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Home Theater Projectors > 
Which Is the Best Projector for Me?
 

Which Is the Best Projector for Me?

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Introduction

It can be hard to determine which projector is the right one to purchase. There is quite an array of projectors on the market and the projector that is perfect for one consumer may not be so great for the next. For example, if you intend to use a projector for presentations at client offices, you will need a projector that is quite different than an individual who intends to use the projector for gaming purposes. We have broken down the most common projector purchasing groups, helping you understand which projector will best serve you and what specs and features you need to be looking for. If you happen to identify with more than one of these groups, don’t worry. Simply find a projector which covers the features and specs that are most important to you.


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Home Entertainment User

  • Resolution
  • Brightness
  • Refresh Rate

Home entertainment users have specific needs when it comes to selecting a projector for their home entertainment room. There are some crucial specs that you need to look at to ensure that you projector will perform up to par with your home entertainment needs.

First and foremost, you need to look at the resolution of the projector. The higher the resolution, the more pixels there are in the picture. The more pixels there are, the crisper the picture will be. Most home entertainment users will want a resolution of either 720p or 1080p. This will provide you with high definition performance. A resolution of 720p provides true native HDTV, while 1080p offers full high definition resolution, which is a better picture quality than 720p and is known as “true” high definition.

For home theater users, brightness is something you will want to look at when purchasing a projector. It is important to remember, however, that a brighter projector is not always better. There are two things that will impact the illumination that your eyes perceive on the screen including the light output of the projector and the reflective properties of the screen you are using. The ambient light in the room also plays a part. They key is to get a projector that provides enough brightness to offer good screen contrast, but isn’t so bright that it creates eye fatigue.

The refresh rate of a projector is also important to home entertainment users. This is what determines your projector’s ability to process video. The higher the refresh rate is, the crisper and more seamless your images will be. If you buy a projector with a low refresh rate, your movies will not be crisp and they will be choppy. For home entertainment purposes, a refresh of at least 60 Hz is recommended. It is important to note that the exact refresh rate you experience will also be determined by the device that you have the projector connected to.


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Gamer

  • Refresh Rate
  • Contrast
  • Brightness

When it comes to projectors, gamers have very unique needs. What a gamer needs in a projector may be completely opposite of what a business traveler is looking for. Because gamers’ needs are so specific, it is important to know what to look for when you are shopping for a projector that will meet your gaming needs.

First, you need to look for a projector with a high refresh rate. A higher refresh rate means that your pictures are crisper and your images are more seamless. The last thing you want is a projector with a low refresh rate causing choppy images or avatar “lag” when you are playing an MMORPG. If your projector doesn’t have a high enough refresh rate, it’s going to affect your game-play performance. If you want to ensure that your performance isn’t affected by lag, make sure you have a projector with a refresh rate of 120 Hz or higher. If you can afford one that has a refresh rate of 480 Hz or higher, go for it. It will definitely make a difference in how the game plays out on your screen.

The next thing gamers need to be concerned about is contrast. The lower the contrast, the less realistic the image will be and chances are you’ll develop a headache while playing. The contrast of your projector affects the difference between the brightest and darkest parts on your screen. The better the contrast, the more realistic and more crisp your image will be. A higher contrast also gives you a deeper level of black and clearly defined shadow detail. For gaming purposes, look for a contrast ratio of at least 5,000:1. If you can afford it, a contrast ratio of 100,000:1 or higher is even better.

Gamers also need to pay attention to the brightness of the projectors that they are interested in purchasing. If the brightness isn’t right, it can result in eye fatigue and will have a significant impact on the picture quality. When you are considering brightness, the ambient light from your viewing location and the anticipated image size are two important factors. Remember, brighter is not always better in the world of projectors. Look for a projector with a brightness of 1,500 lumens or brighter If you are playing in a room with ambient light. If you are going to be using the projector in an area with a high level of ambient light, you are going to want a projector with a brightness of 3,000 lumens or more. If you will be gaming in a dedicated home theater, a projector with an ambient light of 1,000 lumens will likely do. Don’t forget, however, that the size of your screen will also dictate how many lumens you need. The bigger the screen, the more lumens you will have to have. If you have not yet invested in a screen, try investing in one made for rooms with more ambient light as this will reduce the amount of lumens you need saving you money on the cost of your projector.


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Student

  • Zoom Range
  • Lens Shift
  • Portability

If you’re a student, there are some key features that you are going to want to focus on when selecting a projector for your dorm room. As you need projectors that work as hard as they play, there are some things to take into consideration.

First you need to look at the zoom range of the projectors you are considering. You may not have a lot of room in your dorm and you may not always have a lot of options when it comes to the placement of the projector. Because of this, you need flexibility in where you can place the projector. The zoom range of the projector plays a part in this.

