Projector FAQ’s: Home Cinema Projector

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At visunext, we have professionals willing to answer all your questions relating to projectors, projector screens and projector accessories. Here we have our home cinema projector FAQ – so dig in and find out more!

Setting up your very own home cinema can be very daunting, especially if you have no clue what you are doing. There is a lot of ‘projection lingo’ that you may not have come across before and for this reason, we have created an in-depth home cinema projector FAQ page to help you understand some of the many different terms used in projection. We would also suggest you take a look at our Projector Buyers Guide as well as our Guides and Reviews page to learn more.

What is the most important thing when buying a projector?

When buying a projector, it’s important to focus on the areas you need for your application. 

If you are looking to set up a dedicated home cinema room, features such as Full HD or 4K resolution, lower lumens and higher contrast ratio are important. If it’s for a brighter living room you’ll still want those nice high resolutions but you will need to look for something with higher brightness to go with it. 

One of the most important aspects of getting the right projector will be choosing a projector that fits the screen you are projecting onto from the distance the projector will be positioned. Many people think that you can just use the zoom function on the projector, but not all projectors have a zoom facility and the ones that do may not have as much as you think!

Can I watch Netflix on my projector?

Yes! While most projectors are not ‘smart’ like is commonplace in the TV sector and do not have these apps built in, it’s very easy to gain access to a whole host of applications such as Netflix. The best way in our opinion is to get yourself a streaming device such as an Amazon Fire Stick or Roku streaming stick, these simply plug into your projector and connect wirelessly to your internet connection, giving you a cable free solution to all your streaming needs!

Home cinema projection

Where are projectors most commonly used?

Everywhere! Projectors are suitable for a whole host of applications in businesses, schools, village halls, homes, golf simulators and more. The environment the projector is being used in will dictate the features and specifications required. 

We get many calls from people wanting to use projectors in their caravan, for art exhibitions, projectors for gardens, pubs and many more! The only limit is your imagination and whatever you have in mind, there is bound to be one for you.

Do projectors have Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is quite rare in projectors, though it is slowly becoming more common. However it may not be as useful as you think! Customers often think they can bluetooth content from their phone or PC to a projector, but Bluetooth does not work this way. It’s actually only really useful for audio, such as sending audio wirelessly from your projector to a speaker

At the moment you are more likely to find Bluetooth in mini projectors or portable projectors, as the wireless convenience compliments the other features and size that these projectors offer, but it is finding its way to some home cinema units too. More often than not you’ll need to plug speakers into the projectors 3.5mm audio out, or take your audio direct from the source device (Blu ray player, Games console, PC etc). Some external devices may allow you to send the audio wirelessly to a Bluetooth speaker, you can do this with some of the top range Amazon Firestick devices for example. 

What is the difference between Bluetooth and Wireless projectors?

Many people confuse the terms Bluetooth and wireless. While Bluetooth is used to connect two devices together in order to facilitate the transfer of data over radio frequency, a WLAN connection offers many more possibilities. In short, a bluetooth connection on a projector will only allow you to send audio from the projector to a bluetooth speaker. A wireless connection will allow for image transfer from your phone, PC or tablet straight onto your projected image.

What is the difference between DLP and LCD projectors?

The technology inside your projector plays a huge part in how the image looks. The two main types of projectors we find today are LCD and DLP, but you can also find LCOS projectors too! 

DLP is a technology developed by Texas Instruments and it can be widely found inside manufacturers such as BenQ projectors and Optoma projectors.

What are the advantages of DLP?

  • Better contrast levels than LCD
  • Sharper images than LCD
  • Often lower in cost
  • Less affected by dust than LCD projectors thanks to their moving parts

What are the disadvantages of DLP:

  • Less colour accuracy than LCD
  • Rainbow effect – This is a splash of colour that can momentarily be seen by a small percentage of viewers typically trailing highly contrasting colours or when quickly looking away from the image.

LCD was developed by Epson in the 1980’s and can of course be found in all Epson projectors, but it’s also used by other brands such as NEC projectors or Hitachi Projectors.

What are the advantages of LCD?

  • Higher brightness levels than DLP
  • Better colour accuracy than DLP
  • No rainbow effect
  • Higher cost than DLP

What are the disadvantages of LCD?

