Projector Reviews Images

Optoma ML1080 Portable RGB Laser Projector Review

Posted on November 30, 2023 by Phil Jones
Oprtoma-ML1080-w-award - Projector Reviews Images
The Optoma ML1080 is a premium portable projector that delivers excellent picture quality

The Optoma ML1080 is an ultra-compact RGB laser full HD 1080p projector that retails for $999.00. While it is one of Optoma’s most compact and portable projectors, the ML1080 includes several notable features that make it an excellent solution for consumer and professional applications.  

While most projectors its size utilize LED light sources, the ML1080 is equipped with an RGB triple laser light source that can deliver 1200 lumens of brightness (550 ANSI Lumens), and it can reproduce a vast range of colors. It had been several months since I saw the ML1080 at InfoComm 2023, so I had forgotten how lightweight and compact it is. The projector weighs just 2.3 lbs and is the most compact RGB laser projector I have ever reviewed.

The projector’s compact form factor brightness, picture quality, and feature set make the ML1080 flexible enough to use at home, on the go, and in various professional applications. Optoma also offers a short-throw version of the projector called ML1080ST  ($1149 SRP) to provide more placement flexibility.

  • Optoma-ML1080-front-top - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-top-back - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-right - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-left-Side-stand - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-w-case - Projector Reviews Images
Optoma ML1080 Specs
Price$999 MSRP
Displayed ResolutionFull HD (1920 x 1080)
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim)1200 Lumens (550 ANSI Lumens)
Light Source RGB Laser
Contrast3,000,000:1 (Dynamic)
Zoom Lens RatioFixed Lens
Sound SystemMono 3 watt
Dimensions6.2” x 5.3” x2.7”
Weight2.2lbs (0.9 kg)



Optoma-ML1080-lifestyle-1 - Projector Reviews Images

There are portable 4K projectors on the market that cost less than the Optoma ML1080 but most can't deliver the color reproduction, onscreen contrast, and brightness of the ML1080. So, while the ML1080 displays less resolution, its picture quality makes it stand out against the competition.

The unit's premium RGB triple laser light source can deliver up to 1200 lumens of brightness (550 ANSI Lumens) while reproducing colors that many more expensive projectors and flat panel displays cannot. The ML1080 can reproduce up to 105% of the BT.2020 color gamut.

The projector's ability to display a wide color gamut is especially beneficial when displaying HDR (High Dynamic Range) material. The ML1080 supports both HDR10 and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG).

Due to the projector's energy-efficient RGB triple laser light source, the ML1080 can deliver up to 30,000 hours of maintenance-free operation while maintaining its brightness and color saturation. The RGB laser light source also reduces the unit's power consumption by up to 58% compared to Optoma lamp-based projectors at the same brightness levels.

Optomo-ML1080-Sample-in-case - Projector Reviews Images
The Optoma ML1080 comes with a convenient carrying case 

The ultra-portable, compact unit has a carrying case so that you can take the ML1080 anywhere. Optoma’s Time-of-Flight (ToF) technology makes setup quick and hassle-free. This feature set includes automatic geometric and focus correction and four-corner correction, making it easy to get the projector up and running in minutes. 

Optoma designed the ML1080 for portability, so the unit has a built-in 3-watt mono speaker. You can connect a compatible external battery to the projector's USB-C power input port to display video content virtually anywhere for maximum portability. Use the ML1080 to display digital signage at a trade show or watch movies at a campsite, even if an AC outlet is unavailable.

While many portable projectors have built-in batteries, the fact that the ML1080 was designed to be used with an external battery instead offers a couple of advantages. Built-in batteries are heavy and expensive, so they add unnecessary weight and cost if you always connect the projector to an AC outlet.

Built-in batteries offer a limited amount of playback time before they need to be recharged. You can carry multiple power banks, so you can use one to continue watching while you recharge the second.

Optoma-ML1080-Digital-Signage - Projector Reviews Images
The projector's ability to deliver a bright, colorful image for a compact package makes it a great digital signage solution.

In addition to consumer applications, the Optoma ML1080 can be used in a wide variety of business environments as well. The ML1080 also includes several features normally found on larger business projectors. For example, you can rotate the unit 90 degrees to project a portrait image, making it ideal for digital signage applications. The unit also includes a digital signage mode which makes it easy to run a slideshow of images and graphics.  The ML1080 also supports 360° projection to display images in any orientation.

