Home Theater Projectors Overview
A projector is the best option if you don’t have time to go to the real cinema hall. With an empty wall and a good projector, you can watch crisp and clear movies just like in a real theater. You can get two types of projectors for your home: Home Theater and Home Entertainment Projectors. The best choice for your home is Home Theater projectors as those home entertainment projectors are less perfect.
In recent years, home projectors have evolved so much. Present models can handle a wide variety of multimedia contents such as photos, documents, films, and games, with aplomb, and many can play music files as well. Projectors with higher resolutions are conventional though models with 720p or fewer resolutions are still being introduced. Nowadays, projectors of 4K versions with horizontal resolutions of nearly 4,000 pixels are also available. Most home projectors offer a wide range of connection options, and some can even display 3D content.
The ordinary resolution of the home theater projector is 1920 x 1080 that is perfect for displaying Blu-ray movies and full HD 1080p videos from streaming sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and VUDU. These days home theater projectors are available at low prices and can still put up a terrific big screen picture. Beside the dramatic picture size, the projector offers the beauty and balance of natural reflected light, just like a commercial movie theater.
Best Home Theater Projectors of 2018
If you are looking to save space and don’t want to have a TV, and you don’t have time to go to the real theater but want to have theater experience, then you need a best home theater projector. But there is a wide range of projectors available on the market with different attributes including screen resolution outputs, projection display sizes, and price. Hence, it can be difficult to select one and make a decision of buying it. We have prepared a list of best home theater projectors in accordance with picture resolution, price, user-friendly so that everyone can find projector fitting their needs.
|Product Image||Product Name||Resolution||Display Technology||Brightness||Contrast Ratio||Price|
|Epson Home Cinema 640||SVGA||LCD||3200 lumens||10000:1|
|Viewsonic PJD7828HDL||1080p||DLP||3200 lumens||22000:1|
|Optoma HD142X||1080p||DLP||3000 lumens||23000:1|
|Epson Home Cinema 2040||1080p||LCD||2200 lumens||35000:1|
|Optoma HD29Darbee||1080p||DLP||3200 lumens||30000:1|
|BenQ HT2050||1080p||DLP||2200 lumens||15000:1|
|Optoma HD26||1080p||DLP||2200 lumens||35000:1|
|Epson Home Cinema 3000||1080p||LCD||2600 lumens||60000:1|
|BenQ HT3050||1080p||DLP||2000 lumens||15000:1|
|Optoma HD25-LV||1080p||DLP||3500 lumens||20000:1|
|ViewSonic PX800HD||1080p||DLP||2000 lumens||100000:1|
|Sony VPLHW45ES||1080p||SXRD||1800 lumens||60000:1|
|Epson Home Cinema 5040UB||1080p||3LCD||2500 lumens||1000000:1|
|JVC DLA-X550R||4096×2160||D-ILA||1700 lumens||400000:1|
|Sony VPLVW675ES||4K Ultra HD||SXRD||1500 lumens||350000:1|
Best Home Theater Projectors of 2018 – Reviews
Buying a projector is not a cup of tea. We want to help you pick the best one for you because these projectors are pretty expensive and you wouldn’t want to spend your money on a piece of junk. Our reviews of the best projectors will let you take a closer look at their ease of use, value for money, features, and performances. We have tried our best to make it easy and understandable for you.
Epson Home Cinema 640 is the best option for those who want a bigger picture for the lesser price. Although it will take any HD source like your cable box, Roku or game console, it does not throw native HD image on your screen. Since the resolution is low, the image is less detailed and blockier and shows issues like jagged lines. However, the image still looks very good so if you are really tight on budget, this is a great choice.
The Epson 640 is a bright little projector that makes it a good choice for both larger screens and for a situation where you can’t completely darken your viewing environment. Since it is small in size, it is highly portable. Its placement is not as versatile as some other projectors because it has no zoom or lens shift. Hence, you need to physically move the projector to size it to your screen properly. But if you are using any makeshift projection surface or a white wall, then it is not a big issue.
