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Dragon
 
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 Post subject: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:52 pm 
I have been tinkering with the idea of getting a short throw projector for gaming and movies. I don't have much experience with them, but I have been checking reviews and articles on the net lately. I notice that the native resolution on most are between 800x600 and 1280x800. They generally support larger resolutions through scaling (which will obviously result in loss of image clarity).

I know a few groups on this forum that are using projectors with MapTools. I was wondering if anyone could give any feedback on how well these low resolution projectors have worked for you (native or scaled).

The BENQ MP515ST seams like an OK choice for a cheap short throw projector (800x600), but I am worried that I will be disappointed with the results.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6824014197


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Great Wyrm
 
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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:33 pm 
The thing with projectors is that you are getting a lot of screen yardage for the price. The more yardage you have the more noticeable the resolution.

While that is a decent price on a projector, long term you will likely be much better served looking for one with higher resolution and good feedback on service life.

Displays are one of the few things I spend closer to high end on (for either computer or living room) because they normally have a relatively long life span which makes them a decent return on the extra investment.

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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:52 am 
Jector wrote:
The thing with projectors is that you are getting a lot of screen yardage for the price. The more yardage you have the more noticeable the resolution.

While that is a decent price on a projector, long term you will likely be much better served looking for one with higher resolution and good feedback on service life.

I wouldn't be overly concerned with service life on the bulb (which is what most people are thinking of when they think of projector life). The bulbs can cost $200-$400 depending on the specifics. But I've had my projector for a long time (it's an old NEC LT2K, 1600x1200, 3000 lumens) and I've only got 600 hours on it. And the bulb is rated for 2000 minimum. I figure by the time the bulb blows out, it'll be time to upgrade my technology to something better.

The most important thing to look at IMO is the light intensity. This depends greatly on your room's lighting situation, but 1200 lumens is NOT going to cut it unless (a) it's a very short throw, like about 3 feet!, and (b) the room is already pretty dark. Remember that the longer the distance from lens to surface, the more the light will spread out, which means a less intense picture overall.

Be aware that cheaper short-throw projectors will look terrible on the longer throws as they won't preserve the image correctly -- the outside corners will appear to bow (or stretch) outwards from the center of the picture. This is because the light in the corners is traveling farther that the light in the center and the lenses are made for certain distances and beyond those distances, the distortion becomes noticeable. In other words, be sure to buy one for the ranges you think you'll want; outside those ranges you may find the picture untenable to look at for long periods. (No, keystoning and/or cornerstoning cannot fully correct for this. The projector's keystoning abilities are typically taken into account when the throw ranges are quoted in the specs.)

Be careful about the surface you're going to use to project the image onto. Some surfaces are very good and others are... less good. I've found that projecting onto a painted wall is pretty bad in most cases. Unless you have a wall painted with a semigloss paint, there is just not enough reflectivity and the image will look washed out. Not to mention that even a wall painted white will tend to have a slight yellowish tint to the images you project. (I had a friend tell me how it was based on the paint pigments reacting to certain wavelengths of light, and how it doesn't normally matter since a myriad of colors are not typically on a wall.)

I would recommend checking out http://www.ProjectorPeople.com/ A friend of my wife's works there (Carmen) and she really hooked me up in terms of knowledge and equipment (there's a lot to learn). ProjectorPeople is a spin-off of AVI (Audio/Visual Inc), the largest wholesaler of audiovisual equipment in the U.S. (They also sell retail now and have for a few years.) I ended up with the NEC I mentioned above, plus a nice screen (almost $800 for the pull-up screen back in 2005; but if you see the difference between wall and screen, you'll never want to use the wall!).

I now get to play GT5 on my PS3 on an 8-foot diagonal screen! Woohoo!

Quote:
Displays are one of the few things I spend closer to high end on (for either computer or living room) because they normally have a relatively long life span which makes them a decent return on the extra investment.

Projectors have a shorter life than TVs, generally, due to bulb life. It's just not cost effective to spend $400 on an older projector when a new projector might be only $800 and that includes a bulb. :|

I'm now spending 4-6 hours a night with my PS3 when I'm playing (probably 3 nights a week), so I expect the bulb will be gone within two years. When that time rolls around I'll decide on the new bulb/projector question based on the technology and prices.

Who knows? Maybe carbon nanotubes will have replaced all visual screen components by then?! (Not likely!)

