The Definitive Guide to Know Which Projector to Buy

You have decided to enter the world of projection: you go all over the internet to know exactly which projector to buy, you enter in all the forums and webs, you read a lot … But you have so many questions and you have so many doubts that you may feel a little dummy (you do not know …) Calm down!

Do not panic. We’ve been there … and here we are to give you a hand and do not despair. That you do not know anything about projectors ? No problem: in this guide you have everything to know what you need, how to find a projector and what models to discard. And everything very clear so that nobody (even if it starts from scratch) gets lost along the way.

What projector to buy in 2018: The guide of the 6 steps

In this guide, with only 6 steps -and a couple of start-up tips- we give you the most important keys to know which projector to buy. We start!

Before starting to look for a projector

As you can not say which projector is better, since there is no model that works for all situations, first of all what you have to do is to know your needs and limitations : instead of answering to ‘which projector is better?’ ask yourself ‘what projector do I need?’ .

To begin, answer these two questions:

What will I use the projector for?

How much money will I spend?

Simple, is not it?

Do not?

Well, until you have them clear, it is better that you do not follow … Believe us. This way you will discard options and you will stay with the best projectors according to the quality-price ratio.

Once answered, an inside voice can disturb you by telling you things like:

Do I really need a screen for the projector?

It depends. Screen or wall? A wall is not the best solution but if you are going to use it in a non-professional environment and your budget is limited, a white wall – also gray; in both cases, the better mate can give an acceptable answer. But keep in mind that a screen will always optimize the projection .

Do I need a dedicated room to use the projector?

It is not strictly necessary that you vary the color of walls and ceiling, that you change the upholstery or that you put a new floor in order to enjoy a projection system …

BUT

… you must bear in mind that public enemy # 1 in projection is ambient light. In ‘ambient light’ it enters the light of the projected image that bounces off the wall, the ceiling, the furniture or the sofas and returns to the screen: the clearer these elements are, the greater the back reflection.

In the same way, the more dull the general tone of the room, the less power you will need to make the images look good -modern models in a more or less conditioned room can give a similar response to more expensive equipment- so keep it in mind to decide which projector you are going to buy.

Justinrange blog has few great guide for selecting projectors as per your requirements. You may have a look there.

What to look for when buying a projector: WHERE DO I PUT IT?

Before you start reading technical specifications, see what a projector needs to have or think what accessories you need to calculate how much real space you have to place your projection system and avoid unexpected problems ( ‘Go! And this closet?’, ‘ The lamp! ‘, “No! The window!” … ). Some advices:

  • Dodge any focus of light -windows, lamps, reflections- that directly affects where you are going to project. You have to know what the situation and configuration of the stay is.
  • The ideal is that you leave the equipment fixed in a place far from the passage areas (you will avoid so much the assembly and the configuration every time that you are going to use it like blows and accidents). Can you do the necessary work – support, wiring – to hang it from the ceiling? Ahead.
  • Try to put the video projector in the perpendicular to the center of the screen so that the projection is appropriate. Anyway, most models have mechanisms to correct the image so you can always overcome obstacles (although at the expense of brightness and sharpness of the projection).

What has to be the distance from the projector to the screen?

There is a relation between the screen size (here ‘screen’ is the dimensions of the projected image) that you look for and the distance to which you must place the projector ( throw ratio ). Although they are not exact values ​​- they can vary depending on the model: check the technical specifications – to make an approximate calculation move between 1.5 and something less than 2 times the width of the screen (for example: a screen of 80 “to 16” : 9- is 1.77 meters wide so the approximate minimum distance will be between 2.7 and 3.3 meters).

Do not forget that short distance projectors can solve space problems because they get good diagonals 1 meter – more or less – from the screen. Of course, if you decide for them you should use a projection surface without any folds or waves because in these cases the visual effect of the imperfections is accentuated.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a projector: FORMAT AND RESOLUTION

The format or aspect ratio is the ratio between the width and height of the projected image. Is there any better aspect ratio than the others? No, it will always depend on the content that you are going to see. The most commons are:

  • 4: 3 It’s almost like a square and is oriented to presentation type documents, classic films, slides …
  • 16: 9 / 16:10 . They are panoramic formats: movies, TV channels in high definition …
  • The contents in film formats – such as 21: 9, 1.85: 1, 2.35: 1, 2.40: 1 – usually come adapted to anamorphic 16: 9 for reproduction, either in optical discs (DVD, Blu-ray) or TV channels so that if you want to see the content with the original aspect ratio you can:
    • Play with the zoom of the lens and some image adjustment functions that the projector brings (such as stretching ) to adapt it as much as possible to the format you are looking for.
    • Add an external anamorphic lens to the projector to change the aspect ratio (this solution is expensive and depending on the lens model, you can lose definition in the image).

