Optoma GT720 Projector Review
Gamers rejoice, Optoma's GT720 projector is designed as a 720p HD projector specifically as a Game Projector. True, it can do a lot more, including 720p resolution 3D - games and more.
7-5-2011 - Art Feierman
Optoma GT720 Projector Overview
The Optoma GT720 is the first home projector we've reviewed that really wasn't designed first and foremost, as either a projector for watching TV and movies, or a business projector. Rather, the GT720 has been designed and marketed as a projector optimized for gaming. No, I'm not talking about beating the Vegas odds, though, no doubt there are plenty of gambling sites you can play on while using the GT720. No, the GT720 is about Angry Birds, SIMS, World of Warcraft, Mario, Doom, Wii Sports and more. Optoma considers the GT720 small and light enough to be a "take it with you" projector. It comes out of the box packed in its backpack!
We're a bit late, I must confess. The GT720 has been around a good year at the time of this writing. The GT720 gaming projector is a $699 projector, very nicely priced for the gaming market it would seem. Shortly, Optoma will release the GT750, and we're going to review that one quickly as it becomes available.
I can say the most obvious difference between the two is that the GT720's HDMI port is HDMI 1.3, while the announced GT750 is HDMI 1.4a. That difference means that the GT750 should be fully capable of playing Blu-ray 3D movies (which require 1.4a).
No worries though for GT720 owners and fans. We reviewed the Viewsonic VP3D1 - a processor that has HDMI 1.4 and can convert Blu-ray 3D to run on the GT720. The difference - buying the GT720 and the Viewsonic - or Optoma's own 3D-XL (similar to the Viewsonic but we haven't reviewed it yet), are $299 and $399 list, thus, makes the combination more than the newer Optoma projector. Since many gamers could care less about Blu-ray 3D movies, etc., many may find the lower cost of the Optoma GT720 projector to be most desirable.
This is a family room, or family projector. Sure, if you had the perfect theater room you could use it there too, but it really is designed for more normal rooms. Its impressive 2500 lumen brightness claim means it's about twice as bright as most of the - get this - brightest of the home theater projectors under $15,000. Few home theater projectors get above about 1200 - 1500 lumens, of those, almost all are, like the GT720, relatively low cost home entertainment projectors, as opposed to home theater projectors. Of course the terminology is very flexible. Most folks refer to, even the most low cost, family room projectors, as home theater projectors. So, let's not quibble over the terms.
The GT720 is a very short throw projector. It doesn't sit inches from the screen or wall, like those ultra short throw projectors, nor does it sit 10 feet away to do a 100" screen (more like half that distance). As such, it sits relatively close to the screen, and typically out of the way, for active gamers, such as Wii Sports gamers. The projector has lots of fixed lens offset. That means it sits low, well below the bottom of the screen. In the practical world of bedrooms, family rooms and bonus rooms, that means it can sit on a low table or the floor, or raised perhaps a foot from the floor, depending on how far off the floor your screen area is.
Mind you, you can make the Optoma GT720 a permanent part of your room. Like virtually all other home projectors, it can be ceiling mounted. Because of the large lens offset, that will be a problem if you have a low ceiling, such as a basement might offer, and want to combine that with a fairly large screen. Of course this same lens offset issue applies to most low cost DLP projectors for the home, be they Cinema, Home Theater, Gaming, or Home Entertainment projectors by definition.
The Optoma GT720, might best be described as a low cost 720p projector designed for the home, with gaming in mind as its primary use. And, as such, it is particularly bright, very short throw, and has built in sound.
I am not a gamer (in any real sense of the term). My occasional game of Risk, and a few Carbon Canyon auto races a year, and maybe a round of solitaire or bridge when bored, do not a gamer make.
For that reason, Pete, our recently added gaming, and game projector blogger, has already worked with the GT720 and posted his impressions as a very serious gamer. In addition, the GT720, now, as I'm writing this, is in the hands of Scott S.
Scott S is another serious gamer and projector owner. While Pete used to be big on games like World of Warcraft, he does a lot of console gaming. Scott S, is a hard core PC gamer, and though he owns consoles, PC gaming is his big thing.
Scott will also write up his impressions of the GT720.
Back to the Optoma GT720. My part in all this, is to look at the GT720 as a home projector. I'll deal here, with color, brightness, how good it looks on movies and sports - all the usual stuff. Pete, and Scott S.'s contributions will be critical though, for the gamers. These guys are getting into things such as lag, and whether the image gamma is suitable for being able to see a lot of the important shadow details found in so many games, especially a lot of those First Person Shooters. There! I've dropped in a gamer term (FPS), I'm feeling more comfortable with the GT720 already. In reality though, I spent a lot of time watching movies and some time on sports. I'll be reporting on how the GT720 compares with low cost home entertainment projectors that aren't claiming to be game projectors.
