During these modern times, there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself even from within your own home. Thanks to advancements in technology, you don’t even have to go outdoors just to have a thrill of your own (even though it is recommended you do so from time to time). One such example is a home theater projector.
This device can serve as a fine replacement for your television, especially if you get tired of the regular programs. The good news is that it lets you pick whatever movie or video you want to watch. Everything is under your control. You won’t ever be forced to watch a rerun of a show you’ve seen a million times before. You call all the shots.
The problem is, if you’ve ever been to a store and even attempted to buy your own home theater projector, there is a good chance that you’ve been intimidated by all the fancy terms that are written on the specs sheets. This is a real problem, especially for first time buyers. Nobody wants to go through that struggle; we all just want to sit on our couch and watch our favorite movies.
Unfortunately, you can’t get to that level without going through the complicated parts first: that is, picking your very own home theater projector.
Lucky for you, you’ve found a guide that will walk you through it. We’ll be discussing some of those terms that you will surely encounter when you go out to buy one. This is so that you’ll be familiar with them, and so that you will have an idea on what you’re buying, before you actually spend money on them. Let’s get to work.
When we talk about the aspect ratio, we’re referring to the rectangular shape of the video image, specifically, what size it comes in. There are usually two options, 4:3 and 16:9 and we will discuss both of them briefly.
To give you an idea of how big these formats are: the standard television uses an aspect ratio of 4:3. That means the image is four units wide for every three units of height. Meanwhile, the standard HDTV makes use of a 16:9 format, meaning the picture is 16 units wide for every 9 units of height. To put it simply, the 16:9 format is wider than the 4:3.
The problem is that while projectors and television sets can come at a certain aspect ratios, the actual TV programs and videos intended to be played on them won’t always match because they also come in different aspect ratios. For example, if you play a 16:9 HDTV material on a 16:9 projector, then it will be broadcasted perfectly. But if you try to play a 4:3 material on a 16:9 projector, then there will be black spaces on the corner of the screen because the picture is too small.
Most programs go on a 16:9 format nowadays, while the 4:3 format was more popular back in the day, although it is still widespread now. Try and choose a projector that will play the kind of material you want to watch properly.
The resolution, or native resolution, of a projector refers to the number of pixels that it can use to create an image. Basically, the higher the resolution, the more pixels it has. That eventually translates to a better image quality, and a better viewing experience.
And while we could discuss the complicated stuff regarding the native resolution of various projectors, we will simply focus on what you need to consider when buying one.
Projectors may come in various resolutions, including 1280×720, 1280×800, 1920×1080, and 4K.
Among these, the most recommended is the 1280×800, because it has a balance of great quality and price. For those who are on a slightly more limited budget, the 1280×720 should do just fine without being too expensive. The 4K resolution is a relatively new technology that makes use of either 4096×2160 or 3840×2160, but these aren’t widely found in the markets yet.
For a great viewing experience, the 1280×720, the 1280×800, and the 1920×1080 resolution should suffice.
Brightness and Contrast
The brightness and contrast refers to the overall lighting and shadowing of a certain picture. For the real HD experience, one must know how much light is travelling from the projector, and how much contrast it has.
However, determining the actual brightness of a certain projector can be quite complicated, if not confusing. One tip to follow is to make sure you don’t spend too much time analyzing the ANSI Lumen Specs because the lumen rating of a projector doesn’t have a great effect on its overall performance in a home theater setup.
Instead, focus on how much lighting you do have on the actual room where you place the projector. The darker the room is, the less light the projector will need to produce in order to make a decent picture quality. That goes for contrast as well. To get the maximum efficiency from your projector, a darker room is needed. Don’t pay too much attention to the specs sheets for this one.
There are other factors to consider before selecting a home theater projector. For example, where will you put it?
If it is too far away from a white wall or a screen, then you will most likely need a decent zoom function on your projector.
Different models come with different zooming capabilities. For example, 2.0:1 means it can have a maximum image size that is double of the minimum image size.Remember that it is not recommended that you zoom it all the way if you want a high quality picture. All projectors get slightly blurry when the telescopic features are used.
There are also projectors that have lens shift capabilities, meaning you can move the projected image up, down, left and right without having to move the projector’s body. Remember that without this feature, you will have to install the projector while pointing it exactly at the center of your screen.
The one thing you shouldn’t forget to consider when buying a home theater projector is whether or not you can afford them. You may find the perfect projector for your home right now and realize that it doesn’t fit your budget. So it’s great to know which projectors fit which budget:
Under a thousand dollars, you could find great models that are 1280×720 (720p). The good news is there are plenty of 1920×1080 that have dropped below the $1,000 price mark as well. Keep an eye out for them.
With a budget of $1,000 to $4,000 dollars, you could have an amazing array of choice, most of which are 1280×800.
Lastly, for a price of $4,000 dollars and above you can get the best, and highest resolutions available. These are the ones that come with multiple features to further impress you.
Also keep a separate budget for replacement lamps for your projector, because they will eventually lose their brightness as time passes by.
Now that you have a grasp of all the basic home theater projector concepts, you have the freedom to choose whichever suits your tastes. Remember that every model is unique, and they will perform differently from the rest of their competitors. This is the reason choosing the right projector is a personal experience, which you might as well enjoy. Once you do grab that perfect home theater projector, you will do nothing but get entertained.