For most Americans, screens and screen time is a large part of daily life. Whether these are large screens like televisions and monitors, or smaller ones on watches and phones, we spend a lot of time with our media. If you take your television and movie watching seriously, it might be time to upgrade to as close to a theater-like experience as you can get. This is where a projector comes into play.
Projectors have been growing in popularity, and coming down in price over the last several years. More and more manufacturers are making projectors at a variety of different price points. As more options become available, choosing the one that is best for you becomes more of a challenge.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Our Selection: The Best Projectors on the U.S. Market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Projectors
- 3.1 What is a projector exactly?
- 3.2 What are the advantages and disadvantages of projectors?
- 3.3 Is buying a projector worth it?
- 3.4 What are the main uses of a projector?
- 3.5 What kind of projectors are available out there?
- 3.6 Do I need a screen for my projector?
- 3.7 Where and how should I place my projector?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Nowadays, video projectors can be used in a multitude of ways, the main ones being within professional and educational environments. That being said, their presence in our homes has widely spread in recent years; indeed, they can provide an incredible home cinema experience.
- We currently identify three main types of video projector technologies: LCD, DLP or LCoS. Each of these presents different features and therefore has its own advantages and disadvantages.
- There are several key aspects that you should consider before buying your own projector; these include contrast, he brightness and maximum resolution.
Our Selection: The Best Projectors on the U.S. Market
The below section lists our five best pics for projectors currently on the U.S. market. We have tried to come up with a varied selection of distinct products that all offer something a little different, while ensuring that value for money remains at the forefront.
- Dr. J Professional – HI-04 4″ Mini Projector
- GooDee – HD Video Projector
- Optoma – EH416 HD Business Projector
- BenQ – HT2050A 1080p Home Theater Projector
- Vankyo – Leisure 3 Mini Projector
Dr. J Professional – HI-04 4″ Mini Projector
Dr. J Professional’s HI-04 4″ Mini Projector is a portable LED video projector that is great for taking with you on the go. It comes with a 100 inch portable projector screen so that you can set up a great theater-style viewing experience wherever you are. It gives you fantastic 1080p resolution, so you get great quality video experience anywhere you want. Great for both indoor and outdoor entertainment, this projector is easy to set up and is compatible with a wide range of media devices and hardware.
The lamp is high quality and designed to last up to 40,000 hours, giving you years of fun and entertainment. If you want portable, high quality entertainment at a great price point, then this projector is hard to beat. What’s more, with the included 100″ projector screen, you can turn any room, anywhere into a home theater. A fantastic entry-level projector screen the whole family will enjoy.
GooDee – HD Video Projector
GooDee’s 2200 lumen HD Video Projector gives you excellent brightness compared to many other small projectors on the market, meaning clearer and more vibrant viewing experiences each and every time. The high res 1080p gives you vivid entertainment wherever you feel like setting it up. Whether you want to watch football on Sunday, or you want a theater-like Saturday night movie experience, this projector is capable of projecting 44-200 inches and at distances of 4.9 to 18 feet.
What’s more, the low fan noise ensures that you get a pure, unadulterated viewing experience, which can be a problem with some projectors. The built-in 3W speakers also provide a great sonic experience, so you don’t have to invest in external speakers with this projector. GooDee provides a 3-year warranty on this projector, and if you are not happy with your product within the first two months, simply let the company know and you will get either a replacement or a full refund.
Optoma – EH416 HD Business Projector
Optoma’s EH416 HD Business Projector puts out a staggering 4200 lumens of brightness and a 20,000:1 contrast ratio, giving you unparalleled image quality and brightness. The advanced optical lens has a 1.6x zoom and vertical lens shift, giving you full control over image style and presentation. It is simply to connect to any external device with HDMI, MGL, VGA, and 10W speaker. It is available in 3000, 3400, 3600, and 4200 lumen models.
This product is one of the go to models in the corporate world, for places of worship, and in postsecondary institutions. The superior brightness and color contrast means images and videos are always sharp, and the lens capabilities allow you to zoom in and out, and give you control over the size of the display like no other. Easy to connect and highly portable, this is a great high end projector.
BenQ – HT2050A 1080p Home Theater Projector
BenQ’s HT2050A 1080p Home Theater Projector is an upmarket device that brings you 2,200 lumens of brightness and sharp 1080p vividness with a high native contrast ratio of 96 per cent. This is a great projector for gamers, as it features a unique game mode that minimizes the input lag and provides an optimal gaming experience. Additionally, this is a great projector that will really impress friends and family that can be used for sports, movies, TV, or vacation photo presentations.
