So, you’ve decided to take the step up from a screen to a projector, for that immersive experience. The good news is that you’ve got a wealth of choice, running from cheap to budget-blowing, with well-known brands such as Sony, Epsom competing with made-in-china options and projection specialists such as Optoma.
But which will you go for?
The first thing you have to decide on is your budget, which, as with most things, will effect what you can get. Once you’ve decided on your budget, be it £500, £10,000 or even more, look out for the following things:
Of course, this is the obvious place to start, and for gaming projectors you want high def, or else why bother? There are other standards, which are all a worse quality picture, and some of these may claim to be ‘HD compatible’ or the like. All this means is that they can accept the data from a HD film or game, not that they can reproduce it at full quality; so make sure that your purchase is full HD, unless you’re only getting your projector for portability or space-saving reasons, and don’t care on the picture quality.
There are two reasons why brightness is important- what sort of lighting you have or want in your gaming room, and the size of the picture that you want to go up too. The rule is that the higher the lumen count, the brighter your room can afford to be, and the larger your screen. And price won’t necessarily dictate what you get for your money; for example, the £789 BenQ W1080ST offers 2000 lumen – decent in all but the brightest rooms and good for larger screens, while the EUG X89+ claims the far higher 3,000 lumens at only £219– although the reason for that is in part the other spec.
Remember, you only need the brightness that your circumstances require, so don’t get much more than you need at the expense of other attributes where higher stats will equal a better performance. And remember as well, it’s best to have your room as dark as possible, as your projector is not going to be able to create black, so it will rely on the starting darkness of the screen for optimal results.
It’s not only your rooms ambient light that can affect your choice of projector, your room size has an impact as well- if your gaming room is small, you’ll need a projector that can work in it. ‘Short throw’ projectors work in smaller rooms, so make sure that you get one if you need it.
Contrast is one of the attributes that it’s worth getting the best you can within your budget. From the 23000:1 contrast offered by the £549.99 RRP Optomo HD141X to the paltry 500:1 offered by the cheap don’t-use-this-for-gaming projectors available for less than £70 right up to high end projectors such as the Sony VPL-VW500ES 4K (yours for £7,612.98) with 200,000:1, there’s a wealth of choice out there. And you don’t have to pay the craziest prices- Epson offer a 600,000:1 contrast ratio projector for £2,518.57, still a nice chunk of cash, but not the budget-busting heights of the Sony.
So why go for high contrast? Well, this is something which will help bring out the best in the actual game experience by making details crisper and colours richer- and if you love the sort of games that have you skulking in the shadows, it’s well worth making sure that you gain the full benefit of a high contrast ratio- bringing those gorgeous visuals to life.
But there is something even more important than contrast. Until now, we’ve talked about the picture quality. But what about the gaming experience itself? Things such as display lag, refresh rate can massively impact on how well you can expect the projector to be the experience you crave. The first – how long it takes for your projector to make an image- can be especially frustrating if you enjoy on-line gaming with its already in-built server lag, and the second can really impact on how much you get out of the graphics and 3D gaming in particular.
This information isn’t always available clearly, so review sites may be your best bet to see if your chosen projector offers a good gaming response; but if you can’t be bothered trawling the web there is good news: some projector manufacturers, such as Optoma, offer products with dedicated ‘gaming mode’ to make sure that you don’t lose out on reaction time.
Connectivity and extras
While not on the performance side, connectivity and what else your projector comes with is also something to take into account. Make sure that your chosen projector can connect to everything you need it too, and keep an eye out for extras such as in-built speakers. While not necessarily a make-or-break issue, an extra connection type or high quality speaker can be a major advantage when faced with to similarly-priced options.
And finally- Do your research
There are dozens of different options out there, from many different brands, and it can all be a bit confusing. While reviews aren’t always 100% trustworthy, they can often give you a good idea of what to expect, especially if you read between the lines. Remember though- a good review on a cheaper model just means that it’s great for what you’re paying- a four-star £4,000 projector can be a million miles better than a five-star £2000.
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