PROJECTOR BUYING GUIDE

In this buying guide, you will find information on the following:
Projector Buying Guide

BUYING A PROJECTOR

Projectors come in different shapes and sizes for a variety of purposes, so we’ve split them down into different groups; Home Cinema Projectors, Portable Projectors, Office Projectors, All in One Projectors and Compact Projectors.

Projector Buying Guide

HOME THEATER PROJECTORS

Many people find that a big-screen television is not enough for their viewing pleasure, and opt for a home-theater projector. These high-tech devices project a widescreen and/or high-definition video onto a screen or wall. A Home theatre projector is perfect for projecting large, crisp images, Home theatre projectors can connect to your existing set top box and speaker setup. Because home theater projectors simulate a dark movie theater environment, they work best in a dedicated room where you can control the amount of light that enters from outside or from other areas in the house. However, you can compensate for ambient light by choosing a home theater projector with high brightness and investing in a high-quality reflective screen to improve how the image is displayed even in partially or fully lit rooms. In summary, the home theatre projector gives you the best image quality for large-screen viewing, quiet fan for less background noise and HDMI ports for easy hookup to your home theater.

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BUSINESS PROJECTORS

These kind of projectors are designed for professional (meetings, presentations, Conferences, PowerPoint slideshows) and school environments (Education and training). Business projectors also known as a multimedia or data projector will suit those who need to present a talk or give a presentation. Since these projectors are brighter than home theater projectors, they work well in meeting rooms or classrooms with overhead lighting and windows. Business projectors are designed primarily to display static images, such as graphs and PowerPoint slides, but they also work for multimedia and entertainment use. Most business projectors include an HDMI port for connecting to your laptop, Blu-ray player and other external devices like speakers or laptops and they project bright, clear images in a variety of lighting conditions.
In summary, the Business projector gives you bright display even in rooms with ambient lighting, has a portable size for travel and meetings, is easy to set up and adjust, has multiple inputs make it easy to connect to your laptop or other device and has wireless projection available.

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PICO PROJECTORS

A Pico projector (also known as a pocket projector, mobile projector, Pico projector or mini beamer) are pocket-sized projectors that are compact enough to hold in your hand but powerful enough for sharing images with a small group of people. It applies the use of an image projector in a handheld device. Since they weigh less than 3 pounds, Pico projectors are easy to take with you almost anywhere, which comes in handy for frequent travel, Small group presentations, Personal use at home in small rooms and off-site meetings. Portable projectors have built in batteries so that you can easily watch films or give a presentation wherever you are.
In summary, the Pico projector is Ultra compact and lightweight, Easy to set up and use anywhere you go, the smallest size available in a projector (Extremely portable), has Ultra long lamp life. So if you need a projector small enough to fit in your briefcase or purse, the Pico projector is your best bet.

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COLOUR PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY

Colour processing technology affects how the colours of an image are created within the projector before you see it projected. Most projectors display images based on either DLP (digital light processing) or LCD (liquid crystal display) of LCoS (liquid crystal on silicone) technology. While both types of projectors feature sharp image quality and accurate color representation, each has its own advantages.

Understanding the different projector technologies will help buyers get a better idea of what projector suits their needs.

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

Light from the lamp reflects through thousands of mirrors and a color wheel, which makes up the image. The Pixels are not visible, high contrast ratio, small and compact, Light efficiency/ image detail not as strong and can have ‘rainbow effect' where red, blue, green shadows flash on the screen. Optimal for those who need a quality portable projector. Not ideal for bright-light situations.

DLP advantages:

  • Allows for a lightweight and compact projector (especially for Pico models)
  • Portrays a film-like picture from DVD, Blu-ray and HDTV sources
  • Smooth motion for videos and fast-action scenes
  • Deeper, truer blacks than LCD projectors
  • High color contrast
  • 3-chip DLP on premium models provides even higher image quality
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Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)

Three glass panels separate the color schemes; light passes through the glass to project image. This is the Oldest, most widely used. Better color saturation offers vibrant colors; highly detailed data and images, Pixels can be visible; larger/bulkier. Best choice for those who need a bright projector, usually has at least 3,000 lumens. Not ideal for travel.