BenQ’s HT2050A Home Theater Projector lets you project a 100″ screen from just 8 feet away, and is capable of projecting a screen up to 300 inches wide. Compatible with most media players and gaming devices, you can broadcast video and images from pretty much anything. This high quality projector was the winner of Tech Gear Lab’s 2019 “Editor’s Choice Award for Best Overall Cinema Projector” and is sure to impress even the most discerning projector aficionados.
Vankyo – Leisure 3 Mini Projector
Vankyo’s Leisure 3 Mini Projector uses MStar’s Advanced Color Engine to deliver stunning 1080p video and image quality. The 2000:1 contrast ration is excellent for home entertainment, but you will probably need something more powerful for PowerPoint and office or lecture hall use. This device is compatible with the vast majority of media players out there, and connects easily using the most common ports and interfaces.
What’s more, a special suppression system ensures that fan noise does not disrupt your viewing experience. The screen size is customizable, letting you create a viewing size from 32 to 176 inches at a projection distance of between 4.9 to 16.4 feet. You also get the company’s 3 year warranty and money back guarantee, so you can return the product for a refund or a replacement if your are not completely satisfied with your purchase. A good entry-level home entertainment projector.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Projectors
As we mentioned earlier, there are critical factors to take into account when the time comes to purchase your projector. With so many models available out there, it is important to know which features are most interesting for you. In the next section, we’ve answered frequently asked questions by past customers to help you in your venture.
What is a projector exactly?
A projector is an optical device that receives a video signal and then projects it onto a screen, or a viewing surface through a lens system. You usually need a very bright light (brightness is measured in lumens) to project your video or image. The most recent models on the market are usually able to correct blurring and bending of the light through a series of adjustments that are available.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of projectors?
Modern video projectors feature a great number of advantages that go well beyond the simply offering a large screen. On the other hand, the disadvantages they present should also be taken into account. We’ve listed them in the table below.
|They offer a much larger picture than a TV or monitor. This way, your experience is more immersive.||They take longer to turn on than a standard TV.|
|They provide a home theater experience.||Most require a separate sound system.|
|Their size is smaller than that of TVs, making it much easier to organize interior spaces.||The lamp needs to be replaced from time to time, and it is quite expensive.|
|Their installation and use are very straightforward.||–|
|They can be used in a multitude of ways, from educational, to professional or leisure. They are easy to transport from one place to another.||–|
Is buying a projector worth it?
This is, in large part, a matter of how and why you plan to use your projector. If you are thinking about one for a business or a college lecture hall, then a projector is a must. If you want it for home entertainment, what you expect from your home entertainment system, and how often you use it will be the deciding factors.
On the other hand, it is an incredibly viable option for broadcasting sporting events in entertainment venues; you’ll easily pay it off within a few months.
What are the main uses of a projector?
As previously mentioned, projectors are made for a variety of uses. They are very commonly seen in lecture halls, conference rooms, or in museums and galleries. They are, of course, also increasingly popular home entertainment devices. It is also increasingly common to see them in bars as a way of showing sporting events.
What kind of projectors are available out there?
As we mentioned earlier, there are currently three main projector technologies: LCD, DLP or LCoS. Each different type naturally has its own characteristics that we’ve summed up in the table below for you. It should help you identify which technology is more adapted to you and your needs.
|LCD projectors||DLP projectors|
|Image||The image is created through millions of tiny mirrors that direct and project the light towards the screen.||The are similar to LCD projectors, although the panels reflect the light rather than letting it pass through.|
|Colors||The colors aren’t so bright and are more muted. Lower brightness levels and good image definition. They also have a good greyscale.||The colors are brighter, and the images softer and more natural. Their response to moving images is fairly good. They also present a good greyscale.|
|Advantages||They take up less space and are lighter.||They tend to be quieter.|
|Price||Your investment will need to be higher.||Expensive, although some portable equipment are more affordable.|
Do I need a screen for my projector?
While many projectors come with a screen included, plenty to not. If you are going to be using your projector in a professional setting (office, college), you will absolutely need a screen. In other settings (such as home entertainment), you may not, depending on your expectations and your budget. In many cases, a white, or off-white wall works just fine, especially if it is a matte surface. It is important to keep in mind, however, that without a screen your image quality is going to suffer.
This is why we strongly encourage you to get a good screen to go along with your projector. This will actually help you make the most out of your new device. Regarding the location of your screen, please keep in mind that ambient light is a projector’s worst enemy – stay away if you can.
Where and how should I place my projector?
You know what they say: better safe than sorry. Make sure you know exactly where you’ll set up your projector before buying it. This is why we want to emphasize on the fact that you should avoid light sources at all costs, while passageways should be kept away too. The projector should be placed perpendicularly to the center of the screen.
A commonly asked question is how far you need to set your projector from your screen. To get this distance, simply multiply the width of your screen by a factor of 1.5 or 2. If space is an issue, there are projectors out there that are specifically designed for short distances. These projectors can give you goo quality diagonals at distances of no greater than three feet.