( TIP : If you are going to dedicate the projector for home theater: keep in mind that the classic films, the ones before the panoramic formats appeared, have a 4: 3 aspect ratio, so if you are a great big fan of the cinema , look for compatible models, by the way! The series ‘The Wire’ is shot in 4: 3).

The native resolution of a projector is the number of pixels it is able to display to form the images. The higher its value, the greater the definition and detail of each image will be.

There are many resolutions so which one to choose? As with the aspect ratio, it will depend on the content that you are most likely to project:

  • Full HD or 1080p (1920 × 1080): perfect for blu-ray, for ps4 …
  • HD or 720p (1280 × 720): for HD content.
  • XGA (1024 × 768) and WXGA (1280 × 800): usual on laptops and widely used in meeting rooms, as well as older ones such as VGA (640 × 480) or SVGA (800 × 600).
  • 4K – UHD (3840 × 2160): it is gaining presence and there is more content in Ultra High Definition.

( TIP : A problem will arise when the content you want to see has a different resolution than your computer: in this case, the projector will adapt or scale the signal to its native magnitude – appearing more or less visible distortions – so that we recommend that you try to stick to the resolution of your video projector )

How to know which projector to choose: STAY ON THE BRIGHTNESS AND CONTRAST

One of the fundamental steps to choose a projector is to know the brightness that you will need. The brightness of the projector , or the light output, are the lumens it can offer, so you should take into account the model’s light source (lamp, LED or laser) since the intensity, consumption and efficiency of each are different. On the other hand, the level of brightness will greatly influence the contrast of the images.

How many lumens should a projector have?

It is difficult to give concrete figures of how many lumens a projector should have since there are many factors that can affect the projection in each situation (the technology, the manufacturer, the orientation of the room …).

We offer you some scenarios-type to give you a general idea of ​​the minimum requirements of control of the ambient light (LA) where you are going to install the equipment and several indicative brightness ranges that can help you to decide which projector to buy :

  • For home theater (little or no LA, 1080p):
    • About 1000 lumens are enough; up to 1500 lumens according to the size of the room and the screen.
    • The 3D function reduces the output brightness.
  • For home (some LA, generic content):
    • Around 2000 lumens (maybe more, depending on the level of LA)
  • For office / To teach (LA):
    • 2500-3500 lumens (small-medium rooms, diagonals of 70 “-80”)
    • 3500-5000 lumens (medium-large gauges, large diagonals)
  • For a bar (sports, celebration events, lots of LA):
    • 4000-6000 lumens (large screens, many people scattered)
  • For presentations (small rooms, few people, something from LA):
    • Portable projectors (LED, around 1000 lumens)
  • For outdoor with daylight (also at night): From 4000 lumens (more in the case of daytime projections).

Normal contrast values ​​in a projector

What is meant by normal contrast values ​​in a projector ? First of all: do not forget that the contrast is the relationship between light and dark that the team is capable of. And remember:

  • Native contrast ( on-off contrast ): difference in brightness between a total white screen and a total black screen.
  • Dynamic Contrast : reflects the additional adjustment that the projector incorporates to vary the brightness of the lamp according to the level of clarity of the frame.
  • ANSI Contrast : when projecting a pattern of black and white squares in the same frame, it measures the average difference in brightness (white brightness / black residual brightness).

Native contrast values ​​from 2000: 1 give a good response (if they are larger, better, if in the specifications only appear much higher values ​​-2 higher orders) it is normal to be dynamic contrast : always be preferable a contrast high native ). For ANSI contrast, if they are indicated, values ​​close to 1000: 1 are high.

In theory, the higher the contrast values, the better the image quality will be, but this relationship is not as direct as there are factors that greatly affect the contrast :

  • The ambient light It is what most influences. The color of the walls, ceiling, furniture … The clearer, the worse. A small variation of the light level of the room makes the contrast rise or fall much, especially the ANSI.
  • The screen The answer will always improve. Some enhance the contrast in dedicated rooms, others in the presence of light …
  • The technology DLP projectors tend to have higher ANSI contrast than LCD and LCOS projectors, which is why they achieve more sharpness in the images (LCD / LCOS projectors tend to soften them).
  • The source of light In general, LEDs and lasers give a better contrast response than lamps.