LCD advantages:

  • Brighter output for use in well-lit rooms
  • Impressive color brightness
  • Sharper images for detailed graphs and data presentations
  • Vibrant 3D images with no image ghosting
  • More energy efficient than DLP projectors
  • Slightly quieter than DLP projectors
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LCos Technology

LCoS (liquid crystal on silicone) is a third type of projector technology. Three chips modulate colors. Simultaneous delivery of light/color components. Very rich colors; no visible pixelation; high resolution, very detailed images. It is the Most expensive of all three, has a low contrast ratio and lamps must be replaced frequently. Excellent choice for those who want the most detail and riches colors, It is sort of a hybrid between LCD and DLP. It uses liquid crystal chips with a mirrored backing. Generally available only on high-end models.

LCos advantages:

  • No visible pixilation.
  • Image is smoother, more natural look and feel.
  • Delivers rich, well saturated colours.
  • Absence of a colour wheel, so no rainbow effect.
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LIGHT SOURCES

Projectors are powered by one of three light sources: standard lamp, laser or LED (light-emitting diode).

Standard lamp

  • Bulb can last 3,000 to 4,000 hours (up to 5,000 hours in eco mode)
  • Bright light output
  • Most affordable option

Laser

  • No bulb replacement needed
  • Considerably brighter than other light sources
  • Better contrast than standard lamps
  • Wider color range than standard lamps
  • Energy efficient

LED

  • Bulb can last up to 20,000 hours
  • Better color control than standard lamps
  • Quiet operation and smaller footprint than projectors with standard lamps, since energy-efficient LEDs generally don't require a fan for cooling
  • Widely used in Pico projectors
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    CONTRAST RATIO

    The contrast ratio determines the difference between the darkest and lightest images a projector is capable of displaying expressed by a number. A contrast ratio of 5000:1 means the brightest part of an image will be five thousand times brighter than the darkest. The higher the difference, the greater the contrast that produces a more defined image. Higher contrast also allows you to see clearly defined shadow detail and deep black levels, in other words, it gives more depth to the projected image.
    Since a greater amount of light in the room can wash out the difference in contrast between projectors, it's more important to pay attention to contrast ratio for home theater projectors than it is for business projectors. In darkened rooms, such as an ideal home theater environment, contrast will be much more noticeable. Business projectors, on the other hand, are often used in well-lit rooms, where contrast is muted because of the additional light.

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    RESOLUTION

    Simply put, this is how many pixels the projected image is made up of, that is, the projector's native resolution is determined by the total number of pixels that a projector is capable of displaying. Generally, the higher the number of pixels, the more detailed the picture quality will be. Higher resolutions are especially important for home theater projectors, since the viewer will be sitting closer to the screen. The higher the resolution, the closer you can sit to the screen without viewing a pixelated image.

    Resolutions range from 480p on the low end to 720p and 1080p for HD viewing, and up to 4K Ultra HD for impressively sharp movies and shows.You'll get the best image quality by matching the projector resolution to the resolution of the video source you plan to use most often. For example, if you want to watch movies on your Blu-ray player, you'll need a 1080p projector to view the movies at full resolution. If you want to share your laptop screen, choose a projector with the same image format as your laptop, such as XGA for a 1024 x 768 display.

    Different resolutions available for projectors;

    • Full HD - 1920 x 1080
    • HD Ready - 1280x720
    • WXGA - 1280 x 800
    • XGA - 1024 x 768
    • SVGA - 800 x 600
    • WVGA - 800 x 480
    Projector Buying Guide

    ASPECT RATIO

    The aspect ratio refers to the shape of the image displayed. A standard television has an aspect ratio of 4:3. This means that the video image is four units wide and three units high. Home-theater projectors have native aspect ratios because projectors are a fixed-resolution display device. Projectors usually have a native aspect ratio of 4:3, 16:10, or 16:9, which means that the chip inside of the projector is shaped in those proportions.

