Choosing a home theater projector is a big decision. Will you be using it to watch TV? Movies? Play video games on the biggest screen in your house? Here are 7 tips for choosing the best home theater projector for your needs!

What to Look for in a Projector

The projector you choose should meet your needs. There are several different features to consider when you are purchasing a projector.

Brightness and Lumens

The first thing you need to know is that two different numbers can rate a projector. The first number is its brightness in “lumens”, the second number is how big an image it will project on your screen or wall from a given distance. Think about this as being similar to horsepower and torque when buying a car.

Brightness in lumens is the amount of light that a projector will put out, and it’s an important measurement for getting a good image no matter what you are projecting onto (a white wall or movie theater screen).

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

If you are looking for a cheaper option, an LCD projector is a way to go. These projectors do not require any light bulb replacement, and they come with a high contrast ratio. The downside of LCD projectors is that they are not as bright, and their picture will be dimmed in a brightly lit room.

LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon)

LCoS projectors are said to be the best choice for a home theater, and they come with all of the features that can make it worth your money. They tend to have excellent picture quality. LCoS projectors do not require any light bulb replacement either. These projectors produce more vibrant colors than other types, but you might need to adjust the settings.

LCoS projectors also come with a three-panHow Much Brightness Do I Need?

A home theater projector should have at least 1500 lumens. A higher number is better, but the difference between models isn't big. If you want a projector suitable for larger rooms and even outdoor use, look at 3000+ lumens models. These features have projectors under 500.

The lamp's brightness affects how clear the picture looks in ambient light conditions (lights from windows or lamps). If someone uses your home theater during the daytime, you should choose a model with high contrast ratio to compensate for the lack of darkness.

Chipset

Home theater projectors use chipsets to control the light and process images. Better home theater project screens will have better quality chipset components, allowing for a brighter picture with more vivid colors. Find out what type of processor you need when buying your projector.

DLP (Digital Light Processing)

DLP projectors have a chip with thousands of microscopic mirrors. The more mirror, the brighter and higher resolution projector you can get.

Projector uses light source – usually either xenon bulb or UHP lamp (ultra high-pressure mercury lamp). Bulb lasts 2000-4000 hours depending on the type used. Most full-featured DLP projectors have their cooling system and fan.

el system, and their image quality is excellent in brightly lit and dark rooms. These projectors are more expensive than other types of home theater projectors, but they can pay off in the long run if you choose to go for them.

Resolution

Resolution is perhaps the single most important factor to consider when purchasing a projector, as it determines how much detail you'll be able to see. The resolution of a TV or monitor depends on its screen size and pixel density, but what about projectors?

Most modern projectors have pretty good resolutions built-in at 1280x800, 1920x1080 (commonly referred to as 1080p), or even 2560x1440. However, if you're looking for something with native HD resolution (1920x1080) — which is the most common format right now for home theaters and movie watching in general — we'd recommend that your projector have at least a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Should I Buy a 1080p or 4K Projector?

The 1080p projector is a better choice for those who want to save some money and have enough space in the room.

4K resolution is still too expensive, and not many people want to spend that much money.

However, if you have a large room or the space for multiple seats, then go with an Ultra HD projector. It will provide stunning picture quality even in larger rooms due to its high resolution.

Bulb Life

Different bulbs have different life expectancies. A projector with a bulb that is expected to last a long time will not need service as often, saving the cost of labor and replacement bulb expense.

For example, if you have a 3000-hour bulb in your home theater projector that lasts three times longer than average, then over five years' use, it would last 15,000 hours. A projector with a short-life bulb would require more frequent service and replacement lamps at an additional expense.

Connectivity

Look for different connection types such as HDMI, USB, or wireless streaming to ensure your projector can connect to all devices you own.

Built-in Speakers

Built-in speakers are another important feature you should consider when choosing a quality home theater projector.

Most people prefer to have a complete home theater experience and opt for built-in speakers. If your projector doesn't come with integrated speakers, there's always a chance that it will not be compatible with your existing speaker setup or surround sound receiver. However, keep in mind that your projector's sound quality may not be as good as the sound of a typical surround system.

About the author

Mark Hensley is an ex-Senior Hardware Engineer at Hewlett-Packard, an IT Professional, and the Founder of Povverful.

Photo courtesy of Erkin Athletics

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