Whether it’s for hosting a movie night or a business seminar, big-screen presentations do leave lasting impressions. Home theatre projectors are pretty expensive investments, hence you need to put a number of things into consideration before getting one. Read on to learn about the factors you should consider while buying a home theatre projector.
Lumens is a specification for a projector. It means how much light a projector can focus on a screen. With this, you will get an idea about the brightness of the image that will be displayed on the screen. You will also get an idea of how much should be the optimal size of an image to be shown on the screen. You will be able to control the contrast ratio and color accuracy if you have an idea about the lumen specification.
A contrast ratio is a ratio between the brightest image and the darkest image that is displayed on the screen. Color accuracy is how accurate a projector is displaying the specified color of a certain object. There is some caveat here.
It is easy to understand that 3000 lumen-projector will be brighter than 1000 lumen-projector, but you cannot identify nuances between the 2100-lumen projector and 2000-lumen projector.
Furthermore, there is no consistent way to measure the lumen specification of a projector. Different companies use different ways. A 3000-lumen projector from a certain company could be a 2500-lumen projector for a different company. It all depends on the criteria set by the company.
There is an American standard to measure lumen set by the American National Standards Institute called ANSI lumen. However, most companies tend not to use that standard.
To understand this specification in simple terms, just remind yourself that 3000 is a much higher number than 1000. That’s it. Then go for the brightest lumen-projector if you can because if brightness turns out to be too high, you can easily bring it down. However, if you buy a projector with an inbuilt low brightness, you wouldn’t be able to do much about it.
What Light Source to Use?
In extremely non-technical terms, a projector works like this, a light source fires a beam of light on a chip that stores or creates an image which is then displayed on the wall.
So, a projector has an important specification called the light source. Which one to use?
Generally, a projector uses not more than three kinds of light sources: lasers, LEDs, and UHP lamps. UHP lamps are the one that is commonly found in all the projectors. UHP is an abbreviation for ultra high-pressure lamps. These are basically high powered light sources that have low maintenance needs as well as low-cost range. Highly reliable UHP lamps come around between $200-$300, but an expensive projector will have a costly UHP lamp. The inexpensive UHP lamps can, however, decrease its performance over time, but it will cause you no problem until you reach 14000 hours. It means it can run for more than seven years even if you watch a three hours movie per day. After that, you may have to replace the lamp.
Other classes of light sources include LEDs and laser-based. Sometimes they are used together. The functions and characteristics of both of them are almost identical. LEDs are far more efficient than UHP as it can last for 30,000 hours. However, the price-performance ratio(price/performance) has remained high for UHP when compared to LEDs. The point to remember is the brightness of an expensive LED-based projector is not always higher than UHPs though sometimes it does surpass it.
The range of UHPs made available by companies is also on the higher side when compared to LEDs.
Which Chip is the Best?
Chip technology is the one that is used in projectors to convert light from the light source into an actual image which is then fired on the screen.
A chip used for this purpose is generally of three types, DLP, LCD, and LCoS.
DLP’s color quality is the worst among the three. It does not have a high range of contrast quality. Numerous brands make this type of chip, and the prices range from modest to expensive. It has the quality of showing the brightest picture among the three.
A “light engine” manufactured by Texas instrumentations is found in all DLP based projectors. A light engine is basically a chip along with a wheel that has all the colors.
The LCD chip-based projectors are generally made by Epson. The sharpness quality of an image is on the lower side. The average cost of LCD chip-based projectors is lesser than DLP based projectors. The contrast ratio is also bad when compared to DLP based projectors.
The color quality, however, is better than DLP based projectors because it used three chips for red, green, and blue instead of using a wheel. Epson’s recent design Home Cinema 2150 has impressed the market with its contrast quality.
LCoS are a touch more expensive than the two and are generally made by Sony and JVC. Its sharpness quality is almost similar to JVC, but the overall picture quality is best among the three. The contrast ratio also outclasses DLP and LCD. Color quality is also superlative. The chips made by Sony are called SXRD, and one made by JVC is called D-ILA. Even the cheapest of LCoS is not less than a thousand dollars.
It also uses three chips for red, green, and blue and makes its color quality of the highest order.
Placement is Important
A DLP based projector needs to be at a height, that is they need to be fixed with the ceiling or mounted on a table. The reason for this is the fact that it has an upward throw angle and it does not offer any lens shift. In simple terms, the bottom of the image starts at or above the projector.
Most of the LCD and LCoS projectors are a lot flexible in their lens shift, so they enable a lot of different positioning. The distance between the projector and screen is also needed to be kept in mind. The throw distance of some projectors is greater than the rest. For a cheap projector, it is generally not greater than a few feet. However, for expensive projectors, as it is evident in movie theatres, the distance could be much larger.
You can opt for either wired or wireless connections. However, wireless connections are not advisable as the signal transmission will not be smooth because there are chances that you would walk in between the projector and the screen. There is also a high possibility that wireless transmission will not offer a specific frame rate and resolution if required by the user.
In wired transmission, nowadays, you will get a USB port that lets you connect to a streaming stick of a service provider. Otherwise, you would require an HDMI cable.
You can also use optical fiber communication to increase the speed of the transmission.
Movie lovers who do not like socializing and can afford home theaters are hereby highly encouraged to set up home theaters at their home. This not only gives you a feel of a cinema theater but also offers a wide range of experiences such as a large screen for video conferencing, creating stadiums like circumambience for Football and NBA matches. More and more projectors are offering HDR versions, which can further enhance the viewer’s experience.
For gamers, DLP projectors can help tremendously as they offer to lower the input lag, which lets the gamers perform better at racing, sniper, sports, and war games.