A 1080p Gaming Projector
October 16, 2014
When the latest generation of game consoles boosted their resolution to 1080p, they left Optoma's 720p gaming projectors behind the curve. The Optoma GT1080 is their response, delivering 1080p in a projector designed for game playing. Key features include a short throw lens, which lets you get a big image even in a tight space, and a short lag time--an obvious advantage in any game where reaction time matters.
Beyond that, because games include both photorealistic scenes and images that are visually equivalent to business graphics, the GT1080's focus on games means it also has to handle both video and data images well. That lets it double as a data projector or, to a lesser extent, a home entertainment projector for video. The combination can make it an attractive choice at $749 street, even for people who aren't all that serious about games.
One important plus for the GT1080 is that it does an excellent job of avoiding rainbow artifacts (red-green-blue flashes). With static images, I didn't see any. With games and full motion video, I saw them only occasionally and only in scenes that are prone to showing them, including a black and white clip. If you don't see these artifacts easily, you may never notice them with the GT1080. If you're sensitive to them, you'll see some, but almost certainly not often enough to find them annoying.
Also on the list of strong points for game playing is lag time. I measured it in Game mode at 33.0 msec--or 2 frames at 60 frames per second--and between 33.0 and 34.0 msec in all other predefined modes. The only option I could find that affected the lag was Brilliant Color, which increased lag in Game mode by less than 1 msec when I changed it to the lowest setting.
Near-excellent data image quality. Colors in data images were nicely saturated in all predefined modes and suitably vibrant in most modes. In the brightest mode, red was a little dark in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness color model, but that's typical for projectors with a significant difference between white and color brightness. The GT1080 also did an excellent job maintaining detail across the entire screen. White text on black, for example, was highly readable at 9 points, and black text on white was crisp and readable even at 7 points.
Good video quality. Video quality is in roughly the same class as typical home-entertainment projectors in the GT1080's price range, but with one odd problem. Posterization was unusually obvious in some predefined modes, particularly with live or recorded video, as opposed to filmed, content. With Cinema mode, however, I saw barely a hint of the problem, and only with particularly demanding images.
Very much on the plus side, the projector did a good job maintaining shadow detail, it delivered good to excellent color and contrast, and, except when the posterization problem showed up, it handled skin tones well. It also helps a lot that the projector doesn't show many rainbow artifacts.
Game playing. The near-excellent quality for data images and good quality for video translates into near-excellent quality for games. The same crisp focus that lets you read small fonts in a data image lets you see a similar level of detail in a game, and the same ability to handle shadow detail well pays off when you're exploring a dark cave. The 33.0 msec lag is in the range that most people would consider near excellent.
3D. The GT1080 supports HDMI 1.4a, which means it can connect directly to video sources like a game system for 3D. It doesn't come with any 3D glasses, but it supports both Vesa RF glasses and the 144Hz DLP-Link glasses I used for my tests.
Image quality, for both full-motion video and games, was essentially the same for 3D as for 2D images for those aspects of image quality that both share. Color quality was excellent, for example, and I saw occasional rainbow artifacts, but not often enough to be a problem. Also note that the single predefined mode for 3D doesn't tend to posterize images.
The projector also did well on issues specific to 3D. I didn't see any crosstalk, and saw just a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts. A swinging baseball bat in a game, for example, moved in small, discrete steps, rather than a continuous smooth motion. However, the jerkiness those steps introduced was minor enough that I didn't find it annoying.