Are you considering buying a projector? Would you like to catapult your viewing experience to a completely different level than the TVs offer? Would you like to make the most of your favorite movie or video game, or do you need quality technology to show presentations? If so, we will advise you on which one to choose to meet your requirements and what to focus on when choosing.
How to choose a projector
If you decide to buy a projector, the most critical question you need to ask yourself is for what purposes you plan to use it. This means whether you want to buy it primarily for fun(watching movies and playing games) or whether it will serve you mainly for work purposes (presentations). Simply put, you can also ask what and where you will most often project. Of course, this raises other important questions, such as the type of technology, resolution, projection distance, or brightness level.
Thus, projectors can be divided into two basic categories: video projectors and data projectors. The first ones are designed for home entertainment, while the latter is used for mobile, school, or conference presentations. Both types differ significantly in their parameters, and the difference in display quality is significant.
If you’d like to create a small cinema from your living room, and the main feature will be watching movies or playing games, you’ll get a video projector. Important parameters to consider when choosing are:
If you want to buy a device to complement or completely replace your TV, an essential criterion of your choice is the image’s resolution. Be sure to choose one that has at least HD Ready resolution (1280 x 720 or 1280 x 800 pixels). If the diagonal of the projection screen is up to 2.5 meters, this resolution is decent. However, if you plan to buy a larger canvas, a Device with a Full HD differentiation (1920 x 1080 pixels) will be more suitable for you, or you can reach for 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels), which offers you even four times the number of details compared to Full HD. These high-resolution top machines are perfect for home theatres and provide you with a unique viewing experience. And they’re going to blow up their wallets.
The abbreviation FOV (Field of view) in translation means field of view. It is the angle between the eyes and the projected image. FOV affects the diagonal size and distance from the idea being watched. The larger the FOV, the better the illusion of reality offered by the viewed image. When watching TV, the average FOV is less than 30 degrees. In this case, the projector can offer us an incomparably better experience.
Unlike data projectors, video projectors have a better level of black, overall better color rendering, and a much better display of the smoothness of movement. However, they have a lower luminous speed (luminous intensity), making them unsuitable for daylight projection (the colors will be bland, the contrast will be slight, and the image will be very poorly visible overall).
3D video projectors
If you are a fan of 3D movies and would like to enjoy them in the cinema and your home, you can get one of the models equipped with 3D projection technology. There are two essential 3D technologies on the market: active and passive.
Active technology is more common and uses only one projector that has twice the display frequency. Since images are broadcast for both the right and left eye, special active 3D glasses are needed to cover the left and right eye. The advantage of this technology is the excellent 3D display (even better than in the cinema) and the possibility of using any screen. The negative is significantly more expensive 3D glasses and their more complex operation.
Passive 3D projection technology uses two synchronous projectors. The first brings the image for the left eye, the second for the right. The disadvantage of this type of technology is the complexity of installation, the need for two projectors, and a canvas with a unique surface. The indisputable advantage is that this technology uses cheap glasses with polarizing filters (unlike complex and expensive glasses for active 3D). For this reason, we encounter passive 3D projection mainly in cinemas.
On the contrary, if you use it to project presentations (e.g., at corporate events), choose between data projectors and focus mainly on:
- estimated projection distance
- luminous flow (luminous)
Use for presentation purposes does not demand image quality as it does for film use. Therefore, you can choose a projector with a lower resolution than HD Ready (for example, 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 pixels). These move in a lower price range and are pretty sufficient for less demanding presentations.
If you lecture and present in different places and manipulate the data projector often, be sure to consider its size. You will find so-called mini projectors on the market, which are small and light, so they are straightforward to carry. They are ideal for those looking for an easy-to-carry projector on the go. It is also worth investing in a bag to protect it from adverse environmental influences and simplify handling.
At present, you can also choose from a relatively large range of pocket projectors, which are especially popular among sales representatives. Connecting your laptop to a data projector using USB seems like the ideal solution here. However, you can’t expect much from these portable versions because even here, the advantage of low weight and small sizes will negatively affect the quality of the projected image.
Another important criterion when selecting a data projector is the planned projection distance. The choice of the correct projection distance will be positively reflected in the quality of the projected image. Some are designed for projection at a distance of several tens of meters, but those that can project well from one meter or more miniature (so-called Short Throw projectors). However, the projection area must be as smooth as possible at such an extremely short distance because any unevenness distorts the image.
