Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cinemas are periodically closed or require a QR code to visit them, which not everyone has. What about those who want to watch movies? Set up a movie theater in your home. To do this, you need to buy a multimedia projector that allows you to fully immerse yourself in what is happening on the screen.
There is a wide range of home projectors available on the market from different manufacturers. Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we tell you what home projectors are and what to look for when choosing them.
Depending on the production technology, there are two main types of projectors — 3LCD and DLP.
The lamp sends white light to a combination of mirrors that separate it into three primary colors (red, green, blue). A separate LCD matrix is used for each color (hence the name). After that, the prism combines the colors and forms a full-color image. In single-matrix models (LCD), for example, Cactus CS-PRM.05B.WXGA‑W, colors are projected in turn, and the finished picture is already formed in our head.
Pros of 3LCD projectors:
- high image brightness, more accurate color reproduction;
- works quietly;
- almost does not heat up;
- consumes less energy;
- there is no “rainbow effect” (color plume).
Cons of 3LCD projectors:
- pixels are more visible compared to DLP projectors;
- low contrast and, as a result, low black levels;
- usually heavier and larger than DLP projectors;
- constant care is required (cleaning with regular use 1 time in 3 months and filter replacement as needed);
- after prolonged use, the matrix responsible for the blue component of the picture may burn out (due to this, yellowness will appear).
3LCD technology is used in Panasonic PT-VX610E and PT-VX430 projectors.
It is based on a DMD matrix, on the surface of which there are hundreds of thousands of microscopic mirrors. Light from the lamp passes through a rotating disk with multi-colored sectors and hits the matrix. There are models with one or three matrices.
Advantages of DLP projectors:
- smooth and clear image;
- smoother picture compared to LCD;
- pixels in the image are less visible;
- smaller and lighter LCD projectors;
- no filter (which means no additional maintenance costs).
Cons of DLP projectors:
- for use in well-lit rooms requires more lumens than LCD;
- noisier (due to the rotating color wheel and fan);
- can create a “rainbow effect”;
- due to the lack of a filter, it can become clogged and fail faster.
DLP includes BenQ (EH600 DLP), LG (HF65LSR) and Xiaomi (Mi 4K Laser Projector 150) equipment.
In addition, there is a technology that combines the advantages of LCD and DLP — LCOS.
The name stands for LiquidCrystalonSilicon, which can be translated as “liquid crystals on silicon.”
The picture is formed by passing light through the matrix (as in 3LCD models). However, the rays are reflected from a layer of mirrors (as in DLP projectors), and do not pass through.
Many manufacturers use their own names for this technology, for example, Epson — “reflective 3LCD”, Sony — SXRD.
Advantages of LCOS projectors:
- perfect color rendition;
- high brightness and image contrast;
- no “rainbow effect” or stand out pixels.
Cons of LCOS projectors:
- no budget models (prices start at 100,000 rubles).
Criteria for choosing a home projector
The brightness of projectors refers to the amount of luminous flux, which is measured in lumens.
For viewing in the dark, 1500 lumens are enough even for a screen with a diagonal of 120–130 inches. In a well-lit room, the higher the brightness of the projector, the better.
For example, the Optoma HD146x projector has a luminous flux of 3600 lumens.
If the projector’s specifications simply say “Contrast”, then this indicator reflects the ratio of the whitest area to the blackest area.
The higher, the richer the black color, the stronger the sense of depth and three-dimensionality of the image. For example, the Benq TK800 DLP has a contrast ratio of 10000:1, while the Panasonic PT-VX430 has 20000:1.
However, contrast is affected by many factors, including the nature of the sensor, the technology used, and the presence of a dynamic iris.
For example, budget DLP projectors with a single matrix give higher contrast, but it is accompanied by a “rainbow effect” — iridescent edging along the edges of objects in the image.
Built between the lamp and the objective lens, a dynamic iris significantly improves contrast by adjusting the light output to match image performance. And Epson’s home theater projectors use “2C Fine” technology to increase contrast (in dark rooms).
The more pixels, the more detailed the picture. The clarity of the image is also affected by the size of the screen (sold separately): the larger it is, the more visible the pixels.
For a 16:9 aspect ratio screen, choose a 1920x1080 (Full HD) model for a cinematic experience. The minimum resolution is 1280 x 720.
For a more square screen (4:3), projectors with a resolution of 1024 × 768 (XGA) will do.
If you’re on a budget, choose WXGA (1280 × 800 pixels, 16:10), especially if you’ll be sitting far from the screen when viewing.
To view 4K video, you need a projector with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 and 4096 x 2160.
In addition, some models are equipped with special features that improve clarity. For example, Epson has 4K Enhancement technology that allows you to watch video at up to 4K resolution on a Full HD or WUXGA projector without significant loss in quality. It is available on Epson EH-TW7000, Epson EH-TW7100 and others.
Consider the distance from the projector installation site (more precisely, from its lens) to the screen (or white wall where the image will be broadcast). There are several types of models with different optics:
- long throw — at a ratio of 2: 1, the projector produces an image 2 meters wide from a distance of 4 meters.
- short throw — the projector can display a large image from a short distance. For example, at 0.5:1, an image 2 meters wide is projected from a distance of 1 meter.
- ultra short throw — the projector can be installed at a distance of 30 cm from the screen, while getting a large picture with a diagonal of 100 inches (width 2.2 meters).
As a rule, the shorter the focal length, the higher the price of the projector. The disadvantage of a short focus is that such models do not have a zoom and a perfectly flat surface is required for demonstration.
On the websites of many large manufacturers (for example, Epson, BenQ, Acer) there is a projection calculator. Enter the available distance and screen size, the calculator will select the appropriate models. Or vice versa: choose the model yourself, and the calculator will show what size the picture will be from a certain distance (for example, from 2 meters 100 inches).
The presence of a zoom lens allows you to reduce or enlarge the image by moving the internal lens of the lens. Due to this, the projector provides the desired image size on the screen when installed within the projection distance.
In addition, the horizontally and/or vertically adjustable lens makes it easier to choose a projector location. The shift range can be different. Due to the presence of this option, it is not necessary to place the projector in the center, the picture can be adjusted by moving the lens in the desired direction.
Pay attention to whether the projector has the connectors you need. Main types of ports:
- HDMI — for audio and video transmission. A convenient option, since the cable length can be 30 m. However, the HDMI cable is either not included in the package, or it is short (1 m). Blu-ray 3D video requires version 1.4 or higher. The projector may have several of these inputs, for example, to connect a PC and a game console.
- VGA — for transmitting video with a resolution of 1080p (does not transmit sound).
- USB — for connecting a signal source (flash card, media player, etc.) or a Bluetooth module for wireless acoustics.
- LAN — for the Internet, if the model is equipped with a built-in Android TV system.
Projectors are usually equipped with a built-in speaker with a power of 2–16 W for sound transmission (with the exception of premium models). If it is not there, or you are not satisfied with the sound quality, then audio can be transmitted via HDMI or connectors:
- RCA with S / PDIF protocol for connecting acoustics (for example, a soundbar). For stereo sound, you need a pair of these ports marked in red and white.
- 3.5 mm — for headphones.
If you are using a pre-2016 Macbook as your source, you will need a ThunderBolt port. For new versions, you need to buy an adapter (VGA, HDMI, USB).
When choosing a projector for your home, consider the additional costs:
- lamp replacement. Projection lamps have a limited lifespan and must be replaced after the expiration date. Usually this indicator varies from 1000 to 15000 hours. Improper use of the projector will shorten the life of the projector (for example, foreign objects on the projector cover during use, power failure). So, a lamp for BenQ projectors costs from 3,460 to 31,360 rubles, depending on the model;
- screen. Of course, you can use a white wall as a screen, but the picture will be less bright and saturated. It is better to buy a projection screen. The cost depends on various parameters. For example, this screen for the Cactus MotoExpert projector costs 76,890 rubles. It is made of high quality materials, has a flame retardant and antistatic coating and a motorized drive. Simple models like Lumien Eco Picture 150x150 cm cost less than 3,000 rubles;
- replacement filters. Some projector models have one or more dust filters installed. They need to be cleaned regularly (approximately every 500 hours of operation) and changed periodically. For example, the cost of an air filter for Epson home projectors is about 1000 rubles.