TVs have been getting bigger, for years. In 2009 only a quarter of TVs sold were over 40 inches wide with that number increasing to more than half this year. We can’t get enough of the big screen at home, whether it’s for gaming, movies or sports events. I quite like the idea of truly immersing myself in an event though and to do that at a reasonable price, you need to look at home-projectors before you can truly super-size the Euros or Olympics in to a room-filling, action packed experience.
I tried the Optoma GT5500 home theatre projector and unpacking it reveals its straightforward set-up. There’s a quick-start guide, CD and small remote control with included AAA batteries. After connecting the power lead and turning the device on, you select some basic language and power saving mode settings and you’re ready to go. The GT5500 has a dizzying assortment of sockets on the back for connecting all manner of inputs. I started by connecting my cable set-top box and also a DVD player via one of its two HDMI inputs.
This is an ultra-short throw projector, which allows you to have a 100 inch picture projected from less than a foot away from the screen. There are adjustable feet on the projector with a clever tilt adjustment, so I was able to compensate for a slightly off-kilter unit where I placed the projector. The remote control is labeled clearly and lets you select a video or HDMI source easily. Almost immediately, an 8 foot picture flashed on to my wall. The device has a focus switch which is easy to reach and it takes just a few seconds to bring the huge picture in to perfect clarity.
The GT5500’s has a wonderfully bright high-definition picture, made possible by its 3,500 Lumens lamp. That brightness means the 1080p picture remains clear and bright and doesn’t get ‘washed-out’ by ambient light in a room. This is a significant advance on earlier home theatre projectors and makes it possible to watch TV comfortably with the lights on. You can control the brightness mode of the lamp and use an Eco mode which will preserve power consumption by up to 70% and extend the life of the lamp which should last years.
The built-in speakers were of decent quality, however, for a full immersive experience I connected a sound-bar which allowed the room to rumble in response to the huge pictures on the wall. The remote control also activates a simple but comprehensive on-screen menu system where you can select the display mode and customise the contrast, brightness and other picture settings.
The USB port is ideal for connecting something like a Chromecast and I connected my Nexus Player easily to get all of my Google Play content on the to big screen. I tried a variety of content on the screen from a Blu-ray movie to a Grand Prix and even with high-speed action, there no noticeable on-screen lag and the picture remains well defined and colour rich thanks to the built-in BrilliantColor™ technology from Texas Instruments.
The GT5500 is also 3D compatible and with the optional 3D glasses you can enjoy 3D games or 3D Blu-ray and 3D TV broadcasts if you subscribe to a broadcaster’s 3D channels.
The only niggle I had was the physical set-up of the device as you need to plan carefully where you place the kit so everyone in the room has a decent view. Ideally you should dedicate a full wall to the installation and install a good, though optional, projection screen, rather than relying on a painted white wall. Overall all though, the set-up is superb and while it’s a somewhat indulgent at the price, it’s not every year we find ourselves with such a summer of sport stretching ahead.