Optoma debuts two award-winning portable projectors

Mike Wheatley

Portable projectors are two a penny these days, it seems, but until now very few have put so much effort into ensuring they offer premium-grade picture quality.


That’s changed with Optoma’s newest portable projectors, the ML1080 and the ML1080ST, which were announced last week. As the name suggests, these are 1080p models instead of 4K, but they come with advanced RGB triple laser technology that can take brightness up to an impressive 1,200 lumens and support the entire BT202 colour gamut.

The new models are DLP-based projectors and they’re on sale at the surprisingly affordable price of just £1,099 and £1,199, for the ML1080 and ML1080ST, respectively.

The use of the triple laser lighting system enables the projectors to deliver what Optoma claims is “pure” RGB pictures that can cover a much larger portion of the BT2020 than any of their portable rivals. In addition, they are indeed small enough to count as truly portable, almost fitting into the pocket sized category.

The price are very aggressive and will make them an interesting option for anyone who has a budget but also wants rich, bright colours and greater contrast than the usual portable projector can offer. Optoma says they have a dynamic contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1, and although they’re only Full HD models, it’s worth pointing out that few projectors that claim to be 4K actually show native 4K images. Rather, they use software-based techniques to create a 4K resolution effect, without actually having the correct number of pixels.

As John Archer in Forbes explains, the DLP technology relies on millions of tiny mirrors to reflect the images onto a screen, which creates a smooth and unpixelated finish. As such, the lack of 4K resolution is less noticeable, even at the largest screen sizes. It’s for this reason that Optoma’s decision to go with 1080p in order to keep the prices down is actually a very beneficial thing for consumers.

In terms of the differences between the two models, the only one is that the ML1080ST is a “short-throw” projector, which can project an image of 100-inches diagonally when placed just one and a half metres (around five feet) from the wall or screen.

As mentioned, the brightness is rated at 1,200 lumens, which may not seem very high considering some other, relatively affordable models can hit upwards of 2,000 lumens. However, by the standards of most portable projectors, it’s one of the highest.

Notable feature include a Time-of-Flight system that ensures automatic geometry and focus correction, plus a four-corner correction system. What this means is you can simply plonk it down on the floor or table and it will automatically focus and refine the image to suit the surface it’s projected onto, even at a slightly obscure angle. It also has Creative Cast functionality to deliver simultaneous image, document and screen sharing from up to four devices at once, while the Signage mode performs a slideshow of multiple images or videos.

Optoma points out that the projectors don’t come with batteries, but instead plug into a power socket. However, buyers can purchase an optional PD 3.0 portable charging battery that connects to the unit via a USB-C port. Meanwhile, with the projectors both weighing around 1kg, that ensures it has everything you need in terms of portability.


According to Optoma, both models come with a single HDMI 2.1 port. However, it must be noted that the company doesn’t specify any particular HDMI 2.1 features, so don’t expect it to support next-gen gaming features such as variable refresh rates or auto low-latency mode.

That’s about the only disappointment though, as everything else suggests that these projectors are going to take some beating in the portability stakes. They’re on sale in the U.K. and the U.S. now, and despite only just launching, have already claimed an IF Design Award, Red Dot design award and ProjectorCentral’s InfoComm Best of Show award.