How to choose a good projector – Quick guide

When you’re trying to find a good projector, there are a lot of different factors that you’re going to want to take in to account. By doing this, you can be sure that you’re going to choose the right projector to meet your needs.

We’re going to take a look through all the different criteria that you’ll want to consider before you invest in a projector. This includes everything, from the brightness of its lights, to the technology used within the device itself.

So, let’s look at some of the things worth thinking about when looking for a new projector.

How to choose a projector – Buying guide

When you’re buying a projector, you need to take these 6 main things into account; Price, Room Size, Projector Type, Brightness, Resolution and Use. When you’ve considered all of these factors, you should be able to find the right model for you.

You will also want to think about potential obstacles like the Keystone effect, which can distort your image when looking at the screen from an angle. This can usually be resolved with a little Keystone correction, and it’s not really a factor in buying a new projector.

So with that said, let’s take a closer look at all of these aspects in more detail.

Price

The first thing that you’re going to want to think about when buying a projector is the price. With projectors, you can really spend as much as you want, because many of them go into the severals thousands depending on what you need.

For most people, I don’t think that you need to spend that much to get a home projector. Check out my list of the best projectors under £500, which proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good quality device.

Around the £400-500 mark is the point where you’re really going to see a massive difference in image quality. Typically, the higher your budget, the higher the native resolution of your projector. A full HD 1920 x 1080 projector will typically be more than a WXGA 1280 x 800 projector.

But anyway, before you get started, you should set your budget, whether that’s £200 or £2000. If you want the best cinema experience, you’ll want to spend somewhere in between this range.

Room Size/Distance

Another one of the main things to think about when you’re about to purchase a projector is the size of the room you’re going to use it in, and the projectors distance from the projector screen.

If you’re looking for a projector for a home theater, then you’re likely to want a short throw projector. However if you’re looking for something to use in the office, or in a lecture hall, this is where you’d opt for a long throw projector instead.

When we say short throw, the distance that you’ll usually have the projector from the screen isn’t that short. If you place a short throw projector 6 feet away from the screen, then you should get a 100 inch screen projector.

You do also get ultra-short throw projectors, which can project a 100 inch screen from only a few inches away. They can be good choices if you’re looking for a home cinema projector.

Generally, you can work out how far your projector will need to be from your screen by using its throw ratio. The throw ratio is simply the throw distance as a ratio of the image width you’re projecting.

For example, if your projector has a throw ratio of 2, which is the most common, this means that if you want to project a 1 foot image, your projector will need to be 2 feet away from your screen.

This means that if you want to project a 120 inch image (which is 10 feet), your projector will need to be twice that distance away from the screen – 240 inches, or 20 feet. It’s pretty simple.

In most cases, we’re going to want to opt for a short throw projector. Whilst long throw projectors do have a place in the projector world, they’re not the best choice for home use.

Projector Type

An important thing that you’re going to want to take into account when purchasing a projector is the type of technology that the projector uses.

For consumer use, there are three different types of technology that we generally use in projectors. The most common of these is the DLP projector, which uses light pushes through a colour wheel onto small mirrors to create a projection.

Have a look at this comprehensive explanation of DLP projectors if you want a more in depth explanation. For those looking for a portable projector, they often tend to be the best choice.

Another type of projector is a 3LCD, sometimes referred to as just a LCD projector. These projectors use 3 display panels, in red, green and blue, which combine together to project an image. They tend to be better in colour production than DLPs, but the difference isn’t that noticeable for most people.

We also have LCOS projectors, which are going to be too expensive for most of us (we’re talking several thousands and upwards for an LCOS projector). They’re better than both LCD and DLP projectors for the most part.

In most scenarios, a DLP projector is going to be the best option if we’re looking for the best compromise of value and performance. They manage to give a good projected image, and you don’t need to break the bank to be able to afford one.

Brightness

Something that you’re going to want to consider when purchasing a projector is the brightness. You’re going to find there’s a difference with watching a projector and a TV, and it might just take a little getting used to.

The brightness of the projection is going to be relative to the distance it is from the screen. So, if you have your projector 4 feet away from the screen producing an 80 inch image, this will be brighter than 6 feet away projecting a 120 inch image.

We measure the brightness of a projector in lumens, so you’ll be able to measure its luminosity by checking this out. Bear in mind that you’ll find cheap projectors all over the internet that state they have a lumens measurement much higher than the reality. So, if you want a truly bright projector, stick with a trusted brand.

If you’re going to be watching films in the dark anyway, then the brightness won’t matter to you too much. But if you plan to use your projector in an area with a lot of windows or light, then it’s a much better choice to get a projector with a higher level of brightness.

Resolution

You will also need to think about the resolution of your projector. With DLP projectors, this is dictated by the amount if mirrors that it uses to reflect the light to portray the image.

You’re going to find an even bigger difference between a 720p or 1080p projector compared to a 4K projector than you would with a television. A 4K projector just uses four times the amount of pixels that a 1080p projector does, so it should give you a much clearer picture.

This will all come down to your budget, and how much you’re looking to spend on a projector. If you have money to spend, then opt for 4K. If not, then there’s nothing wrong with a cheaper 1080p projector instead.

Most projectors are HD ready, which means that they have a higher than standard resolution.

Use

The final thing that you’re going to want to think about when choosing a projector is what you’re going to use it for. This will dictate which projector you end up choosing, so it’s really important.

If you’re looking for a projector for a home theater, then opt for a DLP projector – the best you can afford. If you’re looking for a projector to play games on, then you might need a projector with more contrast and minimal input lag – a DLP projector is best for this too.

However if you’re looking for a projector to use in a brighter room, then you will need to put a lot of thought into the projector that you go for. Most projectors are designed to be used as part of a home cinema, and work well when used in dark rooms.

This means that you may opt for an expensive projector that works well in the dark, but struggles with any form of ambient light shining onto your display.

Conclusion

When you’re going to get yourself a projector, these are the main things that you’re going to want to consider. As long as you know what you’re going to use your projector form, then you should be able to find a good model that will fit your needs perfectly.

There are other considerations to think about, like the lamp life of your projector, for example. However, this is really not going to be too much of an issue in the short term, as most projectors come with a lamp that will last many years anyway.

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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