What type of contrast interests you the most depending on the content to be projected? Simplifying a bit: the native contrast improves the content with a higher level of darkness while the ANSI contrast does the same as the clarity of the frame is greater. Therefore, it would be ideal to have a projector with high levels of native and ANSI contrast, as well as a dedicated room. As this situation is not the most usual, try to enhance the On-Off (if it has a dynamic iris, better) since, to be able to appreciate the ANSI contrast at 100%, you will need a room with almost absolute control of the ambient light .

Choosing the best projector: LCD, DLP or LCOS TECHNOLOGY?

Currently, you have to choose between projectors with LCD , DLP or LCOS technology . Which one is the best? Knowing that each one has pros and cons, makes clear what needs you have to decide for one or the other:

LCD PROJECTORS

  • Advantage
    • Bright colors (good saturation)
    • High levels of brightness
    • Silent
    • Economic prices
    • Lens shiftlens shift – high (facilitates installation in case of obstacles).
  • Disadvantages
    • They weigh and take up more space.
    • The interior is not completely sealed (unlike the DLP and most LCOS) so dust can enter (hence the filters, which must be cleaned).
    • Use of lamp:
      • Waiting times for ignition (needs to be heated to work) and off (with high temperatures it is more sensitive to shock).
      • Over time the lamp degrades (depending on the hours of use) and must be replaced (they are not cheap).
    • Low contrast ANSI.

DLP PROJECTORS

( There are 1 chip – they generate color with an additional wheel – and 3 chips – one chip per basic color RGB )

  • Advantage
    • High contrast ANSI.
    • Good image definition.
    • Good gray scale.
    • Less dimension and weight than LCD.
  • Disadvantages
    • Less brightness (and more muted colors) than LCD.
    • Low lens shift capacity (1 chip).
    • Noise produced by the color wheel (1 chip).
    • They can generate a rainbow-like visual effect (not all people are sensitive to it).
    • High price (3 chips).

PROJECTORS LCOS

  • Advantage
    • Soft and natural images (almost imperceptible pixel structure).
    • Vivid colors.
    • Depth of blacks.
    • Good gray scale.
    • High contrast on-off.
    • Good response with movement images.
  • Disadvantages
    • Lower ANSI contrast.
    • High prices (although there are some models of affordable portable projectors).

Is SOUND important when buying a projector?

Is sound important to know which projector to buy? It can be, of course: as always, it depends on the use you are going to give it.

Some advice’s:

  • The loudspeakers that the video projectors can bring are not usually powerful enough, so if you are going to use the projector for home theater or something similar, they are not an option.
  • In those cases, if the projector has audio output, you can take it to a hi-fi or an A / V device.
  • “How can I get the sound from the projector if it has no audio output?” For example:
    • Go to the player of the content you are using and use the audio output you have.
    • Use additional elements that separate, for example, the HDMI signal in video + sound for you to treat them independently (the part of video to the projector and the audio to speakers, hifi equipment …).

In this post you have detailed information about the most common possibilities to configure the sound of the projector that you can take advantage of.

What CONNECTIONS should I look to buy a projector?

When choosing a projector you also have to consider what you are going to connect to it. Connecting a projector means ‘how do I get the content that I want to see to the video projector?’ . This aspect is also important since it involves the type of connectors that you will need from a projector.

The basic connections for a projector :

  • HDMI The digital high definition input par excellence: Blu-ray, consoles … You can choose to connect your projector via HDMI with long cables (no more than 10 meters, high but reasonable prices) if you have location problems and the wi-fi option is not its viable.
  • USB and SD . If the model allows you to directly open office files, they are especially recommended for presentations (for your convenience). When the projector is able to play video files autonomously it becomes a comfortable option to use it at home.
  • VGA Typical to connect the output of computers or laptops (if you are going to connect an Apple device you must get special adapters).
  • Wireless / Wi-Fi . As technology has advanced, the initial bandwidth barriers have been overcome and there are currently projectors that can transmit 1080p content without playback problems. Some models incorporate the connection wirelessly (via wi-fi) while others require an additional device, usually via USB.

Did you get here? Congratulations crack! Have you noticed the amount of things you have to consider to buy a projector? Well, we hope this guide has been useful for you and that you have a clearer idea how to choose the best projector … for you.