There are applications where you could use bright ultra-compact projectors, like the ML1080, to create engaging retail displays or museum exhibits. To highlight this fact, Optoma set up an impressive projection mapping demonstration utilizing multiple ML1080 in their booth at InfoComm 2023.

  • Oprtoma-ML1080-Infocomm-1 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Oprtoma-ML1080-Infocomm-2 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Oprtoma-ML1080-Infocomm-3 - Projector Reviews Images
Multiple Optoma ML1080 projectors utilized in a projection mapping /blending demonstration at InfoComm 2023

The ML1080 has a built-in media player to display photos and video from a USB or hard drive connected to the projector USB-C input. The unit even includes a digital signage mode.

For users looking for more smart features, the ML1080 is compatible with EZC-USB, which enables Creative Cast mirroring and casting so you can screen mirror photos, video, documents, and audio from a compatible Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, and ChromeOS mobile device or laptop. Using the Creative Cast app or desktop software, business users can present Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF documents and photos stored on a mobile device or computer directly on the projector.

It also provides access to the Optoma Marketplace, which contains video streaming apps and allows web browsing. The USB dongle supports the 5GHz Wi-Fi band, which ensures smooth playback of video content streamed from local networks and the internet.

With a retail price of $999, the Optoma ML1080 is more expensive than many portable projectors, but it delivers impressive performance. Its picture quality and features make it an excellent option for anyone who needs a compact portable projector for work or home.


  • Tri-Laser RGB laser light source
  • Can reproduce over 105% of the BT.2020 color gamut
  • 1200 lumens (550 ANSI Lumens) of brightness
  • 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) displayed resolution.
  • 3,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
  • 30,000+ hours of light source life
  • HDR and HLG compatible
  • Auto keystone and focus
  • Support 360 projection
  • Can be powered via a compatible external USB battery
  • Built-in media player
  • Built-in mono speaker
  • Includes carrying case



  • Optomo-ML1080-Sample-front - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optomo-ML1080-Sample-left-angle - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optomo-ML1080-Sample-left - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optomo-ML1080-Sample-right - Projector Reviews Images

The Optoma ML1080 measures approximately 6.2” inches wide x 5.3” deep x 2.7" high and weighs around 2.3 pounds. The unit's compact size makes it easy to carry from place to place or set up where most projectors won’t fit. The projector ships with a case that holds the projector, the power adapter, and the remote control.

The power button and an intake vent, along with the inputs/connections, are located on the left side of the chassis. There is a 3.5mm audio output jack, an HDMI 2.1 input that supports signals up to 4K/120fps, and a USB Type-A connection that can be used to power a mobile device. There are two USB-C inputs; one can playback content from a USB storage device or laptop, and the other is a power connection. The ML1080 can be powered by AC power or a compatible USB battery bank. 

Optomo-ML1080-Sample-with-remote - Projector Reviews Images

Below the speaker and a large intake vent on the rear of the chassis is an RS232 connection and a second USB Type-A input where you can connect a USB storage device or a Wi-Fi dongle. The exhaust vent is located on the right side, and there is a threaded tripod socket located on the bottom, along with an adjustable kickstand.

The small backlit remote control includes all the buttons you need to operate the projector.


The unit's lens is located on the front left side of the projector. The lens is recessed to help protect it from scratches. The fixed lens does not have a zoom, which is not really needed because the projector is so small; you can pick it up and move it anywhere you want to achieve the "Zoom" you want. The ML1080 includes power focus and keystone correction, which are done automatically. You also can adjust these settings manually via the menu.

Optomo-ML1080-Sample-lens - Projector Reviews Images

The ML1080 is available with either a standard or short-throw lens. The standard throw ML1080 has a 1.2:1 throw ratio, while the throw ratio of the short throw ML1080ST is 0.78:1. The standard throw unit we reviewed can project a 60-inch image from 63.1 inches from a projection surface and a 100-inch image about 105 inches (8.7 feet) away. Remember that the distance from the projector lens to the projection surface, the video format, and the zoom setting all play a factor in the projected image quality and size.

The charts below list the throw distance for a variety of screen sizes for both the standard throw ML1080 and the short throw ML1080ST.

