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8/10

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Optoma GameTime GT7000 DLP Projector - Optoma GameTime GT7000

Yet more good news finds the GT-7000's colours looking both more richly saturated and much more naturally toned than those of the GT-3000. I need to be realistic about this and say that we're clearly not talking about colour subtlety or accuracy to rival a normal- or high-priced projector, here. But tones are generally good enough to convince rather than distract, and in fact it's this respectable colour palette together with the really very decent black level response that ultimately make the GT-7000 so much better than any other projector we can think of for anything like the same money.

As always with a budget DLP projector, the GT-7000 does suffer with the technology's rainbow effect, where stripes of red, green and blue flit around in your peripheral vision or appear over very bright image elements. This can be slightly annoying during gaming, which tends to use more contrasty images than your average film or TV show. But actually the problem is far less overt than on the GT-3000, or indeed numerous more expensive DLP projectors we can think of. What's more, the GT-7000 also keeps an impressive lid on those twin DLP issues of dot crawl in dark areas, and fizzing noise over moving skin tones.
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I also wasn't as perturbed by the GT-7000's standard definition performance as I'd expected to be. Sure, the lack of any truly high-level video processing circuitry means standard definition pictures look rather soft, and there's little if any effort to reduce the MPEG blocking noise found in many digital broadcasts. But actually the slightly soft flavour of the GT-7000's standard def picture seems to reduce grain and mosquito noise, and provided you take care to adjust the video and gamma presets to suit whatever source type you're watching, there's also less trouble from dodgy colour tones than I'd have anticipated on such a dirt-cheap projector.

One concern I do have, though, is that the GT-7000's surprisingly high performance almost seems beyond the physical limits of the projector's chassis. In other words, even though its cooling fans appear to be working extremely hard judging by the occasionally distracting amount of noise they pump out, the GT-7000 projector runs intensely hot. While this may be handy for keeping the house warm if you run out of heating oil over the New Year, it's a little concerning so far as the projector's longevity is concerned. Still, the GT-7000 comes with a five-year colour warranty from Optoma, so maybe I'm worrying too much.

Turning to the sound produced by the GT-7000's included speakers, I'm afraid the situation is just as uninspiring as it was with the GT-3000. For while the little speakers can go louder than you'd think from looking at them, and can cope OK with relatively undemanding audio like the ‘cutesy' soundtrack of Viva Pinata 2, they rather fall apart with the explosive histrionics of something like Gears of War 2. The mid-range distorts and even disappears under duress, all too often taking vocals with it.

Verdict

Although the GT-7000's audio system is a let down, the projector more than makes up for it by producing startlingly good pictures for such an astonishingly affordable unit. In fact, it's good enough to perform credibly with HD movies as well as games, giving it an all-round appeal that makes its £480 price tag look so cheap it's almost obscene. But in a nice way.

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