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How to identify your needs on Projector?

  • 20 Mar 2021
  • 156

When you want to get a very large screen without spending thousands of dollars on a television, you naturally turn to video projectors. For a lighter budget, they allow you to enjoy an impressive diagonal image, but this is often at the cost of some technical constraints. Here are some tips on how to identify your needs and slowly enter the world of video projection.

Think about your installation

Before you start looking at the technical specifications of the projector, you must first think about its installation. Where do you want to install the video projector? What will be the possible hindsight? On what surface will the projections be made (white wall, screen, etc.)? Is the video projector intended to be moved from one room to another, punctually or regularly? Is there sufficient space for an additional sound system or should integrated audio be preferred?

In addition to its installation, it is essential to consider the use that will be made of the video projector. If it is used to stream content by plugging in, for example, a Chromecast or a USB key, the installation does not require much space. But if it is to associate a console, an additional sound system, or to connect a computer to it for a presentation, remember to provide the necessary space. Also pay attention to the many connections.

Once your installation has been thought out, and depending on your budget of course, you can move towards classic models, projecting with a good distance, or towards ultra-short throw models.

What's image definition?

The second criterion to think about is image definition, which largely influences the price of the product, as well as the size. Small pico-projectors do not offer much better than HD 720p (with the exception of a few products such as the Qumi Q8), and in this case, the small footprint and portability will be preferred over image quality. .

Today, “real” video projectors - larger than picos therefore - are almost all capable of broadcasting content in Full HD (1080p) at a minimum. It is also the resolution of most content, whether video games on recent consoles (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, etc.) or movies and series on VOD platforms. It may be interesting to look into the case of 4K video projectors since this content will continue to become more democratic in the coming years. But the cost of these models remains significantly higher for the moment. We note, however, that some models have recently fallen below the 1000 euros mark.

Brightness and contrast

Brightness and contrast are often the great marketing arguments put forward by manufacturers, each offering ever more impressive figures. They still have to be understandable. Brightness is expressed in lumens, and is generally between 1,000 and 2,500 lumens on home cinema projectors. In a room such as a living room, which may allow a lot of light to filter through even with the shutters down, we recommend that you opt for a model offering at least 1,500 lumens. The pico-projectors will find their limit here. If your broadcast room may offer almost total darkness, a dimmer projector may be sufficient for your viewing pleasure.

Concerning the contrast, the brands put forward very variable rates, which makes it difficult to compare, and therefore to choose on the basis of this criterion. To find out where you are going, product tests in the specialized press and user reviews will be very useful and will help guide your choice.

What projection technology?

To put it simply, there are three main broadcast technologies: DLP, Tri-LCD and Laser. The first, DLP or DMD (Digital Light Processing), was invented by the company Texas Instrument, and is used in particular by BenQ on its video projectors. The principle: the light passes through a chromatic wheel which contains the primary colors (or even more) and is returned to a chip containing millions of mirrors. DLP generally produces good contrasts, offers good color reproduction, a sharp image and good brightness. But the system is also noisy and can create unpleasant rainbow effects for the retinas which are sensitive to it.

The Tri-LCD is the big competitor of DLP, and relies on the polarization of light to reproduce a digital display. Unlike DLP, there is no risk of a rainbow effect here, but it is admitted that the contrasts are generally less flattering. The optical system, on the other hand, is lighter and heats less, which makes it possible to create products that take up less space and are therefore more portable.

Finally, LED technology mainly refers to the LED lamps used. The advantage lies in the lifespan of this one which is multiplied by ten compared to UHP lamps (which also contain mercury, not to be thrown anywhere!). Less mainstream, LCoS technology is a bit of a combination of DLP and LCD, and can in particular be found at JVC and Sony, each giving it its own name.

With or without speaker?

The question of sound is quite essential. If the video projectors of 5-6 years ago still rarely included a speaker, it is now a function sought by users. Occasionally, a small speaker of 10 Watts will allow you to enjoy a series or a video game - even if the quality is not optimal - and especially to transport the projector without worrying about moving a complete audio system. The question is therefore to know if your equipment is intended to be nomadic, or if your installation will be fixed. Note that the on-board speakers are continually improving, like the recent Panasonic My Scene, which still offers 4 midwoofers and 2 woofers, for a maximum output power of 32 Watts. A sound system which should satisfy most of the users,

However, although such systems should be suitable for many users, the sound reproduction fails to match that provided by a good audio system. Lovers of big shows should therefore always favor the latter solution.

Noise level

More and more powerful, and more and more compact too, video projectors can quickly heat up during use. They are therefore equipped with powerful ventilation systems to dissipate heat, but the noise caused can quickly become annoying. However, it differs according to the mode used - standard or eco - and the technical data sheets of the manufacturers generally mention it. Between 24 and 36 dB, this level is considered acceptable. In any case, the ideal is for the projector to be far enough away from you so that the noise reaching you is attenuated. This is where very short throw projectors, located at the foot of a wall, will find part of their interest since they allow the source of noise to be moved away.

As such, note that the need for ventilation arises from a significant heating of the projector during use. Care should therefore be taken not to lock it in a piece of furniture where ventilation will be insufficient.

The connection

It would be a shame to have a video projector that does not have the connection adapted to your needs. So remember to check it before choosing the model that you like. For example, the presence of two HDMI ports (and at least one USB) can make it possible to leave a Chromecast or equivalent permanently connected to the projector, and to be able to connect an additional computer or console to it if necessary. Regarding audio, RCA, optical or free HDMI ports will allow you to install a multichannel system, a sound bar, etc. For wireless connections, remember to find out about the presence of a Bluetooth chip, which can be extremely practical for remote audio installation.

The importance of features

In order to optimize the video rendering, some video projectors offer different display modes, such as Cinema, Sport or Video Games. Others also allow you to adjust the color temperature, which allows you to adapt the image to your environment or your needs. More importantly, some projectors have automatic image correction features, or prompt you to do so from the remote control. But not all of them allow it.

The Lens Shift function, which stands for lens shift, is a correction that allows the image to be shifted, horizontally or vertically. Indeed, video projectors do not broadcast a well-centered image, but rather projected upwards, or downwards. Very often, the proposed Lens Shift therefore corresponds to a vertical displacement, but the correction is hardly more than a few centimeters.

The other important function is the keystone correction, offered on most products. When the projector is not placed in front of the screen, this keystone correction allows you to digitally straighten the edges of the image to straighten it and display it straight. Be careful, many only offer it vertically and not horizontally.


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Allan Hammes By, Allan Hammes
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