Optoma ML1080 Standard Throw Distances for a 16:9 Screen
60" Diagonal61.12 inches
70″ Diagonal73.57 inches
80″ Diagonal84.04 inches
100″ Diagonal104.9 inches
120″ Diagonal125.87 inches
Optoma ML1080ST Short Throw Distances for a 16:9 Screen
60" Diagonal40.91 inches
70″ Diagonal47.70 inches
80″ Diagonal54.50 inches
100″ Diagonal68.10 inches
120″ Diagonal81.94 inches


The Optoma ML1080 includes two menus. One is for picture/audio setting adjustments, while the second Launcher screen is used to access the file manager, media player, web browser, Creative Cast, and Optoma Marketplace. You must plug an optional Wi-Fi dongle into the unit's rear USB Type-A port to access the network-dependent smart features output audio to a Bluetooth speaker. 

Since the sample provided did not include the Wi-Fi dongle, I didn’t get the opportunity to test out the apps available on the Optoma Marketplace. The Optoma Marketplace includes several streaming apps: YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Spotify, and more.

  • Optoma-ML1080-Menu-1 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Menu-4 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Menu-5 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Menu-6 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Menu-6 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Menu-7 - Projector Reviews Images

    Optoma says the built-in media player can playback various video, image, and audio files stored internally or from an external USB-C drive. The projector has 32GB of internal memory where you can upload content. This is useful if you plan to utilize the ML1080 for digital signage. 

  • Optoma-ML1080-Menu-8 - Projector Reviews Images

The Optoma ML1080 has 32Gb of internal memory and a built-in media player, which Optoma said supports a wide range of video formats, resolutions, and photos. Since the ML1080 has internal memory, you should be able to upload videos and photos from a USB drive and store them on the projector.

The ability to playback stored content would be helpful when the ML1080 is used for digital signage applications. However, none of my USB drives were recognized by the projector, so I could not check the unit's media player or digital signage features.



  • Optoma-ML1080-Color-1 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Color-2 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Color-3 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Color-4 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Color-5 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-PQ (15) - Projector Reviews Images

While most compact projectors utilize an LED or Blue laser phosphor light source, the ML1080 has an RGB laser light source. Due to its light source, the ML1080 can reproduce 105% of the BT.2020 color gamut while delivering 1200 lumens of brightness, which is impressive from such a compact projector.

The color reproduction was very good compared to other ultra-portable projectors I reviewed, and the ML1080 includes several SDR picture modes. Below is a quick breakdown of each color preset.

  • Vivid: Delivers higher color saturation and brightness.
  • Cinema: Provides the best balance of detail and colors for watching movies.
  • Game: Optimizes your projector for playing video games by delivering vivid color while maximizing contrast and shadow detail.
  • Bright: This mode delivers extra-high brightness when using the projector in well-lit rooms.
  • Wide color gamut (WCG): Provides a wider range of colors.
  • AI-Picture Quality (AI-PQ): Integrated AI processing uses real-time face and scene recognition to deliver the best visual experience in any room.
  • Presentation: This mode is designed to make graphics look good in business and education environments

The most accurate picture mode is CINEMA, while in a room with higher ambient light, the BRIGHT mode is a good option. The AI-PQ and WCG modes deliver good RGB balance, but the colors were overly saturated. The AI-PQ was my preferred picture mode when viewing content under ambient light.

The ML1080 also supports HDR10 and HLG. The projector’s ability to deliver a wide color gamut is a benefit when viewing HDR content often mastered in the DCI-P3 color space.


Optoma states that the ML1080 can deliver 1200 lumens (55o ANSI Lumens) of brightness, which is impressive for such a compact portable projector. However, Optoma doesn’t specify which brightness standard they are referring to. At Projector Reviews, we measure brightness based on the industry standard of ANSI lumens to make comparing projectors from different manufacturers easier.

  • Optoma-ML1080-Bright-1 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Bright-2 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Bright-3 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Bright-4 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Bright-5 - Projector Reviews Images

To measure the maximum light output of the ML1080, I set the Light Source Mode to Bright and switched the projector to its brightest picture mode, BRIGHT. I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the screen.

ML1080 Brightness (BRIGHT mode): 685 ANSI Lumens

The ML1080 measured 685 ANSI lumens, higher than the projector’s rated  ANSI lumens brightness. However, the ML1080 is still one of the brightest ultra-portable projectors I have reviewed, and it is bright enough to deliver a good-looking image on an 85 to 100" screen in a dark room or under low ambient light.

In addition, wide-color gamut RGB laser projectors like the ML1080 often seem brighter than their ANSI brightness ratings indicate due to the Helmholtz-Kohlrausch (HK) effect. Since the human eye is more sensitive to certain wavelengths of light, viewers often perceive highly saturated images as brighter than less saturated images. I did notice that in the picture modes that utilized the projector's wide color gamut reproduction, colors were noticeably more saturated, and the image looked brighter. The wide-color picture modes are a great option whenviewing content in rooms with ambient light.

