Projector resolution issues are not uncommon. The source media file (video or image) or device (computer, Blu-ray player, etc.) connected to the projector via a VGA or HDMI cable could be at fault. The resolution issues could also be due to some hardware/software issues with your projector.
Thankfully, the situation is not that complicated, or you won’t need a professional to set your projector’s resolution right again. If the cause is projector-specific, it could be due to incorrect projector positioning or installation, sporadic projector use, etc. If the causes are not directly related to the projector, you can rectify those as well.
This article will provide you a basic overview of projector resolution, all the things that could go wrong with it or cause the projected visuals to look blurry or fuzzy, and ways to address those issues.
Why Can’t You Change Projector Resolution?
You cannot change projector resolution at the hardware level, but alterations are certainly possible through software. But before discussing that, it’s imperative to understand how projector lenses work and their resolution settings.
A projector comes with an integrated micro-display, which could be a DLP, LCOS, or LCD. The total number of pixels packed into the display hardware is the projector’s “native resolution”. The native resolution, in other words, is the projector’s physical or hardware-linked resolution.
There’s also something called “maximum resolution”, which denotes a projector’s programming capabilities. The maximum resolution figure is not dependent on the projector’s display hardware. It is instead focused on “signal formats”.
Video and computer signals come in different resolution formats. And projectors are usually designed to recognize those various signals. Long story short, “maximum resolution” is the peak resolution signal your projector can process and subsequently present.
When the input signal or resolution is lower or higher, the projector converts it into native resolution through “scaling”. In other words, the scaling process enables a projector with HD (1280×720) native resolution to handle Full HD signals.
The process wherein a non-native signal gets converted to a projector’s native resolution is called “approximation”.
How Do I Fix the Resolution on My Projector?
A projector resolution is not just about its native resolution and the source file it’s paired with. There are quite a few variables to consider to fix the resolution.
Adjust Projector Focus
The projector’s focus could be off, particularly if the visuals it projects are fuzzy or blurry. Projectors usually come with a physical ring to adjust focus around the lens. Twist the ring to increase or decrease the distances between the lens components to fix the focus woes.
Also, make sure the projector is placed at an optimal position from the screen, or get the correct “throw ratio”, which denotes the size of the projected image from a certain distance. The distance between the projector and the screen has a significant impact on how large and sharp the projected image looks.
Clear the Lens
The projector lens could have dust or condensation. In such cases, either a portion of the projected image would look out of focus, or the entire video will look blurry. If a projector remains unused for a certain period, dust can accumulate in the lens.
If you stowed the projector in a place where the temperature continually fluctuates or the device is not well-insulated from the outdoors, condensation can become a problem. In such scenarios, shift the projector to a place where the temperature is average and stable.
Keystone correction helps fix the vertical and horizontal orientation of the projected visuals. But in the process, it may also mess up picture quality.
The correction is “digital”. Whenever digital adjustments – such as zoom in, lens shift, vertical shift, etc. – are done, the changes made gradually diminish the pixel count (vertically or horizontally) to accommodate a given user interface or video resolution.
With keystone correction, it’s entirely possible to have jagged looking straight lines or an image losing its original sharpness.
How Do I Reset My Screen Resolution?
If setting the above aspects right doesn’t help achieve the correct screen resolution, look for issues elsewhere. As mentioned above, a non-optimal resolution is not always the projector’s fault. Turn towards your computer.
To check if it’s the computer, follow these steps (for a Windows 10 PC):
- Head to the Control Panel. (You can do a Windows search to locate the tool.)
- Under the “Appearance and Personalization” section, click on “Adjust screen resolution”.
- Next, change the “Resolution” setting to the recommended display mode.
If it’s a Full HD display, the recommended resolution will be 1920 x 1080. If it’s HD, the suggested screen resolution would be 1366 x 768.
There’s another route to set your Windows computer display mode right.
- Hit the Windows icon on your keyboard or click on the logo situated at your screen’s bottom-left corner.
- Click on the “Settings” icon and then “System”.
- Under “System”, click on “Display” (if it’s not the default sub-section).
- Under “Scale and layout”, head to “Display resolution” and select the recommended viewing resolution.
If you’re on a Mac, follow these steps:
- Click on the Apple icon (located in the extreme left of your toolbar).
- Select “System Preferences” and click on “Displays” in the window that pops up.
- Under the “Display” tab, and besides “Resolution”, select “Scaled” and set the resolution to the highest setting.
Projectors are typically set to display content in lower resolutions by default compared to computers.
How Do I Adjust My Projector to Fit a Screen?
The following are the common projector image size/shape concerns and things you could do about them:
If the projected content is smaller than the canvas it has to work with, fill the empty space out using your projector’s magnify option. Your projector will have dedicated buttons embedded in its body unit or remote control.
Magnification may lead to a softer picture, based on how high-quality or pixel-dense the original file is. Be wary of that and try to strike the right balance between image size and sharpness.
If the top, bottom, left, or right side of the projected image is narrower than the other three sides, the projector’s angle could be wrong. Such issues are caused when a projector is incorrectly installed.
Make sure your projector is installed upside down to a ceiling. Most projectors that can be mounted to the ceiling offer the provision to adjust or articulate them at their “joints”, which connect them to the ceiling.
If the top portion of the image is more expansive than its bottom, slightly tilt the projector down. If it’s the opposite or the top side is narrower, adjust the projector so that it’s more upright.
In case the projector is not affixed to a ceiling and sitting on a table instead, experiment with its placement to get the image right. When positioned on a table, the projector light rarely hits the screen flat. Images with non-parallel sides or abnormally long or short sides are pretty standard when a projector is not affixed to a ceiling.
If the image is tilted toward its left or right or not perfectly horizontal, make sure the projector and the screen are level. And, like in the case above, if the left side of the image is shorter than the right or vice versa, turn the projector to its right or left until the sides are equal in length.
Keystone correction, as stated above, can help with fitting images into the screen at the software level. But because it can cause image/video quality concerns, it must be your last resort.
Experimenting with the projector’s position (if it’s not affixed to the ceiling), tilting it to get the angles right, using the manual knobs, etc., are the options you must completely exhaust before resorting to “keystoning”.
Projector resolution is not rocket science. If you spare some time and effort to learn about how your projector’s different components and how they operate, you shouldn’t encounter major issues. Even if problems arise, your familiarity with the device should help you sail past them easily.
If none of the above-mentioned steps help address your projector resolution concerns, the hardware could be defective. Get it repaired by an expert technician. If it’s still under warranty, contact your manufacturer for a replacement.
Catherine Tramell has been covering technology as a freelance writer for over a decade. She has been writing for Pointer Clicker for over a year, further expanding her expertise as a tech columnist. Catherine likes spending time with her family and friends and her pastimes are reading books and news articles.