Selecting a projector for Home Theatre
Why settle for a 50” or 60” TV when you can have a FULL HD or even a 4K screen over 120 inches? Projection technology has improved substantially over the past 10 years and high-quality projectors are more affordable than ever before. You can now have a proper theatre experience in your home for a similar price as a mid-range television.
Just like with televisions, there are plenty of projectors out there to choose from. It can become quite confusing to find the one best for your home. To make the task easier check out the below factors you should consider.
Native Resolution – Basically, this is the detail you will get. Home theatre projectors will generally be FULLHD (1920x1080) or 4K (3840x2160). The vast majority of theatre projectors will be FULLHD, which is the same sort of quality you would get from a Blu-ray movie. If you are on a budget there are also WXGA 1280x800 models available, this is HD quality rather than FULL HD.
Brightness – Brightness is measured in ANSI Lumens. You will find most home theatre grade projectors will have a brightness level between 2000-3000 lumens. For a typical darkened theatre room, the brightness level will not be an important factor. If you plan on using your projector in an open area or a lounge room then a projector with a brightness rating closer to 3000 lumens will help. If your room is very bright best to look at a multipurpose projector rather than a theatre projector… these can have lower contrast levels but are much more powerful
Contrast Ratio – Contrast is one of the more important things to look at for movies, it determines how black your black’s will be and the detail that you get in those dark scenes in movies. Contrast is measured in a ratio, such as 10000:1. This would mean the black levels are 10,000 times blacker than the white. Different brands use different ways to measure contrast so it can sometimes be deceiving however generally higher the better. Most DLP based home projectors will have a contrast of 10,000:1 or better. Most LCD based home projectors will be 35000:1 or better.
Throw Distance - The installation distance (or throw distance) has caused a bit of grief with some customers in the past so always best to measure prior to ordering. Each projector has a Throw Ratio in its specifications. This ratio can be used to calculate how far back the projector must be to get a particular image size. If the ratio is advertised as 1.15:1 and your required image width is 2metres, the projector then must be installed at (2m x 1.15 = 2.3) 2.3metres back. There will usually be 2 ratios advertised, one zoomed in and one zoomed out. You can use both ratios to calculate the projectors distance when fully zoomed in and fully zoomed out. Throw ratio is important if you have a particular spot the projector must be installed at (such as an existing ceiling mount or shelf). If in doubt feel free to contact us and we can check what models will suit your installation.
Connections – This is an easy one. Always use HDMI. The HDMI connection is used widely across almost all projectors, it has the capability to transmit digital FULL HD and 4K signals to the projector. Whilst many projectors still have the old composite and component inputs it is worthwhile upgrading to use the HDMI connection.
What about 3D? – Almost every home theatre projector will be Active 3D compatible, allowing you to play 3D movies at home. Keep in mind there are a few different types of 3D technologies out there so your 3D glasses you have from other devices may not work with the projector. Digital projectors use Active 3D glasses, these glasses are electronic and sync to the image. This means those cheap Passive style glasses from your local cinema will not work. Whilst Active 3D glasses are more expensive they do provide a significant boost in sharpness in the 3D image. There are 3 main types of Active 3D glasses with different brands being compatible with different glasses. Some brands use DLP Link glasses, some use RF, and some use IR. These are the same quality, just different ways the glasses sync to the image.
Recommendations – To make the task of selecting the right projector easier we have picked what we believe to be the best quality and best value projectors for home theatre use. These are listed below so you can have a browse. Obviously if you require help or have a question feel free to contact us.