I measured the brightness of all seven SDR picture modes.

Optoma ML1080 Brightness

Picture ModesBrightness Measured (ANSI Lumens)  


The ML1080 is one of the brightest ultra-portable projectors I have reviewed, and it is bright enough to view SDR or HDR content on a 100" in a dark room or under low ambient light. The projector's ability to produce good brightness and vibrant colors makes the ML1080 a good option for a backyard theater. I can also see someone using the ML1080 in a digital signage application, like projecting a menu in a restaurant.


  • Optoma-ML1080-Contrast-1 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Contrast-2 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Contrast-3 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Contrast-4 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Contrast-5 - Projector Reviews Images

The black levels and contrast delivered by the ML1080 are comparable to other compact DLP projectors that utilize a 0.23-inch DMD. While the ML1080 produced black that looked closer to dark gray, they were fine for most applications where a projector like the ML1080 would be utilized.

I could make out subtle details of objects sitting in shadows when viewing dark scenes. To further maximize the contrast for dark content, the ML1080 includes a Dynamic Contrast feature. While this feature made it easier to see details in dark objects in the shadows, I found that sometimes it elevated the black level, so I left it switched off for most of my viewing.


There are projectors in the ML1080 price point that can produce better black levels, but they are not nearly as compact.  Whenever I evaluate the projector’s picture, I also try to consider the unit’s likely use case. Yes, the projector’s black level could be better, but the ML1080 will probably be used in a room with some ambient light, so the ability to reproduce ultra-deep blacks is not critical.


  • Optoma-ML1080-Video-1 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Video-2 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Video-6 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Video-3 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Video-4 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Video-5 - Projector Reviews Images

I used the ML1080 to watch a wide variety of broadcast and movie content. Above are screenshots of a variety of videos and movies. While the ML1080 is a Full HD (1920 x1080) projector, its HDMI and USB-C inputs can accept 4K/60fps signals.

This is helpful if you have 4K flat-panel TVs on the wall and an HD projector installed in the ceiling. Often, the source will “dumb down” the resolution to match the resolution of the lowest input source, causing a real headache. Solving this issue might require a costly external scaling solution. Since the ML1080 offers a 4K60p input, split the 4K signal to your displays without scaling or conversion.

Optoma has not forgotten those who want to use the ML1080 for gaming. The unit includes a dedicated game mode, and its HDMI 2.1 input supports ALLM (auto low latency mode).  When the projector's Game mode was engaged, we measured around 25ms when playing 1080/60p content. Due to its HDMI 2.1 input, the ML1080 also accepts signals up to 4K@120fps for blur-free gaming.    

The ML1080 supports high dynamic range content mastered in both HDR10 and HLG. The projector's RGB laser light source did a better job than most compact projectors, reproducing the vibrant colors found in HDR material. The ML1080 also did a good job of tone-mapping HDR content because it deliver good screen brightness with clipping a lot of bright highlights. 

SDR content looked good on my 100”, but I prefer more brightness when viewing HDR content. Its rated output of 1,200 lumens (685 ANSI lumens measured) would produce more than enough brightness for HDR viewing on a smaller portable screen. Whether you are watching HD, 4K, or HDR, the ML1080 delivers a very good picture for its size. Out-of-the-box, the picture quality looked as good or better than most compact projectors it have reviewed.


  • Optoma-ML1080-Text-1 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Text-5 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Text-2 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Text-3 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Text-4 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Text-6 - Projector Reviews Images

Since the ML1080 is a 1080p projector, the text in graphics looked sharp, and it was easy to see all the details in PowerPoint slides. While there are 4K projectors at the same price point, this extra resolution often does not offer much benefit in professional applications such as digital signage.

For example, 4K resolution allows the use of fonts smaller than 8-point, which you might be able to read up close, but it would be too small for a person in the back of the room to make out, regardless of the projector's resolution. In many applications, higher brightness and vivid colors produced by the ML1080 are more important than higher resolution.


The ML1080 includes a single 3-watt speaker. While the sound is thin and there isn't any deep bass, it plays loud enough to listen to narrated video material in a medium-sized room. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack where you can connect a pair of headphones or an external sound system. We do not measure audible noise, but Optoma states the noise level is between 24 and 28 dB. From my sitting position, I could barely hear the fan in the Horizon Ultra in most modes.


