Few Great Tips for Buying a Projector – A Layman’s Guide

In this article we’ll review some of the main characteristics of the projectors to help you choose the one that best suits your needs.

Projectors are very versatile devices. For some they are a working tool, for others are the artifacts that play PowerPoint presentations in class, and for the most visionary are 100 inches of film and football at home. The first advice is to specify what will be its use: recreational, for movies and domestic use; or professional, for presentations and slides with texts and graphics.

Of the office projectors are expected to operate in broad daylight, that is, they need a certain light output. This characteristic is quantified in lumens, which is the unit to measure the capacity of the bulb. Manufacturers tend to exaggerate this figure, so we should only rely on the ANSI lumens (American National Standards Institute), the true standard in this matter.

Obviously, the more lumens the price will be. A projector for business must have at least 1,500 ANSI lumens. For domestic use, this limit is less strict because at home we can lower the blinds, turn off lights and everything that is necessary to calmly relax with a movie: 1,000 ANSI lumens is enough for a recreational projector.

Contrast is the next feature to keep in mind when buying a projector. The more difference there is between the lighter white and the darker black, the better the contrast range will be. It must be in tune with the power of the bulb, too many lumens and a low contrast, for example, will result in burned white and very pale black.

It is advisable to look for the projector's native contrast between the manufacturer's specifications. There are brands that "falsify" it with filters, software or other tricks that aim to improve the user experience, however, it is important to know the native contrast. For domestic use, the recommendable range is 1,500: 1 and for office something else (2000: 1) because the contrast is fundamental to read texts comfortably.

The type of lamp is one of the most important decisions to make when buying a projector. The incandescent bulb has been the winner for a long time, but in recent years have also popularized the projectors with LED lamps.

LED technology has important advantages: the price is lower, the life of the bulb is much higher, it consumes less energy and the quality is practically the same as traditional incandescent lamps. The disadvantage is its light output, however, there are LED spotlights on the market that have 1,000 ANSI lumens and perfectly fulfill their function. They are a very interesting option for domestic use, especially for the price and for the life of the bulb.

Beyond the lamp, two types of technology predominate in the market: LCD and DLP, each with its virtues. LCD panels stand out for offering brighter results, brighter colors and better saturation but, in return, require periodic maintenance, sometimes pixelated images and the life of the bulbs is shorter. It is the cheapest option and performs correctly, but requires care and may have problems in representing colors.

DLP, the other side of the coin, is the most common technology in office projectors. They are ideal for working contexts because of their excellent native level of contrast. Its useful life is much greater than that of LCDs and does not require any type of maintenance. The disadvantage is the price, they are more expensive than any other alternative.

The resolution of the projector is an important aspect as well, although it must be in tune with the rest of the components of the device. Good resolution, enough lumens, better contrast. In this section, the same logic works as with any other device: FullHD (1920x1080 px) is the resolution of the present; HD (1280x720 px) is sufficient but there is a risk that the projector will soon become obsolete.

Finally, when buying a projector, other features influence that may not seem as essential as the lumens and resolution, but they are. Are we going to connect it to a TV or a computer? Will we hang it from the ceiling or will we support it on a flat surface? Will we need to correct the trapezoidal distortion?

We must pay attention to the characteristics of the projector that adapt to our needs : HDMI, WiFI or USB connections, remote control, projected image size, support included or not, guarantees, audio system included or not ... Buying a projector can mean a large outlay, that is why it is important to attend to the smallest details. Thus, getting the best audiovisual experience is possible.

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