Unlike video projectors, the priority of data projectors is the value of the luminous flow (luminousness). Therefore, they are expected to be screened more frequently during the day or with a certain degree of illumination. The higher the ambient light level in the projection room or the longer the projection distance, the higher the luminous flow value is needed. However, the negative of the high luminous flow is a lower level of black, worse color rendering, and an unnecessary burden on the eyes when seen in the dark. For this reason, it is not advisable to use a data projector to watch movies that are shown in semi-darkness or total darkness.
The data projector allows you to project images, presentations, videos, etc. However, if you need to make a presentation note or open another file during a projection, for example, you must do so on the computer to which it is attached. However, you no longer have to run away with interactive projectors because you can make notes or changes directly with an electronic pen on the screen. This pen also wholly replaces the computer mouse.
And how does it work? The projector has a built-in sensor that tracks the pen’s position and transfers it directly to the computer and from it to the projection screen. This allows the user to make changes to the projection in real-time. As a projection surface, a whiteboard that has a smooth and hardcover is most suitable.
The image quality of a particular model is significantly affected by the projection technology used. When choosing, this is one of the most important parameters that you should consider to meet your requirements maximally. At present, you will most often come across three main types of technologies: DLP, LCD and LED.
DLP projectors create an image by quickly alternating the three base colors displayed in a fast-repeating sequence. Thus, the resulting image seems to be full-color due to the high speed of color rotation and imperfection of the human eye. However, some people are sensitive to this rapid rotation and may observe the rainbow effect’s undesirable phenomenon.
Pros of DLP technology
- high contrast
- color shyness and color accuracy
- minimum failure rate
- higher image quality and stability (even over time)
DLP Technology Negatives
- rainbow effect
- heats up more
Unlike the first one, LCD technology displays all color components at once (similar to TVs). However, the colors have a worse suction, and, in addition, the optical unit for LCD projectors is not sealed. This easily clogs the dust, which of course, negatively affects the quality of the projected image. Therefore, LCD technology is not recommended for dusty or smoky environments.
Pros of LCD technology
- lower price
- high lamp life
- quieter than DLP
- there is no risk of the rainbow effect
LCD Technology Negatives
- sensitivity to pollution
- lower color shyness, contrast, and black rendering
- dead points may appear over time
- over time, image quality deteriorates
Among the real pros of models using LED technology are, in particular, lower energy consumption and long service life. LEDs replace a commonly used projector lamp for this type. However, compared to other types, LED variants tend to be more expensive and have a lower luminous flow. For this reason, they are not suitable for projecting into larger or blacked-out spaces.
Pros of LED technology
- low energy consumption
- high service life
- lightweight and small dimensions
- shock resistance
- possibility of battery operation
LED Technology Negatives
- low luminous flow
- unsuitable for large and non-veiled spaces
Connect a projector
Most models allow you to connect to a PC, Blu-ray player, or game console. However, some are also compatible with mobile devices or the Internet. The connection can then be made either via cable or wirelessly via WiFi.
You can place the data projectors using the ceiling bracket. It is ideal for putting it on the ceiling, especially if you plan to project steadily in one room and do not want to unnecessarily manipulate the projector. Otherwise (if you’re going to use it in multiple rooms), the table under the data projector, which is mobile and adjustable, is an excellent helper.
Video projectors are expected to have a stable place in your home. You can place those with Lens Shift (which can compensate for minor inaccuracies during installation) or high-quality digital correction anywhere (so it may not be correct in the middle of the screen). If you decide to install the device on the ceiling, you can use a ceiling box or (in case of a lowered ceiling) a motor lift instead of a classic holder.
Short Row projectors also allow you to place them on the table or near the projection screen.
Tips for conclusion
In general, the better the screen for the projector, the better the image you get.
If your criterion is to run the projector as quietly as possible, you’d better get a larger model. The larger the fans (he and the whole device), the better the ventilation and the lower the overall noise.
If your projector shows poor image quality during use, clean the lamp with a soft cloth and ordinary water. If this does not help, there may be a malfunction in the light. Its replacement is not complicated and can be handled even by a medium-skilled handyman. However, if your device is still not working correctly after this operation, repairing the projector at a service center or an authorized dealer is necessary.