Buying guide to a home theatre projector


Jul 24, 2006
Buying guide to a home theatre projector

Increasingly, movie buffs are turning to projectors when setting up a home theatre system because they are an affordable large-screen alternative to plasma and LCD TVs. Compared with some of the large size flat panel sets, a movie projector can be had for half the price and is capable of projecting an image more than twice the size. Typically, it also supports widescreen projection, a high contrast ratio and a wide selection of video input ports.

Our quick guide will help you clarify the options and identify the key features that matter most when shopping for a projector.

You'll hear these two terms bandied around most in projectorspeak. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and DLP (Digital Light Processing) are the two main display technologies currently available in the market.

LCD projectors
Older of the two technologies
Generally found in entry-level models
Utilises three colour panels instead of one, resulting in images with better brightness and colour saturation
Generally more "light efficient" with greater colour accuracy
Most LCD projectors are bigger and bulkier
Improved version known as Polysilicon (PolySi) LCD used in high-end projectors

DLP projectors
The more popular of the two formats
Proprietary technology developed by Texas Instruments
Employs thousands of tiny mirrors to reflect light that is used to produce an image
Ability to project images with less pixelation and better contrast
Tend to be more compact and portable
Some high-end models come with three DLP chips for even image reproduction

Shopping specs

Contrary to popular belief, the optimum amount of brightness required for home theatre projectors is usually lower compared with those designed for presentations in the office. The reason is simply that most people watch movies in a darkened room environment where good images up to 2.5 meters across can be produced with just a 1,000 lumen projector.

Most movie projectors in the market today are SVGA and XGA models which should provide more than sufficient resolution for the mainstream crowd to use for DVD movies, regular TV broadcasts and the occasional console game. There are higher-resolution projectors out there but they won't make a difference in image quality unless you are receiving High Definition Television (HDTV) signals.

DLP over LCD
DLP technology is usually preferred for movie projectors because of its high contrast ratios which produce images with richer blacks. In addition, DLP projectors are widely recognised for their smooth video quality and less visible pixelations over their LCD counterparts.

Aspect ratio
The majority of home theatre projectors offer 16:9 aspect ratio as most movie buffs buy a projector in order as to watch widescreen DVD movies in their full 16:9 cinematic glory. However, if you're using the projector mainly to catch TV broadcasts and movies in the standard 4:3 aspect ratio, it may be worth looking at non-widescreen projectors.

Other nice-to-have features

  • HDMI/DVI digital interface
  • High-Definition ready/compatible
  • Multiple video connectivity options
  • Lens shift capability
  • Low noise rating
  • Enhanced video processing chip
Nice article.

From experience, one thing you should definatly verifi is that the HD display of Projector is 1080P and has a HDMI port.

Most people don't know what HDMI is and get a cheaper HDTV and that is mistake.

HDMI is a digital video connection that carries both video and audio in pure digital format with not extraneous A/D coversion like older component or S video formats. It is truly digital.
The importance of HDMI is first of all ; its digital and second of all; HDMI allows HDCP to be implemented. HDCP is a copy protection scheme adopted by major movie studios to control illegal copying.
It has been rumored that in the future, truy HD will only be sent out on the HDMI port of the DVD and HD sources. If you try to use Component , the video will be downscaled to 480P .

I have several HDMI souces and the PQ is noticeable. I have 5 HDMI sources all connected to the HDTV with only 1 HDMI input using a HDMI switchhdmi switch
Anil, it was a very detailed one, it is brilliant to have people like you around, are you in Mumbai?
Hi Anil - I am thinking of importing an epson projector from the US. Do you know whether the warranty would be valid or not? Would I need to do any modification on the projector? Thanks. Agni.
In addition to these god points from Anil few more things to add about projectors:
Lamp life also to be considered depends on your plan of use, normally we get lamp life 2000 hrs to 4000hrs the more the lamp life the cost also increase. (2000 hrs is almost 650+ movies) and this Lamp life is nothing to do with quality of picture.
Also a projector screen is required to get best of the investment:
Screen is the reflective surface is laminated to a woven textile base. The screen surface hangs suitably flat because of the stability of the material and the weight of the bottom dowel. Good for all types of projection. Three most common type of screens are in this group.
Matt White
A matt white surface diffuses projected light in all directions, so image can be seen from any angle. Provides accurate color rendition as well as superior clarity. Recommended for use with all high light output projection devices. Requires control of ambient light in the audience area. Washable, flame and mildew resistant. Seamless in virtually all standard sizes.
Care and Maintenance: Clean surface with a solution of mild dishwashing liquid diluted with warm water. Sponge the surface, rinse with clear water and blot dry. Do not use cleaning solvents or abrasives. Download the Care and Maintenance guide
Glass Beaded
Spherical glass beads embedded in surface provide brighter on-axis viewing than matt white, within a narrower viewing cone. Glass beaded surfaces have some loss of clarity and perform best with table-mounted projectors. Flame and mildew resistant; cannot be cleaned. Seamless in standard sizes through 10’ high. Gain Chart
Care and Maintenance: Clean surface with a very soft brush or cloth and carefully dust the surface. Do not use soap, water, solvents or abrasives. Download the Care and Maintenance guide
High Contrast Grey
Grey, textile-backed surface offers excellent resolution while enhancing the blacks of LCD and DLP projected images, even as whites and lighter colors are maintained. Performs well in ambient light. Lower gain of 0.8 allows use with even the brightest projectors. Available on most non-tensioned motorized and manual screens, seamless in sizes through 8' high. Viewing cone of 180. Gain Chart
Care and Maintenance: Clean surface with a solution of mild dishwashing liquid diluted with warm water. Sponge the surface, rinse with clear water and blot dry. Do not use cleaning solvents or abrasives
Screens are available as Manual Pull Down and electric rolling screen with switch or remote. For an economy screen type we can buy as just the cloth of size and make a 120 inch 16:9 screen. Screen Size: 59" Height x 104" Width and Diagonal Image Size: 120" around 3 meters cloth will suffice.

Then a lengthy Component or HDMI video cable to reach the projector from DVD player or any similer source.

Here you are done with the HT Video.

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LCD projector are better than DLP, I have installed Panasonic AE4000 on white DRY WALL without any Screen... which has amazing quality...
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