Big screen projection from a small space, no problem
What is the GT1080?The GT1080 is the latest budget entry projector from Optoma and retails for £599 as of October 2014. It employs the same chassis and electronics as their recently reviewed HD26 but instead uses a short throw lens. The reason for this type of lens is to allow the GT1080 to create a big image, even when there is limited distance between the projector and the screen or wall. Aside from that it's business as usual with a single-chip DLP and colour wheel combination, along with support for 3D and gaming.
Who is it aimed at?The use of a short throw lens is a very handy approach for anyone who wants to get out a projector now and then but only has a small room in which to use it. The GT1080 is small and light, making it quick and easy to setup, whilst the short throw lens means it can produce a big image even in a tight space. This makes it ideal for anyone who wants to watch TV and movies or play games on the big screen but doesn't have much room.
The GT1080 looks like the HD26 but uses a short throw lens, making it ideal for those with less space.
What does it look like?The GT1080 has the same white plastic chassis that Optoma use on the HD26 and the build quality is reasonable considering the price point. The lens itself is also plastic and has a highly curved bubble shape that you expect from the short throw variety. Above the lens there is a focus control but surprisingly that's it - no zoom and, less surprisingly, no shift controls. Aside from that there's the usual selection of basic controls, in case you don't want to use the remote or, worse still, lose it. There are air at the front, sides and back and, as is usual with the cheaper projectors, also an integrated speaker at the rear.
How do I connect the GT1080?
Since the GT1080 uses the same chassis as the HD26, it has the same connections in same unusual position. They are located on the right hand side and are orientated vertically rather than horizontally. Quite why Optoma have done this is a mystery but at least you get two HDMI inputs, one of which supports MHL. Aside from that, the only other connections are a USB port, a 3.5mm analogue audio output, a 12V trigger and a plug for the 3D emitter.
How do I set it up?In general the GT1080 is easy to setup, you just position it on a table in front of your screen or even a white wall if that's all you have, connect your sources to the HDMI inputs and turn it on. Since there is no zoom control, placement is very important because the only way to make the image larger is to physically move the projector further away from the screen or wall. There's no lens shift but as long as the projector is at the bottom of the screen that shouldn't be an issue; just make sure you avoid using the keystone adjustments.
After that all you need to do is focus the image, select the appropriate picture mode and make sure any unnecessary features are turned off. If you want to you could use the internal speaker but if you're going to all the trouble of creating a big screen image, you should at least try and beef up the audio side of things with a soundbar or 5.1 system. The GT1080 doesn't come with the 3D emitter or any glasses, so you'll need to buy those separately and then just connect the emitter to the input on the side of the projector.
Setup is relatively straight forward but the lack of any zoom control means positioning is important.
How do I control it?
Optoma use the same basic remote control for all their budget projectors and overall it's reasonably well designed, comfortable to hold and easy to use. The majority of buttons are well positioned, although the menu key still seems badly placed and affects the ergonomics. Thankfully there is a backlight, which makes the remote control easier to use in a dark environment, although it's doubtful the GT1080 will end up in a bat cave.
What features does the GT1080 have?No one is expecting the GT1080 to be loaded with features, especially when you consider the price, but that hasn't stopped Optoma from including some. As is often the case with these cheaper projectors there is an integrated speaker, although we would expect anyone taking the plunge into big screen action to have an audio solution to match. Having said that, the internal speaker might be useful on occasions where sound quality is less important.
As mentioned previously the GT1080 supports 3D, although it doesn’t come with an emitter or any glasses, so you’ll need to buy those separately. There are two HDMI inputs, one of which supports MHL (Mobile High-definition Link), so if you wish you can show photos and videos from your compatible smart device. As with all of Optoma's projectors this year the GT1080 includes Dynamic Black, which adjusts the brightness of the bulb, depending upon the scene, in an effort to improve the blacks.
We have reviewed a number of Optoma's budget projectors, so we already had a good idea of how best to set them up. Using the Reference setting in the Display Mode options we got the measurements shown below. Compared to the HD26 this performance was very similar, although there was an even greater excess of red in the greyscale, giving everything an orange glow. However the gamma was tracking our target of 2.2 reasonably well, except for some clipping at 90IRE. As for the colour performance, it had exactly the same restricted gamut that we saw on both the HD26 and HD36, with sizeable errors in most of the colours (except yellow) and an under-saturated image.
