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Suitable projector for retro games Search this topic…

by quentinquigley Sun Jul 31, 2022 11:35 am

I see some real inexpensive 320x240 led projectors out there, and though probably awful for watching HD content and likely to perform pretty poorly unless the room is TOTALLY dark, seems like they might be perfect for the retro games... Anybody try to use one of these for retro gaming or have thoughts?
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Re: Suitable projector for retro games Search this topic…

by ElkinFencer10 Sun Jul 31, 2022 4:32 pm

I've played Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 64 on a projector before although it was a mid-range 480p one. It generally looks really good if it's really dark and the surface is totally flat. That said, if you're looking for a modern solution for retro gaming as a main display, I'd recommend a cheap 1080p screen and a RetroTink5X. That upscaler is packed full of witchcraft, voodoo, and technical wizardry and makes old games as *at least* as good on modern displays as they did on CRTs in the old days.
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Re: Suitable projector for retro games Search this topic…

by nickfil Wed Aug 03, 2022 5:09 pm

Second that. Big flatscreen and a retrotink 5x will get you to where you want to be.
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Re: Suitable projector for retro games Search this topic…

by Anapan Sat Aug 06, 2022 7:10 am

Those *really* cheap LED "Pico" projectors are only ever shit and should never be considered.

That being said, cheap projectors have their place! I've bought a lot of them.

The promise of a big bright picture from something so cheap at a pawn shop or estate sale is so strong that I've bought four ancient-ish "WXGA"\"SXGA" LCD and DLP office projectors in the hopes that a console would easily fit in it one of the projectors over abundance of capable input ports.

If you could just make a stable 480P+ analog signal and didn't care that much, you'd have a great setup!

My brother for many years had an Original XBOX that I modded with a 500GB PATA drive hooked up to a cheap classified-ad-bought WXGA(1280x768) projector. The firmware and emulators I set up all allowed a seamless Progressive Scan output and nothing else was ever plugged in. His projector cost less than $200 with a 120" pull-down screen included (ex-wife liquidating while unaware husband was out of town). This is similar to many office projectors you see in pawn shops, but this came with a near-new bulb installed. It was not perfect, but nobody cared. He had 3 different generations of Mario Kart and arcade-perfect Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter running with wireless Logitech controllers. I aided in making everything work, and it was good for many years.

Long fluffy cat hair made it all the way to the ceiling mounted unit which got left on while he was out-of-town working and the LCD imager melted.


Every projector I've bought used had a working, but fully spent bulb. Unless it's a newer LED powered unit, you should expect that you'll have to buy a new bulb-unit for it. These are not cheap, and the cheap compatible ones are not worth buying (low light, and from reviews, most are dead within a week to a month).
Between $75 and $110 for a new OEM bulb - I stopped trying to buy bulb-only and other clone bulb housings. it was cheaper but they all failed. In every purchase, I failed to save money, and have now decided to only purchase officially endorsed replacement bulb units. LED lit units.

I've been buying DLP projectors for their active-shutter 3D capabilities. I'm forcing my old PS3 and XBOX 360 systems to become useful by trying to enjoy fully 3D stereoscopic games on them. I mention that I've *been* buying projectors because one failed already before all of the discs for the 3D capable games arrived in the mail. I bought , refurbished, equipped and installed another, and it's way better. Still, the hundreds it cost for a projector (cheapest that was capable), replacement remote, and bulb module on yet another projector makes me question why I feel the need to own this thing. I think it's mostly now because I bought the glasses and all the 3D capable game discs. Like gambling, this hobby is kinda dangerous if you're on any sort of budget. I'm not, but I now feel that this whole endeavor would've been better completely avoided that fully explored.

I have a good VR system, and watching and playing official stereoscopic games and movies is much better through VR desktop and forcing half-sbs in emulators and video players. It's not a group-experience tho. When everyone has a set of glasses and it's enjoyed by everyone, it's much better. This experience has only happened for about 7.5 hours in the couple of years I've had it available, tho your experience and clocked hours will hopefully be different.


Change of subject: Mobile portable "Pico" projectors - this is where it's relevant to OP! These used to all suck, but they make good ones now!

*All* the cheap ones are still clones of those shitty mid-2000's single-led 480p "Pico" ones you see in all retail hardware liquidation stores. They struggle to show an okay picture at 1 foot range - sub 15 lumens. Completely useless because your phone screen is more capable in every situation.
Since the goal is to show an emulated video game, only lumens count. Ideally the resolution is only 480 vertical.

Back in 2016, I sold a 30 lumen laser projector for $30 because that was all it was worth.. It is smaller than my phone and was impressive back then.
It only worked in complete darkness, but it always showed a great SD image and was great for retro games. It had visible scanlines.

Currently my travel projector is a Sony MP-CD1 DLP projector. It was on Ebay NOS for under USD $300. It looks like about $300 is the sweet spot for capable (bright enough for a small room without blanked-out windows) 480P projectors. This one requires external speakers, but I can plug my phone or GPD Win 2 into it and play Super Street Fighter 3RD Strike perfectly anywhere with a couple of Bluetooth controllers. This whole setup - Speaker, projector, cables, folding tripod, battery and controllers - fit in my lunch bag at about 8"x10"x2". I can provide pics.

I'm eyeing the "Soda Can" Projector - the Anker Nebula Capsule or its bigger brother the Mars, but it would make it's pocketability impossible - I need it to be about the same size as a phone. In this case I have looked into everything else and I'd still just buy another MP-CD1 if this died. The ~100 lumens the MP-CD1 outputs is the absolute lowest acceptable brightness, and only acceptable because of its size. It can display an 8.5"x11" picture in a fully lit room, and that's great. It can replace a laptop screen easily on a wall.
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