The connectivity features that Epson 640 includes are 1 HDMI input, 1 AV input with S-video, analog RGB PC input, 2 USB ports and built-in speaker. It has a basic back panel and so is its remote. Though it has 2 USB ports, it is not compatible with phones that use MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link). This projector features long-lasting lamps that last up to 10,000 hours.
It can easily fill big reference screen (300-inch) with a bright image in the dark as well as dim light. At such low price for a projector, Epson 640 is one of the least expensive home theater projectors. It is extremely bright and is able to fill larger screens and compete better against ambient light. However, it has just one HDMI port, and cannot deliver full HD resolution like other expensive units. But considering its rock-bottom price, Epson Home Cinema 640 is affordable home theater projector that offers overall impressive image quality.
The Viewsonic PJD7828HDL is one of the low-priced short-throw projectors with full-HD resolution. The image quality it delivers is quite impressive for the money. It features some unusual conveniences like a ‘hidden’ HDMI input perfect for wireless dongles and a cable management cover to improve its looks. The Viewsonic’s lumens’ rating is legit, which makes it work great even if there is ambient light in the room. Its short-throw lens allows you to place it closer to the displaying screen, which is great if you have a small room.
It supports 3D contents but you will need to buy 3D glasses. Since the projector uses DLP link, it should be compatible with numerous third-party glasses or Viewsonic’s own 3D glasses. Though it has a mode that dims the bulb and extends its lifespan, the lamp is likely to burn out faster, and replacement cost is pretty high.
The connectivity features that Viewsonic PJD7828HDL offers are 2 HDMI inputs, 2 AV inputs (composite and S-video), Analog RGB PC input, 1 USB port, MHL, and built-in speaker. It also features a full complement of analog jacks and a ‘hidden’ HDMI port behind a hatch on top. You can discreetly stream multimedia content from an optional wireless dongle with the second port and it even includes a micro-USB cable for power. The HDMI port is compatible with MHL as well. The USB port is only for power or using the projector’s remote as a makeshift mouse, and you cannot directly connect a USB drive for a photo or video viewing.
The picture quality this unit delivers is outstanding with 1080p resolution. The details appear sharp; edges are smooth and no visible pixel structure or the screen door effect. With 3200 lumens of brightness, it produces bright images in any environment including rooms with high ambient light. Hence, this is worth a consideration if you want a projector that delivers high-quality image in a shorter distance and an affordable price.
The Optoma HD142X is one of the best projectors with an 8,000-hour lamp life and 3,000 lumens of brightness. It delivers serious performance and has all required features for a great home theater projector. And it comes at an affordable price. The HD142X is perfect for those who want to set up their home theater in a place where there is the abundant amount of ambient light. It is one of the small projectors, which makes it portable and you can carry it around from room to room.
This is a great projector for 3D fans. The Optoma HD142X is a great 2D projector as well as it can excellently handle 3D contents. You need to buy 3D glasses if you are intending to use 3D. Since it uses DLP Link, numerous third-party glasses other than Optoma’s own are compatible. The 1080p resolution, a screen-size range of 66” to 107” and a brightness of 3000 lumens make it able to work in a wide variety of rooms and settings. Like most budget projectors, there is no lens shift but it has a manual zoom to make positioning easier though its range is relatively narrow.
The connectivity features that Optoma HD142X includes are 2 HDMI inputs, 1 USB port, MHL, and built-in speaker. Unlike most projectors, it does not have any analog AV input and PC input. The USB port is only for power or using the projector’s remote as a makeshift mouse. You cannot directly connect a USB drive to view photo or video. It has backlit remote with built-in test patterns. The menus show a solid selection of picture modes and adjustments.