Let's get started!
Optoma GT720 Projector Highlights
- 2500 lumen claim makes it one of the brightest projectors around, for the home
- Color performance is good for a low cost projector
- Supports 3D
- Brilliant Color ups the dynamics - adds "pop and wow"!
- 3000/5000 (eco/high power) lamp life - excellent - better than most
- Built-in speaker - with significant sound (no deep bass, of course)
- Portable - the GT720 comes packed in a backpack - take it with you
- Fixed, very short throw lens - that's right, place it close, but no zoom for additional placement flexibility
- Can double as a low cost, portable, and reasonable performance business projector, with a handy short throw lens (and backpack to carry between appointments)
- Under $700
Specs for Optoma GT720
MSRP: $749, MAP: $699
Technology: Single chip DLP
Native Resolution: 720p (1280x720)
Brightness: 2500 lumens
Lens: Fixed - Very Short Throw
Lens shift: Fixed
Lamp life: 3000 hours at full power, 5000 hours in eco mode
Weight: 6.5 lbs. (2.9 kg.)
Warranty: 1 Year Parts and Labor (3 mo. on lamp)
View full specifications: Optoma GT720
Optoma GT720 Special Features
GT720 3D Capabilities
The GT720 offers a limited selection of 3D abilities, as is typical of first generation 3D 720p projectors we've seen. It supports 120hz field sequential up to 720p. What the GT720 can't do is support Blu-ray 3D and at least some other 1080p 3D formats. Again, this is typical.
Optoma offers the 3D-XL processor, which is compatible with the full range of 1080p 3D solutions, and goes between source and projector.
We recently reviewed a similar product, the Viewsonic VP3D1, using this projector. Give or take a few strange artifacts, and a little trouble on occasion with a few Blu-ray 3D disks when using a PS3, the Viewsonic combined nicely with the Optoma. One would expect the 3D-XL to do at least a comparable job.
The GT720 is Nvidia certified! That's a big thing in the gaming world, and does indicate that hundreds of 2D games can be rendered on the fly into 3D. (Remember, those 2D games are designed in 3D to begin with.)
GT720 As a Gaming Projector
Here are the same summaries (found on the summary page) from our two Gaming bloggers, Pete and Scott. Click on the links for their full blogs on the GT720 as a game projector:
The Optoma GT720 is a fabulous choice for gamers on a budget. It throws an extremely bright and respectably sharp image (720p). It’s made for a shelf mount configuration, like most gamers use, and it also is notably portable - both because of its size and its built-in-speakers. I could easily see myself packing the GT720 up (in the included travel backpack) for a night in a friend’s house or taking it “down the hall” for a movie night in the lounge. Unfortunately, we did not test the GT720 for 3D gaming, although future game projectors will be, as soon as we are set up. There are better choices for home theater enthusiasts, but the GT720 is great for gamers who have limited space and are on a budget. - Pete
Scott also likes the GT720 as a game projector:
The Optoma GT720 is bright, easy to set up, has built in sound, lag is a non-issue, and the best part...it is portable! This makes it a fun, and capable gaming projector that is easy to transport to a friend's house. Another huge plus for motion control gamers out there is that the Optoma GT720 is a short throw projector. You can set it up in front of you on your coffee table and you will never walk in front of the projector's light path. While I loved this projector for its gaming abilities and portability, I felt it was a weak performer when it comes to movie viewing. Though it would be passable for the occasional movie. The black level leaves much to be desired, and the color always seemed a bit "off" to me, though the GT720 wasn't calibrated until after Pete and I looked at it (see Art's comments). This projector is affordable, portable, and very capable when it comes to gaming. I would definitely recommend the GT720 for those purposes. If you intend on using it primarily for movies and television viewing you may want to look elsewhere. - Scott
GT720 Lamp Life
Great lamp life. Optoma claims 5000 hours in Eco-mode, and 3000 hours at full power. The Optoma doesn't lose as much brightness as most other projectors though, when dropping down to Eco-mode - less than 10%. Combine that with the excellent brightness of the GT720, and many of you will just run your projectors in Eco-mode, save money, and not notice the small brightness drop.
Short Throw Lens
The GT720 has a fixed lens - no zoom at all. That's ok, it's a very short throw design, which places the projector close to your screen or wall. You can fill a 100" 16:9 screen from just over 5 feet. That's very convenient for gaming, and for quick setup in almost any room. The projector will sit well below the screen bottom, due to lots of lens offset.
GT720 Projector - Audio
The Optoma GT720 serves up a pretty respectable sound quality from the 10 watt system, with two 5 watt speakers. As you would expect, there's no deep bass, but the system has a well rounded sound, not tinny. Not bad for a small projector, but seriously, it's not like having a surround sound system with a sub-woofer!