Beamers: A Review of Home Theater Projectors (HTP’s)

Beamers.jpgBenefits of Home Theater Projectors (HTP’s) – You have a much bigger picture (up to 300 Inches) that currently TV’s don’t offer, Brighter Image, Like being at a movie hall but in the comfort of your own home with all the surround sound making it a true movie hall like experience. As an extension of Gaming, (HTP’s) by virtue of its immersive experiences with production levels that blur lines between games & Hollywood. The ever expanding HD Quality Content makes gamers and games so engaging that its almost being in it making for a very involved time playing & sharing content. Advances in Gaming Technologies have become real viable choices with prices of electronics dropping every day. Why use PC’s, Laptops and TV’s when (HTP’s) make it a fun engaging experience for a few dollars more. Average life span of (HTP’s) are around 5 years with an average use of 8 hours a week.

What are the components of a Home Theater Projector that you need to familiarize yourself before you purchase this expensive piece of equipment.

  • Resolution – is defined as the number of lines of image displayed on the screen, hence the greater the resolution- the better the picture quality. Projectors are usually sold in Fixed Resolutions – meaning the projector can only output in One resolution. Sample Resolutions are
Resolution Pixel Size
XGA 1024 x 768
WXGA 1280 x 800
HD 1920 x 1080
4K 4096 x 2160

As you can see from the table above that HD Resolution is almost twice the XGA hence better picture quality.

  • Engine Type – Refers to type of projectors – SXDR(3), DLP, LCD, Laser Scanning. Laser Scanning is an older technology and more or less obsolete. Digital Light Processing works very differently from an LCD projector. Higher end DLP’s have 3 Chips similar to LCD’s. Neither DLP nor LCD is perfect hence you need to understand more of the functions, uses before making that decision. SXRD is Silicon X-tal Reflective Display or Sony’s LCOS Video Projection Technology. LCOS is Liquid Crystal on Silicon is like the hybrid between DLP & LCD technologies. Currently all SXRD projectors use 3 chip design that uses a single LCOS chip for each of the three primary colors Red Blue & Green.
  • Input Lag – is the time delay it takes for (HTP’s) to make an image. Longer the lag is like hearing in real time but the images take time to load making it for a real bad viewing experience. While some lag times are acceptable given that technology needs to adapt to deliver sound and video over distances the lower the lag time the better the experience. Today (HTP’s) are available with under 20ms input lag.
  • Rated Contrast Ratio – is the property of a display system defined as the ratio of the luminance of the brightest color White to that of the darkest color Black that the system is capable of producing. A higher contrast ratio is the naturally desired quality of any display. Currently there is no standard way to measure contrast ratio of a system acceptable to any standards organization so ratings may not be comparable one on one. Static & Dynamic Contrast Ratio are two forms of comparison wherein Static is in the instant and Dynamic is over time when the picture is moving.
  • Rated Brightness- is measured in ANSI lumens. ANSI or American National Standards Institute. (HTP’s) generally start out at 1000 lumens going upto 5000 lumens and more. Your viewing environment will dictate how many lumens are needed. Dedicated Home Theaters that have adequately controlled lighting without ambient light will not require as much brightness in comparison to ambient light from windows.
  • Type – Business Application or Consumer – While (HTP’s) are purely a consumer device, Businesses continue to use it to provide conference rooms with a mechanism to display movies, videos for training purposes. And depending upon the requirements prices can vary so be prepared to shell out a pretty penny if you are aiming for the zenith.
  • Zoom (Optical or Digital) – Optical zoom gets up close & personal by using an actual lens adjustment whereas Digital Zoom adjusts the image in the camera or (HTP’s) itself. With Optical Zoom, (HTP’s) will only display this if the image has been shot using optical zoom which produces better quality images. Some (HTP’s) offer Digital Zoom which is in-camera image processing. In this instance, (HTP’s) enlarge the image at the center of the frame and trims away the outside edges of the picture.
  • Video Inputs– Component, Composite, HDMI, S-Video, MHL, RF, USB are some of the commonly used inputs today. Most of the (HTP’s) today are built with HDMI inputs to support higher resolution images 4K and like. While older inputs are accommodated, there is an overhead in terms of performance that compromises the quality.
  • Bulb Life – LCD & DLP (HTP’s) have a lamp life of between 2000 and 4000 hours. This is actually referred to as the half life of the lamp. Over time and past half life, the bulb starts to lose brightness. Longer the life, lesser the maintenance expense. Regular cleaning of the filters will only enhance the lamp life. If a bulb is faulty, it would fail in the first 8-10 hours.
  • 3D Compatibility – (HTP’s) are 3D ready when its able to display 3D in all its forms and display at least one stereoscopic transmission format. Blu-Ray 3D is an already established form and enhances the viewing pleasure.
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity – Most (HTP’s) don’t offer Wi-Fi Connectivity however there are a few brands that do offer this. The use case for Wi-Fi is limited and as technology advances, there will be more options available.
  • Weight – This is an important consideration for all devices as you need to mount it right and ensure its well supported and does not become a projectile.
  • Price – This is by far the most important consideration since your budget determines the capabilities of the (HTP’s) available in the marketplace today. Greater the required features and functionalities, greater the cost. So do be prepared to shell out a pretty penny or two depending on what you intend to use the device for.