Are you having trouble deciding between home theater projectors?
Finding one that suits both your entertainment needs and your budget isn?t as hard as it seems. But there are several features that you should look for.
A few features to consider are brightness, resolution, aspect ratio, lamp life, and screen. Each one is going to impact your viewing experience differently.
We put together a guide on what features you should look for, and how you can put together your dream theater with a tight budget.
Brightness of Home Theater Projectors
ANSI lumens are the measurement used to measure the light output of projectors. If you have a room with no windows or any other sources of light, your projector doesn’t need as many ANSI lumens.
Usually, home theater projectors that function in a dedicated space with no ambient light need 1000 lumens or higher.
Rooms that have some light should have projectors of at least 1500 lumens. Spaces with bigger windows and higher ambient light should have at least 3000 lumens.
But a brighter projector is not necessarily better for your home theater. It is possible for a projector to be so bright that it hurts your eyes.
By using a room with little to no light, you can save quite a bit on the price of a projector.
Image Quality Features You Should Look At
There are three major factors that impact image quality the most:
- Fixed or native resolution
- Contrast ratio
- Source material
Most people start their search for home theater projectors by looking at resolution. The most budget friendly and common home theater projectors are about 1280x 800. However, HD projectors have up to twice the number of pixels.
The more pixels your projector has, the sharper the image is.
A Wide XGA has 1,024,000 total pixels, while HD has 2,073,600 pixels.
How does this impact the image quality?
It?s actually hard to see the difference between a Wide XGA and an HD unless you are projecting a very large image.
If you have a dedicated room with a huge screen, then you should opt for HD. However, if you are projecting on a small wall, a Wide XGA will do the trick.
The contrast ratio is the difference between the darkest and lightest colors in your image. A high contrast ratio means that your picture will have richer colors and appear less washed-out.
But no matter how large the contrast ratio is, there is nothing that kills contrast more than light.
If you have a projector with a smaller contrast ratio, make sure you cover all your windows. Also, in this case, the darker the color of your walls, the better.
Another factor to consider is aspect ratio. Aspect ratio represents the relationship between the width and the height of your image.
The width will always come first in the aspect ratio. A projector’s aspect ratio is likely to be either 4:3, 16:10, or 16:9. If you want a very large screen, you could choose the 4:3.
But keep in mind that the standard ratio is 16:9. This is ideal for a home theater because DVD?s, Blu-ray?s, and most other digital formats use the 16:9 ratio.
So what happens if the projector doesn?t match the film format?
They can display bigger and wider images too. However, the image will have a black bar on top and on the bottom.
When buying a projector, you should buy a second lamp too?especially if you plan to use the projector daily.
But if you only use your projector for watching movies once a week with your friends, you don’t need to worry much.
Projector lamps typically last anywhere between 2,000-4,000 hours. But as time goes on, every lamp loses its brightness.
The lamp life mentioned above refers to the ?half-life?. When a lamp reaches its half-life, it can continue to work. However, it will gradually lose it brightness.
You can prolong the life of your lamp by cleaning your filter regularly.
If you use your projector 7 hours per week, your lamp will last around 5 years.
Should you also search for screens when looking for home theater projectors?
Screens are not a must when shopping for home theater projectors. You can simply use a wall as your first screen.
If the cost of your home theater concerns you, remember that a screen is a one-time investment. Best of all, you can use it with any projector.
The image projected on a white wall won?t be as vibrant as one on a high-quality screen.
There are many options out there. Some are budget-friendly, whereas others are more expensive and come with many features.
Should I Ceiling Mount a Projector or Use a Table?
One of the first things you will do after purchasing a projector is deciding where to put it.
Keep in mind that each option has its own advantages.
Ceiling mounting your projector will keep your projector out of the way. Additionally, it gives your home theater a more professional look.
When ceiling mounting your projector, make sure you consider the throw ratio between your projector and your screen/wall.
For example, if you install your projector further away from your wall or screen, the image will appear larger.
If you want to watch your movies outside or plan to lend your projector to your friends and family, setting it on the table may be the best choice for you.
Most projectors are lightweight and easy to carry around. However, you will have to set up the projector each time you use it.
If you plan to use a table, look for home theater projectors with less fan noise. This will ensure a much better viewing experience.
Making Your Decision
If you are deciding between home theater projectors, make sure you consider the features mentioned above.
Nowadays, home theater projectors are getting cheaper while their quality is rising. This ensures that you can get a great product at an affordable price?that is, if you do your research.
If you want to find out more about home theater projectors, don?t hesitate to read more at our blog.