Gamers, if you have never had the experience of playing video games on a projector screen, you are missing out. Up until just a few days ago I was untrained in such picture perfection as well.
But after borrowing a projector from a friend at church to use for the Super Bowl, I could not help but hook up the Xbox as well. Using a VGA cable hooked to a Dell DLP projector that is a few years old has made Left 4 Dead an insane game to play.
That is without the over the Internet multiplayer ability.... but relax, I was playing co-op with a buddy. Just imagine split screening on an image that is probably 4 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide, it aint a bad deal by any means.
Searching Dell's Web site, I cannot find the projector that I have been using to give you the specific stats. This makes me think that it is a few years old and that the ones for sale today would actually be higher quality for the same price. With all of the options of projectors what should be done for superior gaming experiences?
First and foremost, go for a DLP projector. They offer superior image quality in terms of both picture quality and contrast ratio. You will pay for it up front though, with most DLP projectors costing a lot more than their counterparts. DLP micromirrorsThis arises from the fact that DLP chips contain up to 2 million micromirrors that are less than 1/5th the width of a human hair in size, and all individually hinged.
Images are built by passing light through a color wheel and then on to these mirrors which can be hinged to an on or off position. With this ability, DLP projectors can create around 16.7 million different colors, and thats just for a home or office projector. Cinema DLP projectors can create far more than that. Here is more information on DLP.
Also to consider when looking for a projector for use in your home is the level of ANSI lumens the system can output. Lumen counts range from 800 to 7000 with 800 being ok for a dark room presentation and 7000 lumens cutting through just about any situation. Again, the more lumens, the more price.
If you decide you want to purchase a projector with 5000-7000 lumens, you could easily play a movie on the side of your house in broad daylight for all the neighbors to see. Generally, in home projectors seem to fall into the 2000 lumen range for an ideal model. Seems to be that the more lumens the more weight as well. From less than a pound to 10 lbs or more for some of the bigger ones.
Another source of confusion when purchasing a projector is what resolution it should be at. If your a PC gamer its a good idea to purchase a projector that can match your video cards capabilities, probably to the max to be safe. For those of us that use the Xbox or PS3, of which I only have experience with the Xbox, it is possible to change the resolution fairly easily on the gaming machine but I would still go with the max resolution available.
XGA resolution is at 1024×768 and SXGA is at 1280×1024 just to name a few. Also, if you don't want to think about resolution in terms of resolution numbers, there are many projectors on the market today that say what level of HD they project in as well. 1080p projectors still seem to run close to 2,000 dollars or above.
Increasingly, as I broaden my search for a home projector I find myself intrigued by the company InFocus. These projectors are expensive, probably more on the upper end of projector prices, however at times they appear on woot for far less than retail. Other companies include Sony, Epson, NEC, ViewSonic, and Dell. For reviews on many projectors check out this site.
Now... the drawback to projectors. Although I have only ever seen a projector bulb needing replaced in an education situation, it is inevitable that a bulb will run its course and die over the lifetime of your gaming experience. This is a cost to consider when buying a projector as well. Bulb lives seem to run at least 3000 hours in certain modes.
Some models even have lifetimes up to 5000 hours in certain modes. This is a long long time in all actuality. With a bulb life of 3000 hours you could play video games continuously (24 hours) on your projector for about 120-125 days. Break that down to how many hours a day I often play (1-3) and the lifetime can be extended to 1,000-3,000 days. That's a really long time. (3,000 days is over 8 years.)
So there you have it gamers. Some information to help you choose which home projector is for you. Will it be the highest end model, with all the bells and whistles and costing you 4,000 dollars? Or will you be able to live with a projector more reasonably priced at 400 dollars? Only you can decide. Just check the stats before you take it home and tear open the box for good.