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What Makes a Great Home Theater Projector?

Thu 7, July 2016   Projectors,How-To

Most of us own televisions. It’s no secret. According to a Nielsen Estimate, there are 116.4 million televisions in the United States alone. Unfortunately, not many televisions can match the experience of watching a film on the big screen. If you’ve ever wished you could bring the theater home with you, consider a Home Theater Projector. Projectors make it possible to create images significantly larger than the biggest tvs on the market, bringing the immersion of the big screen into your living room.


That said, how do you choose the right projector? Choosing a projector is somewhat more complicated than picking a television. Looking at the list of specifications for a projector might seem overwhelming, but some of those random numbers and jargon can make all the difference. Here are some important things to consider when shopping for a Home Theater Projector.


First, you should decide if Digital Light Processing (DLP) or Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) is the way to go. DLP projectors create their image by casting light through a color wheel and onto an array of adjustable microscopic mirrors, each of which represents a single pixel in the whole image. DLP projectors tend to have better brightness and contrast, making them suitable for general use spaces like the living room or family room, but wallet-friendly models tend to suffer in terms of color reproduction. LCD Projectors, on the other hand, tend to produce a wider range of colors with better accuracy at the expense of a degree of brightness and contrast. These projectors are particularly well suited to home cinemas with controlled lighting.


Brightness will be one of the most important factors to consider in choosing the right projector for your space. A projector in an open living room with windows and lamps will need to be brighter than a projector in a dark home theater with controlled lighting. Depending on the size of your image and the ambient light in the room, you’ll want a projector that is anywhere from 1000-3000 lumens.


Native Resolution is one of the most talked about aspects of any video device, and also one of the most important. 720p, 1080p, and 4K are terms with which most consumers are familiar, but do you know what the difference is? You should always try to match your source material to get the most out of your equipment. From Blu-Rays to Game Systems to Online streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, almost all of the content you watch is meant to be viewed at 1080p. A 720p projector is much more budget friendly, and most can display any of these without a hitch, but the lower resolution means that you won’t see all of the detail that your source material has to offer.


Projectors have finally entered into the world of 4K resolution. While the premium for this technology is still high, the ever growing amount of 4K content makes it worth considering. You might not see much difference between 1080p and 4K on a 36” television, but put that same image on a 120” projector screen and it makes a difference. Add in the upscaling that is standard on most of these models, and even your 1080p blu-rays will start to look better.


You may find yourself in a situation where you can’t get the projector to line up right with the screen. High, Vaulted ceilings, angled walls, and inconvenient furniture are just a few of the hurdles that can make getting your projector in the right spot difficult. Remember that you always want the keep your projector level and perpendicular to the screen. If you’re working with a difficult space, consider a projector with Lens Shift. Lens shift moves the lens relative to the display chip inside the projector, allowing you to move the image without moving the device, increasing the range of places that the projector can be placed without distorting the image or sacrificing resolution. If lens shift is out of your budget, most projectors support keystoning, allowing you to digitally distort your image to fit the screen when the projector is at an angle.


Lastly, remember to consider your throw ratio. This will ultimately depend on the size and shape of the room in which you’re planning to install your home theater. The throw ratio is the distance from the lense to the screen, divided by the width of the screen. In other words, if a projector has a throw ratio of 0.8:1, it will give you an image 8 foot wide when placed 10 feet from the screen While this number may seem arbitrary, it’s important to make sure your projector’s throw ratio will work in your intended room. If you’re having trouble with the math, Consider using a projection calculator like the one at ProjectorCentral.com to make sure the projector you buy will give you the right image for your space.