  • ‘Chicken wire effect’ when you get closer to the image which impacts overall sharpness
  • Panels degrade over time

What are the advantages of a projector?

The advantages of having a projector over a TV or display is the obvious ability to project a much larger image at a much cheaper price. A projected image can range from the very small to the very large, potentially 10m and above! There is no doubt that a projected image gives you the cinematic big screen experience in the comfort of your own home. Projectors can be very cost effective, you can typically pick up a decent projector for around £300 that will allow you to have a quality 100inch diagonal image in your living room.

Is it better to have a short throw projector or a long throw projector?

This completely comes down to room layout. If you need to keep the projector out of the way at the front of the room, then look at Short throw or Ultra short throw projector. If you are going to ceiling mount it, or place it on a table further back in the room, then a standard / long throw projector will be your go to. One limiting factor for UST projectors is their maximum screen size, which is typically around 120”, but this will vary from model to model. Another is their reliance on a perfectly flat screen surface, so if going for UST, be sure to pair it with a fixed frame or specific UST projector screen such as the celexon UST high contrast fixed frame screen for the very best results.

How do I know how far to place my projector from my wall or screen?

When installing a projector, various things must be taken into account. One of them is the distance between the projector and the screen surface. This dictates the image size, which of course influences the size of the screen you will buy. Another primary consideration is of course how much space you have available on your wall!

The best way to find out how far to place your projector from the screen is to use a Projection Distance Calculator. Check out our page for an in depth breakdown which will allow you to select and try a projector. 

Can I use a projector in the garden?

Yes, projectors can be used in gardens, however, they will struggle in a bright environment. If you are looking to project when there is still lots of light around, i.e. in the middle of the afternoon, it will be very hard to produce good results. 

Garden home cinema, Outdoor Home cinema, Projector outdoors, outdoor projection

Typically, you will want to try and place the screen and projector under some sort of gazebo to darken the projection area but you will still require a very bright projector

Putting an exact number of lumens on it is very difficult as light levels are different in each scenario, but for any chance of success in the daytime you’ll need upwards of 5000 lumens as well as some ample shading of the area. 

Things get much easier after dark, even a relatively low lumen projector can give you great results once the sun has set. 

Can I stream my phone to my projector?

While having this feature built into projectors is rare, there are plenty of devices you can use to enable this feature on a whole host of projectors. Providing your projector had an HDMI port, you could use a wireless dongle such as the Optoma UHDCast Pro to share your screen from android and iOS devices. Some dongles allow for instant screen share, some may require the use of an application, and if that’s the case, why not take a look at our guide on Projection apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod

What is contrast ratio?

Contrast ratio is the measurement of the difference between the darkest black and brightest white of an image. A higher contrast level means you’ll see more detail and depth in your image, so it’s always best to look for a high contrast ratio. To really get the most contrast in your image, you’ll want to project in a darker room.

LCD projectors typically can not produce the deep black levels that a DLP projector can, but there are still some very good options with high contrast ratios. Why not take a look at our range of high contrast screens to enhance your image even further? 

Which projector is best for home use?

Best projectors for home use tend to offer either Full HD or 4K resolution paired with a high contrast ratio and lower lumen levels. Finding a projector with HDR and Rec.709 colour space is a big plus. Higher end projectors may also offer features such as lens shift which is a great way to line up your image without sacrificing quality like keystone correction does. 

What is a good brightness for a projector?

This is a question best answered when knowing where you intend using your projector. 

Projecting in a brighter room, for example a living room during the day time you will need to look for projectors with upwards of 3000 lumens.

If it’s a dedicated home cinema room and you have good darkening possibilities, then you can look much lower, some of the very best home cinema projectors are as low as 1500 lumens. Screen size of course plays a part, a much larger screen may need a few more lumens than a smaller one, so this is something to factor into any decision. 

What aspect ratio should I go for? 

For home cinema projectors, there is really only one aspect ratio you need to worry about and that is 16:9 widescreen. This suits the content far better than a 4:3 or 16:10 aspect ratio which would both result in having more black borders at the top and bottom than required. Full HD 1920 x 1080 and 3840 x 2160 4K UHD both operate at 16:9.

Hopefully our home cinema projector FAQ has helped you understand a little more about what can be quite a daunting topic! If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via Email, Phone or Live chat!

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