Projector Buying Guide

You might know, but when it comes to projectors, you have a wide range of choices. You can choose from several types of projectors, like a home theater or multimedia projectors. You even have multiple choices of features like brightness, resolution, contrast ratio, and much more. We must say that understanding every aspect of the projector is vital to make the right decision. This is why we have mentioned all the important things that you need to know before going to the market. So, let’s discuss projectors, their types, and some tips to give you a clear idea.

What is A Projector?

It is a device that uses images generated by a Blu-ray player and computer and reproduces these images by projecting them onto the wall, screen, and other types of surface. Generally, people use flat, larger, and light-colored (mostly white) surfaces for the projection of the images.

You can use a projector for several reasons. It can help you show your presentation on a large screen so that everyone in a meeting can see it easily. Additionally, projectors can procedure both moving images like videos or still images like slides. Projectors come in various sizes, but generally, it comes in a size of a toaster and weighs a couple of pounds.

Types of Projectors

There are many types of projectors that have plenty of features and specs. Here are some common types of projectors that you can purchase.

Pocket Projectors

These types of projectors are super portable. Most of them are not bigger than a Smartphone. You can use them as a substitute for a small TV or computer monitor that you can easily carry while traveling. These devices also use LED lamps to avoid large cooling systems and high power consumption. But because of this characteristic, you need to compromise on image size.

The pocket projectors offer you ANSI Lumens from 25 to 1500. However, other standard multimedia projectors provide you at least 2500 lumens. These projectors also don’t offer you optical zoom, which forces you to change the placement of projectors to get the preferred image size.

Multimedia Projectors

You may already know that multimedia projectors are the most popular and used projectors. These devices are perfect to use for any purpose, from screening video clips to giving PowerPoint presentations. The smallest projector weighs 3 pounds, which is an ultra-slim model. However, other types of multimedia projectors weigh more than this. You can also find projectors with lumens range from 2500 to 4500. Plus, they come with zoom lenses, but their zoom range is typically shorter than the home theater projectors: 1.2x to 1.5x.

This means you need to choose a projector with a screen size compatible with the device’s throw ratio. These projectors also provide you different types of inputs. Apart from the VGS, you can also find digital inputs such as DVI, HDMI, SDI, and Display Port.

Short Throw Projectors

Multimedia projectors also have subcategories, known as the ultra-short throw and short-throw. A short throw comes with a throw ratio of less than 1:1. In comparison, the ultra-short throw offers you a throw ratio of 0.5:1 and 0.3:1. Short throw devices usually don't have zoom lenses. When it comes to ultra-short throw, they use a mirror to project an image on it before it reflects on the projector screen. You need to lean them to a wall instead of mounting them on the ceiling. You can also place these projectors closely to the screens, around 18 inches to 2 feet away.

Short throw projectors are perfect for classrooms, and you can pair them with whiteboards. You also need to keep them in the recommended distance range if you want an undistorted image. As they are ideal for smaller screen sizes (around 8 feet wide), they can give you 3000 lumens. If you have limited space and need brighter images, you can opt for fixed installation machines with interchangeable lenses.

Home Theater Projectors

Home theatre projectors emphasize more on image quality than any other feature. They can give you lower brightness, around 1800 lumens. Not to mention, you can also enjoy their incredible zooming ability that is more than any projector that comes with built-in lenses.

Generally, these projectors have low-voltage control (LVC). Hence, turning the projector off and on will help you descend or raise the screen or close and open if it is an attached framed covered by drapes. To give you the quietest operation, they have a more elaborate and efficient cooling system. However, this feature makes them large and bulky, which prevents you from installing them upside down.

Most of these projectors are Full HD, while others come with 4K feature. If you want the best image, you need to block that ambient light and install a screen bigger than 100 inches.

Is a Projector a Suitable Choice for You and Your Room?

If you are planning to purchase a projector, there are several things that you need to consider. Your viewing habits and room lighting impacts the performance of your projector.

Ambient light

If you want optimal performance from a projector in a home theatre, you will need to eliminate or reduce light in your theatre, whether it’s room light or daylight. The best place is a room with few windows, especially if your purpose is to purchase a projector for watching movies.

A windowless basement is the best place for its installation. When you close all the lights, it will be darker than any movie theater you have visited. If you want to place a projector in a room with significant sunlight, you can wait for the night to have a wonderful projector experience. Apart from this, you can also install blackout shades on your windows.

Most of the LCD projectors can produce significant bright images that even give you visible and proper images in a space with ambient lights. There are also ALR or ambient light rejecting screens that use optical coatings and multiple layers to lower the impact of the room light. You can install both ambient light rejecting screens and higher brightness projectors that can work together to offer you appealing crisp pictures.

Your Viewing Habits

Another factor you need to consider is the lifespan of the projector’s light source. Generally, projectors come with a bulb that has a lifespan of 2,000 to 5,000 hours. This hour rating is the representation of a lamp’s half-life, which is a point at which a projector’s brightness reduces by half. Moreover, the lamp will continue working for its half-life, and the brightness gets lower over this period.

You can replace the lamp to get the brightness again. Unfortunately, these high-pressure bulbs will cost you around $200 to $500; hence, replacing the bulb is expensive.

People who usually buy projectors for movies and special events use projectors for around 8 hours a week. A projector that comes with a 2,000-hour lamp can help you entertain yourself or others for around 4 to 5 years. Conversely, people who use projectors as a substitute for their main TV or for around 4 hours every day need to replace the lamp in a year or half.

