Big-screen TVs are great, but there’s nothing like watching a movie at home using a home theatre projector to take entertainment to the next level. Projectors suitable for Home Theatre setups have been around for a while, but they’ve never been more accessible or more widely used than they are today, in part because they have become so much more affordable.
The prices coming down is great news as most of us home theater audiophiles who would spend all our money on the hone theatre surround sound systems and leave our projectors and TV’s as the last choice. We’d upgrade when money and time allowed, if you know what I mean.
If you’re not familiar with home theater systems, it can be difficult to choose the right projector. There are a lot of specifications to think about, and you have to spend some time thinking about your setup and how you plan to use the video projector for your home theater system. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind that will make shopping just a little easier.
1. Understand the aspect ratio.
The aspect ratio is the shape of the display image or viewing area. Yes, for the most part, they’re all rectangular, but there are other things to consider when it comes to the projection screen size. There are two aspect ratios to choose from, 16:9 and 4:3.
Traditional television images are in a 4:3 ratio. These images are not HD, though, so 4:3 is becoming more and more outdated. That said, it still works just fine with some TV shows and video game consoles. The 16:9 ratio is the same one used in HDTV and is the most widely used for television, gaming, and movies. Chances are a home cinema projector with a 16:9 ratio is the better choice.
When thinking about aspect ratio in relation to a home theater projector, though, you have to think about how much room you have to project an image that you can comfortably see. 16:9 is great, but if your couch is too close to the projector screen, you won’t be able to comfortably see the whole thing.
2. Consider brightness.
Brightness for home theater projectors is measured in lumens. Most projectors range between 800 and 3000 lumens. The brightness also depends on outside factors, like the amount of light in your home theater room and how big the projection surface is. The smaller the screen, the fewer lumens you will need to get a bright image. So, if you’re planning to use your projector outside where there are porch lights and street lights around, or in a room with a lot of ambient light, you need a projector with more lumens.
Generally, today’s projectors with under 1000 lumens are the most affordable, but you have to use them in a room where there isn’t a lot of ambient light. They also work best with on a small viewing surface. If you have a family room in the basement where you can block out any ambient light, a projector with fewer lumens would probably work just fine.
On the other hand, if you have a large screen and a lot of ambient lights, look for something with between 1000 and 2000 lumens. Choose 2000 to 3000 lumens for large screens in rooms with a lot of ambient light.
3. Know the technology.
The most important part of a home theater projector is image quality. There are two basic types of projects, digital light processing or DLP and liquid crystal display or LCD. You can’t really determine which is better for you if you understand a little more about DLP and LCD, and know the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
Digital Light Processing
DLP projectors use mirrors to produce smooth, accurate images. They have a high contrast ratio with no shadows and are the most affordable option. On the other hand, they are not as bright as LCD projectors, so you need a dark room for best viewing. You may also get a rainbow effect across the screen, and the image has a limited number of pixels, so it’s not the best if you’re concerned with high definition.
Liquid Crystal Display
LCD home theater projectors use red, blue, and green LCD chips to project images. There are a few variants of LCD projectors: LCOS or liquid crystal on silicon; D-ILA or digital light amplification; and SXRD or silicon crystal reflective display. Don’t get too caught up in this, though, they’re basically all the same. HD-ILA is JVC’s version of LCOS, and SXRD is Sony’s.
Some of the best features of an LCD projector are that they’re extremely compact and the picture is really bright, so you can set them up in more places without having to worry as much about losing picture quality. The images also have great color saturation. The downsides are that they can lose quality over time and you may start to see dead pixels. An LCD projector is also significantly more expensive than DLP.
4. Resolution is the key to a sharp picture.
Resolution refers to pixel density. The higher the resolution, the more pixels there are, and the sharper the image is. The most common and most affordable pixel density is 1280 x 720, which should be good enough for most applications. If you want the best possible image you can get and are willing to pay more for it, check out projectors with a resolution of 1920 x 1080.
5. Don’t forget about throw distance.
Throw distance is the space between the screen and the lens of the projector, and it’s important to consider. For example, if you have a projector with a throw distance of three and your projection screen is five feet across, that means you have to place your projector 15 feet from the screen. The thing to keep in mind about throw distance then is this: do you have enough space to place the projector as far away from the screen as it needs to be?
Luckily, there are a lot of options. Long throw projectors are designed for rooms with a lot of space, so if you have a large living room, you can take advantage of it. A short throw projector is made for small spaces, and there are even ultra-short-throw options that only need to be placed a foot or two from the screen. That said, short throw projectors are more expensive than their long throw counterparts.
Choosing the Best Home Theater Projectors for Your Space
You might think you’re happy with your big flat-screen TV, but until you’ve watched a movie from your couch using a home theater projector, you don’t know what you’re missing. Choosing the right model can be tricky, especially if you’re not familiar with projectors. Take into account the aspect ratio, brightness, type of projection system, resolution, and throw distance, and you should have no problem choosing the best projector for your home theater.
If you’re planning an outdoor adventure then make sure you plan the best home movie night and pair it with a great outdoor projector screen.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Source of featured image: canva.com