As technology improves and prices for the best projectors become more affordable, many people now have the chance to enjoy the big-screen experience in the comfort of their homes. However, to make this experience as enjoyable and memorable as ever, you need the right projector that does the job.
Just as with many tech gadgets on the market, choosing the best projector can be an easy process if you have the right information. There are many options available on the market and it can be daunting if you don’t know what to look out for in the best model.
We understand this, and that is why we have prepared this article to arm you with correct information by introducing you to the world of projectors. To clear the air, no projector does it all because all these models differ depending on your use, specification, and price.
The challenge of selecting the right projector
If this is your first time or perhaps you hardly know anything about projectors except for its use, you might be worried about getting the right model for your use. This can be frustrating because the last thing you want is spending your hard-earned cash on something that probably won’t serve you the way you visualized it.
The challenge with selecting the right projector is there are many manufacturers out there releasing new models one after the other you might be confused about which brand to trust. Then there are the features and specifications you might not even know what is most important. There’s a lot on your plate, we get it, from the projector technologies, intended use to your budget. Let us save you all this hassle.
What is a Projector?
Just as its name suggests, this optical device projects images onto a surface mostly a projector screen. Think of it as an inverted camera that spits light out of a lens. A projector is a great alternative to a television or monitor, especially in large gatherings. You can use it for presentation on a big screen say in a conference room or classroom so that everyone can view images or watch a video where they are sitting.
Advantages of Using a Projector
- Large stunning pictures.
- Most affordable substitute to large screen TVs.
- Easy to install.
Disadvantages of Using a Projector
- Most models require a separate audio system.
- Installation cost can be higher depending on your requirements.
Types of Projectors
Projectors are classified into 3 types based on their display properties:
- CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)
- LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
- DLP (Digital Light Processing)
Don’t let these terms scare you, we’ll explain them in detail when talking about the projection technology. We will not touch on the CRT models because they are rarely used these days due to their large size and low light input.
This is the image creation technology used by the manufacturer on the projector. We’ll touch on the two technologies used in a majority of the projectors: LCD and DLP.
An LCD projector passes light through a liquid crystal panel while a DLP projector relies on a reflective mechanism using a Digital Micromirror Device to produce the projected image.
While these models both produce sharp quality images, they still have their share of advantages and disadvantages. For one, DLP projectors are lighter and compact. They also produce deeper true blacks than the other models. DLP models have high color contrast and smooth motion for videos.
On the other hand, LCD projectors are the best to use in well-lit rooms. They have an impressive color brightness and are more energy-efficient than the other models. When it comes to operation, these models are slightly quieter and produce sharper images.
Manufacturers tend to incline to a particular technology for most of their projectors. Whether it’s a DLP or LCD projector, these models will undoubtedly give you the best overall performance. If you don’t mind spending the money, you can go for the more expensive LCoS projectors. LCoS stands for Liquid Crystal Silicon. This technology is often found only on high-end projectors. It gives you a combination of benefits of both the LCD and DLP projectors.
Projector Resolution: This is the total number of pixels that the projector display which affects the overall image quality. The more pixels, the more detailed and crispier the images. Resolution ranges from 480p to 1080p and 4K for Ultra HD viewing.
A higher resolution is better when it comes to buying the best projector although you will have to dig deeper into your pocket. Make sure you match the projector resolution to the video source’s resolution.
Projector Brightness: This is often measured in lumens which means the higher the lumens, the brighter the projector will be. Too much brightness can sometimes make you uncomfortable especially in dark rooms but in larger spaces or rooms with ambient light, projector brightness can be very crucial.
Check the lumen ratings depending on the overall purpose of the projector. For instance you can go for a projector with a higher lumen rating if you are buying a projector for business purposes. This may not be important if you want a home theater projector.
Contrast Ratio: The difference between the brightest and darkest areas of a picture is the contrast ratio. Good color contrast helps produce good quality images. A contrast ratio of 1000:1 means the whitest white shows a thousand times brighter than the darkest dark.
The best projectors available on the market today boast a contrast ratio of up to 10000:1. While higher contrast assures more clarity, it also costs more. You’ll want to pay attention to the model’s contrast ratio if you are buying a home theater projector.
