Things to Consider When Choosing a Projector for Your Home Cinema

TVs are getting larger and larger. Samsung and Sony have both released 4K 98 inch flat screens. However, if you want the ultimate home cinema experience, you may want to go even bigger. That means a home cinema projector. If you have the space, projectors can handle images beyond 120 inches, and some now support 4K UHD. Before taking the plunge and investing in a new projector and screen, there are a few things to consider in choosing a projector for your home cinema.

Projector Throw Distance and Angle

The very first consideration in your choice of a projector for your home cinema is throw distance. Throw distance is the measurement of the distance needed between the projector and the screen to produce the size image you desire. Different projectors offer different throw distances, and some offer the ability to adjust. Others offer interchangeable lenses that allow you to change the required distance by purchasing an additional lens. There are now projectors available that can project an image up to 100 inches from only 5 inches away. However, products like this tend to be much more expensive than those that would need 10 feet of distance to create the same image. Image calculators are available to help figure how much distance you will need given the projector throw ratio, the size screen you wish to fill.

The position of your projector in relationship to screen has another factor besides the distance, the projection angle. Many new projectors offer adjustable vertical and horizontal offset. Vertical offset refers to the range of how far the screen can be above or below the center of the projector lens. This is important when calculating where you will mount the projector on the ceiling or off the floor. Horizontal offset refers to how far off the horizontal center the projector can be installed. This is critical if you won’t be able to position the projector directly in the center of the screen.

Projector Brightness and Contrast

Projector brightness is measured in lumens, a standard measure of light output. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the projector. But how many lumens do you need? Projectors work best in dark rooms. The brightness and vibrant colors you experience in a movie cinema are due to the very low ambient light in the auditorium. If your home cinema is in a room with no windows, or you can block the light from the windows, you will have a much easier time producing the picture you are looking for. However, even with some amount of ambient light, there are some projectors bright enough to produce a high-quality image. Nearly any projector will have enough brightness for a small picture in a completely dark room. But, as you introduce a larger image size and more ambient light, more lumens will be needed.

Brightness is not the only factor affecting the quality of your projected image. Just like with flat screen displays, contrast is an important measurement. Contrast ratio refers to the difference between the brightest parts of the image and the darkest. Some projectors come with adjustable scene modes allowing you to adjust the brightness and contrast based on the room lighting and screen content.

Projector Resolution

1080p HD has long been the standard for home cinema projectors. Now, with the wide adoption of 4K, projectors offering 4096 x 2160-pixel resolution are becoming more affordable. Especially on the large screens of projector-based home cinema systems, 4K can make a significant difference.

Some Other Things to Remember When Choosing a Projector for Your Home Cinema

The projector itself is only one part of your home cinema set up. Two other things need to be considered, a screen and sound. A high-quality screen will drastically enhance the image from your projector. Screens are available in multiple formats: fixed, retractable, and portable. There are also different options for rejecting ambient light and enhancing contrast.

You also need to remember that projectors are generally not designed to provide sound. Some come with small speakers that will work in a pinch. But, for an authentic home cinema experience, you will need to connect your source to a receiver or soundbar.