So it is that time again, another Optoma projector review, this time, this is a bit of a monster, and I mean that in the best way possible. Whereas the ML750st I reviewed before this was small and cute and even came with a carrying case, the GT5500 weighs in at just under 5 kilograms, and is big, there is a reason for its size though, this is a UST projector or an ultra-short throw projector. How short of a throw? Well to get a 100” projection image you need the projector to be a scant 30cm (11.8 inches) away from the wall. That. is. Insane.
Disclaimer: Optoma sent us the GT5500 to review free of charge, we had it for a little under a month. No monetary compensation has swapped hands and no entity other than editors at MTT are reviewing this before it goes live. Due to unforeseen circumstances with an SD card, there are unfortunately no live images of the projector and very few of the projection. Whilst this is an inconvenience, we still think you deserved to have a review.
- Texas Instruments DarkChip 3 DLP chip
- 3500 ANSI Lumens
- 1920x1080p resolution
- 16w speaker
- 2x HDMI 1.4
- 2x VGA
- 2x 3.5mm audio in
- 3.5mm audio out
- 33ms Input latency
- Power consumption
- 0.5w in standby
- 310w in high brightness
- 260w Eco mode
For more specifications, hit up the Optoma product page for the GT5500 here
Let’s just get this out of the way, the GT550 is big, at 310x385x120mm you’re going to want to make sure you have some serious space for this beast. Once you get past the size of the unit it’s actually quite nice and strangely gets out of the way. It’s big and heavy, sure, but the matte white plastic really does just blend in with most furniture, which is appreciated
If you’re looking at the GT550 from the front (if you’re sitting down) it’s quite barren, with a grey plastic grille and an IR emitter for the included remote (I’ll get to this later), this simple design goes well with the fact that it is away from the bright light emitting parts of the projector, so once again it fades away, getting out of your way so the projection screen takes over.
Left hand side is even more barren than the front with just the plastic grey grille , though this is perforated for better ventilation. Flipping 180 to the right hand side, we are only slightly less dull with a nice big cutout of the grey grilles for the projection lens assembly, but otherwise, you know the drill, the grey grilles get out of the way and fade in in a dark room.
Instead of me talking about every single piece of I/O on the rear of the GT5500, I’ll place an image of the rear so you can see the plentiful I/O. Personally, I would have prefered at least one more HDMI port in place of the VGA, preferably 2 HDMI. Another wish would be that a manufacturer of Projectors, and a great one like Optoma, to work with Google to get the cast protocol baked into the projector, kind of how Vizio did with their 2016 TVs, so if you just wanted to cast to the projector, no more separate purchases or dongles etc, just connect the Projector to the internet via the ethernet jack on the back or maybe add in WiFi, and boom off to the races.
The Top of the GT5500 is a little weird, you have this trapezoidal shape cut out for the lens assembly, which looks strange, but I get it. Then there are the buttons, for the power, source, brightness and temperature, but there is this other section, that I have absolutely no idea what it is for or what it does, but since I did not own this nor have money to buy one to take it apart, I just left it as is.
All oh my time with the GT5500 was on a chest of drawers because A) I wasn’t going to ceiling mount a projector that I unfortunately wasn’t allowed to keep and B) I don’t trust myself ceiling mounting something 5kg when the projector costs over a grand.
In a word, amazing, which if you’ve read any of my Optoma reviews, you shouldn’t be surprised by. Optoma have a very well regarded name and reputation when it comes to projectors, because they’ve earned it, they’ve earned the reputation of having great looking projection, with great colour, limited fringing or haloing and more and the GT5500 takes that to the next level with an an absolutely insane short throw setup that i’ll certainly miss.Actually, the headline feature of the GT5500 is one of the things that makes me most hesitant to recommend it to normal people wanting a projector. Whilst in theory, 30cm from the wall for a 100” image is awesome, and it is, have a sit down and think just how many places in your house could actually support that. I don’t have a small house (not bragging, we were just really lucky when we bought) but even so, with the way we have the rooms set up, only one of the potential 8 rooms could actually accommodate the GT5500.
100” is a big image, like seriously big, and it’d be perfect if I could place it on the wall where my fireplace is, because the chimney breast could hold that image, sadly there is actually nowhere for the projector to sit that is about 30cm from that wall, once again without ceiling mounts. Once I found that one room though, and had it set up, the GT5500 looks absolutely phenomenal.
So you’ve measured your home/living room/man cave etc to find out if it fits, you’ve scrounged together a grand for the GT5500 and it’s arrived, you plug it all in and now what? Well, now you sit down and almost effortlessly watch some of the greatest recorded media you will have ever seen.