The lamp offers 5,000 hours when used in normal mode and can last up to 8,000 hours when different lamp modes are used. The Optoma HD142X delivers good image quality with full-HD resolution, solid contrast, and accurate color. It is one of the least priced projectors available for the quality it offers. This Optoma HD142X is of great value for the money.
The Epson Home Cinema 2040 is LCD-based and is one of the less expensive 1080p, 3D projector on the market. It is one of the low-priced models that are built around a three-chip LCD engine that guarantees that it won’t show rainbow effects. It delivers great image quality, a short lag time that gamers will appreciate, and some video processing features that until now were available only on more expensive models.
The brightness of this projector is 2,200 lumens, which is quite bright. The main advantage of this projector is that it is guaranteed to be rainbow effect free. The overall image quality is good with excellent color quality. It maintains shadow detail well and avoids posterization. The Epson HC 2040 is a great 2D projector as well as it can excellently handle 3D contents. You need to buy 3D glasses if you are intending to use 3D.
Its setup is typical with a manual focus and a 1.2x manual zoom, which gives you some flexibility with the placement of the projector from the screen for a given size. The connectivity features it includes are 2 HDMI ports, a composite video port, and a VGA port for a computer or component video. The USB port allows you to view images and video directly from a USB drive. Both HDMI ports support all HDMI 1.4a 3D formats for connection to a Blu-ray player or other 3D video device, with one MHL enabled as well.
The Epson 2040 is an excellent choice even if you don’t have problems with a rainbow effect. The low price, portability, sound system, and great image quality of this projector is undeniable. It is small enough, light enough, and built-in speaker allows you to take it anywhere you want. This is ideal for any consumer who wants great projector but doesn’t want to spend a lot of energy.
The Optoma HD29Darbee is the successor to the world’s first home cinema projector featuring Vision, the HD28DSE. This projector is designed to deliver an immersive experience in Xbox One and PS4 games, Blu-ray movies, HDTV programming, home videos and even vacation photos. It features integrated Vision image enhancement technology that utilizes neuro-biologic algorithms to achieve unprecedented detail in skin tones, textures, and reflective surfaces while delivering superior depth, object separation and automatic removal of unsightly residuals.
The brightness of this Optoma projector is 3,200 lumens and has amazing 30,000:1 contrast ratio. Hence, it delivers bright images with deep black levels. Its reference display mode enables accurate color via REC.709 HDTV color space for rich vibrant colors in Blu-ray movies, HDTV programming, home videos, and photos. It requires very little maintenance and offers 10,000 hours of lamp life that allows hours of gaming and extended viewing of favorite movie and series.
The Optoma HD29Darbee features latest and greatest digital media interface that supports MHL v1.2. It has 2 HDMI ports that support MHL devices such as Optima’s Cast Pro, Roku Streaming Stick and Smart Phones to connect directly to the projector to playback music and video and other digital contents. The HD29Darbee supports all HDMI 1.4a mandatory 3D formats, enabling display of true 3D content from almost any 3D source. With the amazing picture quality, this is an amazing projector.
The BenQ HT2050 offers better image quality at a significantly affordable price. It is one of the high-end home theater projectors. These are designed to achieve better black levels, so they often have a lower light output than cheaper models and 2,200 lumens is usual of the type. You should choose brighter projector if you are planning to watch in anything other than complete darkness.
It has one extra feature that none of the above-reviewed models have. The vertical lens shift allows you to position the projector higher or lower relative to the screen and still get perfect geometry without having to use a keystone control. It delivers relatively short throw distance. You need to buy 3D glasses if you wish to use 3D contents. The projector uses DLP Link that makes it compatible with many third-party glasses.
The lamp life is relatively shorter but you can extend the number of hours by adjusting the settings to dim the image. The connectivity features this projector includes are 2 HDMI inputs, 2 AV inputs, Analog RGB PC input, 2 USB ports, built-in speaker and backlit remote. However, it lacks MHL like many other high-end models. Its remote is very good with lots f direct-access keys and full red backlighting.
