The word ‘projector’ might conjure up the image of a dusty, old projector sitting in the back of a school classroom. Fortunately, along with their creaky projector-screen counterparts, they now belong in the past. Projectors have advanced, ranging from mini projectors that you can hold in the palm of your hand, to smart projectors that function like computers.
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What is a projector?
A projector is a device that uses rays of light to project an image or video onto a wall. The optimum viewing experience requires a white wall with a smooth surface. Think of how in a cinema, the wall is flat and an unassuming colour, to prevent opposing textures or colours clashing or detracting from the movie.
You can recreate the cinema experience within the comfort of your own home. A living room wall is an ideal canvas for a projector because the surface is flat and usually a neutral colour.
However, projectors aren't limited to the lounge room. Some projectors are portable, which means you can take one away with you on holidays. For example, you can project a movie onto the side of a caravan or tent while on a camping trip - but be warned, the image may be slightly distorted.
Types of projectors
DLP (Digital Light Processing)
A DLP projector is a projector that contains a chip with millions of tiny mirrors. Each one of these mirrors represents one or more of the pixels, which along with a spinning colour wheel, forms the projected image.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display):
An LCD projector is composed of three LCD panels. Each panel is a different colour, including red, green, and blue. Light is fed through these panels in order to produce an image.
Overall, out of the two, LCD projectors are thought to produce better colour saturation.
Projector or TV?
The main difference between projectors and TVs is that the projector 'screen' is not a tangible thing you can touch. 4K projection TVs offer all the features offered by a standard , including access to TV channels, streaming services, and playing DVDs/CDs or video games.
There are even smart projectors with advanced operating systems that function as a smart TV, such as an Apple or Android TV. Smart projectors contain an in-built computer that facilitates Wi-Fi connectivity, access to the App Store, and Voice Control.
If TV screens are too compact for your liking, you might prefer a projector as they can project an image large enough to engulf a whole living room wall.
Going to the cinema isn't cheap. Tickets, popcorn, gas money... It can all add up.
Creating a home theatre is a great way to save some money and encourage creativity. Work together as a family to create a comfortable home entertainment set-up in the lounge room or a make-shift cinema under the stars.
Setting up a home cinema projector outside isn’t as simple as setting one up inside, but there are plenty of ways to work around this.
If using the back of your house or fence as a backdrop are not viable, take advantage of your washing line. Grab a white sheet and secure it with pegs for a plain backdrop.
However, keep in mind that although you'll save money in the long run, the projector will be a significant upfront cost.
During your search, you’ll likely come across these well sought after brands: Cinemin, , and . For a good home theatre projector by these brands, expect to pay between a minimum of $1000, and anywhere up to $10,000.
Projectors aren’t limited to spacious, home cinema set-ups. You can take portable, outdoor projectors away camping or on holidays. Being on holidays doesn’t mean you have to have to give up the luxuries of home, you can watch Netflix on a mini projector.
Connect a mini projector, such as the Nebula Capsule or Xioami projector, to your phone to create a compact and convenient iPhone projector. By plugging a projector in to your or phone, you can access streaming services in order to find the perfect TV show or movie to watch. Most mini projectors cost around $500.
Factors to consider
4K/4UHD projector: 4K/4UHD projectors contain a significantly higher amount of pixels, in order to create a better picture quality. There isn't too much of a difference between full HD 4K projectors and standard projector, the difference would be most noticeable when watching a huge screen, like a cinema screen.
The brightness of a projector is measured in lumens. Lumens are a measure of light, (like the number of watts in a light bulb), except that watts measure energy, and lumens measure light output.
When it comes to projectors, the brighter the better. A projector with a higher number of lumens will make the screen brighter, and help to improve image quality.
For a home theatre, you’ll require a projector with a minimum of around 1500 lumens. In general, you might not require a particularly high amount of lumens, as when watching a movie at home, the space will usually be dimly lit.
An office space is different, for example, as most office spaces will be lit up by bright fluorescent lights, and they will require a business projector that boasts high brightness (which would require the projector to offer a higher lumen count).
Depending on how far away your projector will sit from the screen, you will need a short-throw or long-throw lens. To understand how these lenses work, think of a camera lens. A camera with a long, bulky, lense attachment helps you to capture fine details that are far away. A long-throw projector lens will allow you to sit further away from the projector, yet still the screen clearly.
Long-throw lens: Suitable for a projector that is far away from the screen. Ideal for a spacious living room or outdoor cinema set-up.
Short-throw lens: Usually sits around 3 to 8 feet away from the projector screen. This is appropriate for if the projector will sit close to the screen, such as in a cramped apartment living room or bedroom.
Ultra short-throw lens: If you’d like the option to place the projector even closer to the screen, you can buy a separate ultra short-throw lens. This allows you to place the projector as close as possible to the screen, which is around 30cm away.
Overall, projectors are useful devices that are suitable for the home or office. Whether you have a limited budget, or you’re willing to spend more on your set-up; there are projectors to suit various needs. Although TVs have traditionally been a living room staple, projection TVs might one day take over.