Thinking about a projector?

September 10th, 2009

Have you thought about getting a front projector as your HDTV? It’s certainly worth considering, as you can get a screen of 100 inches or more for the same price or less of a much smaller LCD or Plasma TV.

Projectors are appealing, but they have their drawbacks as well. Make sure you consider all the issues before you take the leap.

Benefits

  • You can get a significantly larger screen for the same price (or less) of a flat panel. There are quite a few high quality but low priced projectors out now. Don’t forget to include the price of the screen.
  • They provide a feel much more like a real movie theater and provide a much more immersive experience.

Drawbacks

  • You need to find a place to mount the projector somewhere in the middle or back of the room (typically on the ceiling).
  • They make a bit of fan noise, although the new ones are very quiet.
  • Unless you pay very high prices for a high lumen projector, the room with the projector will need to be very dark.
  • Projectors typically have a fraction of the contrast ratio of current LCD or Plasmas. Having ambient light in the room makes it even worse.
  • They require some basic periodic maintenance (cleaning an air filter, mostly).
  • Every 2-3 years, you will need to buy a new lamp to the tune of $300-$500.

If you want to take a look at a projector, consider some of the current models from Panasonic, Optoma, Epson, Mitsubishi, Sanyo, and Sony. www.projectorcentral.com is probably the best place to compare and browse.

I have a Panasonic PT-L500U, which is a 720P projector that’s about 5 years old. I love it. However, I will never expect its black-level performance (that is, contrast ratio) to compete with an LCD or Plasma. As long as you understand this, and don’t compare your image to a flat panel, you too will be thrilled with your gargantuan screen.

Enjoy your theater!

Lyle