Why Use a Screen?

You have the option to use a completely white wall instead of a screen. But a high-quality screen will offer you a clearer, brighter, and better image. As the screen reflects the light back, it helps your projector to make pictures pop off the screen. Additionally, the gain factor is used to rate every type of screen. In simple words, it is the measurement of how efficiently it can reflect light. To get brighter images, you need a higher gain.

Having a white screen can help you enhance the brightness, which is a much-needed feature for business use. When it comes to grey screens, they make 3D images more visible and increase color contrast, which makes it an ideal color option for a room with light-colored walls or ambient light.

Things to Consider When Purchasing a Projector

Projectors come with various features and specs. You need to choose the one that offers maximum features and optimal performance suitable for your preferences. Let’s discuss some aspects that you need to consider.

Resolution

It is a unit that measures the number of pixels in a specific area. Apart from this, the standard resolution is 1280 X 720. The best resolution to get a higher quality image is 1280 X 768. You can also find projectors with 1920 X 1080 resolution, which is ideal for HD videos and gaming. But you also have to pay the price for this much resolution.

Throw Ratio

We have already discussed some aspects of the throw ratio. It is the distance from your projector to the screen. If you opt for a device with an inadequate or incorrect throw ratio, you may have to face a screen over bleed. Setting up the distance and larger screen means you need to opt for higher ratios. For instance, in the case of a moderate throw ratio, which is 2.0, when you have a 5-feet widescreen, you need to place the projector no less than 10 feet away from the projector screen.

To calculate the right distance, you can multiply the width and ratio. If you want to calculate the ratio, then you can simply divide the distance by width.

Brightness

Foot-candle and lumens is the unit of measurement of brightness. Generally, 75W incandescent bulbs can produce 1100 lumens. Rooms with higher ambient light also have higher lumens.

It is almost impossible to control the light in the outside theatres. However, you can control the light coming from windows, overhead sources, and hallways in a room theatre. So, think about the placement of your projector before purchasing one, whether you are planning to purchase multimedia projectors or pocket projectors.

Contrast Ratio

The contrast ratio is the ratio of dark to light in a picture. The contrast and the ambient light dictate the quality of the picture you will get. If you opt for the right contrast ratio, it will help you enhance picture quality. To get high contrast ratio, you will need the higher quality of the medium. Furthermore, a contrast of 3000:1 shows that your lightest or whitest areas are 3000 times brighter than the darkest part. If your home theatre has some amount of light, then you will need higher contrast.

Selecting an Outdoor Screen

You might have already planned to purchase a projector; now, you have to think about where you would project the image. Of course, you need to consider the size and material of the screen. Keep in mind that if you are arranging an outside venue, then place your screen away from the light source.

Generally, projectors specifically made for outdoor usage are long throw machines. This means that you need to place your projector at least six feet far from the screen. Additionally, if you don’t want to purchase a screen, you can simply use a white wall or clothe to project your image.

Additional Considerations

An outdoor theatre needs a projector that offers some additional characteristics like dust-resistant and durable features. You also need to place a projector on a durable and stable surface that can easily interact with power sources without causing any hazard. Besides that, portability is another important factor if you want to host an event off-site the venue. So, it’s best to purchase a portable projector for a better and outclass outdoor theatre solution.

Installation Tips of a Projector

Here are some tips that you can use to install the projectors in the right way.

Projector Placement

Once you buy a projector for your house, you need to figure out the distance of your projector from the screen or wall, so you will know how big a screen you will need. For instance, a projector that is 7 to 8 feet far from the wall gives you around a 100-inch 4X3 screen when your projector’s ratio is 4X3. So, do some measurements to get to know about the right ratio.

Mounting Projector to Ceiling

You can find several types of projector mounts in the market. However, you need to choose the one that is easy to install and use. It is also important to note that cheap mounts can cause many problems for you. A good quality projector mount is the one that holds the projector in the position you set it. Usually, the mounts contain two major parts, ceiling plate, and projector plate. You need to attach the projector plate to the top of the projector. Then, you need to attach the ceiling plate to it.

Mounting Screen on the Wall

Every screen has a different mounting mechanism. But more or less, you need to follow the same steps to mount them. The first thing is to assemble the frame, and then you need to mount the frame temporarily to the wall to figure out the right position and place. After that, remove the frame, and attach the screen to the frame. You have to remount this frame and check whether the placement is right.

How Much a Projector Cost? 

Depending on the brand and model you choose, a projector can cost you around $500 to $5,000. So, a projector anywhere near $500 will be a cheap option for you. But if you want a projector with 4K features, then you should be ready to pay more than that.

How Much Does a 4K Projector Cost?

As the 4K TVs are popular, the idea of 4K resolution projectors is also gaining popularity among home theatre lovers. This is because 4K TVs give a real feel to the movies, games, and other images. Now, you can easily find 4K projectors in the market that give you a whole new experience.

These projectors are available with a price tag from $1,500 to more than $5,000. So, if you want to get the best experience, don’t buy a cheaper 4K projector.

Bottom Line

A projector is the best solution for people who don’t want to visit theatres. They can get a theatre experience in their homes by creating a home theater. All you need is to purchase the right projector that can give you optimal quality images in your preferred space. Just make sure to consider all the factors mentioned above to make the right decision.

Apart from this, you also need to think about the screen. Do you need a screen, or can you entertain yourself without it? We suggest that if you want the best experience, then it’s better to purchase a screen. Before buying one, make sure to consider its size. So, don’t wait and create your own home theatre.