A front projector is the only way to get a truly huge picture in your home, and it is also surprisingly affordable. But there are certain things that you must insist on.
Up until quite recently, the standard high quality projector was the 720p model (ie. 1280 x 720 pixels). This gave good results with DVDs and the resolution of the projector was sufficiently high to allow improved sharpness even with HDTV.
But if you are planning on watching the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on the big screen, do yourself a favour and stretch to true high definition. There are good models available for under $5000. Some of these would stand up well in all elements of performance against a $20,000 projector from five years ago, except that they would kill it for resolution!
Tempting though it may be to simply project your Olympic Games up on your lounge room wall, you are going to get far better results with a properly prepared screen surface. These are designed to be neutral in colour balance, ensuring that the colours you see from the projector are accurate, and to reflect the light equally in all directions, avoiding ‘hot spots’ (shiny parts of the screen where all the detail is washed out by excessive reflections).
You can use a fixed (or ‘frame’) screen, or a roller screen, or even specially developed paint to turn a regular smooth wall into a high quality screen surface.
The three projector technologies
At the moment there are three basic technologies used in front projectors. Over the next few pages let’s go through them and look at the pros and cons of each. But we must preface this by saying that the gap between the three technologies has narrowed and it is increasingly difficult to say any one of them is that much better than either of the others.