The HT2050 delivers the finest image quality with 1080p resolution, perfectly balanced color, and all-new premium glass optical system. A shorter-throw lens allows it to project a larger image in smaller spaces. Though the competing projectors can get brighter and offer more accurate color out of the box, it is relatively reasonable for this level of quality. If you want the excellent image then it is the ideal choice at its price level.
The Optoma HD26 is a strikingly affordable single-chip DLP projector designed for consumer use. Its main features include a very high 3200 ANSI lumens light output and MHL playback support via one of its HDMI. It is quite a looker for such a cheap projector. Since it is a home theater projector, it is meant primarily for theater-dark lighting. However, it’s at least as much a home entertainment projector, with a bright enough image to stand up to ambient light in a family room or living room.
It delivers a high quality, reasonably bright image, support for 3D, and even a notably short lag time (for a projector) that makes it a reasonable choice for gaming. The Optoma HD26 is DLP-based and offers full HD 1080p resolution, along with 3D support for video sources like Blu-ray players and FiOS boxes. It also features built-in speaker comparable to what you’d expect from a good-quality TV.
This unit features 2 HDMI ports, one of which is MHL enabled. Having two ports makes it easy to install the projector permanently with both a cable box and Blu-ray player connected, so you can switch between them easily. The MHL support makes it more convenient to connect to and play content from, a compatible phone or tablet, as well as Roku. The HD26 offers the brightness rating at 3,200 lumens. It is bright enough to give you a large image that can stand up to the ambient light, and also offer settings appropriate for lower lighting conditions.
If you don’t have a place to set it up permanently, the small size and light weight make it easy to store away when you’re not using it and set it up quickly as needed. The Optoma HD26 home theater projector suffers from some image-quality issues in its brightest predefined mode but delivers superb quality with other modes. It is an excellent low-cost big-screen option for movie fans and gamers.
The Epson Home Cinema 3000 is an upgrade to its predecessor in just about every measurable way. It delivers bold and bright image making it fit for bright living rooms and extra-large screen sizes. This projector is easy to install with its 1.6:1 zoom lens and extensive lens shift. It offers the excellent balance between performance, features, and price. This Home Cinema 3000 is ideal for those who want big picture size but do not want blacked-out theater environment.
This is one of the examples that show how thin is the line between home theater projectors and home entertainment projectors. The brightness it delivers, and reasonably high-quality image makes it ideal for both roles. It offers 1080p HD resolution in both 2D and 3D and is built around three-chip LCD-engines. The three-chip LCD design gives two advantages over DLP-based projectors. It guarantees that the projector can’t show the rainbow artifacts that DLP models tend to show, and it ensures that the projector’s white brightness and color brightness match.
Its vertical and horizontal lens shift is less common but greatly helpful; it lets you move the image without moving the projector and without tilting or swiveling it, which would turn the rectangular image into a trapezoid. Setup is standard with manual focus and zoom. The connectivity features include two HDMI ports, VGA and composite video ports, a component video port with three RCA connectors, and a USB Type A port for reading files from USB devices or connecting an optional Wi-Fi dongle. Both HDMI ports support video sources like a Blu-ray player or a cable or FiOS, which use 3D.
The Epson Home Cinema 3000 is a great home theater projector with the awesome brightness that can be used in ambient light or extra large home theater screens. It lacks an audio system that is more common for home theater than home entertainment projectors but it delivers a high-quality image. This is not for gaming as the lag time is really disappointing. The Home Cinema 3000 gives you great quality image at a substantially reasonable price.
The BenQ HT3050 is one of the best home theater projectors. It features the Rec.709 Cinematic Color accuracy, which enables it to reproduce movies and TV shows exactly how they were intended to look with exact skin tones or grayed black levels. The short-throw lens and whisper-quiet operation make it one of the best. It offers a solid picture that is bright enough to satisfy with 2000 lumens.