Light Source: These models are often powered by a standard lamp, laser, or light-emitting diode (LED). Standard lamp is perhaps the most affordable option of the 3 although the bulb does not last longer than the other options. Laser on the other hand is brighter than the other light sources and does not require any bulb replacement. As opposed to the standard lamps, laser offers a wider color range and better contrast. LED lasts longer and is more energy-efficient. It allows better color control as well. This light source is quite common in pico projectors.
Throw Ratio: This is the throw distance divided by the image width. This lets you know how wide the image is when you place your projector at any distance from the screen. Understanding the throw ratio is mostly important if you want to mount your projector permanently at a certain location.
A short-throw projector lets you mount it closer to the screen to display the image wide enough to fit the screen. A long throw projector is ideal if you have enough space to place it at a further distance. Most models on the market are long throw projectors.
Connectivity: This is also another important aspect when choosing the best projector for your needs. Make sure the projector you choose provides the main interface you want. Buying a model with multiple connectivity options would be a great idea as this gives you more flexibility. From HDMI, VGA, to USB Plug ‘n Play and Wireless LAN, there are a lot of options to choose from depending on your requirements.
How to choose the right projector
You need the right projector for your specific needs. Most projectors on the market are designed to handle any media type so they can serve their intended purpose quite well whether you’re hosting a movie night or presenting a project.
Home Theater Projector: These models have the best image quality. They have high contrast with rich color saturation. You might want to consider this if you are hosting the next movie night or perhaps want to enjoy video games and sports with your friends.
Business Projector: This model is ideal for business meetings, presentations, and educational setups. A business projector is portable and quite easy to set up and adjust. The projector has a bright display and multiple inputs as well as wireless projection. These models are the most common types of projectors available. These are general-purpose projectors designed to handle everything from presentations to watching movies.
Pico Projector:This is a portable pocket-size projector that is small enough to hold in your hand. Don’t let the size deceive you though, this model is quite powerful and ideal when sharing images with a few people. A pico projector boasts the advantages of being lightweight and extremely portable. It is great for your personal use or a small group.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Projector
Aside from the features that we have pointed out above, there are a few things you need to have in mind before making a final decision:
- Application: What do you want to use the projector for? This is the first and most important factor that you need to have in mind. Is it for home or business use? As we pointed out above, some projectors deliver the best performance when used at home while others have features that make them perfect for business use.
- Sound: Most of these models don’t have quality built-in speakers. This might not be an important factor to consider if you will be making business presentations but the sound quality is important for entertainment purposes. We recommend buying quality separate speakers for the best results.
- Portability: This should not be a concern if the projector will be placed permanently in a single position. However, if you move around a lot, then you might want to go for a smaller lightweight model that is easy to carry around. Pico projectors are the best when it comes to portability.
- Location: By location we mean, indoors or outdoors. A projector for outdoor use should have a superior build. It should be bright with a high resolution and contrast ratio.
- Cost: All of these models differ in price so you need to know how much you are willing to spend on a good quality projector. Knowing your budget helps narrow down the options to affordable models within your price range.
- Maintenance: When buying a projector, maintenance should also be another factor to have in mind. How much will it cost to replace the lamp? The lamp life varies from one projector to the other with some of the best models boasting up to 20,000 hours lamp life.
- Projector Screen: This includes buying additional items like a projector screen although you can also use a white wall as a screen. Be sure though that the quality of images differs when you project images to a wall. There are different types of projector screens available today, from motorized projector screens to fixed and manual screens.
- Projector Mount: A projector mount is important if you plan to use the projector in one location. You can either mount it on the wall or ceiling to keep it secure and ready to use.
- Universal Remote: Consider having a universal remote as well to control your projector and other audio equipment.
- Sound System: As we mentioned above, most of these models don’t have quality built-in speakers so buying a separate audio sound system would come in handy when enjoying a movie with friends.
There are a variety of projectors available on the market, each with different price tags. We recommend doing thorough research before choosing a single model. Hopefully, this article sets you on the right track with the right information.