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Comparing Input Lag: Projector vs. TV


Does your projector or TV delay in responding to remote or controller commands? This article will help you understand why. 

Technology allows us to view any form of media content on a screen as long as we can convert it to digital data, but that is not enough. 

A digital display device will not serve its purpose if it functions inefficiently. This brings us to the concept of input lag.

In this article, we will explain why display devices experience input lag. We will also compare the input lags of projectors and TVs.

What is Input Lag?

electrical signal

Before you can display media on a digital display device, the data needs to be converted to electrical signals. 

The electrical signals are converted again to generate the primary components of the picture signal (the picture frames).

Remote controls, keyboards, mouses, joysticks, etc., also use electrical signals to communicate and send commands to the display devices. We can say that digital displays operate with a sequence of electrical signals.

When an electrical signal is sent, it is accompanied by action. The time taken for that action to be carried out is the input lag. 

It is also described as the time between the GPU sending a frame to the device and displaying it.

All the image processing, such as upconverting/scaling, frame interpolation, HDR, deinterlacing, etc., occur during this period.

These processes usually occur at a very fast rate (typically in milliseconds), so the delay is often unnoticeable.

But for applications that rely on fast display operation such as video gaming, the lag can become noticeable if it doesn’t occur at a fast enough rate.

How is Input Lag Calculated?

Manufacturers calculate the input lag of a device using its refresh rate and resolution amongst other things. refresh rateThe conditions used to calculate the input lag of a device are specified along with the lag value.

The resolution, refresh rate, and video modes used to calculate the input lag should be considered when comparing devices.

Is Input Lag the Same as Response Time?

Input lag is sometimes mistaken for response time, but they are distinct concepts.

Devices such as monitors, TVs, and projectors have different resolutions (dimensions in pixels), and these pixels have static positions on the screens.

The pixels need to change shade to fit the next frame that has been processed and display multiple images.

Response time occurs after the picture frame has been processed, and it is the speed at which pixels change from one shade to another.

Projector and monitor manufacturers usually indicate input lag in the product specification, but TV manufacturers usually don’t.

In the following sections, we will compare input lag on projectors vs. TVs. 

Do Projectors Have Input Lag?

a girl playing Nintendo Switch with a projector

Projectors, like any digital display device, have input lag. However, projector input lag differs per projector and per manufacturer. 

Projectors with a higher refresh rate are more likely to have smoother performance because their input lag is low.

For normal viewing purposes, input lag is negligible to users. However, if you are getting a projector for gaming, pay attention to the input lag before purchase.

Lag value is measured in milliseconds. 

It’s only a fraction of time, but it could mean the difference between life and death — in-game lives, of course.

Do TVs Have Input Lag?

friends playing game

 

Yes, TVs have input lag, and the input lag also differs per device and per manufacturer.

TVs generally vary in their input lag and the size of a TV has nothing to do with this. Large TVs do not have more delay than their smaller counterparts.

The input lag of a TV is usually low. In television, an input lag below 30ms is considered unnoticeable. 

Most modern TVs have a gaming mode that reduces the input lag.

What Causes Input Lag in a Projector?

a projector at a hall

It is possible to determine what’s causing the input delay by testing the projector and finding out when the lag occurs.

The first thing to do is check the settings on the projector and make sure it is properly configured.

You must check the quality of the media being projected as well. If you’re trying to project an image with higher quality than the projector can handle, it will result in lag and distortions.

The next thing to do is to check the streaming device — it might be a smartphone, laptop, or tablet — for the following:

  1. Low battery
  2. Slow response
  3. Signs of overheating
  4. Long loading time
  5. Outdated media-streaming software
  6. Outdated operating system

The room temperature can be another cause of an input lag. If the projector is overheating, it might malfunction.

Finally, check for the compatibility between the streaming device and the projector. This information should be available in the projector’s user manual.

Several factors can cause input lag, so determining the cause of the problem brings you closer to solving it.

How Do I Fix the Input Lag on My Projector?

Pause a projector

A lot of gaming projectors have a fast mode (Game Mode). The fast mode has been pre-configured to reduce input lag when it is enabled. 

It is recommended that buyers (especially gamers) ensure that their projectors feature the game mode.

Here are 7 ways to fix your projector’s input lag:

  1. Activate the game mode before gaming.
  2.  Disable additional image processing functions such as aspect ratio manipulation, keystoning, and overscanning, to boost your projector’s speed. Disabling these functions will help the fast mode feature to keep your projector operating at optimum speed.
  3. Set up your projector appropriately. Please make sure all cables are in good condition and connect them properly.
  4. Remove any obstruction to the projector’s vents to avoid overheating. 
  5. Make sure the projector is not in a hot or wet environment. 
  6. The streaming device should be up-to-date with the latest software, and the projector should have the latest drivers installed and properly configured.
  7. Make sure that the media file is uncorrupted and virus-free.

How Do I Fix the Input Lag on my TV?

Most TVs have a Game Mode setting that can be enabled via the TV menu. This setting is designed for playing video games, but you can also activate it for regular use.

Here are things you can do to fix the input lag on your TV:

1. Find and enable the TV game mode. 

Game mode button

It usually disables motion-smoothing modes and increases color saturation and brightness.

You may find it under “video mode” in the projector’s picture settings. It may also be a separate setting that you can switch on or off. 

2. Turn on settings that reduce input lag on your TV. 

These settings come with different names including Noise Reduction, MPEG Reduction, and Mosquito Reduction.

They usually stand alone as a sub-menu within a sub-menu, so finding them might be a little difficult. 

3. Turn off the Motion Smoothing setting. 

Soap Opera Effect in Slow Motion

It is designed to increase the video’s frame rate and make motion pictures smoother. However, it inflates input lag when activated.

Brands have different names for their motion smoothing settings, so identifying it might be tricky.

4. Disable any feature that modifies the signal between the console’s video output and the TV screen. 

They can result in an input lag and should be disabled unless you’re entirely sure that you need them.

FAQ

Is a Projector Better than a TV for Gaming?a couple playing game

 

The answer to this depends on the feature being compared.

Projectors are the better option in terms of screen size and cost. However, TVs have always maintained better sound quality and higher screen resolutions. 

If you want more details on this gaming comparison, check out our article: Projector Vs TV for Gaming: Which is Better for You?

The conclusion of this comparison boils down to size because TVs and projectors both provide value.

If you want a display larger than 60″, you should consider high-quality projectors like the Optoma HD146X High-Performance Projecto .

For smaller displays, TVs remain the best bet. The TCL 55R635  is a good option to start from.

Conclusion

Input lag in a TV or projector can be inconvenient if the display speed is important to you. The lag can be bad enough also to ruin movies and gaming.

Various factors cause input lag, but there are steps you can take to minimize its occurrence. 

First, determine the cause of the lag, and correcting the problem will be a breeze.

Last update on 2021-07-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.


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