It features a small vertical lens shift, so you can move the image up and down without tilting the projector. A predefined Rec. 709 mode aims to match colors to the ITU standard of the same name for HDTVs. It has a much better sound system that most home-entertainment projectors at any price. If you are not particularly sensitive to the rainbow artifacts that DLP projectors tend to show, you can consider this projector.
The connectivity features this BenQ projector includes are two HDMI ports, a composite video port, a VGA port for a computer or component video, and three RCA phono plugs for component video. Both HDMI ports support all HDMI 1.4a 3D formats, and one HDMI port is MHL enabled. It also features a USB Type A port that is strictly for providing power. In addition, there’s an internal compartment under the top cover that is designed to hold the receiver for BenQ’s optional integrated Wireless Full HD Kit.
Portability is kind of an issue for BenQ HT3050 as it is a touch bigger and heavier than most home-entertainment projectors. Setup is standard with manual controls for focus and the 1.3x zoom. Its 2D image quality is excellent and is essentially the same for 3D. It has two 10-watt speakers but you can connect an external sound system to the audio-out port. If rainbow artifacts don’t really bother you, then you might consider this projector.
The Optoma HD25-LV is a great choice for home theater starters. This home theater projector delivers a massive picture, which is perfect for larger audiences. It offers a bright picture with 3,000 lumens and a contrast ratio of 20,000:1. One of the great features it has got is the PureMotion image processing that keeps everything smooth and prevents jitteriness. Also, it works great for gaming.
It is a single chip DLP projector that can tackle most family rooms and living rooms. Many get confused with HD25-LV and the standard Optoma HD25. They are almost similar but there’s big difference in both price and power. The HD25-LV is rated over 50% brighter and sells for more price hat HD25. It delivers outstanding high-definition 1080p video and graphics with unsurpassed color accuracy and incredibly sharp detail. The brightness rating is 3,200 lumens.
The connectivity features that Optoma HD25-LV includes are two V1.4a HDMI ports, a composite video port, 3D VESA port, and a VGA port for a computer or component video. It offers full 3D compatibility for seamless integration with Blu-ray 3D player, Xbox, PS3 and other gaming consoles. The HD25-LV also has USB Type B, which is only for power or using the projector’s remote as a makeshift mouse.
It is designed for maximum performance and reliability. It features industry-leading energy saving features and whisper quiet operation that allows you to create the most magnificent home theater. The HD25-LV has a 16W stereo system, that enables it to be capable of greater volume without causing audible distortion. This makes it useful for portable use where there is no alternative sound system is available. With excellent color balance, sharpness and clarity, Optoma HD25-LV is great home theater projector.
The Viewsonic PX800HD is a new addition to Viewsonic’s award-winning line of digital projectors. Designed for home entertainment applications, it is a bright, fully loaded, ultra-short throw projector priced at slightly above thousand. It features 2000 lumens of brightness and Rec.709 color accuracy, as well as Supercolor technology for true-to-life color performance. With a sleek design, it is ideal for media rooms, family and living rooms.
The connectivity features of PX800HD include RGB, HDMI, Video, S-Video, Component, USB, and 12V trigger. It can easily share content from a number of video sources. Its 1080p full HD resolution and two built-in speakers provide an all-in-one solution for video-based entertainment in just about any room in a house. The ultra-short throw lens eliminated issues like placement difficulties and shadows.
The PX800HD paired with ViewSonic’s BrilliantColorPanel projection screens provides LED TV-like picture quality. BCP screens are specifically designed for ultra-short throw projectors while enhancing contrast and diffusing high ambient light. It is easy to install and dedicated home theater, and its very quick 16 ms input lag makes it highly desirable for serious video gamers as well. With a contrast ratio of 100000:1 and a brightness rating of 2000 lumens, it is better suited to a high-quality home theater as it is designed to optimize black levels, shadow detail, color saturation and overall dynamic range instead of lumen output.
