Projectors (Buyer's Guide)

Published Date
01 - Dec - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2007
Projectors (Buyer's Guide)

So you want a 60-inch experience at half the panel price? You might want to check this out…

Projectors have always been viewed as the sole domain of the corporate, with consumers making only the very occasional foray into their world. In fact, most of us would rather buy an LCD TV, when a projector may well be cheaper per inch of display!

And as difficult it may be to believe this is true! While a 50-inch LCD TV may cost over a lakh, a projector costing merely 60,000 rupees will be able to cover the same display area…

It’s only recently that vendors have been targeting the home audience and attempting to woo them with products that are actually designed ground-up for home entertainment use. Earlier, most projector manufacturers had “home” series that were mostly spin-offs from their professional series with a minimal change in specifications. As we know, the categories are quite unalike.

While a corporate user interested in presentations won’t really look at colour rendition, or even contrast, this is the Holy Grail for a home user. While widescreen resolutions may be a strict no-no for corporates its all a movie buff who’s interested in a cinematic HD experience looks at.

What’s More Important: Projector Or Screen?

The projector of course, but not by a large margin… A sub-par screen or one not matched to the projector you buy, or to the ambient lighting conditions, will spoil the entire experience. A general rule is to allocate 25 to 30 per cent of your budget for the screen. You will also need to consider what sort of screen to get (low gain, high gain) according to the lighting conditions externally, and, of course, the brightness of the projector (lumens). The brighter the projector, the lower the gain of the screen should be, and vice versa. A brightness of 2000 lumens is a good place to start—though you’ll get a clearer picture with a lumen rating of 2500 or more.

Of course this depends on your usage and projectors having brighter lamps will cost more. We’ve seen HD projectors sporting a brightness of 3500 lumens—which is excellent—but do you really need such a contrast if all you’re going to doing is working with Office documents?


If you’re looking at home entertainment, go with a DLP (Digital Light Processing) projector. These are more compact in terms of body size of the unit. They also offer much richer colours and a better contrast than LCD projectors. They also offer deeper blacks—a must for movies and games, where subtlety in shades and their intensities is the name of the game. We also noticed that DLPs have fewer geometric anomalies as compared to an LCD projector even after both are properly calibrated. These are more compact, and offer much richer colours and a better contrast than LCD projectors. They also offer deeper blacks—a must for movies and games.

The downside is the price. DLPs are costlier, and also have a tendency to dissipate more heat.

HD Projectors…
Myth Or Reality?

HD projectors are very much a reality. It’s just that vendors do play around with the term HD. For example, the resolution 480i (720 x 480 pixels) is also an HD resolution, but you can guess how good the result is going to be. Look for the native resolution of the projector and not the resolutions it’s capable of displaying—all projectors work best at their native resolutions. If you’re into movies, look for a projector that will do at least 720p.

Agent Tips
Look at the native resolution and not the maximum resolution. This is true for both LCD and DLP projectors—they don’t display non-native resolutions.

In such a case, look for a native WXGA resolution projector (1366 x 768 pixels)—although these aren’t cheap at the moment. 1080p projectors are insanely expensive now and we don’t recommend them as such, unless you just have the moolah to spend.
A good non-HD resolution to look at is XGA (1024 x 768 pixels)—best bang for buck right now.

Lens… Short Or Long Throw?

Don’t get confused… neither is better; it depends on the distance your projector is going to be projecting the image across (the distance between its lens and the screen).

Most projectors come with normal-throw lenses with short- and long-throw lenses as a buying option. Zoom lenses allow you to compensate somewhat for a shorter or longer distance.

Optical zoom is a must; avoid digital zoom (interpolation). Short-throw lenses are good for projecting a larger image across smaller distances such as a cramped living room, but not suitable for a long distance or even if the screen is small.

Long-throw lenses will project an image over a longer distance with greater clarity, and are suited for larger rooms, halls, etc. Over a short distance, the image is too small to be of any use. So make sure you measure your room before buying one.

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