The Optoma GT5500 home entertainment projector stands out for its combination of ultra short throw, 3,500 lumen brightness, and low street price, at only $1,299. It's currently the least expensive full HD (1920x1080), 3D ultra short throw model on the market and one of the few meant specifically for home entertainment. It's also the only one designed with gaming in mind, which is reflected in a reasonably short lag time of 34 ms.
The ultra short throw is the most compelling attraction. It lets you place the projector inches from a wall-mounted screen and get a bigger image than any comparably priced HDTV. For an immersive gaming experience, the ultra short throw also lets you sit as close to the screen as you like without worrying about casting shadows. Even better, the 10.7 pound weight makes it a lot easier to move the GT5500 into place than a big-screen TV, while the position--immediately in front of the screen--makes it just as easy to connect.
The 3500-lumen brightness is more than enough to let the recommended maximum 100-inch image stand up to ambient light in a family room. Another benefit is that the 16-watt mono speaker delivers usable sound quality and sufficient volume to fill a small to mid-size room-you can use an external sound system but you don't need to.
The GT5500 offers six predefined picture modes. None are customizable. Change any setting, and the modified version becomes the one new User mode, overwriting the previous User mode setting. As with many projectors, the Bright mode has an obvious green bias and a tendency for some colors to be dark and dull. It also shows tints at most gray levels between black and white. The same is true to a lesser extent with Blackboard mode, which is the second-brightest choice.
Optoma GT5500 Ultra Short Throw Projector
However, the other four presets all deliver much better color quality than Bright or Blackboard mode, although some colors are a touch darker and duller than they should be in all modes but sRGB. Three of the four also show fully neutral grays at all levels from black to white, with Movie mode doing almost as well, except for a slight yellow-green tint in the brightest shades.
Even ignoring the two brightest modes, color quality overall is just a hair better for color graphics and games than for photorealistic images, where you're dealing with memory colors like grass and sky along more subtle shading, as with skin tones. I saw a hint of posterization in faces in one particularly demanding clip, for example. Even with video, however, colors and gradations are well within an acceptable range.
The GT5500 also handles most other video quality issues well. It did a good job holding both shadow and highlight details, for example. I saw a touch more noise than typical, but I saw it only in clips that tend to cause the problem, and it wasn't obvious enough for most people to find annoying.
Rainbow artifacts are not much of a problem on the GT5500. If you are particularly sensitive to DLP rainbows, you'll notice them rarely enough with color content that it's hard to believe anyone would be bothered by them. They show more often with black and white video, but that's true of many single chip DLP projectors. Keep in mind that one important advantage of the single-chip DLP design is that it eliminates any possibility of chip misalignment, which is a potential issue for all three-chip light engines.
3D Video. The GT5500 supports both DLP-Link and Vesa RF glasses for 3D, although the RF glasses require Optoma's $49 optional RF emitter. As with most 3D projectors, the image quality is essentially the same as for 2D for those attributes that both 2D and 3D share. In addition, the projector handles 3D-specific issues well. I didn't see any crosstalk in my tests and saw barely a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts. Like many projectors, the GT5500 offers only one predefined 3D mode. As a pleasant surprise, the 3D picture is brighter than expected, although still dimmer than the 2D modes.
Data Presentations. When using the GT5500 for data and graphic presentations, colors are vibrant and well saturated in all picture modes except the two brightest ones. These have noticeably dull, dark color--which is due to the amplifying of white brightness over color brightness to achieve the brightest possible picture with word processing documents, spreadsheets, and other data images with white backgrounds. More important for many presentations, the image holds detail well. Black text on white, for example, was highly readable at 5.0 points in my tests. White text on black was crisp and readable even at 4.5 points.