Optoma GT1090HDR Short-Throw Laser Gaming Projector Review
Laser light source with up to 30,000 hours of maintenance-free life
Low input lag
120Hz refresh rate
High ANSI lumen output
Red out-of-the-box is too orange
Clunky remote design
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Here’s what we think
With its maintenance-free solid-state light source and many of the same features as the GT1080HDR, the GT1090HDR is an excellent upgrade over the GT1080HDR.
Unlike trickle-down economics, trickle-down technology actually happens with technology that was once out of reach. One of the great things about technology marching forward is that once out-of-reach technology becomes available for everyone. A laser light source projector aimed at gamers, the $1,399 GT1090HDR is one of Optoma’s first laser light source projectors. In Bright mode, the light source has a minimum life of 20,000 hours, which is five times longer than the GT1080HDR. It’s almost half the price with the GT1080HDR, but when you add five $150 replacement lamps, it’s practically a wash. When you combine higher light output with 4K HDR and low input lag, the GT1090HDR looks great on paper for anyone in the market for a gaming projector, and it even has a 120Hz refresh rate at 1080p (after a firmware upgrade this past summer).
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Light source is the most significant difference between GT1080HDR and GT1090HDR. Instead of using a lamp, the GT1090HDR uses Optoma’s DuraCore laser technology. DuraCore is Optoma’s laser technology, first released in their professional projector line in 2017. In addition to an IPX5 rating, which indicates dust protection, it indicates a long-life light source (at least 20,000 hours in Normal and up to 30,000 hours in Eco). As a result, end users have to perform little maintenance and don’t need to change their lamps every few thousand hours.
Compared to the GT1080HDR, the laser produces 4,200 ANSI lumens, which is sufficient in rooms without full light control. A single Texas Instruments 0.65-inch 1080p DMD chip bounces off the blue laser after passing through a phosphor wheel and four-segment RGBY color wheel. A contrast ratio of 300,000:1 can be achieved with Optoma’s Extreme Black technology (which allows the laser to be completely off in a full black image). HDR10 and HLG are supported by the GT1090HDR, although high definition content is displayed in the Rec.709 color space.
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A benefit of the laser light source
With a laser light source, the projector opens quickly—11 seconds after pressing the button, the Optoma splash screen appears and it takes under 30 seconds to sync with the 4K source (in this case an Xbox One X). Unlike a lamp that takes minutes to cool before being turned on again, it turns off quickly and turns on again just a few seconds later. As a result of efficient cooling, fan noise is kept at 32dB (though it spikes in high altitude mode).
A 100-inch diagonal image can be thrown in less than four feet with the GT1090HDR’s 0.5:1 throw ratio. It is best to place the projector lens a few inches below the screen for proper placement. A focus ring lever at the lens feels nice and firm. In addition to the 0.8-2x digital zoom, the camera has a digital horizontal and vertical image shift (+/- 30 degrees) and auto keystone correction. If possible, I strongly recommend that you place your projector correctly and avoid any digital adjustments, since they can cause artifacts and affect brightness, unless your setup makes it impossible. ProjectorCentral’s Optoma GT1090HDR Throw Calculator can be used to calculate distance placement.
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With Enhanced Game Mode enabled, the GT1090HDR has an input lag of 16.4ms with 1080p/60 signal (49.8ms without). Enhanced Game Mode can be turned on in any picture mode, not just the one labeled game. This is comparable to most midrange TVs, and it is fast enough that players shouldn’t feel any lag effects. There was a firmware update (C13) that added 120Hz support at 1080p after the release.
There are two HDMI ports on the back of this device (one 2.0b/MHL 2.2, which allows for 4K input and one 1.4a), VGA in and out, two 3.5mm audio connections, a 3.5mm mic connection (for use in conferencing rooms/business settings), composite video connections, one USB power-only port for a streaming stick (5V, 1.5A), and one micro USB port. For 3D, there is a 3D Sync option that allows you to use an external RF transmitter and glasses instead of DLP-Link if you prefer that the device is equipped with an additional RF transmitter and glasses.
My eyes always had to look down at the backlit remote because it has so many buttons of similar sizes. Upon navigating the menus, my thumb never went down far enough to reach the Menu button to close them because the F3 button is poorly positioned between the directional controls and the Menu button. Similarly, the backlight is very bright when first pressed (it gradually fades out after a few seconds). Each time I looked at it in a dark room, it took me a moment to adjust my eyes. Optoma thinks consumers who work from home might find the remote useful as a laser pointer.
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Key Features List
1920×1080 (1080p) native resolution
Accepts and displays 4K signals at 1080p with HDR
HDR10 and HLG support
Maintenance-free DuraCore Laser Light Source
Up to 30,000 hours in Eco (20,000 in 100% Power mode)
4,200 ANSI lumens
Enhanced Gaming Mode with 16.4ms input lag (at 1080p/60)
0.50:1 Short Throw Ratio
GT1090HDR scenario 01
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A total of eight SDR display modes are available for the Optoma GT1090HDR: Presentation, Bright, Cinema, Game, sRGB, DICOM SIM, and User. In addition, there are three HDR10 and HLG picture modes—each enabling with the right signal—and one user-activated 3D (that only works when a 3D signal is detected). In HDR, there are four picture modes: Bright, Standard, Film, and Detail. Last year, I noticed that these settings altered the visibility of detail at the extremes of light and dark in Optoma projectors. They would allow me to adjust them according to the content I was watching. It wasn’t as noticeable that the GT1090HDR (or some other Optoma projectors I’ve seen recently) had different modes than it used to.
