The Best Home Theater Projectors For An Amazing Movie Night

Get A Cinematic Experience At Home With These Top Home Theater Projectors

Bring the Big Screen Home With Top Model Home Theater Projectors

The only thing better than going to see a movie on the big screen is seeing a movie on the big screen in the comfort of your home! Thanks to advancements in technology, you are now able to purchase home theater projectors that can rally bring a movie to life – all you need is a movie, a big screen (or even just a wall) and some snacks and you are set. There are many different home theater projectors on the market all offering different features and all priced differently, so to assist you in choosing the best system for your home and entertainment needs, here is an overview of the best on the market.

Home Theater Projectors Buying Guide

Projectors are no longer exclusively used in schools and other institutions, they are increasingly popular in the family home, and are becoming more and more affordable. There are also many different types of home theater projectors available, and they come in different sizes with different functions. If you are considering investing in a home theater projector, there are a few things you need to consider, as no two projectors are going to be the same. Exactly what you will be looking for will depend on many factors including:

  • What you plan on using it for( movies, games, streaming TV, viewing photo files).
  • The size of your house or room
  • The positioning of the room (where the projector needs to sit)

No matter what you want to use it for and what size room you will be using it in, there are a few key things that need to be considered when choosing the perfect home theater projector. These are highlighted below.

  • Technology LCD or DLP

When it comes to purchasing a television, the two types will generally be Plasma and LCD. Projectors are a little bit different. They are generally either LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) or DLP (Digital Light Processing).

Without getting too technical, LCD Projectors have 3 transparent panels (one each for red, green and blue), and because projected video is more or less zoomed and stretched, this can produce a ‘screen door’ effect, in that fine lines can be visible (like looking at it through a screen door). Making the projected image smaller is the only way to lessen this effect, however this potentially defeats the purpose of having a projector in the first place. Higher quality LCD projectors will not have this effect, so make sure if you do wish to purchase one that you read the specifications and even have a look at different forums and reviews.

DLP Projectors on the other hand use very small mirrors to project the image, and the more mirrors used, the greater the resolution of the projected image. A color wheel is used to generate the colors (red, green and blue). The color image on these projectors are significantly finer and clearer and can be noticeably crisper and sharper. The DLP technology is more advanced and therefore more expensive, so you may need to make a trade off between price and image quality.

  • Connection

Different projectors will have different ways of connecting to the media and other external devices such as speakers. The main considerations to think of when thinking about which connection method is best is to think about the space of the area (and whether cords are an issue) and the location of the speakers, power points and media (such as a laptop). The main forms of connection are below.

Cable: The most basic form of connection is a cable (most likely HDMI). In which case, if you are projecting form a laptop then you will need to have the laptop within reach of the HDMI cable, and often will need to be close to a power point as well. If you have a lot of devices all connected, we recommend considering a HDMI splitter like the ones we reviewed here. They are the cheapest but can sometimes be inconvenient and get in the way.

Wireless: A few of the top-end projectors will have wireless capability, which can be significantly easier to set up and it means that the projector itself can be situated anywhere in the room. Some have inbuilt wireless capability, and some require a separate wireless system (purchase separately).

Bluetooth: Another popular connection mode is Bluetooth, and allows for quick and easy connection to Bluetooth enabled speakers and other such appliances. It also means that you can connect your Smartphone to the projector easily, which can be great for showing home movies, slideshows and for use at work.

  • Size

You may be surprised at how many different sizes there are between home theater projectors. No longer are all projectors the size of a large book and require to be mounted on a ceiling or placed securely on a table or counter top. You can actually purchase extremely portable projectors that can actually fit into your pocket and be taken anywhere for projection on the fly. And some projectors are in-between the small portable ones and the full size ones – approximately the size of a house brick.

As with anything electronic, smaller projectors will generally have a smaller range and have lower quality image. Really portable projectors (like those that can fit in the palm of your hand) are not going to be able to project as large an image as one of the larger, ceiling mounted ones. But if physical size is most important, then this can definitely work best for you.

How important is lamp life?

Lamp life is actually an important factor when considering which projector to purchase, as they can vary between models and brands. Luckily lamp life of a particular projector is well communicated and will always be included in the main specifications and description of the item. The average projector will have a lamp life of around 2,000-4,000 hours, and this basically means that this is the average number of hours that the projector can run at before losing power and brightness.

It is important to note that if a particular projector has a lamp life of 3,000 hours, it does not mean that as soon as the 3,000 hours is up that the projector will turn off and not work anymore. Rather it is actually referring to the ‘half life’, so it will be expected that after the 3,000 or so hours of use, the lamp will become around half as bright as it was at full power. So it will still be able to be used, the picture will just get increasingly dimmer until it eventually stops working. But there is no need for guess work – you will be able to tell when the lamp gets to half life and then you will have plenty of time to purchase a new lamp and change it before the projector stops working.

Replacement lamp costs will vary between type and brand (and size), however on average they will cost around $200 – $500. Generally the more expensive lamps will last longer, but this is not a guarantee. This may sound like a lot, but when you consider how often the average projector is actually used, it still lasts a long time. For example, if you use your projector to watch 2 movies a week, you could say that it would be running for around 5 hours a week. So a projector with a lamp life of 3,000 hours will last over 11 years. So even if you use it significantly more, it is not likely to be a regular purchase.

What is the image quality like?

Image quality is another factor that can vary greatly between different models of home theater projectors. There are two main factors that can affect image quality, and these are the resolution and contrast ratio of the projector. It is also important to know that the actual image or video file will also play some importance on the final image quality being projected.

Resolution: Resolution will be descried as either being XGA (1280 x 800) or HD (1920 x 1080). Basically a HD projector will have around twice the pixels of an XGA projector, and so the image quality will be much clearer and crisper. Keep in mind that even if you are playing a video file that was filmed in High Definition, unless you play it through a HD projector, then the image quality will not be at its potential. Most modern gaming platforms (such as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360) will use HD. For filming 4K footage, take a look at the top videos cameras here. You will find that most quality projectors these days will have an 1080p resolution (so will be HD). 360 degree footage also looks great on these types of projects, read our full review here.

Contrast Ratio: Contrast ratio simply describes the contrast level between white and black, so the higher the contrast ratio is then the blacker that the blacks will appear, and the whiter the whites will appear. The ratio is the difference between the black and white. This will be described on the projector as something like 10,000:1. A low contrast ratio will have a smaller number, so will be something like 2,000:1 so look for a higher number if you would like to prevent the blacks from appearing grey and the whites from coming across in an off-white hue.

How bright should the projector be?

Because there is no backlight with home theater projectors it is impossible to get one as bright as an actual television. Generally in the past, you have needed to have a room in almost pitch black in order to properly view an image or video on a projector, and as soon as someone turned a light on, the image almost faded to nothing. So how bright should your projector be? This depends on where you plan on using it, and what type of lighting will be typical. The brightness level is measured in Lumens – the higher the Lumens, the brighter it will be. You may have noticed Lumens used to describe the brightness of lanterns or camping lights.

Generally if you only want to watch movies with friends in a very dark room, then you will be able to cope with a projector with a lower number of Lumens (around 1,000 Lumens). If you plan on using it in a room with ambient light, then you will need a projector with a slightly higher number of Lumens – at least 2,000 Lumens. And for use in brightly lit areas unless you have a very high quality projector with a minimum of 3,000 Lumens, then the quality of the projection will be compromised. Of course, the higher the Lumens the better no matter what, and brightness can be adjusted if you are using a particularly bright projector in a dark room.

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