A component that is very important for my project arrived: the projector!
The very generic-looking box
Projectors can get really expensive, but as you can see I went with a budget version. For around 50 bucks you can find yourself a Chinese-made projector that does 480x320 and has a brightness of 100 lumen. If you're thinking that's pretty pathetic, I agree. I decided to spend a little extra and got myself one that did 640x480 (at only 80 lumen) for 70 bucks. This way R2-D2's projector would at least meet the VGA standard.
After unboxing and inspecting it at work, one of my colleagues remarked that it made a rattling noise. Some part was loose inside the projector. He handed me a screwdriver and convinced me to take apart the projector I'd owned for all of 10 minutes.
Don't worry, I put it back together again
The rattling sound came from one of the speakers. It was supposed to be hot-glued to the case but had come loose. Opening it up really drove home how cheaply it was made. The plastic lens is something you'd find in a pair of toy binoculars.
After I took it home I hooked it up to a Pi and saw if they would play nice. Initially, they didn't. I was using a bargain bin HDMI cable and I just couldn't get the Pi to detect anything. I swapped it out with an AmazonBasics cable that I had a bit more confidence in and after that it worked fine.
Hooked up to HDMI and happy
The projected image itself is very blurry, even after fiddling with the lens. I could get it into focus but even then it wasn't really.. sharp. I logged in on the Pi with ssh and set up x11vnc. This allowed me to get a better look at what was going on.
Compare a screenshot of my VNC client to the actual image being projected.
It's hard to believe but that's exactly the same image being shown. The projector presents itself with 720p as its only available resolution and then squishes that widescreen image down to 640x480. The result is predictably awful. I don't really need amazing image quality for this project but this is just awful. If you're at all interested in buying a projector, I really can't recommend a device like this. Literally save yourself the headache and get something decent.