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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:11 am 
I would agree w/ Az that "walls are bad" not only are most interior paints flat, but the walls themselves, generally arent completely. Most walls and paint jobs are going to to have tiny indentations on them, which would become slightly more noticeable w/ a projecting.


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Kobold
 
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:37 am
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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:01 pm 
The little projector I just bought is medium resolution. Its okay for the map but any writing is lousy to look at. Will need a better one eventually, but is okay for testing my ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 3:42 pm 
Azhrei wrote:
Be careful about the surface you're going to use to project the image onto. Some surfaces are very good and others are... less good. I've found that projecting onto a painted wall is pretty bad in most cases. Unless you have a wall painted with a semigloss paint, there is just not enough reflectivity and the image will look washed out. Not to mention that even a wall painted white will tend to have a slight yellowish tint to the images you project. (I had a friend tell me how it was based on the paint pigments reacting to certain wavelengths of light, and how it doesn't normally matter since a myriad of colors are not typically on a wall.)


I don't know what semi-gloss paint is, but I know that there is a kind of (really expensive) paint that is explicitly designed for walls you plan on projecting to. My uncle converted a room of his house to be a miniature movie theater, and painted the wall with this special projector paint, and it is really awesome.


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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:31 pm 
Azhrei wrote:
I wouldn't be overly concerned with service life on the bulb (which is what most people are thinking of when they think of projector life). The bulbs can cost $200-$400 depending on the specifics. But I've had my projector for a long time (it's an old NEC LT2K, 1600x1200, 3000 lumens) and I've only got 600 hours on it. And the bulb is rated for 2000 minimum. I figure by the time the bulb blows out, it'll be time to upgrade my technology to something better.


I was speaking of actual projector longevity when it comes to repair rates and cost. Bulbs are currently expected to have a short half life and you should plan on needing to replace it every couple years. Though the one in my DLP is pushing 3 years so far with no issues and I've put numerous hours on it.

Personally, I'll spend a decent amount for a good display and foot another 100 bucks a year averaged for replacing bulbs. The thing I looked for was repair history on different company's DLPs and then feedback on image quality and customer satisfaction for specific models.

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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:16 pm 
paulstrait wrote:
I don't know what semi-gloss paint is, but I know that there is a kind of (really expensive) paint that is explicitly designed for walls you plan on projecting to.

A semigloss paint is simply one that doesn't have a high gloss finish like you might use on interior trim pieces, but it's just a flat color either. Semigloss is "wipe-able" without having paint come off the wall and onto your wipe rag so it's used a lot in kitchens around stoves and food prep countertops.

I've heard of that projector paint. And yes, it's pricey. I've seen a whiteboard wallpaper as well. You can write on it with whiteboard markers and it erases pretty clean, although you end up with that black powder at the base of the wall. Not nearly as expensive as the paint and it works great as a projection surface.

I bought a pull-up screen. When packed away it's a cylinder about 6" in diameter and about 7-ft long. A couple of legs pivot out from the case 90-deg to stabilize it, then you popup one half (clamshell-style) and pull up on the top of the screen. It's spring loaded to stay up by itself. The nice thing about this technique (and the reason I bought it) is because it's pretty easy to move around the house. I've had it in our living room to show family photos/slideshows, I've used it to watch movies in the family room, we played D&D with it a few times in the gameroom, and now it's in the guest bedroom since that has become my PS3 area. :)

Jector wrote:
I was speaking of actual projector longevity when it comes to repair rates and cost.

Ah. I hope to get 5 years out of mine @ 15 hours a week. I haven't used it much in the last couple of years, but I think my usage going forward will be much higher.

Mine is actually a DLP as well. When I bought it in 2005 (?) it was by far the brightest available in my price range (less than $2k, IIRC).

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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:44 pm 
Thanks for all of the good info guys. I think I will pass on the short throw projectors. They sound ok for small meeting rooms or standard res movies, but not for what I was looking for. I will have to look more at standard projectors.


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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:12 pm 
A few of my observations:

I had a projector with a Native 800x600 resolution with a short throw distance. It was beautiful and for gaming and movies it was excellent but it generally did a poor job when it came to reading clear text especially when the resolution b eing used with it was not its native (e.g. when using a 1024x768 resolution on my laptop the text appeared fuzzy on my proecjtion). Reading text in games or status bars was not a problem but trying to read a document was not so good.

Now I have a Native 1024x768 resolution projector which is better. However, it was not a short throw distance projector so it needs more space.

