The BIG question: projector or TV?
So, you want an eye-stretching screen for watching those fine Blu-ray movies, and for sinking yourself into those great high def games. That leaves you with a choice: TV or projector?
For what it’s worth, our choice here at GadgetGuy.com.au will always be a projector, for the big reason that we’ll get to in just a moment. That’s not to say that TV is without advantages, though.
The main advantages of a TV are that, well, it has a TV tuner built in, and that controlling the lighting in the room is less important. That’s not to say that a TV will work under all lighting conditions: late afternoon sun beaming through a window onto the screen will always make it unwatchable.
So you can pick up a cheap HDTV receiver and the problem is solved. With many of them you can add a low cost USB hard drive for recording and time shifting. Many good TVs these days also offer a facility for recording to a plug in hard disk, but these rarely work as well as dedicated PVRs.
And what about ‘Smart’ TVs? We like them too, but most of their features are available in $250 Blu-ray players.
Against that, a projector can offer something not available from a TV: a huge picture size. What’s the point of all that high definition stuff anyway? It isn’t so that a small display can reproduce invisibly small detail. It’s so that you can have a big, big picture without it looking soft and fuzzy.
If you have a lot of money you can have a big picture with a TV: 80 inch models carry a recommended retail price north of ten grand. For most of us 65 inches is the affordable upper limit.
Yet for under two thousand dollars you can get a full high definition projector capable of delivering a high quality picture of 100 inches or more. And with 3D as a bonus!
Setting up a projector
A projector may seem daunting. It has to be lined up with a screen; the room needs to be darkened; it needs to go somewhere such that your head isn’t in the way!
But it isn’t as hard as all that given the wide range of projector options available.
For critical viewing your room really should be as dark as possible, but if you’re just watching the news, or even playing a game, then you can achieve reasonable results with some light in the room simply by using a projector with a high output: say, 2,000 lumens.
Keeping your head out of the way can be the hardest thing to deal with. One way around that is to install the projector on a ceiling mount (it goes upside down and all projectors have a mode that flips the image).
But if you don’t want to go that far, a projector with a short throw lens can be the best solution. ‘Short throw’ just means that the image is spread more widely by the lens, so the projector can be closer to the screen. Many projectors need to be four or five metres from screen to make a 100 inch image. A short throw projector can be as close as a metre and a half. It can just sit on a coffee table or small stand in front of you and your friends as you’re watching a movie.
It’s the only way to go
Next time you’re at the cinema, have a look at the big screen. Then imagine any kind of affordable TV. There’s no way it can do what that screen does: which is present a big, dominating and immersive experience.
But these days a front projector – some available for unbelievable prices – can do just that in your own home.