Selecting a Home Theater Projector
Selecting the right home theater projector can be difficult, but the VisualApex representatives are here to help before and after your purchase. That's right! The VisualApex representatives will help you select your home theater projector and be available for questions when you are setting up. So no worries, your home theater is going to be perfect.
A perfect projector selection starts with taking a few specifications into account and then applying them to your purchase. So you might be inclined to think that brightness and contrast ratio may be your driving specifications, but we really want you to consider two variables, your budget and how you will be using your projector.
In our opinion, the best projector is one that meets your use and budget, so try not to get stuck on specifications like lumens and contrast ratio, because depending on your use and room specifications, a projector with less may be an excellent selection.
To help you start your selection process, we are giving you a list of our top 10 home theater projectors based off our selection and customer satisfaction.
Top 10 Home Theater Projector List
5 Questions To Consider Before You Buy a Home Theater Projector
What Size of Projection Screen Do You Need or Want?
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 for your projection screen?
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 we see when putting together a home theater are projector 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're 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: Do you watch more sports or movies? Or play more video games? If you watch mostly TV and sports and play vide games - 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 Home Theater 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. Here's a list of our top-selling 1080p home theater projectors.
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.
Home Theater Projector Screen Material
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.
Save more - Consider a home theater projector package. Equipped with everything that you need to have your home theater up and running in no time flat, our home theater projector packages are discounted, so you save more money, too! What's not to love about that?