Q1 What is the difference between home theater and data projectors?
A1 Don't be blinded by lumens - high
lumens will not translate to a great home theater experience. Since the
first affordable LCD projectors were released in the early 1990's, the
benchmark for finding the right projector was based on brightness or lumen
rating. But as the market shifted from data projection (PowerPoint slides
etc.) to home theater, so have the ways of deciding between the
projectors. Today, contrast ratio, resolution and native aspect ratio are
almost as important as the brightness when it comes to watching a DVD or HDTV
through your projector. Always remember - high lumens do not necessarily
translate into the best visual performance - especially in a home theater
environment. Here are some keywords to look for when choosing between
your home theater projector and data projector:
Home Theater Projector -
- Resolution - SVGA (800 x 600), XGA (1024 x 768), SXGA (1280 x 1024)
- Aspect Ratio - 4:3
- Contrast ratio of approx 400:1.
- Resolution - WVGA (842 x 480), WXGA (1368x 768), WUXGA (1920 x 1024)
- Aspect Ratio - 16:9
- Contrast ratio of 3000:1 or higher
Q2 DLP or an LCD - which is better?
A2 We could get really deep here and
consult experts on the difference between a DLP (Digital Light Processor) and an LCD (Liquid crystal
Display) and have some cool schematics and graphics on the difference between
DLP and LCD but we won't do that right now. Our goal is to simplify these
technologies so you can make a better decision rather than show you mirrors,
cells, and light bouncing.
What is a better technology? That depends on who you ask and what they already own.
The high performance LCD home
theater projectors that have hit the market recently are challenging the DLP
projector which until now reigned supreme in the world of high end HT. Not too long ago, the only way to get
brightness, high contrast and vivid colors was to get a DLP projector. Even the early versions of DLP projector could crank out four times the
contrast as an LCD projector. But lately, DLP and LCD projectors are more
evenly matched feature wise and the difference between the two technologies
comes down to this: Do you prefer a smoother (LCD) or sharper (DLP) image?
Q3 What's a lens offset?
A3 Stripped down to its core, lens offset refers to where the
projected image begins on the wall (bottom) and ends on the wall (top). The center of the lens on your desktop projector could be at 3' but with a
significant lens offset and a 5' throw distance, the bottom of your projected
image could be at 5'. The formula to figure out the lens offset is
available on the downloadable PDF. for each projector available on our site
Q4 What is the aspect ratio and what is the difference between 16:9 and 4:3?
A4 The basic definition of aspect
ratio is "width to height ratio of a film or television image". Today,
when you are shopping for a projector, you have to decide between getting a 4:3
or 16:9 native projector.
projectors display a "squarish" looking image and normally match the look of a
standard computer monitor or TV. Native resolutions of 4:3 displays are
800 x 600 (SVGA), 1024 x 768 (XGA) and 1600 x 1200 (UXGA) and they are designed
for displaying computer data and do a good job showing Standard Definition TV
(SDTV) or normal TV.
ratio projectors are more "rectangular" and match the display format found in
widescreen DVD's and HDTV. When displaying SDTV, a 16:9 native projector
will either display the content as a square in-the-middle-of a rectangle or the
projector will stretch the image to fill the screen. When you are
shopping for DVD's and you want an image that will fill the screen, look for
16:9 formatted DVD's, 1.78:1 or 1.85:1. Within what is considered
widescreen, there are several formats and if your DVD says widescreen 2.35:1,
the content will be displayed as a rectangle within a rectangle with border on
the top and bottom of the image.
Q5 What sort of screen should I buy to go with the projector I've selected?
A5 Let's see... gray screen or white
screen? Pull down or fixed frame? Choosing a screen might be tougher than
picking your home theater projector if you try to research it on your
own. In our experience, simplifying your choice is the best way to
A. What size
screen do you want?
Purchase your home theater projector first, even ceiling
mount it or set it up in the cabinet you will be using, and then play with the
zoom until you get the screen size that will work best for you.
type of screen do you want - drop down or fixed frame?
This could be based on how dedicated to home theater you
want your room to be and what screen materials are available to you. Drop
down screens are just like the screens we had in school without the "off-white"
or "browning" screen material. You can choose between electric and
manual with the expected difference in price. With electric screens, you
also have the ability to "trigger" the screen when the projector is powered
Fixed frame screens
are for rooms dedicated to home theater use and hang on the wall like a
picture. These screens usually cost more than their pull down cousins and
have more screen material options because they will not be subjected to the
rigors of descending and retracting with every use.
Your choice in a screen depends on the extent to which
you've dedicated your room to home theater as well as that recurring question:
"How much do you want to spend?"
type of screen material should you choose?
You may have already limited your choices based on the type
of screen you want - drop down or fixed frame. More details about screen material will be coming soon.