Picking The Best Video Projector For Your Home Theater
Picking the right front video projector is no small task. It requires a lot of research, reading and education before you punch in your credit card to a website. How much light output do you need? What is 1080p video? What size and shape screen do I need? These are only some of the questions that one needs to ask before they pop for a projector. The good news is that we are here to help you at Visual Apex. You can call us at 800.883.7495 both before and after a sale to have our trained staff help you with every element of your purchase. We know there are many places you can buy a projector online. We offer free shipping and low prices too but our support is the number one reason why to do business with Visual Apex.
Five Questions You Should Ask Before You Buy A Home Theater Projector
- What Size Do You Need?
The best reason for getting a top performing home theater projector is that you get more gorgeous video for less money than flat HDTVs. But how big should you go?
The general rule of thumb is that you want to sit about 1.5 times the width of the screen - away from the screen. So if you have a 10 foot wide screen (by the way, that means you can brag to your friends that you have a 120 inch screen... far larger than their plasma or LED) you need to set a good 12 to 15 feet away to not feel overwhelmed.
The most common mistake that we see is screens that are too large for the room thus creating the effect of sitting in the front row of the movies which has the "wow" effect but over time creates neck fatigue. It's better to get the size of your screen right first. Remember, you can contact support or help on this topic for free if you need some advice. We are here to help.
- What Shape Screen Do You Need?
There are two main types of screen shapes: 16x9 and 2.35:1 although there are many slight variations of these sizes that directors use for their own art.
The key question you need to ask is: you watch more sports or movies? If you watch mostly TV and sports - then you want to lean towards a 16x9 screen. That's the same aspect ratio as a flat HDTV. Movies in the more narrow 2.35:1 ratio will have black bars on the top and bottom when playing.
Now if you are a big time movie buff and want to watch the movie in the more narrow aspect ratio of 2.35:1 or "widescreen" mode, then you might pop for a screen in that shape. Sports and TV content might seem a bit cropped.
If you have to have the best of both worlds - there are options for you. The more affordable solutions include screens that can drop one of two different screens down for your enjoyment. Yes, they have both a 2.35:1 screen and a 16x9 screen. The next best solution is more pricey which is an auto-masking screen which adjusts the blackout felt on the top and sides of the screen based on the needs of your content.
Call 800.883.7495 with any aspect ratio questions.
- What Type of Projector Should You Buy?
There are a number of types of projector technologies on the market today that create a gorgeous image in your home theater. Here are some guidelines that can help point you in the right direction for your decision.
LCD video projectors are the least expensive projectors and can make an affordable yet large picture. In recent years, LCD projectors have gotten much better in terms of quality but tend to fall behind the performance and light output of LED, DLP and LCOS type projectors. LCD technology is often what powers the "pico" projectors that are very small - meaning palm-of-your-hand small. Pico projectors aren't really suitable for home theater use unless they are used in very small locations.
DLP projectors are among our most favorite. Texas Instruments has refined this chip technology down to a fine art thus the cost of one-chip as well as the more pricey three-chip DLP projectors have dropped for consumers drastically in the past few years while the performance has improved. DLP projectors make a smooth, color accurate image that can wow.
LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) is known under other names like Sony's SXRD or JVC's D-ILA. Critics call this technology "the plasma of video projectors" for its smooth colorful image. DLP and LCOS battle it out in the higher end video projectors for top honors. Light output and the type of optics in the projector often determine which projector is right for you.
LED sets are all the rage in flat HDTVs but they are a bit more esoteric in video projectors. Early LED projectors didn't have as much light output but today they are much brighter. The advantage of LED projectors is that their bulbs last for tens of thousands of hours - many times more than traditional DLP or LCOS projectors. The downside is that most LED projectors don't allow you to replace the bulb when they finally die. After 20 years with the same projector, it just might not be an issue for you however.
- What Type of Screen Material Do You Need?
Once you select a projector, there are other things you can do to get better performance from your front video projector in your home theater.
One of the coolest new technology changes come via screen materials. There are materials designed to work in a darkened room as well as ones designed to make a very bright image in the most well-lit, ambient light filled rooms.
We can help you select the right screen material for your system if you'd like the help. Take a look at all options that we offer here as we represent the best screen brands in the business.
- How Should You Mount Your Projector?
How and where you should mount your home theater projector has a lot to do with your specific room.
Do you have an HDMI cable and power run to the ceiling? If so, you can mount the projector upside down and align the image accordingly to get the best possible image without using any image adjustments in the projector's menus.
If you need to table mount the projector, you then can set the projector right-side up and align accordingly. Not everyone can get cables sent to the ceiling thus this is a very viable option. Fan noise and room traffic can be an issue with this configuration but its likely not a critical flaw. Once again, it depends on your room.
Video Projector Image Slideshows
Take a few minutes to click around on this image slideshow to see some images of the best home theater installations that we've seen. We've got different types of screens, projectors and rooms for you to see. It's a good place to get some ideas to start planning your system and its projector-based home theater.
More Video Projector Resources
Find a Professional Video Calibrator
Here are some additional resources for you to read up on that might help with your overall education about home theater projectors.
For the Nth degree of performance from your projector, you might want to look into hiring a professional video calibrator to tweak your settings.
Video Screen Resources