The GT1080 includes calibration controls, although aren't as effective as on some other projectors in this price range. The white balance control is especially disappointing with only the ability to move across the entire scale rather than at specific points. As a result, we were able to improve the greyscale from 30IRE and up but struggled to eliminate the excess red from the blacks. The gamma accuracy also suffered once we used the control, with increased clipping between 70 and 90IRE.
The GT1080 has a colour management system (CMS) but there is only so much it could do and interns of the under-saturated native gamut, the CMS could add what isn't there. As a result we were able to improve the luminance accuracy but there was little we could do about some of the hue and saturation errors, especially with regards to cyan, green and blue. The image was certainly watchable but the colours were muted, especially when it came to the greens.
The out-of-the-box accuracy was disappointing and even calibration couldn't fix many of the issues.
What's good about the GT1080?The GT1080 certainly meets its primary purpose, creating big screen images from limited space. The projector was easy to setup and produced large pictures that had plenty of detail thanks to the single-chip design. The lack of any zoom or shift means you'll need to be careful about your positioning but once you've found the best spot you can bring the GT1080 out whenever you want to watch something on the big screen. You don't even need to buy a screen, you could just use a white wall.
The projector is also bright, which means it is good for environments with a lot of ambient light, such as the average living room. The motion handling is excellent, as we would expect from a DLP projector, making the GT1080 ideal for watching sport or gaming. The input lag and response times are also good, making the GT1080 a great choice for gamers. The Optoma handled 24p content without issue and this, combined with the detailed images, makes the projector very capable with movies as well.
The video processing was also highly effective, passing all our tests, and the GT1080 had no problems with both standard and high definition content. So when watching DVDs and standard definition TV broadcasts the Optoma handled the content well and really got a chance to shine with high definition broadcasts. Once we moved onto Blu-rays the results were even better with Edge of Tomorrow and X-Men: Days of Future Past looking great on the big screen.
Since there is also support for 3D we connected an Optoma RF emitter to the GT1080 and tried it out with a pair of their active shutter 3D glasses. If there's one area where DLP has an advantage it's 3D, where the fast response times eliminate the problems of crosstalk. The glasses themselves are a little dark but the projector's brightness helps to compensate for this and the resulting 3D was impressive, with X-Men: Days of Future Past looking especially good.
Optoma GT1080 - Video Review
What's not so good?As far as any downsides are concerned, they fall into two areas - those that are specific to the GT1080 and those that generally affect all single-chip DLP projectors. In terms of those that are specific to the GT1080, we've already mentioned that the lack of a zoom control means you need to be careful when positioning the projector. The other issue was mentioned in the technical section, with the excessive red in the greyscale and the restricted colour gamut. These issues can be mitigated to a degree through calibration but it's unlikely that anyone will pay to get a £599 projector calibrated, so the out-of-the-box performance is important.
The other issues are the ones that tend to affect single-chip DLP projectors such as the use of a colour wheel, which means the GT1080 won't be suitable for those that are susceptible to rainbow artefacts. It also makes some additional noise and given the brightness of the bulb and the amount of heat it generates, there is some fan noise caused by the cooling. There's also a degree of light spill through the air vents. Finally the black levels are poor, appearing more like dark grey, and whilst this isn't unusual for DLP it's probably less of an issue for the GT1080 since the environments it will be used in will have ambient light that would just wash out the blacks anyway.
The GT1080 delivers some decent images and the short throw lens could come in handy if space is a premium.
- Bright image
- Easy to setup
- Reasonable greyscale
- Good motion handling
- Competitive price
- Mediocre blacks
- Undersaturated colours
- Possible rainbow artefacts
- Limited installation options
Optoma GT1080 Projector Review
Is it worth buying?
Well that obviously depends on your needs but if you have limited space the Optoma GT1080 is one of the few short throw projectors on the market at this price point. It's easy to setup, bright enough for use in living rooms and great for gaming. If you want to watch sporting events and movies on the big screen, the GT1080 would also fit the bill. Motion handling, video processing and 3D performance are also all good. However the inaccurate greyscale and restricted colour gamut are both an issue and the blacks are weak, although this might not be such of an issue in room with ambient light.
What are the alternative?
There are two obvious alternatives to the Optoma GT1080 and they're both made by BenQ. First of all there's the W770ST, which only has a resolution of 720p but offers great performance for just £480. The greyscale and colour accuracy is better on the W770ST as well, making it a great choice when you consider the price. The other BenQ worth considering is the W1080ST which is a bit more expensive at £799 but as the name suggests is Full HD. It also offers superior greyscale and colour performance and overall is definitely a good alternative to the GT1080.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels6
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box6
Picture Quality Calibrated7
Ease Of Use7
Value For Money8
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