The PX800HD comes ready to work with DLP-Link glasses and has a Sync port for third-party emitters to let it work with Vesa RF glasses as well. Its lamp is rated at 3000 hours in normal mode and 6000 hours in SuperEco mode. It is a highly unique projector for home theater that can also be used for casual home entertainment or serious video gaming. The solid contrast, rich color saturation, almost zero rainbow artifacts, and a surprisingly sharp image across the entire screen making it an outstanding value for the price and highly recommendable.
The Sony VPLHW45ES is the successor to a classic full HD projector, the VPLHW40ES. It is just great for movies and its low input latency makes it great for gamers too. This projector vents hot air from its front edge, making it easier to mount in a recess or against a rear wall. It also makes the viewing experience more comfortable in setups where the projector sits in front of the viewers.
The connectivity features it has are two HDMIs, an RS-232 ‘remote’ port, an IR input, and a USB port. The USB port is only for service updates; hence, you cannot play multimedia from USB memory sticks through it. It lacks 12V trigger output and PC port. The projector system is based on Sony’s own SXRD technology. It delivers a full HD resolution and standard dynamic range images rather than 4K and HDR.
This projector is redesigned to deliver improved color performance and reduced noise levels. Furthermore, the development of a new alignment layer element within Sony’s SXRD chipset is supposed to improve contrast and black-level depth by retaining greater light focus and efficiency. The VPLHW45ES offers 3D support with the necessary 3D transmitter built into the projector’s chassis. You need to buy 3D glasses separate if you are intending to watch 3D content.
The VPLHW45ES is exceptionally friendly to set up. Its large 1.6x optical zoom and simple horizontal and vertical image-shifting wheels make it easier to get your image in the right place on your wall or screen regardless of the shape of your room. With dynamic and finely detailed images, this is a top class full HD projector that looks gloriously cinematic. It is crisp and flattering to a wide variety of HD sources. It is definitely a projector for home theater fans and serious gamers.
The Epson Home Cinema 5040UB is one of the new, pixel shifting, 4K capable ‘Ultra Black’ projectors from Epson. They are far more advanced than their predecessors in many ways. It has new 2.1:1 zoom lenses and Lens Memory. The lenses are motorized – focus, zoom and lens shift, and Lens Memory makes it easy for ‘movie first’ people to choose to go with a ‘Cinemascope type’ widescreen instead of a 16:9 screen (HDTV). You can toggle back and forth correctly between different aspect ratio content with a remote.
Another major feature is that it can handle 4K content, and they support it with pixel shifting to produce 4 megapixels on the screen. Not just 4K but it works with HDR (High Definition Range), P3, REC2020, etc. in other words, this Epson projector works with the higher performance 4K formats that the movie theaters work with, which is a cut above what we’ve been settling for with 1080p and 1080i content.
This projector uses 3-LCD chip technology with full HD resolution, a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 and ANSI lumens rating of 2500. However, the connectivity features are somehow not enough for such a great projector. It has 2 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports, one mini-USB, and 1 LAN jack. One of the HDMI ports is MHL enabled; the MHL support makes it more convenient to connect to and play content from mobile devices and streaming sticks.
The Epson Home Cinema 5040UB is one of the best-looking projectors on the market at present day. It can provide you near-4K quality at a fraction of the cost of standard 4K projectors. The short lag time (for a projector) makes it a great choice for gaming. It is worth the price, producing some of the most luxuriously deep and nuanced colors.
The DLA-X550R is one of the best 4k projectors with latest and greatest HDMI connections (HDMI 2.0a), 265-watt high-power lamp and new D-ILA (JVC’s moniker for LCOS) imaging devices that let the projector beam 30% brighter images than its predecessor, DLA-X500R. Though these D-ILA chips are technically specified as having 1080p resolution, JVC’s e-shift4 technology enables the projector to deliver ‘4K precision’ images.
