Home theater projector purchasing guide
Video projectors have traditionally been used most for business and education applications, but now it is possible to have a real theater experience at home.
Video projectors have traditionally been used most for business and education applications, but now it is possible to have a real theater experience at home. With a home theater projector, it is possible to have an image or video of 100 inches or more, surpassing the size of any LCD or plasma television.
Then how does a home theater projector work?
◆ There are two basic technologies used in home theater projectors: LCD and DLP.
1. LCD is a transparent color LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), the most common technology used for home theater projectors. Most LCDs, such as those used for computer monitors or televisions, are backlit, which allows viewer to see the image. Without any sort of backlighting, the image would be very faint. In a video projector, the backlighting is replaced by a strong lamp. The light from this lamp passes through the LCD and is focused by a lens, and then projects onto a screen.
2. DLP technology, short for Digital Light Processing, a trademark of Texas Instruments, produces the image on a microchip that has microscopically controlled mirrors attached to it. These mirrors move, controlling brightness.
To find the best projector, we need to learn some key specifications.
Brightness, also called illumination, measured in lumens, is the most important specification, which determines how visible the projected image will be, how far that image can travel and still look good, and how dark the room needs to be when using the projector. For an average room with typical lighting, a 2,000-lumens projector will provide a good image.
◆ Native Resolution
The native resolution is the actual physical resolution of the projector's LCD screen. This is the limiting factor for the projector's image clarity.
◆ Average Bulb Life
As already mentioned, the average bulb life for most projectors is 2,000 hours. However, not all bulbs will last the same amount of time. Manufacturers test their products and determine an average bulb life, which is stated in the specifications. Most modern projectors will have an internal clock, accessible through the menu, for tracking the amount of hours that a bulb has been used. Older, used units do not typically have this feature.
◆ Contrast Ratio
Contrast ratio is the ratio of brightness between the darkest black and the brightest white in the projected image. A higher contrast ratio will provide a more dramatic image, with rich blacks and brilliant whites. A projector with a lower contrast ratio will have "muddy" blacks and "dirty" whites.
In addition to these critical specifications, it is important to verify that the projector selected has the necessary connections to work with whatever equipment it is going to be used with.
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