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- Amazingly bright
- Short-throw lens
- Light and compact
- Great picture
- Versatile with many inputs
- Lens cap difficult to mount
- Attracts dust easily
- Speaker not loud enough for video programs
The Bottom Line
The Optoma GT720 was designed with gaming in mind and it excels in its goal and yet pushes the envelope far enough to easily qualify it as the center piece of your home entertainment center when it’s time to relax from gaming and ease into a movie.
Projectors have been around for a good long time. I can remember using my first one during a business meeting in Silicon Valley in a conference room just blocks away from Paramount’s Great America. I had to turn off all the lights and close the blinds to the windows, both exterior and interior, to have an acceptable image for viewing on the drop down screen. Just twenty minutes after the presentation, the unit was hot enough to fry an egg on and the shutdown process took a good five minutes before I could unplug it from the wall. Nearly twenty years later, Optoma has made some amazing changes today from what I used that afternoon. But the GT720 is designed for games, not just PowerPoint slide shows. How does it hold up to the fast paced movement of todays games as well as the ever difficult ambient light?
Let’s tackle the light aspect first. I must admit, when I powered up the GT720 for the first time, I closed all my blinds and turned off all my lights. Up came the Optoma logo as the GT720 warmed up its lamp. The auto-source detect found my Wii quickly and there was the white background menu before me. Bright and, um, pretty high up the wall. I quickly discovered two things about the GT720, it was bright and the lamp is angled in a way that you can almost have it on the floor to get excellent viewing from it. This is due to Optoma employing a short-throw lens into the GT720 allowing you to be close to your screen to gain a large image. The brightness comes from its 2500 lumens that delivers a 3000:1 contrast ratio. Nice.
After moving the GT720 to a lower table and but four feet from the wall, I had a huge image of Wii Sports Golf on my wall. It must have been close to ten feet in size (diagonal!) Dude, no flat-screen is going to come close to what you can do with the GT720 in size! In fact, the GT720 will give you up to 300 inches in screen display! Now, granted, you are not going to get the same sharp and crisp images you will from either plasma or LCD, but you do get one fine image of amazing magnitude on your wall. Believe you me, every guest you put before it will be impressed with the output and leave with a memorable playing experience.
I tested a handful of Wii games from Mario Cart to Super Mario Brothers 8 to even an old GameCube arcade classic. The GT720, optimally engineered just for the Wii, never sweated during any game play. Frame rate was great from the kid games to the pro first-person shooters. Whites were bright and blacks pretty darn deep. Oddly enough, the only issue in game play I found was with colored text such as the red bolded font on Wii Fit dialogs. The letters looked a bit blurred while the rest of text and images were fine throughout. Wii Fit seemed to be the only place I noticed this. While the GT720 is optimized for the Wii’s 800 x 600 resolution, it does support WXGA (1280 x 800) pixels found in the Xbox and PlayStation game boxes.
The GT720 is designed for games, hence the GameTime title (GT), but that doesn’t stop it from being great at watching movies and television shows from either an optical player, such as Blu-ray, or your computer from, let’s say, iTunes. I punched up Planet Earth on a Sony Blu-ray player and could easily visualize the high-definition content. The GT720 supports up to 1080p of HD thought it is not as breath taking as an LCD hanging on the wall giving you the same 1020 progressive. But when comparing it to my Mac Pro that doesn’t support what Steve Jobs termed, “a bag of hurt,” the GT720 has a much more impressive image than the 30″ Cinema HD screen playing from yesterdays technology of a mere DVD. Speaking of Steve Jobs, I went to his more painless method of movie watching and brought up some iTunes content. I had to use a DVI-to-HDMI connector by Belkin and then push audio out to some external speakers since the GT720 will not activate the audio-in port while in HDMI mode. I was displeased to find any quick movement of any kind, from camera swing to fast moving objects, produced clipping frames. I could only replicate this on the MacBook Pro (first generation model) and not from any other input or source. This may be an issue with the HDMI converter or ATI’s video card and I am fairly certain that it is not an issue in the Optoma.
I watched a variety of programs from 19 Kids and Counting to The Miracle Maker to King Corn, the latter from Netflix streaming via the Wii, without any defect noted. The screen was always bright and the image clear. Again, you never get that amazingly sharp image as from which backlit screens produce but you do not find yourself disappointed, either. In fact, at half the cost and twice the versatility of a thin screen, I would have to say most will be very satisfied with the GT720 in their living room, game room, or even bedroom. Optoma went to great lengths to make this a like a Swiss Army pocket knife. With the ability to be hung upside-down and mounted from the ceiling to being able to light up a screen from behind it, reminiscent of the older projector big screen TVs, the GT720 will give you many options to choose from once out of its box. If you’d rather keep it more portable, it handles that without a hitch as well as Optoma has included a backpack to insure the GT720 is protected in travel.
Speaking of protection, any one that has ever used a projector knows you never just shut off (pull the power cable) a projector before letting it cool off the bulb. Unfortunately, there was a couple of accidents where the power bricks power switch was toggled and that immediately killed the GT720s power. Amazingly, it came right back up after a quick fan blow from the device and was up and running in an instant. When you properly shut down the porojector, it only takes an incredible 10 seconds to cool down and shut off.
My complaints are little with the GT720. In fact, it is only a single complaint, really, and that is the lens cap. Positioning the cap onto the front of the collar of the bulb is difficult to get a snug and proper fit. I found myself thinking I had attached it correctly only for it to fall off when I removed my hand. It takes some practice but you eventually get how to coax the rubbery protector on. Oh yes, the warning label inside fell out after the second use. Guess the bulb heated the glue bond off.
What did others have to say about the Optoma GT720? Well, I had a friend from Netflix take a run with it, a group of 25 kids on the Wii, a logistics engineer, and extended family whom all either own large screen or thin screen TVs view a movie and or games on it. The result? A resounding sound of approval. The logistics engineer was highly impressed with the fact that she was viewing a movie of a ten foot diagonal “screen” size. She kept referring to how she felt like she was in a movie theater. The kids loved being able to play Mario Cart in a quad split-screen and be abel to easily race due to their large screen size. My Netflix engineer pal liked what he saw and commented that it really was the way to go for game and movie viewing. I agree, since I don’t have cable or even an over-the-air tuner for viewing television stations. TV is not the center point in my home and with this small box, it’s easy to place into the backpack and put away until the next use. With that backpack and the GT720s ability to produce a nice image on any light colored wall, bringing it to a friends house is easy as grabbing your keys.
Optoma has built a very nice projector that has come a long way since that first one I used in that dark conference room in Silicon Valley all those years ago. The GT720 will bring excitement onto any living room wall and smiles to everyone on the couch in front of it.
Price: $699 (MSRP)
Platform: DLP Projector
Video Compatibility: NTSC, PAL, SECAM, EDTV(480p), HDTV (576i/p, 720i/p,1080i/p)
Connections: HDMI, VGA, S-video, Composite, Stereo RCA Audio-in, Stereo Audio-out & RS-232
Website: Product Information