When the time comes to watch a big game or an award show, you might feel the urge to go and buy the largest LED TV on the market. This usually sets off a hunt for the best television deal.
A good 46” display will set you back $1,000. Even though this price is orders of magnitude lower than what you would pay for the TV several years back, you can get more, a lot more for the same budget.
In this article, I’ll explain just how:
Is a TV Necessary… At All?
While shopping for a TV, many people seem to forget that you don’t need a TV to watch movies and games. Have you ever thought of a home theater projector? For less than $500, you’ll buy a projector with DVD-quality images. Up the budget to $1,000 for 1080p models.
Also, a projector allows you to watch on 100” or even more. Basically, with a home projector system, you do not need a television. What’s more, you’ll attract friends and family to your house for big games, or world events.
Enter the World of the HD Projector
Long ago, the only big screen we had was a weird setup of a projector that produced low-quality images, and there were angles from which people could not just see what was projected.
And that’s not all…
Ambient light reduced the image quality and contrast while the setup took too much space in the living or entertainment room. The good news is, advances in projector technology have placed those days way behind us.
Nowadays projectors are professional and produce high-quality graphics. What’s more, a good setup does not require a titanic budget. In fact, they cost less than the big brand TVs and the projector’s viewport size is only limited by the size of the wall.
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Watching on a projector’s large screen makes the movie or game much more immersive than a smaller LED TV, and the light is easier on the eyes. Nonetheless, there are a couple of considerations you need to take before buying a projector.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Projector
Projector setup costs largely depend on how you plan to use them. In most cases, you will need somewhere to place the projector, a screen and other accessories such as sound such as a projector enclosure. Let’s look at some important considerations.
The Projector’s Resolution
Just like normal TVs, projectors are of different resolutions. You’ll mainly find 720p and 1080p projectors. When we say 720p or 1080p, we are referring to the number of pixels that can fit on the viewport from top to bottom.
So how good is 720p or 1080p?
Well, DVD quality is 480p and most of us are happy with it. So 720p and 1080p take the image sharpness to a whole new level.
You can find 720p projectors for between $600 to $900, with 1080p projectors starting at $900. Our eyes cannot really tell the difference between 1080p and 720p, so you can save some money by going for the latter option.
The Projector’s Brightness
The projector’s bulb determines how bright it is. The bulb’s brightness is directly proportional to the picture size. A brighter bulb is also less affected by ambient light. So when installing your projector, you want to choose a location that will be least affected by light from windows or bulbs.
If you select a part of your house with very little ambient light, you can select from cheaper projector models that have a lower brightness bulb. And with this, you can easily watch on a 100” screen.
How do you know what brightness to go for?
If the room you want to install the projector has very little ambient light, then go for a projector with less than 2,000 lumens. If the room has moderate ambient light even when you have closed the curtains, go for a projector with 2,000 to 3,000 lumens.
If you want to use the projector even with the lights on, then go for one with more than 3,000 lumens. Obviously, this will be super expensive, but if you are willing to use that kind of money to watch in ambiance, then, by all means, go for it.
The Projector’s Zoom Range
It’s important to make sure that you place the projector at a location where it can project on your entire screen. Placing the projector very close to the screen means that you won’t be able to zoom out enough so the image fits on the screen.
So before you go shopping for a projector, decide where you are going to place it and what screen size you want to project on.
Other than the above considerations, there are other things that you should pay attention to.
Other Components to Make the Projector Work
Before you turn on the projector and enjoy a movie, you need to buy a few other components. In this way, the projector is not like an LED TV which comes self-contained and all you have to do is plug it in and turn it on.
It’s important to not just look at the projector’s price as it will not give the whole story. You need to dig deeper and analyze each purchase candidate so that you come up with the total ownership cost.
The bottom line?
Regardless of whether you are an administrator doing a cost-benefit analysis or a researcher writing a grant proposal involving a projector, there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind.
The Projection Screen
You need a screen on which to project the projector’s light. In some cases, you can project on your wall. For this to work, however, the wall should be smooth and have an off-white color.
Alternatively, you can spend a few hundred dollars on a specially manufactured vinyl screen that is designed to reflect the maximum amount of light from the projector. If you have the skills, you can use simple materials to create your DIY screen.
