Your Retro Gaming Rig Needs a ‘Cheap’ Projector
What makes a perfect gaming setup? Traditionally, the best TV for consoles was paired with a high-refresh-rate, ultra-sharp monitor for your personal computer. The CRT is the ultimate choice for retro gamers. It’s perfect for playing classics such as SNES and Genesis.
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But what about the games in the middle—the not-quite retro but not quite modern games, like PS3 and Xbox 360, that run in 720p? As it turns out, a “cheap” projector might just be these games’ best bet.
The 720p game is at a strange crossroads visually. A CRT, while great for lower-res, older consoles, doesn’t allow the 720p’s HD visuals to properly shine; on the flip side, 1080p and 4K TVs offer resolutions that are TooHigh for 720p. Because the pixels are not properly mapped, games won’t look as great as they should. In order to properly display the signal for these games, you’ll need a 720p monitor.
First, let’s recap: Video is composed of pixels. Your game’s resolution is 720p. This means that your game outputs video 1,280 pixels wide and 720 pixels high. The TV will measure 1,920 pixels by 1,080p pixels high if it is a 1080p model. If you have a 4K TV, that TV is 3,840 pixels wide and 2,160 pixels tall. What’s happening when you try to output a 720p video signal to 1080p or 4K is the pixels from your game are blown up to match the increased pixels density of your higher-res TV, resulting in blurriness, jagged edges, and a general loss of detail.
In short, it’s not ideal, and is far from what the game developers had in mind when designing the game.
These problems can be solved with a 720p Projector
Enter the projector. Not just any projector, mind you—a 720p projector. People are now looking for projectors that can stream 1080p or 4K video, as most of their content is either 1080p, 4K, or both. You don’t pay Netflix $20 (yes, it’s $20 nowAfter all, ) to stream in HD at 720p
However, if you’re really into 720p consoles like PS3, Xbox 360, and even Wii U, buying a projector specifically for this type of gaming should be on your radar. The native 720p projection will match the consoles pixel-for pixel, so you can enjoy classics like GTA IV and Uncharted better than on your Full HD TV or 4K TV.
But it’s not just games from the mid-2000s that work well here. These projectors are great for retro console reissues like the MegaDrive Mini and the SNES Nintendo Classic Mini. They can play their games at 720p which makes them one of the best ways to experience these remastered gems. These projectors can output at 720p manually, so even consoles that are capable of 1080p or 900p, such as the Wii U, Switch and Wii U, will look amazing. You might have noticed some graphical imperfections like blurry edges, soft focus or blurred edges, but these games will be bright with pixel-perfect projection at 720p.
All 720p projectors may not be the same
Now, I’m not advocating you buy any cheap projector you see. Cheap projectors made today might seem enticing, but they’re cheap for a reason; they don’t offer good color reproduction, and they’re horribly dim. You might find that they are not as good as you expected.
Instead, if you’re serious about your games’ visual reproduction, I suggest you aim your budgetary sights on older projectors—projectors that are cheap not because they aren’t high quality, but because people don’t want them anymore.
My Life in Gaming has a wonderful video on this topic. The entire video is about projector types, but the section that focuses on high-quality 720p projectors really grabbed my attention. These projectors have excellent picture quality and brightness which makes for excellent projection. While it’s true you wouldn’t want to buy one of these devices to project modern 1080p or 4K content, it It isPerfect for 720p video.
Pricing is the tricky part. Ideally, you’d want one of the projectors shown in the video, such as the Marantz VP-12S2 or the InFocus ScreenPlay 7205. These projectors were made to be the best home theater options available at that time. They provide excellent 720p picture quality.
The best place to buy one of these projectors cheaply is in person. These projector models are more expensive than the price the host could afford to purchase them. They were however purchased from a used technology shop for very little. You might consider this route if you want to get the best 720p projector at a reasonable price.
There are many great deals available online for 720p Projectors. However, the quality of the images may differ, as I stated above. These cheap options are not for everyone. Be sure to check the brightness. This is shown in lumens. A room that has some ambient light, you’ll want to find a projector in the 1,500 to 3,500-lumen range (at least).
Don’t be afraid to dive into the critical comments, as well; unhappy customers can tell you if the projector you’re looking at is too cheap to consider. However, do remember you’re looking for a 720p projector, not a high-res one. If people complain their 1080p or 4K content doesn’t look right in a 720p projector, that isn’t particularly useful information.
Customers love this 75-cent option. Turewell projector. The projector is not perfect, but it’s bright enough and clear enough to be used by most people who need native 720p projection. If you don’t have luck finding a premium 720p projector in stores or online, this is one type of cheap projector you might want to look for.
You can buy a 720p TV, instead.
If you’re going through the trouble of trying to find a good 720p projector, you might be wondering why you shouldn’t opt for a 720p TV instead. My Life in Gaming offers a great answer. It is really 768p TVs. While those two numbers might not seem far off, it still means your 720p games are going to be scaled on a “720p” TV. You’d be better off playing these games on your current TV, rather than spending the money on a fake 720p TV that won’t even do what you want it to.
[My Life in Gaming]