Your Home Theater – Choosing a Projector – Part Two
Is the process of researching and purchasing a home projector driving you around the bend? In this, the second part of choosing and buying a projector we look at the remaining factors that you need to pay attention to when putting together your home theater.
Luminance is measured by lumen rating and more is not always better. Because of differences in technologies of the projection equipment (and the screen quality) the lumen ratings are irrelevant and meaningless.
It is possible to have a projector rated at 750 lumens to be brighter than one rated at 1500. What you want is good bright renderings without undue eyestrain.
The best way to determine how many lumens are required for your room is with a projection calculator. The calculator assumes your room is relatively dark. You can see that there is usually a fairly large “green area” on the scale (of the calculator, see the link below) giving some amount of freedom to make adjustments without undue image degradation.
Contrast is probably the most important factor in the ability of a projector to produce deep, rich, color saturated images with good shadow definition. Good contrast is what makes video “come alive” in almost three dimensional splendor. Contrast is measured in a ratio usually from about 2000:1 to 10,000:1 and the higher the better.
To take advantage of a high contrast machine you will ideally have walls and ceilings painted in a darker color and a high quality screen.
How well a projector fits your room is of the utmost importance. For activities that need a brighter atmosphere (some games and activities such as Wiifit) you may have to concentrate the imagery (shrink the viewable size) on the screen. For this a zoom lens is needed. It’s best not to have to rely on using a zoom at the full extent (zoomed all the way out) of its range as image quality will suffer.
Lens shift is also an excellent feature to have if you can’t line the projector up square to the screen. If you have to set the screen at an angle (both up and down or side to side) to the projector a shift lens will project an image without any distortion.
The final determining factor in choosing a home theater projector is cost. Not only the cost of the machine but the price tag and lifespan of the bulbs.
Bulbs generally cost in the $250. to $500. range and are rated from 2000 to 4000 hours. The bulb rating is its maximum lifespan and usually its diminished output as it ages requires replacement before that time.
You may find that a smooth white wall works just fine as a screen at first and a lack of funds may reinforce that belief but at some point you’ll probably want to upgrade. Decent screens start around $100. and depending on bells and whistles can go up to about $1500.