There are a range of important aspects to keep in mind when buying a projector. The following section contains the most important ones so you make the best decision possible. If you rely on these to inform your purchase, you will end up with the product that best suits your needs.
- Personal use
- Additional options
This is the fundamental first question to ask yourself when purchasing your projector: what am I using it for? A tiny conference room or windowless lecture hall is going to need a much different projector than a bar with large windows. You will also want to consider whether you are using it for playing movies and video games, or broadcasting sporting events.
Two other key factors are your space requirements and the type of content you will most often being projecting. Specs like format, brightness, and resolution will all factor in here. Your connection type and needs will also depend on these as well.
Format simply means the ratio of width to height of the image you are displaying. The 4:3 format is best suited for presentations, slideshows, or classic movies. The 16:9 and 16:10 formats are better suited to modern movies and TV, especially those in HD.
You can also find a variety of film formats, such as 21:9, 1.85:1, 2.35:1 and 2.40:1. Please be aware that these are generally adapted to 16:9 anamorphic formats for playback on TV channels, DVD players or Blu-ray. Either way, there are various settings – such as zooming – that will let you adapt the image exactly how you want it.
Resolution is another key value. It indicates the number of pixels in the image displayed by your projector. The greater the number of pixels, the more high definition your image. There are a wide range of resolutions on the market. When it comes to things like Blu-Ray and next generation gaming consoles, full HD, or 1080p are the best resolutions.
XGA (1,024×768) and WXGA (1,280×800) resolutions are mostly used if you’re working with a laptop for projections in meeting rooms. 4K – UHD (3,840×2,160) resolution has gained in popularity over the last years, as it allows you to play back content in Ultra High Definition.
We touched on brightness earlier, but we thought we should revisit it. This is another key factor when choosing your projector, because it greatly affects image contrast. With that in mind, pay special attention to the kind of light source a projector uses. They most often use lamps, LEDs, or lasers. The efficiency and energy consumption of a projector will depend on this.
The brightness – also called light output – of any light source is measured in lumens. You’ll need a projector with a minimum of 1,000 lumens if you plan on setting up a home cinema in a room with low ambient light. More light will require at least 2,000 lumens, while an office will have you searching for systems with 2,500 to 5,000 lumens. Finally, 6,000 lumens should be your target if you have a bar.
|Full HD home cinema with low ambient light||Between 1,000 and 1,500 lumens|
|Home Cinema with a more ambient light||Minimum of 2,000 lumens|
|Office or classroom||Between 2,500 and 5,000 lumens depending on the size of the room|
|For presentations in small rooms with portable projectors||LED system of approximately 1,000 lumens|
|Bar||Between 4,000 and 6,000 lumens|
|Outside use with natural light||Minimum of 4,000 lumens|
The contrast – the difference in luminescence or color of the device – is something else you’ll have to look out for. With that in mind, there are a number of different contrast types to keep in mind. Native contrast, for instance, is the ratio of contrast between the brightest and the darkest colors.
The dynamic contrast of a projector is designed to adjust the brightness depending on the clarity of the frame. The ANSI contrast, on the other hand, allows us to measure the black and white luminosity values simultaneously. Ideally, the native contrast of your projector should be superior to 2,000:1. Generally speaking, a high contrast will provide a better image quality.
This is something you have to keep in mind: you need to be able to connect your projector to the devices on which your media is stored. Most of them connect via HDMI cables, USB ports, and WiFi/Bluetooth. VGA connections are also an option, while many other projectors feature SD and micro SD card readers.
HDMI allow you to play HD content, but also let you connect to things like Blu-Ray players and next generation gaming consoles like PS4 and Xbox One. Connecting a projector to a desktop or laptop computer, however, often requires a VGA cable. As previously mentioned, also keep an eye out for projectors that have USB and SD ports.
Here are some of the most important additional options you’ll be looking for in a projector: optical zooming, lens shift and Keystone correction – the latter being used to avoid trapezoidal distortion. On the other hand, the zoom will be very handy when you’re not at the minimum distance from the screen.
Finally, the lens shift is designed to move the image vertically and horizontally without tilting the projector and avoiding image distortion. Mechanical options such as mounts to set your projector on the wall or ceiling may also be of interest to you.
Home cinema experiences have become increasingly accessible for many Americans in recent years. What used to be considered luxury consumer goods, or specialty products for corporate and other professional settings, are now much more affordable and widely obtainable.
However, it is not always easy to decide on the right projector, especially if you are using it for professional purposes. Things like resolution, contrast, connectivity, and brightness must be considered, and you can’t ignore your budget, or the brand of projector while you are making your decision.
We hope you found our guide on projectors helpful. If so, feel free to share this article on your social media; you can also leave us a comment in the section below!
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