The projector can actually accept a true 4K source and upconverts lesser sources to 4K. The DLA-X550R is compatible with HDR10 high dynamic range content. It also supports 3D contents. But you need to have is JVC’s optional RF active-shutter 3D glasses and RF 3D emitter. It features an intelligent Lens Aperture setting to dynamically adjust contrast ratio. The projector has motorized zoom, focus, and lens-shift controls but it lacks the motorized lens cover.
The connectivity features this projector has are two HDMI ports, LAN and RS-232C ports for hooking up to control systems, a trigger output, and a 3D sync jack for the optional RF 3D emitter. Its remote control is compact and has a fully backlit keypad with a well-placed light button. You can easily switch between the focus, zoom, and lens-shift modes pressing the Lens Control button on the remote.
The DLA-X550R lacks the THX picture modes but the image quality is mostly accurate with the Cinema mode selected. Though it’s the entry-level model of JVC’s new projector lineup, it is thoroughly impressive. The sufficient brightness makes pictures look good in both dim and dark rooms. Its ability to accept and display 4K Ultra HD and high dynamic range content makes it a great projector at this price.
Native 4K front projectors are still not so common and more expensive than pixel-shifting options from the likes of JVC and Epson. Sony offers the largest collection of native 4K projectors, with multiple models ranging from $8,000 to $60,000. The VPLVW675ES is rated at 1800 lumens of brightness and a 350,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. It supports both the HDR10 and HLG High Dynamic range formats but not Dolby Vision, and Sony’s Triluminous color technology produces an expanded color gamut.
The connectivity features this projector includes are two HDMI ports, RJ-45 for network connectivity, USB, HD 9/RS-232C remote connector, IR input, and two 12-volt triggers. HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2 do not support the full 18-Gbps bandwidth needed to pass 4K/60p at higher bit depths. The projector has motorized lens shift, zoom, and focus controls. It is capable of 3D with a built-in RF transmitter for the (optional) active 3D glasses.
This is one of the first projectors with support for Hybrid Log-Gamma (HyLG) for streaming services with HDR-video and user-generated content. It also supports the HDR10 standard and is compatible with related materials in services like Amazon and Netflix, as well as with 4K Blu-ray players. There are no another native 4K projectors near the VPLVW675ES’s price range. It is an excellent projector that is a true 4K and HDR-capable projector.
Buying Guide to Home Theater Projectors
Most of the people who buy projectors do not just intend to watch movies at home but also HDTV, sports and some use for gaming too. While selecting a projector for you, what you watch and your room condition are key factors. Home theater projectors vary widely in price, features, purposes, and capabilities.
The major factors to look for while choosing the best projector for you:
The four basic kinds of content that you can view with projectors are data, video, photos, and games. Most of the projectors can handle all of them and each one has its own strengths. If you are looking for the projector to display data presentations including PowerPoint slides, PDFs, Excel files and such, then business (or data) projectors are best for you. To watch movies and videos, consumer or home models like home entertainment, home theater, and video projectors are the best. They are also good to display photos. However, gaming projectors feature lower input lag and are not so popular. Most of the consumer models are versatile and can handle all range of contents.
Many projectors are portable enough to be moved from room to room. A home projector doesn’t need to be fixed but home theater projector is most likely to be permanently installed. Most of the gaming projectors and micro-projectors like Pico projectors are highly portable and can be easily carried. They come in both consumer and business models and many of them are good for both personal and business use.
Most projectors are either LCD-based or use a Texas Instruments DLP (Digital Light Projection) chip along with a laser, LED, or LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) light source. The projectors using single-chip DLP projectors are subject to the rainbow effect, however, the effect is minimal. On the other hand, LCD projectors resist this effect. If you or any of your family members are sensitive to the rainbow effect, LCD projectors are the best choice.
