The current scenario requires us to stay confined within our houses to stay safe. It has been a long time since people have had the opportunity to go out, let alone have a movie date. The entire experience of watching a movie in a theatre, on the big screen is very exquisite. For those of you craving such an experience, a projector can be the right solution. While there are many projectors available in the market, it is difficult to choose the right one as per your needs. To sort this, here is the complete guide to buy a projector for you in 2020 with all the necessary features and pointers.
Projectors have been around for a long time since 1659 when Christian Huygens created one using just a concave lens, a lamp, and a glass slide. But there has been significantly considerable improvement since then, and you, readers, need to know all the details before getting one for your home (or office) by reading this complete guide to buy a projector.
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Complete Guide to Buy a Projector-List of things you must consider before buying a projector:
1. TYPE OF SURFACE ON WHICH IMAGE IS PROJECTED
First thing you need to consider in Projector buying guide is whether you need a projector that you can carry with you or one that you want to be fixed. Overhead projectors are perfect for fixed purposes. Other than that, most of the projectors are portable.
Every projector has a specific range of sizes. It can project the image for a particular distance called throw ratio, which is specified for every projector. It helps decide at what distance you should sit from the screen/wall for an ideal viewing experience. For a great view, it is suggested that the distance between the viewer and the image should be twice the width of the projected image.
Most people who prefer to have a projector use their walls as the surface on which the image is projected. The image formed on the walls will be distorted, and a colour imbalance can be observed due to the wall paint. And walls have an uneven surface, which leads to ridges on the image. Therefore, screens are recommended. Screens have a more exact reflectance value as they reflect light well, which helps adjust the brightness of the picture. Also, screens have a correct white/grey shade overcomes the color imbalance imposed by using a wall. If a wall is your option, fret not! Make sure the wall surface is smooth and painted in a lighter shade, most preferably white.
Do you remember the war scene from Game of Thrones where the people try to fight the Night king’s army? It was utterly dark and complicated to comprehend what was going on. This could have been avoided if a good projector with acceptable brightness levels was used. Lumens is the measure of light emanating from a lamp source. For a small screen or a confined space, a lamp that can emit 1500 to 3000 lumens can be used. For larger rooms, like theatres, 10,000 to 28,000 lumens would be optimal. Based on the need, projectors with different lumens are available.
The most important feature for a projector is the resolution of the projected image. The resolution is the maximum horizontal pixel count and vertical pixel count. This is also called the screen resolution. There is another type of resolution called the native resolution, which refers to the number of pixels available on a DLP or LCD chip. It can tell depict the actual resolution is capable of displaying. Aspect ratio is considered, which is the ratio of the width to the height of the projected image. It mostly comes in a few fixed ratios like
- 4:3 – square-like image
- 16:10, 16:9- Rectangular image
Based on these different types of aspect ratios, there are different resolution types. Each category can be preferred for the specific purpose.
Specifications In the 4:3 ratio
- SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array):
It has dimensions of 800 x 600 pixels. It is useful for displaying simple data like the work plans, graphical extrapolations, and charts from office presentation. The model of SVGA technology determines whether the native resolution of the projector can be transcended. Higher resolution videos can be played in SVGA with a little reduction in quality.
- XGA (Extended Video Graphics Array):
It has dimensions of 1024 x 768 pixels and can support high-resolution videos better than the SVGA and is also expensive.
Specifications in the 16:10 category
- WXGA (Wide XGA):
It has dimensions of 1200 x 800 pixels and can support high-resolution videos better. With the need for better qualities in the movie and gaming industries, this 16:10 resolution is sufficient to meet the demands. It provides 20% more horizontal resolution. It is mostly used in LCD screens.
- WUXGA (Widescreen Ultra XGA):
It has dimensions of 1920×1200 pixels and is an advanced version of WXGA. The extra pixels can provide a more clarified image and therefore, can support graphics and other data. They are mostly used in large venues.
The 16:9 category of projectors are mostly used for in-house purposes, whereas the others are for business purposes.
720p: It has dimensions of 1280×720 pixels, which is the ideal resolution for movies and HD videos.
1080p: It has dimensions of 1920×1080 pixels, ideal for a home theatre setup and Blu-Ray formats.
Apart from these aspect ratios, there is SXGA (Super XGA), which has an Aspect Ratio of 5:4 and dimensions of 1280×1024 pixels. This is a pretty scarcely available technology as the aspect ratio is less compared to the standard 4:3. Despite having these varied resolutions, it is necessary to have an A/V device that can make proper use of them.
The projector itself varies in design based on the application. Therefore, to provide various needs, different technologies have to be incorporated to improve the image clarity, the color display, and the brightness. There are five currently used technologies that you need to know about.
- DLP (Digital Light Processing):
It is capable of producing sharp and crisp images without the incorporation of any filters. It makes use of a DMD (Digital Micromirror Device), which contains millions of tiny mirrors fixed onto a chip. Light from the lamp source reflects off the DMD chip and falls onto a lens, which produces an image. The number of mirrors on a DMD depicts the actual resolution or the no of pixels in the digital image. These mirrors can move at an angle of ±10 to 12◦ as an on/off mechanism.
One chip DLPs use a colour wheel that processes RGB light one after the other. These are cheaper than their advanced versions, the 3 chip DLPs which can detect separate streams of RGB and produce high-quality images. They have lamps which can last a total of 3000-4000 hours approximately. Color ghosting or banding is a drawback that can occur if the lamp wears out. They have better contrasts and are easily portable, especially when using LEP lamps or Pico technology). They also require less maintenance.
