Projectors are usually compared using three main factors: brightness, resolution, and lens ratio. Once these factors have been considered, you can narrow down your choice further with secondary factors such as light source, lamp life, warranty, connectivity, etc. Different projectors are designed for other uses. And, even more so than for a TV, a projector’s performance is impacted by the room environment and the size and type of screen you pair with it. So before you shop, here are some key questions to ask yourself to help you choose a projector for your viewing needs.
The purpose of the projector
Are you looking for a projector primarily for watching movies or sports, playing games, or displaying business presentations?
Many of the projectors are best suited for business uses such as PowerPoint or whiteboard presentations and company video chats. They can offer a decent amount of brightness and a variety of options for connecting to a computer, but their resolution may not be full HD (1920×1080 pixels) or be in the correct shape (16:9) for movie and TV watching. Most important, projectors designed for business use often have highly exaggerated colours that are meant to pop in a brightly lit conference room but don’t look natural with movies in a darker room, and they lack video adjustments to make the image more accurate.
For movies, you should get at least a full HD projector that can reproduce all or most of the color gamut that’s used for HDTV and home video releases. Ideally, it includes a Cinema or Movie mode that comes close to reference standards, plus the controls you need to fine-tune the image for the best performance.
For sports and gaming, ideally, you should get a full or 4K HD model that’s very bright (2,500 lumens or more) and has a 120 Hz refresh rate, which results in less motion blur in fast-moving images. Gamers should look for a projector that offers very low input lag, which means less time between when something happens in the game and when you see it on your screen.
If you’re less concerned about picture quality and just want a simple option for watching the occasional YouTube video or TV show, a portable mini projector can serve as a replacement for a modestly sized TV. Such projectors often have features that you won’t find in a traditional projector—like built-in streaming apps, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth—but they can’t deliver the brightness, contrast, or color accuracy of their complex siblings. Plus, they’re small, so you can move them around or take them to a friend’s house.
The light factor
This question is particularly important for movie enthusiasts because it affects how much you should spend on a projector. Do you have a dedicated theatre room in which you can fully block out extraneous light, or do you watch movies only at night with the lights off? Do you want to have a truly cinematic big-screen experience and see all the finest details in your favourite dark, moody thriller? If so, it may be worth paying more to get a higher-end home theater projector that can deliver an image with truly deep, dark black levels and an especially high contrast ratio that results in a richer, more engaging picture. These projectors often use higher-quality lens systems that allow for better contrast and crisper images.
Suppose movie night usually takes place with a few room lights on (even if they’re dimmed), or you’re looking for a projector for a living room that will also serve to display movies, TV shows, and sports during the day. In that case, the black-level performance becomes less critical and the projector’s brightness matters more. These projectors are usually smaller and lighter than dedicated home theater projectors, so you can move them around easily, and they have built-in speakers so you don’t have to add an external sound system.
The bigger the screen size, the stronger the light output your projector needs to produce a well-saturated image. A projector’s brightness capability is usually listed in ANSI lumens, we recommend at least 1,000 ANSI lumens for a 100-inch screen, which means to be safe you should look for a projector with a stated light output of around 2,000 lumens.
If you are not sure what projector qualifies you’re your needs, why not contact our team of experts to help you choose a projector for your specific needs?