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Bright display mode
ANSI lumens were measured at 3,662 in the Bright display mode. This mode showed a slight green tint to the image as most projectors do in their brightest setting, but it isn’t nearly as objectionable as I normally see. If you want an extra amount of light without worrying about color accuracy, it would be acceptable. Using Cinema mode (a more accurate display mode) reduces the light output to 2,110 ANSI lumens, which is still an impressive amount of light for a room with some ambient light.
With portrait display software, a spectroradiometer from Photo Research PR-650, and an HDR pattern generator from Diversified Video Solutions, I generated 1080p SDR signals with VideoForge Classic. While the Warm color temperature setting added a red tint to grayscale (more so at the darker end of the curve), I preferred it over the very blue look of Standard (especially as it approached 100% white), not to mention the Cool and Cold settings. A calibration fixed almost every issue with the color accuracy. The blue was a bit oversaturated out-of-the-box, but the red had a visible orange tint that affected skin tones as well.
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The accuracy for color
The DeltaE for grayscale was 2.4 and the accuracy for color was 2.3 after calibration. It would have been better if the color average had been lower (green, cyan, magenta, yellow were all at or below 1.2), but the red problem persisted. In addition to being undersaturated, it was also no longer tinted orange, giving flesh tones a more natural appearance. HDR, still a bit of a problem with all projectors, had undersaturated color in every color except blue. As a result of the EOTF curve, gray luminance in midtones (40-70%) was also too low, but this is a common problem with many projectors.
TI’s BrilliantColor is a DLP product with a default value of 10. Higher settings increase white brightness, which gives an overall brighter image. At a setting of 10, the color brightness was only 38%), and lowering the value improved both accuracy and relative color brightness. However, as well as increasing the color temperature, it also made whites and grays blue, almost purpley, at a setting of 1. Color brightness was improved without affecting grayscale with 8 as a good compromise.
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Because HBO still hasn’t improved their streaming bandwidth and app support to 4K HDR, I watch most of my 1080p SDR on HBO. Recently, people have become obsessed with a documentary series called The Vow, which is about the multi-level marketing company NXIVM and its leader, Keith Raniere, who was recently found guilty of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges related to a secret society within the company and sentenced to 120 years in prison. A short throw projector can sometimes result in visible out of focus in the top corners of the screen, but with the GT1090HDR, that did not happen. This projector produced a great image. There was excellent detail in the cracks on leather couches, stubble on some men’s faces, as well as the wood grain on the exterior of a house. The skin tone was a bit muted, but it did not look unnatural.
On the GT1090HDR, I enjoyed watching 12 Monkeys even though the detail is a bit softer on Hulu than it is on HBO’s The Vow. During the final season, the show was shot in the green countryside outside Prague. It was bright enough to match the ambient daylight in my living room, even during darker castle interior scenes. Red forests play an important role in the theme of the 12 Monkeys series. While the dramatic action on the Optoma still holds weight, the undersaturated red color loss prevents me from seeing the visual pop I usually see on other displays.
Daylight was able to illuminate even the darkest scenes in 12 Monkeys owing to the Optoma’s light output.
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In spite of the lackluster measurements on the Optoma GT1090HDR’s HDR, I actually enjoyed and engaged with it. A projector in this price range usually loses the darker parts of Blade Runner 2049, but there’s a nice depth of field because of the projector’s overall light output. However, the bright highlights in HDR content lack the pop that I love, and the colors are a little muted.
There have been some small changes, primarily in brighter highlights. The four different dynamic range settings are all pretty close together—more so than in the past few years. In my view, Standard (the default) worked best for all the material I viewed. Using the Bright setting can add some punch, but it can also blow out bright whites.
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The controller reacts very quickly when the Enhanced Gaming feature is enabled. While playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Mortal Kombat, or Sea of Thieves, I had no problems at all battling Dathomir, or battling enemies. I experienced no screen tearing while playing at 120Hz on the Xbox One X. I had no trouble playing pretty much anything with the GT1090HDR, as the brightness stood up well to the ambient light in my living room when I watched TV. While I was leaning forward more during darker moments, I never felt strained as I was confident of what I was seeing in the shadows.
In the event of detecting a 3D signal, the GT1090HDR displays a pop-up asking if you wish to switch to 3D. There was no ghosting or crosstalk with Ant-Man, and the brightness of the projector is another significant advantage for 3D content. After that, the Optoma handled 3D content without any issues. Although I am always concerned about drawing closed curtains or watching 3D at night, the presentation was bright and punchy. Anyone who prefers to use an RF emitter over DLP-Link glasses will appreciate the addition of a 3D Sync connector on that back.
Final thought on the Optoma GT1090HDR Short-Throw Laser Gaming Projector
The GT1080HDR was an excellent gaming projector that I had the opportunity to examine a couple months ago for $799, but the elevated black level doesn’t make it as good for movies as it should. GT1090HDR is definitely better than GT1080HDR. But is it $600 better when you consider the replacement lamps that will be required with the 1080? You’ll need a calibration to get the most out of it, but with 20,000 hours ahead of you, it’s a good investment.
As the next-generation consoles are imminently released, they will be able to output 4K at 120Hz through HDMI 2.1 ports to displays. Those who dislike cutting-edge technology will point out that the Optoma has an HDMI 2.0 port and a 1080p limit. There will only be a few games that can run at 4K/120 at launch (remember, in addition to the console and display, the games must also support it). 1080p at 120Hz will be more than enough for most PS5 and Xbox Series X gamers, and it will also fit much better within their budgets.
It’s difficult to beat the Optoma GT1090HDR if you’re looking for a short-throw gaming projector under $1,500. In addition to performing well in light polluted rooms, it also does well under low lights and during movies. As a home theater gaming projector, it ranks high.