The resolution of your projector should match the resolution of the content that you will be displaying. You will want a widescreen native aspect ratio of 16:9 or 16:10 for videos and games. Both 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) and 720p (1280×720 pixels) have 16:9 aspect ratios and WXGA projectors (1280×800 pixels) have 16:10. Many consumers are satisfied with 720p models but home theater and home entertainment projectors are best with 1080p resolutions. If you are looking for the even greater viewing experience, you can consider a 4K projector that is an ultra-high definition with a resolution of 3840×2160.
It is measured in ‘bulb hours’. These are important, as bulbs will only last for a certain amount of time. They will eventually start to lose some of their lusters. If the bulb is rated to last longer, you will be able to enjoy your content while it is looking its very best. Depending on the type of technology that the projector uses to display an image, a good bulb hour length is anywhere from 10 – 20,000 hours on an average. The cost of bulb replacement depends on the model of the projector.
The Pico projectors have less than 100 lumens while video and home entertainment models have several thousand lumens. The brightness of your projector depends greatly on lighting and image size. Projector with lower brightness is okay for displaying small images and projects in darker rooms. But you need to look for around 2,000 lumens or more if you are looking for home entertainment projector. Since the brightness is measured logarithmically, it takes a lot more than doubling the number of lumens for an image to appear twice as bright. For example, there will be very little differences in the brightness of 2,000 and 2,300 lumens.
It is imperative to measure the throw distance before buying a projector. Usually, a standard HD projector without a ‘short-throw’ lens will need at least about 6 feet of distance to display a picture larger than 80” wide. However, it depends on the model of a projector you need.
With all these factors to consider while buying a projector, there is still one more factor that is missed by most buyers. It is important to check the amount of noise you can expect the unit’s fan to make. A projector needs a hefty cooling system to prevent the bulbs in the projector from frying out, as they run very hot. The fan noise in all projectors is measured in decibels (db.). If you are buying a projector, make sure that fan’s db. rating is quiet enough that your stereo system will be able to effectively obscure it out.
Home Theater Vs. Home Entertainment
The home theater projectors are designed to be used in the darker rooms like theater. These projectors usually don’t have built-in speakers as most of their owners choose to load them to high-fidelity audio systems. The image quality, features, and resolution are essential; most of the home theater projectors have 1080p resolutions and include 3D capabilities. Since you will be using the projector in the dark room, any home theater projector with 2,000 lumens is sufficient.
Home entertainment projectors are more versatile than home theater models. They are brighter than home theater projectors and are mostly used in places where there is considerable ambient light like family rooms. They can project fairly large images without degradation and have become viable substitutes for HDTVs. Unlike home theater models; these projectors have built-in sound systems. Since they are designed for casual viewing, they are generally good but not as much as home theater models.
Most of the home projectors support multiple connection methods. Almost all new models offer HDMI connectivity that supports resolutions of 1080p. Larger projectors have standard HDMI ports whereas smaller models like palmtop, pico, and other smaller models mostly have mini or micro HDMI ports that require different cables. Many home theater and home entertainment models have HDMI 1.4a compatible ports, which enable projection from a Blu-ray player or set-top box, even computer.
Some have HDMI ports that support MHL providing a wired connection to compatible phones and tablets. Some can connect via Wi-Fi and support media streaming via Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) and/or Miracast while some offer a direct connection to a computer via USB cable. Most projectors have VGA ports and Wi-Fi adapters for wireless streaming of content as a standard or optional feature.
Need of 3D
With the popularity of 3D for video and game content, many new projectors are marketed with 3D compatibility. Most projectors use TI’s DLP-Link technology that requires a computer with a compatible graphic card and active-shutter 3D glasses for each user. They are not necessarily compatible with all 3D content. You need to be extra careful before buying the projector that is labeled 3D compatible. Also, you need to add the extra cost of 3D glasses if you are buying such projectors.
A home theater projector is perfect for movies, sports or over the top gaming. It can easily turn any living space into a grand entertainment center. Projectors are hefty investment upfront but their utility, portability, and longevity are supreme than any other display technology on present days. Hence, it is best not to consider the price as the main factor to decide the right projector for yourself.