DLP or LCD, LED or laser, 4K or Full HD, ANSI lumens, contrast ratio, lens shift - in the world of projectors , you first have to find your way around to make the right choice!
We have compiled the most important information on the subject of projectors for you as a buying guide based on the latest technological developments.
Area of application: What do you want to use the projector for?
The first question you should ask yourself before buying is what you want to use your projector for. The different areas of application result in very different criteria such as resolution, brightness, contrast and volume, which you should pay attention to when buying a projector. Basically, a distinction is made between projectors for home use and projectors for business use.
Projector use in the home cinema or living room
If you already want to prepare for the high-resolution future, a 4K projector (3840 x 2160 pixels) is the right choice, provided the budget is generously planned. High-quality Full HD home cinema projectors also offer 4K upscaling, such as 4K enhancement technology. This doubles the resolution by shifting each pixel diagonally by 0.5 pixels. This produces a noticeably better picture quality.
Projector use in business for presentations
Basically, we distinguish between business projectors for ceiling mounting and portable presentation projectors for mobile use or as tabletopprojectors. For ceiling mounting, the projector should have an appropriate mounting hole. In addition, a projector with automatic keystone correction is very helpful to compensate for distortions in the projection.
Brightness: How bright should your projector be?
The brightness of a projector, also called luminous intensity or luminance, is measured and specified in ANSI lumens. It describes how much light a projector can project onto a certain surface.
To determine how high the light intensity should be, you need to consider the conditions of the premises. Can your room be darkened? For example, the brighter the ambient light, the brighter the projection needs to be. The image size and the projection distance are also important factors for the required brightness of the projector, as the luminous intensity naturally decreases with increasing distance.
The illustration shows the optimum brightness for LCD projectors in various scenarios such as living rooms or meeting rooms. For DLP projectors, approx. 1000 lumens must be added to the values given below, as these are somewhat darker due to the technology, provided that mainly coloured content is projected.
Contrast: What are the lighting conditions of the location?
The contrast ratio describes the maximum difference in the brightness of black and white. With a contrast value of 1,000:1, the brightest point is thus one thousand times brighter than the darkest point. The higher the contrast of a projector, the sharper and more natural the projected image.
How high the contrast values should be always depends on the area of application and the ambient brightness. Especially with home cinema projectors, a high contrast is important to create a deep black. Even in darker rooms, high-contrast projectors can reproduce vivid and true-to-life colours.
If you want to use your projector mainly in daylight or artificial lighting, the contrast is therefore of secondary importance. However, every projector should have a contrast ratio of at least 5,000:1 .
Resolution and format: How many pixels does your projector need?
The resolution describes the number of pixels that create the image. The higher the pixel density, the sharper the image. The resolution you need for your projector depends on the intended use and the image source.
Since we are used to high-resolution picture quality from TVs and monitors these days, you should start with at least Full HD resolution when buying a projector.
With an HD Ready projector (1,280 x 720 pixels), you can experience DVDs on the big screen, but if you expect a razor-sharp picture with Blu-ray or modern streaming services, you should go fora Full HD projector (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). A Full HD projector is also the right choice for gamers with PS4 or XBox 360.
Full HD is by no means the end of the line - more and more projectors are opting for 4K resolution with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. Thanks to streaming portals, high-quality Blu-rays and next-gen game consoles such as PS5 and XBox Series X, more and more content can be enjoyed in 4K. However, with a good upscaler (e.g. in the AV receiver), you can also enjoy Full HD content in 4K.
Projector resolutions at a glance
|SVGA (800x600)||4:3||Very cheap, just enough for simple presentations in 4:3 format||Limited detail, not ideal for videos or complex graphics||lower entry level|
|XGA (1024x768)||4:3||Sufficient for occasional business presentations, still very affordable||Not ideal for videos||Entry-level|
|HD ready (1280x720)||16:9||Supports HD content, sufficient detail for many applications, suitable for occasional video viewing||Not as detailed as Full HD||Mid-range|
|WXGA (1280x800)||16:10||Supports HDready content, better detail, good for videos and presentations in offices and schools||Slightly more expensive than SVGA and XGA||Mid-range|
|Full HD (1920x1080)||16:9||Excellent picture quality, ideal for home movies and detailed business graphics||Inexpensive, requires more bandwidth for streaming||Professional class|
|WUXGA (1920x1200)||16:10||High resolution for detailed graphics, ideal for business and school presentations||May be more expensive, not all content supports this resolution||Professional class|
|4K UHD (3840x2160)||16:9||Extremely high detail, incredible picture quality, ideal for 4K movies||Requires high quality media sources and plenty of bandwidth||High-end professional class|
Operating noise: How many decibels are quiet, how many loud?
Depending on the area of application, the noise development of a projector plays a more or less central role.
Tip: To be able to enjoy the film during a home cinema evening, the operating noise of the projector should be below 30 dB. We also recommend external speakers, as they drown out the operating noise of the projector.
Technology: Which method is suitable for your projector?
What are the different technologies and how do they differ? We present the most important projector technologies and show you the advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages and disadvantages of DLP technology
Tip: DLP projectors are particularly suitable for business / home cinema entry-level applications.
Advantages and disadvantages of LCD technology
Tip: LCD projectors are particularly suitable for high-end home cinema!
Advantages and disadvantages of D-ILA, LCoS and SXRD technologies
Tip: Projectors with D-ILA, LCoS and SXRD technology are particularly suitable for home cinema!
Features: What features should your projector have?
Depending on the application, there are various functions that make it easier to use the projector. We have compiled the most important functions for you, which are usually very useful!
Connections: Analogue or digital interfaces?
When it comes to connection options, you should consider which devices you want to connect your projector to.
Generally, a distinction is made between analogue and digital interfaces. Analogue connections include inputs for VGA, S-Video, composite video or component video. Among analogue connections, the VGA connection is most likely to be used, if still required today. Digital connections - standard today - are HDMI and DisplayPort, which are considered the highest quality.
One of the two connections should be considered for every purchase in order to meet current requirements. A DVI connection is now mostly only used with installation projectors, as HDMI and DisplayPort have prevailed in the display of HD and 4K content. If your source and projector offer a digital interface, you should always use the digital connection, e.g. HDMI or DisplayPort, forbetter picture quality . You can find out more about all the connections, their meaning and how they work on our"Connecting a projector" page!
Tip: The digital connections HDMI and DVI are considered the highest quality.
Set-up: How do you place your projector correctly?
Operating costs: How expensive are replacement lamps?
When buying a projector, pay attention to the possible follow-up costs forreplacement lamps. The price is usually between approx. 35 and 350 euros, depending on the lamp.
As a rule, the service life of a lamp is between 2000 and 4000 hours. With mobile projectors, the lamp life is much shorter due to the different design and is approximately 1000 to 1500 hours .
If you use the projector every day and want to keep the maintenance costs as low as possible, an LED or laser-LED hybrid projector is interesting, which can last up to 20,000 hours without changing lamps. In addition to the costs for the lamps, there are also no costs for changing them if you are not allowed to change the lamp yourself (e.g. in a school).
By the way: the cost of a replacement lamp varies between 35 and 350 euros, LED projectors have a longer life.
Let's go on the projector search!
Have we been able to give you an idea of the most important selection options and purchase criteria? If you now know which features your projector should have, try our buying guide! You can use it to filter the diverse range of products according to your wishes and find the ideal projector for your projecton project!
Of course, our contact persons will also be happy to advise you personally.