The 10 Best Gaming Projectors
10. Elephas 1500
9. Epson PowerLite 3700
8. Optoma HD37
7. Epson Home Cinema 3100
6. LG Ultra Short Throw
5. Sony 3D Home Theater
4. Epson 2040
3. BenQ TK800
2. BenQ TH671ST
1. Optoma GT1080Darbee
How Different Projectors Work
Back in the day, projectors relied on projectionists to spool reels of film into place one after another over the course of a single film. In fact, if you watch old films closely, you can see a little black circular blip in the corner toward the end and at the beginning of pivotal scenes, and these let projectionists know when it was time to switch the reels.
Obviously, this kind of projector wouldn’t work to well with any gaming system, since there’s no film involved. Instead, the digital projection required to engage in large screen gaming relies on the technology developed in theaters as the transition to a predominantly digital industry began. This technology, known as digital light processing, utilized a complicated array of microscopic mirrors to bounce light outward through a color wheel that would colorize the image.
DLP projection is widely considered to be the most satisfying to the human eye, with incredible resolution and contrast. You’re liable to see a lot of DLP projectors on the market, as well, but these tend to be a little on the expensive side, as the micromirror chip is costly to produce.
The most common alternative to DLP projectors are LCD projectors, which create an image on a translucent crystal display through which a bright light shines, relaying the image to a lens that magnifies it for projection onto a screen or wall. These projectors tend to be a lot less expensive, but their image quality can’t quite rival that of the DLP models.
There is one other aspect of the projector that effectively subdivides DLP and LCD projectors into three groups each, and that’s their light source. Traditionally, a bulb (of halogen or xenon, most often) would illuminate the LCD panel or DLP mechanism. Newer technologies have created alternate options to these bulbs, however, the most common of which are LEDs. Because LEDs can be tuned to display specific colors, they are an incredibly inexpensive way to achieve great color accuracy. They’re lightweight and they run cool, as well, so they tend to make for the most portable projectors.
A less common light source among projectors is the laser. Lasers, like LEDs, fire at very specific colors depending on their wavelength, so color accuracy is usually great. They’re also stronger than LEDs, so they can often create a brighter image ideal for spaces where ambient light is a nuisance. Lasers also tend to weigh a little more than LEDs, and to run a little hotter, consuming more energy as they do so.
What To Look For In A Gaming Projector
When I first played one of those open-world, sandbox RPGs developed by Bethesda games, the only TV I had access to was a 27-inch vacuum tube relic that lived in my mother’s basement. The game was called Oblivion, an Elder Scrolls title, and there was a lot of text laid out on the screen to convey a litany of important information. I couldn’t read any of it. The text was designed for the modern flat screens that had become ubiquitous in most households at the time. If there was a display setting to optimize the game for older, curved screens, I never looked for it.
Moving to a projector for your gaming experience carries with it many of the benefits that I experienced when I played the next Elder Scrolls title, Skyrim, on a flat HDTV. Text was crystal clear, action was fluid and exciting, and the entire experience was simply more engrossing. Whatever kind of games you play, this is the ultimate goal, to go deeper into the worlds of your favorite titles.
Using a gaming projector isn’t just about an increase in size, either. It’s about increasing the quality of your games’ images, as well, and picking the right gaming projector can do just that. But what makes one model superior to the next? Well, there are a few features and specs to look for that will always set a projector apart.
For starters, you want to see a high lumen count. It isn’t everything, but projectors with lumen counts over 2000 will have a much better time displaying your games in rooms that suffer from a lot of light bounce, or in which other ambient sources abound. Contrast ratio is your next go-to stat, as a high contrast ratio will ensure that your projector delivers deep blacks and detail-rich highlights that don’t look washed out. Like your lumen count, a high contrast ratio will keep your images clear even if the room isn’t pitch black.
From there, you should look for features like remote controls, keystone correction capabilities, and lamp life. A projector with an intuitive remote, a highly adjustable keystone, and a long lamp life will be one that’s easy to set up and that will require little to no maintenance for years.
Setting Up Your Gaming Space
Once you’ve picked the perfect projector for your gaming needs, you’re going to want to ensure that the space in which you’re setting it up will get the most out of it. After all, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot on a fancy projector and then install it in a living room with a bunch of bright windows and a projection surface that’s the wrong color and size.
For starters you’re going to need a good projection screen. This will ensure you get the highest reflective bounce with the least scattering, which will make your image really pop. Be sure to check your screen size against the size range your projector is capable of throwing. If it’s too small, you’ll never get your image to fit or be in focus. If it’s too big, the edges of the image will bounce oddly off the unused screen, causing a decrease in contrast and clarity.
After that, it’s all a matter of outfitting your space the way you would any other gaming arena. You’ll want a comfortable gaming chair, a high-quality stereo system to pump your audio out, a set of blackout curtains, and a ridiculous amount of snacks.