but advances in performance and cheaper bulbs have helped modern projectors become viable display alternatives.
Optoma’s GT1080 Gaming DLP Projector challenges the status quo by competing directly with those expensive panels where it counts – money and accessibility. This is ready for next-generation consoles like the Wii U, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (current-gen if we’re being honest) and works well enough for images and the occasional 3D Blu-ray, despite not learning a whole lot of new tricks.
On appearances alone, the GT1080 is a white glossy slab that could pass as either minimalist or just plain. The front is occupied by a prominent and bulging lens while an equally noticeable vent on the left side dissipates heat (and there will be a lot of it too), the top is also bare aside from the quintessential focus dial and control panel. And finally, the three legs on the bottom are height adjustable to help with keystone angle.
Look on the right side though and you’re treated to more vent inlets and a modest selection of two HDMI ports (one supports MHL), a mini-USB port, audio output, 3D-sync output (for RF active-shutter glasses), and a 12V trigger for professional remote installations. These connections will be just enough if you’ve embraced the latest in games. At least the GT1080 is travel-friendly and comes with a matching carrying bag.
In reality, the GT1080 is a spiritual successor to Optoma’s “GameTime” line of projectors and follows in their footsteps almost to a tee. Once again it lends itself to being used anywhere in tight spaces and a 90” display can be had at about 3-4 feet from a wall, but you’ll have to physically move the GT1080 further or closer because it lacks a short-throw lens to accompany the manual zooming that other and less robust protectors include nowadays. It’s worth noting that the GameTime lineup has never offered this feature before but that’s hardly an excuse now. The remote is also a holdover from before and looks dated, even before you notice that some of the source buttons are there for show and further point out the unintuitive button layout. As a consolation, the clicker comes equipped with backlighting and menu navigation is well-sorted.
Audio is provided through a single 10-watt speaker, which is another carryover from the previous GT750. The delivery won’t amaze audiophiles but is loud for an impromptu movie or game night. With a 2800 lumen rating this could also pass as an everyday projector if you regulate it to mid-level or ambient lighting. During the day the GT1080 works decently until direct sunshine kills the picture – you’ll have better results with shades down or in the dark as intended.
Fortunately, performance comes standard with improved image quality, and incredibly rich colors that portray only a tinge of pronounced blue and cool temperatures. Without BrilliantColor enhancements, saturation was nicely handled in Cinema and Reference presets while Game, Vivid, and Bright is more about screen brightness and further drowning out red hues. Shadow details remained balanced as contrast also helped blacks appear deep when match to untouched whites, although the Dynamic Black option helps things along too. Of course, braving the settings yourselves will probably yield better results, just keep an evening free if you plan on doing it. One mild distraction is a noticeable rainbow effect that’s perceived as red, blue, and green flashes during scenes of motion, this anomaly will only affect a small number of people and even my eyes had to gradually adjust to it during testing.
With a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 you’ll certainly be getting the most out of PC games (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare) and consoles (Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros for Wii U) with everything looking large, crisp, and very detailed. Response time is also something that won’t disappoint with observed 19ms (milliseconds) of input lag; excellent figures usually reserved for flagship TVs where quick reaction is paramount in first-person shooters and fighting games.
Stereoscopic 3D remained solid but you should anticipate a slightly dimmer image due to its active-shutter technology. Crosstalk and ghosting are almost nonexistent and motion artifacts are kept to an absolute minimum, also similar to plasmas (PDP) and more expensive LED TVs. Our time was spent with the DLP-Link glasses which sync without any adapters and automatically acyivates when compatible content is shown. There’s also the universal approach with a RF universal VESA glasses and external emitter. Unfortunately, no matter what your preference none of these accessories are included in the box, something that’s irritatingly common for projectors.
It’s been a while but Optoma’s GT1080 is pleasantly familiar, and brings the improvements you’d expect from a proper refresh – particularly for full HD resolution. However, some of the existing features are resting on its laurels – lacking secondary short throw lens zooming, a remote that’s just mediocre, and digital input options that won’t appeal to so-called “old-school” gamers. Regardless, the GT1080 is more than capable and a great value, especially if your tastes lean towards modern gaming and massively scaled entertainment.