Home Theatre Projector Buyers Guide
More and more people are looking for that big screen home theatre experience in the comfort of their own home and it has never been easier to achieve.
Whether you are setting it up in a dedicated darkened room with the big theatre speakers and rows of seating. Or a multipurpose living room with a bit of light creeping in, a comfy couch and a sound bar there are projectors to create a stunning home theatre available.
When selecting the ideal projector for your situation there are five main points to consider. :
Colour accuracy is what separates home theatre projectors from their business projector cousins. Home theatre projectors are built from the ground up to cover a wide colour gamut to give you natural skin tones and vibrant colour.
Business projectors are more basic they are built for maximum brightness sacrificing colour to achieve this.
Manufacturers of home theatre projectors use different terms including "Wide colour gamut" or adhering to Hollywood industry standards like "REC.709" or "DCI-P3". Unfortunately every manufacturer has a different way of saying the same thing so the best way to evaluate a projectors colour is by the title and reviews. A home theatre projector will be manufactured to have the best colour reproduction. While Gaming or Entertainment projectors will be brighter but not quite as accurate still good for sports and video games but won't be as spot on in a movie. Then Business projectors will be focused more towards brightness not a bad picture but will usually struggle with skin tones.
Brightness of your home theatre projector is a tricky one. It is the easiest specification to measure as each projector has a brightness rating but more is not necessarily better.
Many projectors with the best colour accuracy have a brightness level around 2000 lumens.
The lumen rating is a measurment of the maximum output not what it will run at in the best colour mode.
If you have a dedicated darkened home theatre room then the brightness is not a big concern. Home theatre projectors even with a brightness as low as 2000 lumens will be give you a fantastic image.
If you are planning a large picture or have a bit of light creeping in we would recommend to get one with 2500-3000 lumens.
For a brighter room Gaming & entertainment projectors will still give decent colour but more brightness of 3500 lumens.
Detail is determined by the resolution of your projector. There are two main resolutions to choose from 1080P (known as Full HD) and 4K (known and Ultra HD).
Although the 1080 projectors offer a fantastic picture 4K goes a massive extra step giving you 4 times the detail. It seems like a no brainer go for the better more future proof resolution. But at the moment 4K projectors are still relatively expensive and some basic models are more affordable but will not come with some of the features you can get on a well priced 1080p projector. So it will come down to two factors. Number one is budget, clearly the 1080P projectors will be cheaper and secondly the content you plan on viewing. If you are getting 4K Foxtel and Netflix, have a 4K disk player and are buying up disks then i would definitely go for the 4K projector. But if the majority of your viewing is 1080P from bluray movies or a Full HD Netflix of Foxtel subscription then you would not miss out at all with a 1080P projector.
The contrast level of your projector is one of the more important factors. The contrast level is a measurement of the brightest white the projector can produce and the blackest black. So when you see a specification of 10,000:1 this means the black will be 10,000 times darker the the white shade. In general terms the higher the better although some projectors use an iris to achieve crazy numbers in general this is still one of the better ways to compare projector shading.
This is one of the easier specifications to look out for; the lower the number the lower the noise of the projector. The brighter projectors will obviously be louder as the cooling fans have to spin faster to cool them down, but usually still a manageable 26-32dB. For a darkened dedicated home theatre we would recommend a projector with a 20-26dB noise level to make sure it is not noticeable.