Projector Buying Guide
There are a wide range of projectors on the market and this is constantly changing. What does not change as frequently are the elements that you need to be looking for in a projector. So we have put together this projector buying guide to try and walk you through some of the most important buying factors.
- Types of projectors
- Light Source
- Throw ratio
Types of projectors
Home Cinema Projectors
A Home Cinema projector can display Full HD or 4k resolution just like a TV. They are perfect for projecting very large, crystal clear images and are specifically made to handle the colour and contrast in movies.
Ultra Short Throw Projectors
Ultra Short Throw (UST) projectors have a very wide angle lens with a throw ratio of less than 0.4, letting you place the projector just under the screen. Due to the nature they are sometimes referred to as Laser TVs.
An important factor when buying a projector is of course resolution. So what resolutions are on the market and what do they mean?
Full HD (1080p)
This is Full HD or known as 1080p is the modern standard which all devices you link to output at and anything less is going to look worse than say a tablet or your monitor. The shape is 16:9 which again replicates modern tablets or monitors, allowing more to be shown as a widescreen image.
4K UHD (E Shift)
4K UHD projectors use technology called pixel shifting. This technology essentially overlays two HD images on top of each other shifted by a half a pixel so quickly the naked eye can’t detect it. This gives the appearance of 4k without the higher price tag.
Native 4k (4096 x 2160)
Native 4k projectors are those that offer true 4K resolution which is over 8 million pixels. These projectors will offer you fantastic picture quality. The problem however is that Native 4K projectors start at around 5k.
To get the best quality you will be wanting to invest in a projector that has 4k capabilities so we would suggest going for either a 4K UHD or Native 4k projector. Many people who we speak to can barely tell the difference between native 4k and E Shift. Often opting for Eshift as the lower price frees up budget to improve the sound system in the room or to add in concealment features like a projector lift.
One of the differences between projectors on the market will be whether they have a lamp or laser light source. Many see Laser projector as the preferential choice due to offering longer lasting brightness, lower maintenance and improved color and contrast over similar lamp-based models. But do be aware that once a laser has come to the end of its life it cannot be replaced like the bulbs in the lamp alternatives, rendering it obsolete at this point.
The best way to determine which projector to purchase is to find a retailer which offers demo’s of the different projectors. This way you can see which one suits you.
The brightness of a projector, also called light intensity, is measured and displayed in lumens. It describes how much light a projector can project. The brighter the ambient light in the room, the brighter the projector must be. We would suggest that you need at least 2000 lumens for a home cinema in a regular living room.
Throw ratio is the relation between the throw distance (the distance between the projector's lens and the projected image) and the width of the projected image:
Throw Ratio = Throw Distance / Image Width
Throw Ratio tells us what image size we can project from a certain distance away. For instance, a throw ratio of 1.5 indicates that for every 1 foot of image width, the throw distance must be 1.5 feet. The smaller the throw ratio, the larger the image a projector will produce at a shorter throw distance.
So when buying a projector the throw ratio is important as it will dictate what size screen you will be able to choose based on where your projector will be mounted.
What most people are most concerned about is whether they will be able to watch all of their usual programs. Most projectors will come with HDMI ports in or to connect your favourite devices.
Depending on your requirements and where you will be placing your projector it is often advantageous to look at purchasing an AV receiver. This is the only piece of equipment that needs to be connected to the projector itself. Just one Ultra High Speed HDMI cable is required between the projector and AV Receiver.
Then all of your usual kit gets plugged into the back of your AV Receiver. So your sky box, apple TV, xbox playstation or TV sticks can be run through your new home cinema setup.
You will also want to consider how you are going to install your projector. Unlike other technology projectors have actually increased in size as time has gone on. This means that many high end projectors are now rather large. So you will want to consider how you will mount the projector, we have a great blog showing 4 ways to mount a projectors.
Whilst purchasing your projector you could look to get a device specific mount from the manufacturer or look at a motorised projector lift which recesses it into the ceiling so it can hide away.
Different projectors will have completely different setup processes, that being said there are things you can look out for which will definitely make the setup of your projector easier.
- Motorised Lens: If you are mounting a projector in a lift or on the ceiling you will want to make sure it has a motorised lens which will focus and shift via the remote control. The last thing you want is having to manually adjust a lens for zoom or focus.
- Lens Shift: Lens shift is the amount the projector will be able to shift the picture vertically and horizontally. This can be important for getting the picture to match up with the