Modern projectors are becoming incredibly portable and capable of projecting an image at high resolutions across a very large surface. Recently, Chris Pirillo was given the opportunity to try out the Epson MegaPlex MG-50, a versatile projector that allows you to display images directly from virtually any iOS device. Projectors are beginning to take to smaller form factors as well, with some fitting in your pocket and taking up only a little more room than an iPhone. Resolutions are increasing, and more manufacturers are beginning to put technologies such as a laser projection to good use, providing a clear picture at virtually any distance.
Projectors like these are becoming more commonplace as people begin to see them for more than their traditional business applications. The fact is, there are plenty of great ways to put a projector to use, and some of them can be a lot of fun. Here are five alternative uses for a projector.
During this Halloween, Chris put his Epson MegaPlex MG-50 to good use by projecting a video of a burning Yule Log into his front window. The source of this video was an iPod touch, which plugged directly into the projector. The effect was the appearance of a burning inferno taking place inside the Pirillo house, a unique and interesting treat for trick-or-treaters who walked up the path in search of treats.
This type of decorating isn’t limited to Halloween. Projecting the image of a Christmas tree is another great use for one of these devices. When you’re strapped for space and having a party, this might be a great way to instantly increase the presence of the holiday spirit in your home. Offices could throw holiday parties using projectors to turn a cramped and otherwise dull conference room into a festive gathering place.
In the US, Independence Day is a big holiday that is typically accompanied by parties and barbecues. Unfortunately, burn bans and other restrictions can cause local fireworks shows to be cancelled. When this happens, just throw up a sheet and fire up the projector. You can enjoy the spectacular show that takes place in New York from your porch.
Movie Night in the Back Yard
The weather outside is great during the milder months of the year. You might want to do something very special for your significant other. Have you considered putting together a movie night on the porch? You can hand a sheet, or project an image against one of the walls of your home or garage to create a makeshift drive-through theater experience.
If you want to make it a regular thing, you could invest in a large backyard screen made for projectors. You’ll be surprised how popular your block parties will be when you’re offering a unique movie-watching experience under the stars.
If you’re doing some fund raising for a local charity or attempting to make enough scratch to buy that laptop you’ve had your eyes on, you could charge admission and give a value-add to donations. After all, everyone and their dog has a bake sale these days. Why not have a movie night?
Inviting your friends over to play Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder is still a favorite pastime among many geeks out there. Unfortunately, maps and other visual aids are often difficult to share around a table, especially if your television is located in a different room. Not every group prefers to use miniatures and a battle board, so what do you do?
Grabbing a projector and a laptop, you can pre-load the laptop with a number of different maps and character drawings, and take your team through the mission with a large and incredibly versatile visual aid. For the game in which I take part, our DM has a PS3 loaded with character concept art from a number of different fantasy games, books, and other material that (when combined with maps) helps him paint a story and set a scene. For larger campaigns that include entire continents, this can be a lifesaver.
One of the trademarks of a good LAN party is competition. Giving folks the ability to watch the final matches of a tournament or particularly intense game without crowding around one of the players is a great way to make a good LAN party even better. By setting up a projector, you can project a large image that your guests can enjoy from virtually anywhere in the room. Your players will be thankful, as they won’t feel crowded or under any additional pressure to land the head shot or take out the enemy base.
You could also use this projector to demonstrate demos or beta versions of a game that only you have installed. Again, without crowding around a monitor. If your LAN party doubles as a tournament, you could maintain a visible scoreboard and project it on a common wall that everyone can see at a glance. Replays are also more interesting when presented on a big screen.
Really Big Monitor
All right, so this is an expected use for a projector, but what geek hasn’t dreamed of having a 101″ monitor? Forget staring at a 21-30-inch image all day; you could kick back on the couch and read your email in style with a simple projector. Play movies on Netflix, podcasts, and YouTube videos in style. You can even take a more detailed approach to Photoshop and other graphics/video editing tools.
There’s also nothing quite like seeing your code thrown up across the span of a wall to give you pride in your creations.
Are you a gamer? Seriously, games are incredibly fun when you don’t have to sit a foot away from the monitor to get a clear view of the field. Not only can you relax in more comfortable seating, but you can better adjust the image to match your preferred field of view. Projectors don’t have to span giant spaces; you can make the image as large or as small as you need to comfortably enjoy what it is you’re seeing.
Projectors made today are available at higher resolutions and better throw ratios than the ones of days past. You can enjoy HD video across a significantly long distance at a variety of aspect ratios. With some offerings, including the Epson MegaPlex MG-50, you can project and expand the screen of your iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad very easily. Imagine being able to enjoy Angry Birds on a surface that’s much larger than that of your iOS device.
Projectors have come a long way in recent years. They’ve gone from being extremely expensive and bulky devices to moderate and low-cost alternatives to larger televisions and/or monitors. Projectors are significantly more portable than big-screen televisions and other larger video screens.