Keep in mind that the weight of some screens such as interactive whiteboards can require around three people to mount. Trying to mount a heavy screen yourself or with fewer people than required can result in injury.
The Projector Enclosure or Mount
The projector needs to be mounted at a place where it will send light to the screen. Very good mounts will set you back less than $100. If the projector mount is not for you or you feel they are too expensive, you can place it on a piece of furniture that is close to the ground.
Mounting the projector high is advantageous because it protects it from getting hit as you move things around. Also, higher up reduces the likelihood of blocking the projector light.
Where Will the Video You Are Watching be From?
Will the movies you watch be from a cable or satellite? Will you be watching from a DVD player? If so, you’ll need to purchase the equipment and have them installed. This is the case even if you are watching free to air television.
What About Sound?
You will need to buy speakers as projectors don’t come with sound. You will place these speakers around the room. The projector will amplify the sound it sends to the speakers.
For a true home-theater sound experience, you can buy a surround sound system. These normally come with five speakers and a subwoofer. Two speakers will go in front of the screen, two behind the sitting area, and the subwoofer will go in the middle.
There are surround sound systems that have seven speakers and a subwoofer. In this case, the extra two speakers can be placed on the side of the room. The 5 speaker system is pretty much sufficient and you can get a set for around $250.
This is the most important part. You have done your research and bought the components. Now you need to connect them all. You will most likely need an HDMI cable and a video cord. An audio cable will allow you to connect the projector to the speakers.
This is one of the disadvantages of a projector because the cables can get quite expensive. Moreover, a projector will use longer cables than a conventional TV set. A good idea would be to go for cheaper generic cables from Amazon or eBay rather than the expensive ones in retail stores.
After installing a projector, you need to have a schedule and a budget dedicated to maintenance. The maintenance needs will vary based on the type of projector. Not only will this ensure longevity, but also ensure that the projector remains compatible with new technology and reduce the chances of buying a new projector before the end of life for the one you have.
A major development that is gaining popularity is the lampless projector. The introduction of the laser into projectors means that you no longer have to depend on expensive projector lamps as a source of light.
When this technology becomes mainstream, not only will this save you a lot of money, but also improve the projection experience. In past projector generations, you would have to replace as many as nine lamps during the projector’s life.
Replacing these mercury vapor lamps is expensive. However, other problems popped up, including how to properly dispose of the used lamps and the labor costs associated with the replacement.
Moreover, there was always the likelihood that the bulbs would blow up and disrupt your sales pitch, class or seminar presentation; hence a massive loss of valuable teaching time.
There are ways to keep lamp replacement costs at a minimum. For example, you can have a schedule to clean dust from the projector. Also, take your time to read the user manual as there could be manufacturer-specific recommendations to increase the projector’s life.
Another projector-related cost is the filter that traps debris and dust sucked in by the cooling fan. Filters should be replaced regularly, which adds to the overall projector maintenance costs.
The projector will also likely have a battery-powered remote control. You will have to replace the batteries ever so often throughout the projector’s life. Take note of the warranty agreement as this will save you money was the projector to break down before the warranty period elapses.
You should spend time checking the projector’s energy statistics. All projectors are not the same. Some projectors use a third of the energy that a similar projector from another company uses.
Even though the difference between two projector energy consumption might be negligible, the costs quickly accumulate if you are purchasing several projectors. For an accurate understanding, find the product between the projector’s power consumption and its service life to find the total power consumption.
While a projector is not everyone’s cup of tea. You need adequate space in the house with very little ambient light. However, under the right circumstances, you can have a really large screen for the same amount you would spend on an LED TV.
Overall, a projector can give you a totally unique experience than what you’d get from your television. You will look forward to going to your projector room to enjoy its soft light instead of the bright lights in LED TVs.
However, a projector has costs associated with its use. These include accessory costs such as a projector enclosure, energy costs, maintenance costs and repair costs. You should take the lifetime energy use into consideration as these may vary significantly for projectors of almost similar price. Also, take note of the warranty agreement.
Ssidisplays has been making projector screens for 14 years. Our solutions are ideal for many applications and in different industries, such as the military and individuals. Get in touch with us and we’ll help you find the right projector setup.