    • 4:3 – standard TV or PC monitor
    • 16:9 – widescreen TV
    • 16:10 – slightly wider than a TV, cinema style image

    Older films and TV shows are often in different ratios than contemporary widescreen ones, and many projectors can display multiple aspect ratios – perfect for viewing content filmed in different ways.

    Home theater formats

    • Standard (4:3 aspect ratio): Recommended for classic films or DVD-based television series
    • Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio): Recommended for HDTV, widescreen DVD and Blu-ray formats
    • Cinemascope (2.35:1 or 2.4:1 aspect ratio): Recommended for an immersive, theater-like experience at home
    • Requires an anamorphic lens (a lens that stretches the image while maintaining proportions), 2.35:1 or 2.4:1 screen, and a projector with the proper scaling modes

    Business formats:

    Standard (4:3 aspect ratio)

    • Formats such as SVGA (800 x 600 pixels) and XGA (1024 x 768 pixels) are suitable for PowerPoint presentations, with more detail available in XGA format
    • Higher resolutions, such as SXGA+ (1400 x 1050 pixels), are suitable for detailed photography and data graphics
    • Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
    • WXGA (1280 x 800) is recommended for laptops and devices with widescreen output

    THROW RATIO

    The throw ratio tells you how wide the image will be when you place the projector at a certain distance from the screen. For example, a 1.8:1 ratio will produce a 5-foot wide image when you place the projector 9 feet from the screen (5 feet x 1.8). Calculating the throw ratio is especially important if you plan to permanently mount the projector.
    There are two types of projector to suit different room sizes. Choose between long or short throw projectors depending on whether you need to display images in a large or small room.
    Short throw projectors can be positioned quite close to a wall or screen and can still project a large image. Ideal for smaller spaces, they can project from as close as 0.5 m to the screen.
    Long throw projectors are designed to be positioned further away from a wall or screen, and can project huge images that are perfect for larger spaces. With our range of long throw projectors, you can project from up to 15 m away from a wall or screen.

    LENS ZOOM

    If you'll be setting up your portable projector in different places where you won't always have control over the screen size or placement of the projector, you can use the lens zoom to adjust the image size. By adjusting the lens zoom, you won't have to move the projector closer or farther away from the screen in order to adjust the image size.
    The greater the zoom ratio, the larger you can make the image. For example, a 1.2x zoom creates an image up to 20% larger than the minimum size. A 2.0x zoom creates an image twice the minimum size. Not all projectors feature a lens zoom; pico projectors, for example, often exclude the lens zoom in order to make the projector as compact as possible.

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    KEYSTONE CORRECTION & LENS SHIFT

    If for some reason you can't place the projector exactly perpendicular to the screen, keystone correction allows you to correct distortion by digitally adjusting the image so it is perfectly square on the screen or wall.
    Lens shift, on the other hand, allows you to mechanically adjust the angle of the lens by shifting it up, down or sideways. Since lens shift retains 100% of the resolution in the projected image, it's a better way to correct distortion than keystone correction.
    Keystone correction is available on almost every projector, offering a quick way to adjust the image on data projectors and Pico projectors, which get moved around most often. Lens shift is available mainly on high-end home theater projectors, where the projector will be installed semi-permanently on the wall or ceiling.

    3D TECHNOLOGY

    3D Some projectors can display 3D images, and just like watching a 3D film at the cinema, you need glasses to see the 3D effect. A 3D-ready projector hooks up to other 3D-compatible devices for a true 3D experience on a giant screen. Some projectors feature built-in 3D capability, while others require a 3D emitter (sold separately) in order to display 3D content. All 3D projectors are compatible with the same devices you’d plug into a 3D TV, so 3D Blu-ray players and compatible games consoles can give you a truly immersive 3D experience at home.

