Sick of sticky seats or selling your first born for a
coke at the movie theater? Time to build you own home theater! Video
projectors for home theater are specifically designed to play HDTV and DVD.
Although some people use data projectors for home theater, it is not
recommended as they result in poor video performance - including vertical
banding, artifacting and poor color and contrast.
Home theater projectors generally are 16:9 (widescreen) native
resolution, although some home theater video projectors are 4:3 native
and 16:9 compatible. When building a home theater, never underestimate
the importance of purchasing a screen with the proper fabric for home
theater. We highly recommend da-lite high contrast cinema vision for
tensioned screens or the High contrast matte white for non-tensioned
screens. Click here to view our
selection of video projector screens.
choosing a home theater video projector you must consider a few parameters:
A: Screen size and Distance . Many people think bigger is better,
This is not completely true. If your home theater screen is to large it
will be similar to sitting in the front row of a movie theater. General
screen sizes would be 92 inch diagonal ( 45 x 80) for 11 to 13 ft
distance . 106 inch diagonal ( 52x 92) for 14 to 17 feet and 119
diagonal for 18 to 24 ft.
When deciding on the screen you must consider that the bigger the projection
screen, the more power (ansi rating ) and higher resolution will be required to
achieve the same quality as a smaller screen and therefore higher projector cost
to achieve the a same result.
B: Resolution: The
best resolution available (in a realistic price range) is generally
1280x720 in a native 16,9 widescreen format. 1366 x 1024 in 4:3 ratio which
results in basically the same resolution when playing a DVD or HDTV.
If you are only running a 92 inch diagonal screen you may be very
happy with a 1024 x 576 or 964 x 544 projector however if you were to
use the lower resolution on a larger screen you will may not be happy with
the final result.
C: Brightness: Generally home
theater projectors range from 700 to 1100 ansi lumens ( please note that
data DLP projectors will quote numbers substantially higher however when fed
a video signal may reduce to as much as half,) In most case around 1000 ansi
is more then enough for most installations.
D: USE. If you are only going to use the video projector for viewing of
movies and HDTV then 1000 ansi will be more then enough, however of you plan
on watching a lot of sports with the lights on you will need closer to 2000
ansi lumens minimum. These numbers are based on a 106 inch diagonal ( 52 x
E: DLP or LCD. Both technologies have
pros and cons. As a general rule , when dealing in low budget, LCD is
a better choice as low price DLP units suffer from weak colors and rainbow
effect. Do not buy a DLP with a 2 speed wheel unless you enjoy rainbows
and headaches. For a few dollars more you can pick up a proper 4 speed
DLP video projector with a 5 segment color wheel.
LCD projectors for home theater are limited to very few units such as
the Panasonic 700 , Sanyo PLVZ3 which have little or no "screen door" and
provide very good color accuracy. There is also some very nice
very nice high power lcd video projectors such as the PLV70 or
Christie lw25 which run a true 2200 ansi lumens.
F: Video projector position: All projectors have a throw distance which
they must be placed from the screen. This varies on model and can be
determined using a "throw chart" . Generally a projector will be 12 to 15
ft from a 106 inch Diagonal screen on the average projector. Some units
offer "short throw lenses" however this is only a few units. Long
throw lenses are pricey ($2000 +) upgrades and only available for
higher end units.
G: BUDGET; The most important
factor is choosing a home theater video projector is budget. All of
the above factors to be considered come down to how much you want to spend.
You cannot put a 200 inch screen on yor wall and buy a thousand dollar
projector and get a good picture, or even a reasonable picture. However for
1000 to 1500 you can get a starter projector which will do a nice job on a
92 inch screen. As your budget increases there is increase in quality up to
around $5000 or 6000. After that you are throwing money out the window as
anything above that price is simply "marketing" . The only exception to this
is when you get to super power units where you are running 4000 ansi which
is more suited for screens 150 to 200 inches.
end stores etc will try to convince you to buy tons of equipment for your
theater to improve picture. These include scalers and de-interlacers etc.
These are generally a waste of money as HDTV does not require any
modification and any good home theater projector will already be prepared to
upconvert your progressive scan dvd player signals for proper display
Video cable: Quality of video cable is important but there is no reason to
spend hundred of dollars on a component video cable. If they call it an
"interconnect" you are getting ripped off. There are several brands of
cables available such as Monster, Phoenix Gold, A/R etc which are reasonable
priced and do an excellent job. Don't be too cheap but don't pay thru the
nose. You can actually make your own cables using quad shied RG6 however it
is not worth the hassle unless you already have the crimpers or you require
long runs as component cables over 25 ft have to be custom made and are
PROJECTION SCREEN: DO NOT SKIMP ON A
SCREEN: A good screen is critical for your home theater. A good screen will
last you years and several projectors. If you have a limited budget, you are
much better off getting a lesser projector with a good screen as you can
upgrade your projector later as pricing drops and features increase.
The best screens a permanently mounted on the wall. They are well below $700
for a good "permwall"
with very good fabric such as the HCCV by da-lite. These screens increase in
cost as you change the "fanciness" of the border however the fabric, and
therefore picture quality, will not change as price goes up.
Tensioned Electric: A tensioned electric screen is the best in electric roll
up screens however the cost for a 106" runs around $1800 for a
Tensioned cosmopolitan electrol with
HCCV fabric. The price increases if you want trap doors that open etc.
Un-tensioned electric: If you want an electric screen but are budget conscious
that you may want to go for a Da-lite cosmopolitan electrol with a HCMW fabric.
Cost of this is under $800.
Manual Pulldown. If you are
severally budget conscious and want a simple pulldown screen , Look at a
Model B with CSR for around $300 for a 106"
with High contrast matte white fabric.
If you are
extremely budget conscious (at this point the word cheap comes to mind) you
can simply grab a
model B without CSR
(controlled spring return ) for around $200.
If you find
200 is still too much for a screen, time to consider a bed sheet and using a
flashlight for a projector, Hand puppets can be quite entertaining.