February 04, 2022
Projector Buying Guide
There are many different types of available projectors on the market today. Here is a complete projector buying guide that will help you choose the best projector that works for your needs.
Which Projector is Right for You?
There are many different types of projectors built to tackle differing display needs. Deciding how and where you want to use your projector is a key first step to finding the right one for you, as specs mean nothing if you're not using the right projector for your space. Below is a list of the different types of projectors and their key differences:
For presentations, meetings, and interactive classroom instruction, you will need a business projector. These projectors offer much more brightness to their counterparts, which can work well when displaying documents and presentations in larger overhead rooms that have higher levels of ambient light. Since these projectors are generally not permanently installed in one room, they are designed to be lightweight, easy to carry and simple for business users to set up when moving between rooms or conferences.
Home Theatre Projectors
If you want to enjoy the cinematic experience without leaving the comfort of your home, home theatre projectors are for you. Used in the place of a regular TV, these projectors are designed for streaming content of movies and video games. Image quality is a very important factor when it comes to home theatre projectors; they display very high-resolution video and images, including 4K and full HD. Sound quality is another important quality of home theatre projectors. The built-in sound features are often superior to most other types of projectors, and they are often easy to hook up to sound bars and other speaker systems to further heighten the viewing experience.
A short-throw projector's prominent defining feature is not necessarily how the device displays images, but rather at what distance it can display images. Standard projectors like those mentioned above are typically installed eight or more feet from a display surface and need to be mounted high on a wall or ceiling. The benefit of short-throw or ultra-short throw projectors is that they are quite versatile and can function at smaller distances, ranging from three to eight feet away. These devices are excellent for home use or any smaller space that might not have enough room for other projectors.
If you have the space and a good idea of how you want your entertainment area setup at home, a 4K projector will be the projector you need. High-resolution 4K projectors allow users to watch a true viewing experience come to life. These projectors are known for their superior sharpness, quality, and details. They can be used for creating a mini home cinema with high-definition video. A 4K projector can sit on a table or back-room shelf, or you can use a projector mount to install it on your wall or ceiling. When it comes to the projected image from the mount, you don’t want the image to be too small or too big. Fortunately, many 4K projectors have a zoom adjustment that allows you some flexibility in adjusting the image size. Although prices of 4K projectors have fallen in recent years, ultra-HD 4K projectors still cost more than their 1080p counterparts.
If your office can live without the hassle of having to install a permanent projector, a portable projector is what you need. Designed to be moved around as needed, portable projectors are pocket-sized and compact, making them very easy to setup and transport. Portable projectors are extremely useful for a school or office, allowing the users to give presentations without having to install a projector in every room. And while they might not be as high-end as some of the standard projectors on the market, portable projectors are convenient for business travel and small group meetings.
Types of Projector Display Technologies
You might be wondering why the display technology of a projector is important? The reason is simple. Users have different needs when it comes to media projection. Therefore, it is essential to understand that there are different kinds of projectors that use different display technologies. Understanding the distinct features between each type will help you make the right choice for your display needs:
Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors are often the most compact and affordable consumer option for general use. These devices function by using a set of small mirrors to shine light through a color wheel to produce images. The small size of DLP projectors also makes them easy to transport or use in multiple settings.
As the name implies, 3LCD projectors use three LCD panels in combination to create an image. Each panel has a designated color (red, green, or blue) that helps produce sharp and color-accurate images when combined. The one drawback to these projectors is that they can sometimes struggle with brightness and have been known to have some contrast issues. When compared to DLP projectors, 3LCD systems do tend to operate at quieter volumes. Familiar places for 3LCD printers are classrooms or conference rooms with ample natural light.
Also known as Liquid Crystal on Silicon, LCoS projectors have incredibly accurate colors, excellent contrast, and are capable of very high resolutions. These features are made possible by combining technologies found in other projectors, like DLP and 3LCD. With this high quality, LCoS projectors are also substantially more expensive than all their other counterparts, and they can be extra costly to maintain or operate as well.
What Features Are Important in Projectors?
Now that you’ve learned about the different types of projectors and their display options, you are almost ready to make your next projector purchase. Evaluating a projector’s key features are the next important step to take when it comes to buying a projector. When you are selecting a projector for your needs, you want to be certain that it meets everything you’re looking for by assessing its features and characteristics. The information below will further help you determine the pro and cons of each projector so you can find a device that is ideal for your specific needs.
The brightness you will need in a projector depends on which environment you plan to use it in. If you plan to use your projector in a darker environment for watching movies or video, you can get away with a projector with lower brightness levels. A general rule of thumb is that the brighter your projector is, the better. The brightness of a projector is measured by lumens which indicates how bright the projector is based on how much light the projector can produce. The higher the lumens, the brighter your projector will be. If you are buying a home theatre projector, the projector’s brightness is not instantly better, but you do want to have enough brightness for rich color contrast. If you are buying a business projector, be sure to look at projectors with a higher lumen rating so that it’ll give out a brighter output.
Measured in pixels using height and width, a projector's resolution represents the total number of pixels the projector can display. The higher the resolution, the clearer the picture even when displayed on the largest screens. When it comes to choosing projector resolution, it really boils down to your needs and projector usage. If you are wanting to use your projector for video games and displaying HD movies, you’ll want at least a 1080hp pixel resolution, which is considered full high definition. If you are using your projector to give presentations, you will want to go with one with a relatively low resolution — 480p to 720p is most cost effective here.
A projector’s aspect ratio is the width-to-height ratio of the displayed image or video. There are three common aspect ratios available in projectors today. Choosing one should be based on the type of media you will most often display with the projector. Check below for a quick list of aspect ratios and their associated media formats:
- 4:3 (Standard) - Used for older tv shows, films, or DVD-based media
- 16:9 (Widescreen) - Ideal for current HD media, Blu-ray discs, or any widescreen display surface
- 2.4:1 (Cinemascope) - Rare, but ideal for movie theatre-like experiences, and can require specific setup or lenses
The difference between the darkest areas and the brightest areas the projector can display is called the contrast ratio. Having a high contrast ratio means that the projector can produce high-quality and easily defined colors, and the better the picture will look. Contrast can be affected by outside light sources and is most noticeable in dark areas, such as home theatres. For spaces with ample natural light, such as an office, contrast ratio is not as big of a deal because overhead and natural lights can wash out slight differences between colors.
Types of Projector Screens
While you can often make a projector "screen" out of walls or sheets hanging from ceilings, that is not ideal for creating the highest quality projection experience possible. There are four main kinds of projector screens, but each serves the same purpose of providing a clean, white surface for your images to be displayed on. Look below for a list of display surfaces and their key features and uses.
Since projectors have become such an important part of homes and offices, projector accessories have become essential to enhance your projection experience. If you are looking to expand your projector’s capabilities, CDW offers the top-selling accessories below to use with your projector.
There are many kinds of projectors out there, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Finding the right projector for you requires learning the distinctions between each and how they can affect your business or home theatre setup. The different specifications and light source types can tell you where each projector excels and further inform your purchasing decision. By taking your time and finding a projector that is compatible with your devices and favors the media you wish to project, you can save money and find the perfect device for you.