With home theater projectors, setting up your personal little cinema has
become really simple and inexpensive. There are many models to choose from,
and they vary in both cost and functionality. Most of them can take inputs
from both your PC and other video sources, such as a DVD player or a game
console. However, most of them are either optimized for computer use or for
home theater; very few models are good at both. To ensure you decide on the
right projector for your needs, there are some things you should remember.
The first one is resolution. Most common home theater projects have a
resolution of 720p or 1080p. The higher the resolution, the more pixels are
displayed, which makes the image sharper. High resolutions also work on HD
sources, such as Blu-rays, Sky HD and PS3. There are still some projectors
with a resolution of 480p. However, at least 720p are needed for a home
theater projectors. These are still very inexpensive, and 480p projectors
have become very rare. Picture quality also varies upon what you are
watching. A low signal in your projector will cause lower quality,
particularly if you are using a large screen.
The contrast ratio is also significant. This ratio expresses the difference
between white and black sections within the picture. For example, a ratio
of 1000:1 indicates that the deepest black is 1000 times deeper than the
brightest white. Projectors with a greater difference between the brightest
white and the darkest black provide clearer images. One might ask why
should there be any brightness at all in black. That’s because all
projectors have what is called brightness leakage. More complex projectors
have a lower leakage and therefore the contrast ratio is higher. The newest
models have a contrast ratio of up to 200,000:1, which means they can
display really dark black.
Another thing you should take into account is brightness. Home theater
projectors’ brightness varies between 1000 and 2500 lumens. Selecting the
most suitable brightness also depends on how much you can decrease ambient
light that hits the screen. If you know you are not going to use blinds or
something else to decrease the degree of light coming from outside, you
should choose higher lumen projectors. For low ambient light environments,
projector brightness should be somewhere between 1200 and 1600. If you have
controlled lighting, anything above 1000 lumens is good enough.
The two types of home theater projectors that you can choose from DLP
(digital light processing) and LCD (liquid crystal display). While there
have been long discussions about which of them is better, they have both
advanced a lot along the years and the gap between them is now rather low.
LCD projectors produced by large manufacturers such as Hitachi, Epson and
Sanyo have the advantage of being cheaper.
Apart from the projector itself, you also need a projector screen. When
shopping for one, remember that the screen’s aspect ratio has to fit the
one of the projector. An aspect ratio of 16:9 for both the projector and
the screen is a popular selection among home theater users. You also need
to set up sound sources in case the projector does not have built-in
speakers. Sound systems can range from simple stereo amplifiers to
multi-channel audio-video receivers.
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