I must say that I was surprise how well the image looked even on my native 800x600 projector. I was expecting to see a lot of pixelation (I mean you I was taking a 800x600 or 1024x768 image and spreading it accross a 3m diagonal) but I didn't really see any of that. I am sure that HD buffs would probably complain but I was very satisfied with the effect.

If you have limited space I highly recommend looking for a projector that has a short throw distance.

The other important features to look for is the number of lumens and/or the contrast ration.

The number of lumens indicates how bright the projector is. Mine current projector is not bad (I am using it in the basement with is naturally more dark) but when the outside light shine on the screen it can be hard to see some games (especially games that use a darker color pallet). The higher the lumens the better chance that you will see the image clearly in a brighter environment.

The contrast ratio indicates the difference between a white and black spot. The higher the number the better the image will look because the projector will have more "shades" inbetween to work with. I guess it is sort of akin to the old days of computers where you could get graphics cards with 16, 256, 65535 and 16 million colors. A graphics card using only 16 colors was very limited to what it could display compared to a 16 million color card. The contract ratio works the same way. If you have more contract then images will appear sharper because you have more distinct level to work with.

_________________
"We often compare ourselves to the U.S.,
and often they come out the best...
But they only have the right to bare arms,
while we have the right to bare breasts"
Busting The Breast by Bowser & Blue


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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:58 pm 
Thanks LordAshes. That's about what I thought with the 800x600. I appreciate the feedback.


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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:15 am 
I can say that IMHO a higher resolution projector is the better choice, for the last 5 years we have been using a Dell 2300MP (native 1024x768) standard throw projecting against a wall behind me as DM. It died recently and its replacement was a ViewSonic PJD5152 (native 800x600) short throw, it was an excellent replacement and worked well until I started to zoom out (we are currently in a war) and lost the PC tokens quite quickly. This was much different from the previous projector and the group decided to upgrade to the ViewSonic PJD5352 (native 1024x768) short throw and we are much happier with the results.

The new projector now sits next to me and the image is behind and above me, this ensures the players sight lines are focused in my direction. It also prevents me from getting blinded when I on occasion would look into the light (we all float down here).


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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:12 am 
SteveG wrote:
I can say that IMHO a higher resolution projector is the better choice, for the last 5 years we have been using a Dell 2300MP (native 1024x768) standard throw projecting against a wall behind me as DM. It died recently and its replacement was a ViewSonic PJD5152 (native 800x600) short throw, it was an excellent replacement and worked well until I started to zoom out (we are currently in a war) and lost the PC tokens quite quickly. This was much different from the previous projector and the group decided to upgrade to the ViewSonic PJD5352 (native 1024x768) short throw and we are much happier with the results.

The new projector now sits next to me and the image is behind and above me, this ensures the players sight lines are focused in my direction. It also prevents me from getting blinded when I on occasion would look into the light (we all float down here).


I think this is basically confirms what I was saying earlier except I put it in the context of text on the screen as opposed to a MapTool token example.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

_________________
"We often compare ourselves to the U.S.,
and often they come out the best...
But they only have the right to bare arms,
while we have the right to bare breasts"
Busting The Breast by Bowser & Blue


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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:30 am 
Agreed with everyone else. In addition, buy the service plan for whatever you get. I bought my optima (sorry at work don't kno wthe model number) but it's a high definition projector with 2000 lumens (which is what u need to be looking at in addition to a nice resolution).

The first time i bought a projector i went cheap and got a rinky dink 3m that lasted 1.5 years and i had no warrently. It was 300 bucks down the drain. When i replaced it, I did the smart thing, researched projectors and waited for a sale. I ended up buying this one for 600 bucks from Circuit City and another 100 for the warrently. That was 3 years ago. My projector is still going strong with only 800 hrs on it, however, I still called in and used the warrenty and now I have another bulb waiting in the wings, so, when this projector does go out, i can get another 4 or 5 years from it.


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 Post subject: Re: Question on Using Low Res Projectors with MapTools
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:22 pm 
Be cautious with service plans. Keep in mind that companies drop a lot of funds and time on figuring out how to make money on them which means that the company is more likely to come out ahead than you are.

Having said that, I did spend 400 on a 5 year plan for the 65" in the living room. Decided it was a good gamble since it covered the TV past the standard 2 year warranty and also covered bulb replacements. It turns out it was a good thing since it just started getting some white pixels on screen (apparently from tiny bits of dust that get into the module with the mirrors) and it was paid for but if it hadn't covered bulbs and been 5 years instead of 3 or 4, I probably would have skipped it.

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