- LCD (Liquid Crystal Display):
These projectors use LCDs, and all the internal hardware is fixed, unlike the DLP. They use dichroic mirrors to separate the RGB components from the lamp source, and a dichroic prism again reunites these with the help of LCD panels. These can produce better pictures, sharper than a DLP. These also have one-chip and 3-chip projectors with the 3-chip types giving a higher colour saturation, reduced background noise, and better video quality. The lamp life is higher than that of a DLP projector and has a higher lumen rating. They are sometimes bulkier and have some artifacts that can be reduced by proper maintenance.
- LED (Light Emitting Diode):
The primarily targeted technology here is the lamp source. These LEDs have a lifespan of more than 20,000 hours, which is significantly higher than the usual minimum of 5000 hours. They are often used in combination with DLP or LCD projection technologies, determining the artifacts that result. The maintenance for LEDs are significantly less compared to DLP and LCD projectors. Despite the long lifespan, the lumen rating is lesser. Therefore these projectors are not very suitable for venues with ambient lighting. Some Pico projectors use LED lights and are considered to be very compact. They are incorporated into smartphones, laptops, and cameras.
- LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon):
Being a combo of DLP and LCD projectors, the LCD chips (which are generally transmissive) possess a reflective side, similar to that present in a DLP. They reflect light and block it. These can provide an excellent video quality, even better than DLP or LCD projectors, due to its high contrast ratio. Motion blur and light output maybe the recurring issue in LCoS projectors. The major companies involved in the production of these projectors are Sony and JVC. Another major drawback is that they are incredibly bulky and cannot be carried around easily.
This is similar to the LED because it focuses on the lamp source rather than the projecting technology. Standard lamp sources involve Xenon, UHP, etc. which are trumped by the lasers. A significant portion of the white light produced by the lamp source is filtered to obtain the RBG components. The lasers provide the colors needed directly for the same power input as given to a regular lamp source, except no light being wasted. Since specific wavelengths can be used to create different colored lasers, a wide colour gamut is possible. Also, there is a quick time response and a substantial dynamic contrast ratio. The lifespan of the lasers can go up to 30,000 hours. They use either LCD or DLP projection technology.
Interfaces are devices that provide a connection between the video output of a source to the input of a display (projector). There are various interfaces at the back of the projector, which drives us crazy when trying to plug the right cord into the correct socket. To simplify,
VGA (Video Graphic Array): This is a video output interface known as a D-Sub 15 pin due to its appearance. Each of the 15 pins has a different purpose. The main feature is that it utilizes analog signals, thereby it supports a low resolution and low display quality.
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface): It can transfer both audio and video at a high quality and high bandwidth. If a VGA cable is being used, an extra line to transmit audio is also required. But the HDMI cable design replaces separate cables with one that transmits enhanced, HD-video signals along with 8 channels of audio signals. HDMI cables transmit these signals by encrypting the data with HDCP (High band-width Digital Content Protection).
5-BNC: The cable is co-axial, i.e., it is composed of a copper wire surrounded by an insulating tube that is, in turn, covered by a metal tube. This prevents electromagnetic interference from radio transmission sources. One end of the cable has 5 BNC connectors. It is used to transmit video data only, and due to the metal covering, ghosting is avoided.
When the required cable is not available, there are structures called converters that can convert, for example, a VGA to an HDMI or a VGA to a DVI.
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Types of Projectors:
All the projectors we’ve seen above are 2D projectors. But some advanced projectors give us a better visual experience.
1. 3D PROJECTOR:
These projectors are capable of producing a 3D image by projecting two identical photos onto a screen simultaneously to create a depth effect. Therefore, to view the image correctly, 3D glasses are needed which filter the polarity, thereby creating a single image. DLP projectors were used as a base for the creation of a 3D projector. 3D crossing or 3D ghosting is a significant issue in commercial theatres or home theatres that harbor a 3D display that can occur due to a faulty display chip that doesn’t replace the image fast enough. This can be avoided as DLP projectors can easily transition from one image to another due to a DMD. 3D videos are transmitted using 4 major formats.
- Frame Sequential
- Frame Packing
This results in Full 3D and 3D-ready projectors. 3d-ready projectors are just capable of using the Frame sequential format, which is an elementary form of 3D. The frames keep alternating for each eye. The projector must be able to accept 120Hz signals. Full 3D projectors are capable of handling all 4 formats.
2. VIRTUAL REALITY PROJECTORS:
These are the next level of entertainment. VR projectors aim to give an immersive experience and help us merge reality and imagination. Canopies, a French start-up, has started work on a VR projector called Immersis. It is a 180◦ VR projector that can easily connect to your computer and display the content as a VR display. To get the optimal experience, users have to upload a 3d model of their environment or the location in which the projector is to be placed. This can help the anamorphosis algorithms to distort the video or game graphics to provide a realistic simulation when projected onto the irregular walls and objects.
Wrapping Up The Projector Buying Guide 2020!
So, this was the complete guide to buy a projector in 2020. We have mentioned all the necessary features and pointers you must consider before buying a projector. Therefore, it is better to look into why you want a projector and what purpose it is going to be used before jumping right in and purchasing the wrong one. There are various options to choose from, so it’s better to look all these factors while selecting/buying a projector for you and this complete projector buying guide 2020 will definitely help you out.