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Your retro gaming rig needs a “cheap” projector

Your retro gaming rig needs a "cheap" projector

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Photo: Brian A.Jackson (Shutterstock)

What makes the perfect gaming setup? Traditionally the biggest and best TV for consoles, paired with an ultra-sharp, high refresh rate monitor for your PC. For retro gamers, the CRT is the holy grail, perfect for playing SNES and Genesis classics. But what about the games in the middle – the not-quite-retro-but-not-quite-modern games, like the PS3 and Xbox 360, that run at 720p? Ultimately, a “cheap” projector might just be the best bet in these games.

720p games are visually at an odd crossroads. A CRT, while great for older low-res consoles, doesn’t allow 720p HD visuals to shine properly; on the other hand, 1080p and 4K TVs offer resolutions that are too high for 720p. Games won’t look as good as they should on these displays, especially 4K ones, because the pixels won’t be mapped correctly. In order to properly display the signal for these games, you will need a 720p monitor.

But first, a recap: video is made up of pixels. If your game has a resolution of 720p, that really means the game is outputting a video that is 1280 pixels wide and 720 pixels high. If you have a 1080p TV, that TV is 1920 pixels wide by 1080p pixels high. If you have a 4K TV, this TV is 3,840 pixels wide and 2,160 pixels high. What happens when you try to output a 720p video signal to 1080p or 4K is that your game’s pixels are bloated to match the increased pixel density of your high resolution TV, resulting in blurring, blurring, jagged edges and general loss of detail. .

In short, it’s not ideal, and it’s a far cry from what the game developers had in mind when designing the game.

A 720p projector can solve these problems

Come in, the projector. Not just any projector, mind you, a 720p projector. Nowadays, most people are looking for 1080p or 4K projectors because most of the content they want to stream or play with this projector is 1080p or 4K. You don’t pay Netflix $20 (yes, it’s $20 now) to stream in 720p, after all.

However, if you’re really into 720p consoles like the PS3, Xbox 360, and even the Wii U, buying a projector specifically for that type of gaming should be on your radar. Native 720p projection will match those consoles pixel-for-pixel, letting you enjoy classics like GTA IV, Uncharted and Super Mario 3D World better than on your Full HD or 4K TV.

But it’s not just mid-2000s games that do well here. Re-releases of retro consoles, such as the SNES Nintendo Classic Mini or MegaDrive Mini, run their games at 720p, making these projectors one of the best ways to play these remastered gems. Even consoles capable of 900p or 1080p, like the Wii U and Switch, look great on these projectors when manually outputting at 720p. Where before you might notice graphical imperfections, like blurry edges and soft focus, these games will appear with pixel-perfect 720p projection.

Not all 720p projectors are the same

Now, I’m not advising you to buy a cheap projector you see. Cheap projectors made today may look attractive, but they are cheap for a reason; they don’t offer good color reproduction and they’re horribly dark. Depending on your preferences, they can get the job done, but they can also leave something to be desired.

Instead, if you’re serious about the visual reproduction of your games, I suggest aiming your budget at older projectors – cheap projectors not because they’re not high quality, but because people don’t want it anymore.

My Life in Gaming has a great video on this topic. While the whole video talks about different types of projectors, the part that really caught my eye was the focus on high quality 720p projectors. These projectors have been manufactured with excellent image quality and high brightness, making them an excellent projection. While it’s true that you wouldn’t want to buy one of these devices to project modern 1080p or 4K content, it East perfect for 720p video.

Now the pricing is where these types of projectors get tricky. 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 designed as high-end home theater options for their time, which provide excellent 720p picture quality.

However, your best bet for finding one of these low-cost projectors seems to be in person. If you google these projector models, they perform much higher than the video host could buy them. He did, however, buy them from a second-hand tech store for next to nothing. To find the best possible 720p projector for the price, you may need to go this route.

Of course, you can also find great deals online for 720p projectors, but image quality may vary, as I said above. Keep a particularly close eye on brightness, which is listed in lumens, when looking at these cheap options. For a room with some ambient lightyou’ll want to find a projector in the 1,500 to 3,500 lumen range (at least).

Don’t be afraid to dive into critical feedback as well; unhappy customers can tell you if the projector you’re looking at is too cheap to consider. However, remember that you are looking for a 720p projector, not a high resolution projector. If people are complaining that their 1080p or 4K content doesn’t look right in a 720p projector, that’s not particularly helpful information.

One option that customers are happy with is this $75 Turewell Projector. While there are some visual sacrifices due to budget, the projector is bright and clear enough for most people looking for native 720p projection. If you’re not lucky enough to find a high-end 720p projector in stores or online, this is an inexpensive type of projector you might want to look into.

Why not buy a 720p TV instead?

If you’re having trouble trying to find a good 720p projector, you might be wondering why you shouldn’t go with a 720p TV instead. My Life in Gaming also has a great answer to this question: it turns out that many 720p TVs are really 768p TVs. While these two numbers may seem close, it still means your 720p games will scale to a “720p” TV. You’re better off playing these games on your current TV, rather than spending money on a fake 720p TV that won’t even do what you want it to.

[[[[My life in the game]