A projector can be a great addition to any home or business, but with so many different models to choose from it can be difficult to work out which one is right for you. Take a look at our guide to the most important features you should be looking out to ensure that you pick the perfect projector for you.
When projectors first came onto the market the brightness was extremely important but as technology advances this is becoming less so. The brightness of a projector is measured in ANSI Lumens. A projector of 3000 lumens or more is ideal for projectors being used in boardrooms etc. if you plan to use your projector at home the chances are it will be in a darkened room, for example a home cinema, so you won't need to worry about the Lumens as much.
The resolution of your projector is the number of pixels it uses to create an image. The more pixels there are the better quality of image you will get. The main types of resolution used at home or in business are SVGA, XGA and FullHD. Full HD is around 1080 pixels as opposed to SVGA at 600 pixels and XGA at 768 pixels, meaning Full HD produces a cleaner and crisper picture quality.
The quality of picture you end up with isn't just about the number of pixels. You should also consider the contrast ratio when making a purchase. The contrast ratio is basically a measure of how black the black that appears on your screen is. LCD projectors have a contrast ratio of 2000:1 whereas DLP projectors have a higher ratio of 3000:1. The following table illustrates the differences between LCD and DLP.
Many of the choices you make when buying a projector will depend on what you plan to use it for. If you are investing in a projector for work then you can opt for a heavier model as it won't be moved around too much. However, if you prefer something more portable you can opt for a much lighter model that can be easily carried over the shoulder. Pprojectors are getting lighter & lighter, mostly due to the use of LEDs, and even mini projectors, called pico-projectors, are appearing on the market. These will generally have lower resolutions than larger models but can be handy in some situations.
Video and data inputs
There are lots of devices that you can project from including a games console, DVD player, freeview, cable or satellite. If you plan to do this you'll need to insure that the projector you choose has enough video and data inputs.
Most projectors come with internal speakers which are ideal for office use. However, most projectors being used at home have an inbuilt sound system that can easily be enjoyed by twenty to thirty people at a time. If you do want to improve the sound quality, especially for music, then you can connect the source you are watching through the projector to an amplifier or home cinema system.
Some projectors can be affected when the image being projected sits above or below the centre of the screen. This effect is called 'keystoning' and projectors can be purchased with 'keystone correction' which compresses the top and bottom of the image to make it more square, appearing more like an image on a cinema screen.
Lens shift is an alternative to keystone correction which can often be more effective. High end projectors and home cinema systems tend to feature lens shift, which means the angle of the projector lens can be manually adjusted to create a squarer and more uniform image.
A mid range non-LED lamp for a projector should last up to 3000 hours and range in price from less than £150 to more than £500. Some less expensive projectors can be affected by the lamp used as it runs out so to avoid problems try to pick a lamp with a high half life.
Bear in mind that being dropped or receiving a sharp knock can put any projector out of action so make sure yours is well looked after and that you have an alternative in place if you are using a projector at work.
LED lamps last ten of thousands of hours and are expected to last as long as the projector itself. They are much less fragile and should provide outstanding results from day 1 to the last. They also cost less to run.
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