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Home Theater Projector Buying Guide: The Top 5 Things You Need to Know


Thinking of buying a projector? Maybe you’d like to watch movies with your friends, or maybe you’re looking for quality time with your family. Whatever the reason, it’s important to find one that suits your needs. Home theater projectors may all seem similar, but it’s the specifications and performance that makes every projector very different. 4K, UHD, 1080p, HDR…. Getting lost in the sea of ‘specs’? What is the difference between all of these projectors? We’ll dive into some details and give you a full overview. Here’s the top 5 things you should be on the hunt for when buying a home theater projector for your home!

1: Color Technology

The majority of home theater projectors on the market will be Digital Light Processing projectors (DLP). DLP projectors use tiny mirrors to reflect light. DLP projectors also use a color wheel (a spinning wheel with multiple color filters). Generally, these projectors are portable and generate a higher contrast. What is important about color? Projector manufacturers generally use standard Red, Green, Blue (sRGB) as the default color setting. In terms of accuracy, a video captured within this setting should be reproduced on a screen with the same color accuracy as the moment it was shot. But projectors are more sensitive than other types of displays depending on the light output, contrast and distance; all of these should be taken into consideration. Color is subjective; what looks bright red to you might look pink to others. That’s why it’s important to ensure one color standard for everyone. Rec. 709 color is a standard for TV, movie and AV industries to ensure the same color gamut, resolution, frame rate and video specifications for all HD equipment including displays, DVDs, and Blu-ray.

Consoles (Xbox and PS4) gaming setup with gaming monitor.

BenQ’s latest home cinema projectors all utilize CinematicColor™technology for the most vibrant and supreme colors. For more information on color performance, see what actor David Crozier has to say about BenQ’s CinePro series 4k projector:

2: Resolution & Contrast

The clarity of an image produced by a projector is referred to as resolution. A general screen image is made out of tiny dots called pixels. The more pixels on a screen, the better the quality of the image is going to be. If your goal is to watch movies or play games, what you need to look for is a resolution with a high number of pixels. A good resolution for a home theater projector is 1920X1080, which we call Full HD & 4K UHD (3840X2160, referred to as true 4K). A good quality home theater projector has at least these pixel specifications, which you’ll need to be able to show HD movies or games. For reference, BenQ’s W1700 Cinehome Projector has 4K UHD and 8.3 million distinct pixels for each frame, four times the resolution of Full HD 1080p. A 4K projector resolution creates the clearest and most detailed images out of all resolutions; more value for your money.

Consoles (Xbox and PS4) gaming setup with gaming monitor.

Last but not least, you don’t necessarily have to purchase a screen, but investing in one can enhance the sense of contrast, thus produce a better image quality.

Contrast : Why FOFO is Misleading

Contrast perception is an effect produced by a series of single frames. Measuring contrast can be done in two ways: Full On/Full Off (FOFO) and ANSI Contrast. FOFO is easy to manipulate and is commonly used in the industry, whereas ANSI produces more valid numbers, but is hardly used.

Full on / off contrast measures the ratio between the brightness of a solid white pattern (Full On) and that of a solid black pattern (Full Off). A contrast ratio of 5,000:1 means that the meter reads the white pattern as being 5000 times brighter than the black pattern.

ANSI uses a single checkerboard pattern (consisting of 16 rectangles, out of which 8 white and 8 black). The brightness of both the black and white squares are measured and averaged, and the ratio between them is the ANSI contrast ratio.

Besides these ratios, other factors should also be considered: how much ambient light is available where you place your projector? And what will you be projecting it on? Not just contrast ratio should be taken into consideration. For more information on FOFO and ANSI, click: “ The Myth of High Contrast

Consoles (Xbox and PS4) gaming setup with gaming monitor.
3: Light Output & Brightness

Are you looking to put your projector indoors or outdoors? Not just any projector will do; you also need to take the environment and its ambient light into consideration. Will it only be watched by a few people or many viewers? What size is the room the unit is placed in?

When we refer to the light output and brightness a projector produces, we use brightness measured in ANSI Lumens. Projectors are sensitive to light. The brightness output is essential to how it is perceived by the audience and there’s a difference between putting a projector in a place where there’s a lot of ambient light, or a darkroom.

For a home cinema projector that can still display a clear image despite some ambient light, you’ll need a projector above 2000 lumens. BenQ takes ambient light into consideration; its TK800 projector has 3000 Lumens. The W1700 CineHome projector has 2200 Lumens.

4: Source – Connectivity (input /output)

You need to think about connectivity; to display movies, games or any digital image through the projector, you need to hook up your projector to the original source, like a laptop or a game console. Many projectors have VGA ports, giving you a range of options, but for gaming you generally require an HDMI port. BenQ’s CineHome projectors provide USB Type A, mini B, HDMI and VGA options.

5: Other Things to Take into Consideration:
Room Size

Whether you live by yourself or with your family, taking the space you put your projector in into account is important for how you prefer your viewing experience. Depending on size and decoration, you firstly need to take into consideration where you place your projector; in the middle or to the side. Especially if you have a family with children, the space may be limited. If you’re looking to put your projector on a table or the ceiling, look for projectors that can adjust its image based on where it is located. Short throwprojectors, lens shift functions and sideways keystone correction all contribute to adjusting the imaging depending on the angle and location of the projector.

Ambient Light vs. Lumens

Projectors are sensitive to light. The brightness output is essential to how it is perceived by the audience. So there’s a difference between putting a projector in a place where there’s a lot of ambient light, or a darkroom. As mentioned, lighter environments require a model that allows for more than 3,000 lumens is best, whereas darker locations may only need brightness up to 2,000 lumens.

Consoles (Xbox and PS4) gaming setup with gaming monitor.

Projectors come in all shapes, sizes and prices and they have different functions depending on which one you buy. You may have a family and want to enjoy quality time together enjoying movies. Maybe you’re into gamingand want to have your friends over to play multiplayer games together on the big screen. The latest sports competitions may make you want to gather friends and family and watch the big game outside. Whatever the reason, you should consider a projector that suits your needs and requirements!

All in all:

Look for:
1: The right color
2: Your required resolution & contrast
3: What brightness you need for your space
4: Connectivity
5: Location size & Purpose

Projectors can be purchased for multiple different purposes, you want the best size, light and abilities tailored to your needs. This goes for budget projectors just as well. Don’t judge a projector on its price alone, look for one that suits you!

Learn More about Home Cinema

3 Series with CinematicColor

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