Another thing to focus on will be the lens shift. Again, you will need to be afforded some flexibility as to where you can place your projector since the projector will likely not have a dedicated location and they may be moved from place to place. Because of this, the projector needs to be able to shift the direction of the lens in order to accommodate the position of the projector. Without adequate lens shift, it may be impossible for you to project your images onto the location of the screen in the space you have to work within.

The video signal standard for your projector will also be important. If the projector isn’t compatible with the type of input that is available, it will do no good. Make sure you use projectors that have a wide variety of input options and consider projectors that have SD card slots. This means that the projector can run presentations right from an SD card if there is no compatible input available when you need to do a project presentation.

As a student, portability should also be a concern. You don’t want to be lugging a big projector with you from one location to the next. Instead, focus on smaller projectors that are made to be portable. Some of today’s projectors are even small enough to fit into a briefcase or laptop bag.

Also make sure that you choose a projector that has enough resolution and a high enough refresh rate to allow you to play games and watch movies. The trick is finding a projector within your budget that will be compact enough for your dorm and will provide you with the ability to work and play.


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Business User

  • Number of Connectors
  • Video Signal Standard
  • Lamp Life

Business users have needs that are very different than home entertainment users and gamers when it comes to projectors. Things like contrast and refresh rates will not be as important to you as features like the number of connectors, the video signal standard and the projector’s lamp life.

When business users look to purchase projectors, the number of connectors could be of significant concern. You may have multiple computers that need to hook up to the projector. If the projector only has one connector, you will have to keep disconnecting and reconnecting the projector. On the other hand, if the projector has multiple connectors, you can have all of the computers connected to the projector at the same time. This can be very useful when there are business presentations being run by multiple presenters.

The video signal standard should also be of importance. You need to make sure that the projector is compatible with the type of device you are trying to connect it to. If you purchase a projector without the right video signal standard, you will not be able to hook your computers up to it.

Lamp life is also of concern. Since projectors are used frequently by many businesses, the lamp life may be a deciding factor. Replacing lamps is not a cheap endeavor. Therefore, if there is one projector that costs less than another but has a much lower lamp life, it may be better to go with the more expensive option as you will have to replace the lamp less frequently.

Other things that business buyers may want to take into consideration include lens shift and zoom range. These things will make it easier for you to use the projector in a variety of conference rooms as you can adjust the projector’s image to fit on the screen of the room you are presenting in. If you purchase a projector that does not have lens shift or zoom range features, then you have to either keep the projector in a stationary place designed for it or move things around the room to make the projector’s image fit on the screen. Investing in a projector with lens shift and zoom features is a much better option.


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Traveler

  • Size & Weight
  • SD Card Slot
  • Lens Shift

If you’re taking your projector on the go, size and weight are going to matter. The last thing you want to do is hauling around a full-size projector from one location to the next. Your best bet is to find a lightweight projector that will easily fit into a briefcase or a laptop bag and won’t weigh you down. This will make it easy to take your projector with you to important meetings and presentations.

Another thing you should consider is investing in a projector that has an SD card slot. There is nothing worse than arriving to a location only to find out that there is no compatible device to hook up to your projector. Instead of having to drag your laptop with you along with your projector, you can simply put all of your files onto an SD card and the projector can read the files directly from the card. This saves you the hassle of having to hook the projector up to any device as the projector reads the files on its own.

Another thing travelers must be concerned about is lens shift. Lens shift is what allows you to place the projector in different locations in a room and still properly display the image on the area of the screen in that room. Since you never know if there will be room directly in front of the projector when you are travelling, it is best to invest in a projector with sufficient lens shift to accommodate for this need.


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Government/Educational User

  • Cost
  • Throw Distance
  • Lamp Life

Government agencies and educational facilities often need multiple projectors and they are often on a tight budget. This is why cost should be a significant concern when you are picking out a projector. Remember, however, that cheapest isn’t always best. Yes, it is important to look for a projector with a good price but make sure that the projector has the features you need or the great deal won’t do you any good in the long run.

Another thing that government agencies and educational facilities should be concerned about when purchasing a projector is the projector’s throw distance. This is because the projector often has to “throw” the image across large rooms. If you do not purchase a projector with a large enough throw distance, the image will not be discernible on the screen from where the projector needs to be seated. Make sure you know the size of the area that the projector will need to “throw” the image in each room they will be used in and purchase projectors that meet those specifications.

Lamp life is another thing that government and educational institutions need to consider. It can be costly to replace the lamps in a projector. If you purchase multiple projectors with low lamp life and plan on using those projectors on a regular basis, you will be spending more on replacing the lamp lights than you would if you had invested in projectors with longer lamp life even though the projectors may have initially cost a bit more.


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