After putting Optoma’s entry-level projector PT100 through the wringer it was of little surprise that their GT720 3D GameTime Projector would be a considerable improvement for its intended purposes, namely high-quality gaming on the biggest available surface without going broke in the process. DLPs remain a major draw for A/V enthusiasts looking to get the most from their electronic investment and, apart from a few questionable design choices, the GT720 doesn’t skimp on the goods. Its actually one of the more impressive digital projectors for the money, especially if big-screen gaming is your top priority.
Our hands-on evaluation was performed on the GT720, but most of this review could also theoretically apply to the step-down GT700, which has nearly-identical specs, except for physical lamps with slightly reduced ANSI lumen count (2300lm vs. 2500lm) and contrast ratio (2500:1-3000:1). Overall, the quality of these projectors should come close to each other if you’re in the market for a new projector.
When we broke out the GT720 we noticed that its style was right in line with most DLPs – Optoma’s included. The frame sports a glossy black look, with rounded edges and stylish grating for critical heat ventilation. Control buttons are located on top for power and menu options, adjustable focus dial on above the lens, with three screw nubs fixed on the bottom for proper vertical angle. Its relatively smaller size and weight should make it easy for most enthusiasts to mount or even carry between locations; Optoma was nice enough to include a padded backpack for easy (and safe) travel. Nice touch.
Since it’s being touted as an gaming projector, connectivity is well-suited for most of today’s major gaming platforms, with single inputs for composite, S-Video, VGA, and HDMI located on the back, with the component signals fed through the PC port with an included workaround adapter. It also comes equipped with two 5-watt speakers built into the unit itself and an additional 3.5mm audio output port for PC speakers or makeshift sound systems, with a lone RS-232 serial input for professional installations. Rounding out the package is a small remote control that, frankly, could have been designed much better, but more on that later.
Performance-wise the GT720 generally doesn’t disappoint if gaming is what you’re looking for, especially those of you with the latest high-definition consoles. With a native resolution of 1280×800 WXGA (configurable maximum at 1600×1200) you’ll get a full HD-quality look with a little bit of auto-correcting and support for other monitor resolutions where available, and there’s plenty to fiddle with if you’re willing to undergo a little bit of trial and error find that visual sweet spot. Despite this projector only capable of upscaling to 1080p the results were satisfactory when we had the right game (or Blu-ray movie) under long-term sessions.
Adjustments like pictures, gamma, and color control were an unusual combination of user-friendly and calibrator-oriented options. The lumen correction is good enough without much hassle for people who prefer to keep their settings on default (for cinema/bright/presentation/game/blackboard/classroom/user/3D), while every other aspect of picture customization will require some familiarity as you undergo the never-ending game of fine-tuning.
There’s plenty to mess around with as you can modify color gain and bias, temperature, and separate gamma type among the standard contrast/brightness/tint selections; needless to say if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing it’s just best to leave these advanced options be, as switching between presets is less obstructive and better for those who want to play in ambient or daytime lighting. And yes, for those who happen to play during the daytime, this projector’s impressive lumens mean it can be used in all but the most extreme lighting situations.
Enabling big-screen gaming on this projector was simple and easy to get running on appropriate surfaces, and even with our projector a scant 4′ from the wall we were treated to a glorious display measuring roughly 68” to 73” with nearly every fine detail reproduced in vibrant colors, deep blacks (in intended dark environments), and razor-sharp pixels. DLPs are well known for their excellent refresh rates, which helps get silky-smooth performances out of HD-consoles like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, and the GT720 certainly does that. The projector may only upscale its content to 1080p, but this is really a moot issue given the vast majority of today’s HD games ‘only’ output at 720p.
It’s hard to gripe when playing fast-moving games like Super Street Fighter IV or Halo: Reach on such an enormous screen. Even standard and enhanced-definition game consoles, such as the PlayStation 2 and Wii, performed remarkably well, too, with colorful and sharp outputs that remained attractive even when scaled to gargantuan levels. Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii, in particular, looked especially impressive running on such a huge display.
While Optoma may not be touting it as a true home theater DLP, the GT720 can effortlessly produce a running cadence of 1080p at 24 fps (1080p/24) with fairly scant flickering when watching HD content like Blu-ray movies; a must for videophiles who want that genuine cinematic look.
Another feature that we didn’t test but want to make note of is the GT720’s 3D capability, which provides immersion and depth with compatible and future content. So far the addition is only available for computer gaming and available Nvidia graphic cards through their own 3D-XL converter box and required proprietary DLP-Link active shutter glasses, so right now the appeal of a third dimension is a novelty at best for Optoma’s lineup, at least until they update the hardware.
As a whole Optoma has a really good unit on their hands, though a few issues hamper an otherwise good projector, especially with the speakers and the remote. You shouldn’t expect perfection from a two speaker 5-watt sound system, but the real issue is with how the unit handles audio output. While most electronic devices would automatically cut off the internal speakers when outputting through the 3.5mm jack, the GT720 doesn’t, nor does it give you any option to mute the onboard sound. This means if you plan on using one for your main video output component, better make sure that you’ve routed audio output – even through HDMI – through another splitter or audio receiver, unless you plan on hearing the unit’s unremarkable sound output mucking up your (hopefully) superior setup.
The biggest complaint I have is with the remote itself, which has poorly implemented arrow buttons that are misleading and couple this with the fact the remote is black and the buttons don’t glow in the dark and you can imagine the hassle of trying to efficiently use one and you can see where the cumbersome part comes in.
Optoma’s GT720 3D GameTime Projector manages to pack superb picture quality and performance in one capable projector package, with easy connections and impressive presets that should help make any HD gaming experience a good looking one. Standard definition games and Blu-ray movies don’t look that bad, either, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find this much quality elsewhere at a better price. The inability to silence the onboard speaker when outputting audio is just bad design, as is the remote control with its confusing arrows, and we hope Optoma can fix them in future revisions. Still, neither are deal-breakers, especially if gaming on incredibly big surfaces is what you’re after.
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