People need to stop thinking of resolution as the be all and end all, especially when it comes to projectors, Optoma proved that when I got the ML750st at at 80” I had to make sure it was only a 720p projector, because even with my glasses on, I couldn’t tell. 100” at 1080p sounds like you’ll be able to see each and every pixel, but at even a suboptimal viewing distance you still can’t and as long as you aren’t watching some very poorly recorded/encoded media, this is likely the best way to view films and TV unless you happen to have a 4K OLED tv in the other room.
Watching the Blu-Ray of The Matrix on the GT5500 was an experience I’ll never forget, even in a pitch black room, which is not a requirement on the GT5500 by the way, the dark scenes with Neo and Trinity were just encapsulating, despite the fact that it is an older film and the special effects aren’t as good as what we have now, the Blu-Ray master of it was just impeccable. But maybe I should have tried something more modern, so I plopped X-Men Apocalypse in there (I will not hear you say bad things about X-Men films, they all serve a purpose) and Oh my, I was just as blown away here. This 1080p Blu-Ray on a 1080p projector looks insane. You could have told me this was a 4K remaster on a 4K projector and I would have likely believed you. Colours popped where they needed to and were subdued where they needed to, dark scenes were dark, and Apocalypse’ skin was all kinds of blue that I didn’t know I could see.
I mentioned that You don’t need to be in a dark room to watch the GT5500 I meant it, the 3500 ANSI lumens are the real deal, whilst curtains open and living room lights on might be a bit of a stretch, one or the other is certainly doable, and curtains open is something I did relatively often. Whilst you will still get the absolute best picture in a dark room in the evening, if this is going to be your TV replacement, you don’t likely only watch TV at 10pm in the evening with all the curtain closed and the lights off (no judging if you do. Well, a little) So it is nice to know that the GT5500 can stand up to ambient light conditions without becoming a washed out mess of an image making you wonder exactly what you spent all that money on.
The built in 16w speaker is just okay, but clearly the bulk of the cost of the GT5500 gets spent on the lamp and the lens assembly, so you’ll likely want to throw in a sound bar if you’ve got one or if you’ve got a full surround sound system that’d go a long way to increasing the immersiveness of the GT5500’s experience.
I plugged a pair of PC speakers into the GT5500, they weren’t great, but the stereo setup let me split the audio into left and right channels instead of the mono speaker on the GT5500 itself. So whilst the sounds wasn’t much louder, it was cleaner, clearer and more separated, so vocals were more enjoyable.
The GT5500 has a standard 3.5mm audio in, but sadly no Optical or Toslink jacks so you can’t use those, but the more standard 3.5mm based solutions will work perfectly fine.
Miscellaneous in projector reviews basically means two things heat/noise and the remote, and I’ll speak about the remote first because I have less to say about it. I don’t like the remote the GT5500 comes with, with how much the rest of the GT5500 feels like a TV replacement and like it deserves to £1050 price tag, the remote feels cheap, very cheap, I can’t quite put my finger on one singular feature that I dislike, but the mushy buttons, the weird blue backlighting, the seemingly duplicated features and much more, the remote works, but it is a bad remote, and I expected more from a device that costs as much as the GT5500 does.
On to heat and noise, and for the most part, this is a solid machine, bar one small issue. When you turn the GT5500 off, the fans ramp up for a couple of seconds, but sound like a Boeing 787 taking off, they are monstrously loud for those few seconds. During use, you’ll be unlikely to hear the GT5500’s fans over the audio from the speakers, which is great, and when it’s off it’s, well off. But for last ditch effort to get as much heat as possible out of the chassis before it turns off is quite jarring if you are not expecting it, maybe some sort of warning on the screen saying:
“Note, fans will ramp up before shutting down, this is normal, it is to vent excess heat”
Something like that wouldn’t go amiss.
My Reviews of Optoma projectors usually end with BUY THIS NOW IF YOU CAN, and the GT5500 get’s so close to that recommendation again, and strangely, it is not the price tag that stops me plopping that in here, but rather the headline feature, the Ultra-short throw. Wit other projectors there are ways to make them work for you, the ML750st was so small and light that mounting it on the wall was neither a pain nor a worry, the HD28DSE, on the other hand, was big enough to go on the other side of the room, but if the size was wrong, the zoom ring on the lens assembly made compensation easier without resorting to digital cropping as on the GT5500.
If you have the space for the GT5500, and you know you won’t ever move it, I can wholeheartedly recommend you buy it. But if that seems like a few too many catches for you, Optoma make a veritable smorgasbord of other projectors, I’m sure one of them will pique your interest, Optoma continues to make great projectors, and the GT5500 is a phenomenal projector, just make sure you have to room before buying one.