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    WIRELESS PROJECTORS AND ADAPTERS

    If you want to project photos or a PowerPoint presentation wirelessly from your laptop, smartphone or tablet, you'll need a projector with wireless capabilities. Some projectors even allow you to send an HDMI signal wirelessly from the video source to the projector using a wireless HD transmitter that's either built in or sold separately. You can download a wireless projector app for iOS or Android that works with your specific projector brand.
    Smart-enabled technology, currently available only on select home theater projectors, allows you to stream movies, music and entertainment by connecting directly to the Internet. You can also stream content by connecting a streaming media player to your projector.

    Projector Buying Guide

    Connection

    Before you can splash your slideshow or movie on the big screen, you'll need to find a way to hook up your image source to the projector. Business projectors and home theater projectors each have their own set of inputs and outputs, which vary from projector to projector.


    Home theater projectors

    Home theater projectors almost always include one or more HDMI inputs for your cable or satellite box, Blu-ray player, gaming console and other devices. Your home theater projector may also include other ports, such as component video, VGA, an SD card slot and USB. Audio outputs allow you to connect to your sound system.
    Make sure you have the right type and the right number of connections that you'll need. For example, if you want to connect a Blu-ray player, gaming console and HD cable box to your home theater projector, you'll need a projector with at least three HDMI inputs.
    Since your home theater projector will likely be mounted on the ceiling or wall, you'll need to find a way to run cables from your projector to your entertainment system. A professional installer, such as Geek Squad®, can help you hide unsightly cords by running cables through the ceiling or walls for a clean, invisible setup.

    Business Projectors

    Business projectors typically include VGA and USB inputs. Some include DVI or HDMI inputs as well. Built-in wireless offers even more flexibility by letting you share presentations without the hassle of hooking up cables or making sure you have the right connections. Although some business projectors include built-in audio, the sound quality is generally weak. For better sound, use the audio ports to connect to external speakers.

    PROJECTOR SCREEN

    Why use a screen?

    Although you can use a white wall as a screen in a pinch, a high-quality projection screen will make the picture look better and brighter. Since the screen reflects back light, it works together with your projector to make colors and images pop off the screen. Every screen is rated according to its gain factor, or how efficiently it reflects light. The higher the gain, the brighter the image will be on the screen.

    White Screens

    White screens enhance brightness, which is especially beneficial for business use, where you'll be viewing images in a well-lit room and presenting documents and graphs with a white background.

    Grey Screens

    Grey screens boost color contrast and make 3D images stand out more, which makes it a good color choice for a home theater room with ambient lighting or light-colored walls.

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    TYPES OF PROJECTOR SCREENS


    There are four basic types of projector screens: motorized, fixed, pull-down and portable.

    1. Motorized (or electric) screens lower and raise at the touch of a button. Besides impressing your audience, motorized screens make it easy to control the screen when it's mounted out of reach.
    2. Fixed screens are mounted on the wall, which requires a dedicated space but no lowering or raising.
    3. Pull-down (or manual) screens save space by letting you retract the screen when not in use; this allows you to use the same space for other purposes, such as mounting a whiteboard in a classroom or meeting room, or displaying artwork or bookcases in your home.
    4. A portable or tripod-mounted screen scrolls open and closed for portable use, with tripod legs or a built-in stand for support.

    SCREEN SIZES


    With a projector and screen, you can make images much larger than most HDTVs can. The screen size needs to match the aspect ratio of your projector, such as 4:3, 16:9 or 2.4:1.
    Screen sizes range from 50" measured diagonally to 300" measured diagonally or even larger. You'll want to make sure the screen will fit your space before you make your purchase. Measuring the ceiling height, making sure the screen is high enough off the floor to see over a coffee table or other furniture, and figuring out where you'll mount the center speaker are all issues to take into consideration when choosing how big you want to go.

    Projector Buying Guide
    NOW THAT YOU KNOW BETTER!
    You can choose better,
    from our collection of projectors