Optoma-ML1080-Award-2 - Projector Reviews Images

The Optoma ML1080 is an ultra-compact RGB laser Full HD projector designed for consumer and business applications. Optoma offers two versions of this projector: the ML1080 ($999 SRP) has a standard throw lens, while the ML1080ST ($1149 SRP) is equipped with a short throw lens.

With a suggested retail price of nearly a thousand dollars, the ML1080 is more expensive than most compact projectors. However, the unit’s picture quality, feature set, and construction justify the price premium.

With a suggested retail price of nearly a thousand dollars, the ML1080 is more expensive than most compact projectors. However, the unit’s picture quality, feature set, and construction justify the premium price. For example, due to its wide color gamut light source, ML1080 could reproduce colors that most projectors cannot, regardless of their size.

The ML1080 delivered better color reproduction than most of the portable projectors that I have reviewed. The wider color gamut also made colors pop even in rooms with ambient light. Wide color reproduction is advantageous since the projector supports HDR and HLG content.

Optoma-ML1080-Compact-Portable - Projector Reviews Images
Due to its lightweight and ultra-compact design it is easy to transport the Optoma ML1080 anywhere

The projector's smart features are limited, but it does have a built-in media player, which could be helpful when displaying video and signage. Optoma does offer an optional wireless USB adapter (EZC-USB), which enables Creative Cast mirroring and casting. It also provides access to the video streaming apps available in the Optoma Marketplace, along with web browsing,

The ML1080 includes gaming focused features, including a low lag game mode, and its HDMI input supports ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode).

While the projector has no built-in battery it can be powered using a compatible USB battery bank. The benefit of using an external battery is the unit is smaller and lighter, but you still have the flexibility of powering the unit on the go. You could also carry multiple battery banks, which can be swapped throughout the day, allowing you to use the projector continuously.

  • Optoma-ML1080-lifestyle-2 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-lifestyle-3 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Lifestyle-7 - Projector Reviews Images
  • Optoma-ML1080-Business - Projector Reviews Images
The Optoma ML1080 can be utilize in a wide variety of applications.

The ML1080 includes several business-focused features, including 360-degree projection and a digital signage mode. The unit’s auto focus and auto keystone features make setup quick and easy, especially in a business application.

Several good portable projectors are in the same price range as the Optoma ML1080. The Epson EpiqVision Mini EF-11 ($799 SRP) is brighter and less expensive, but it is slightly larger than the ML1080, and it cannot reproduce the same range of colors.

Another option is the XGIMI Halo+ ($849 SRP), which has a rated brightness of 800 ANSI lumens and includes a full array of smart features and a built-in battery. Both projectors deliver excellent picture quality, but the ML1080’s RGB laser light source can reproduce colors that the Halo+ LED light source cannot.

Weighing just two pounds, the ML1080 can be easily transported in its included carrying case or in a backpack. It offers great picture quality from a very compact package, making it an excellent option for any consumer or professional application where small size and light weight are important. The projector is highly recommended based on my experience with the Optoma ML1080.


  • 1200 lumens (685 ANSI Lumens Measured) of brightness
  • RGB Laser light source delivered bright, saturated colors
  • 1080p resolution
  • Light, compact build
  • Appealing design
  • 360 Projection
  • Includes a travel case


  • Troubleshooting required to get some smart features to work
  • The network feature requires the optional EZC-USB Wi-Fi/BT USB Adapter 
  • The sound quality of the internal speaker system could be better


Optoma-ML1080-front-top-2 - Projector Reviews Images
Full Specifications
Projector ModelML1080
Price$999.99 MSRP
Imager TypeDLP (0.23" DMD)
Displayed Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p)
Native Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p)
Brightness 1200 ANSI Lumens
Light Source TypeRGB Laser
Light Source Life30,000 hours
Contrast Ratio3,000,000:1
Zoom Lens RatioFixed
Power Zoom/FocusPower Focus (automatic/manual)
Lens ShiftNo
Interchangeable LensNo
Ultra-Short ThrowNo
Native Aspect Ratio16:9
Built-in Rechargeable BatteryNo
Blu-Ray 3DNo
Sound SystemSingle 3-watt speaker 
Noise Level (-dB)24-28dB
Low Lag GamingYes
Smart FunctionalityMedia Player
Special Features360 Projection, Digital Signage
NetworkingWiFi via the optional USB dongle
Dimensions (HxWxD)6.2” x 5.3” x2.7”
Weight2.2 lbs. (0.9 kg)
Warranty\1-year parts and labor

© 2024 Projector Reviews

crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram