With screens that can stretch up to 300 inches, it's no wonder home theatre projectors are a favourite for movie lovers, gamers and casual viewers alike. But what is a good projector for home theatre use?
Part 2: Identifying your quality needs
DLP is traditionally not as bright as 3LCD, and uses more electricity
By now you should understand your space, its size, and its brightness. From here we can start identifying key specs to help us decide between home theatre projector devices.
DLP vs. 3LCD
These acronyms refer to the technology that powers the projector's image. Quickly and simply, DLP (digital light processing) shoots light into an RGB colour wheel, that's then projected onto the screen. It happens so fast you don't notice you're only seeing one colour at a time! But this sequential nature - one colour, then another, then another - makes the technology use more energy to run, and can cause the 'rainbow effect', where some users can actually see the different colours individually. It's very distracting. 3LCD on the other hand, using mirrors and LCD panels, can project all three RGB colours at the same time by combining them in a prism. This adds brightness and more vivid colours, not to mention it's more energy efficient.
A contrast ratio is a number that tells you how big the gap is between your brights and darks on the projected image. So, a contrast ratio of 70,000:1 (as found in the Epson EH-TW6700W) means the whites are 70,000 times brighter than the darks.
The higher the contrast ratio, the more rich the image detail. This is especially important if your room will have any ambient light in it, as you need your contrast to stand up to its potentially colour-washing effects.
Resolution refers to the amount of dots/pixels on the screen, and is typically expressed by two numbers that represent the total pixels horizontally, then vertically. So, 1920x1080, or 1080x720. You may see this referred to with just the latter number (e.g. 1080p, 720p). It means the same thing. 4K or UHD is around the 3840x2160 mark.
When comparing figures, generally speaking, the higher the better.
Aspect ratio tells you the shape of the image. It compares width to height, so you know that 16:10 (a common aspect ratio in projectors) is going to be nearly twice as long as it is high. Movies and games are usually best displayed at 16:9 or 10, though 21:9 (aka 2.4:1) is also common with the former. Aspect ratio defines the shape of an image, usually measured in width:height.
Lumens measures the white or colour light output of a projector. In this case, the higher the brighter, but that doesn't mean the brighter the better. If you bought a very high-lumen projector and installed it in a dark room, you might find it too bright. Conversely, a low-lumen projector in a bright room might wash out. In general, follow these guidelines:
- 0-1,000 lumens: Very dark rooms with small screens.
- 1,000-2,000 lumens: Dark or dim rooms with medium-sized screens.
- 2,000-3,000 lumens: Slightly ambiently lit rooms, any size of screen.
- 3,000+ lumens: More brightly lit room.