How to Buy a Projector
Which chip? What about room size? How much should I spend? All these projector questions and more are answered by experts.
Runco’s VX-2000d and VX-6000d DLP projectors are THX-certified, a nice perk if you’re in the market.
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February 29, 2008 by EH Staff

Bob Hana, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for Runco, Planar and Vidikron, put together a list of shopping questions and answers to help you make sense of video projectors.

Q. What are the differences between single-chip and three-chip projectors?
A. Generally more affordable and compact, single-chip projectors offer value solutions at the entry level as well as very high performance at higher price points. These projectors can deliver sharp images with deep black levels, good contrast under good viewing conditions. But most single-chip projectors were engineered for commercial applications and lack the fidelity of those designed to play back TV and movies. Commercial units trade color fidelity and black level for output, which is a good thing in a boardroom but not so good in a theatrical application.

For high-end home theaters or extreme viewing applications, three-chip DLP projectors provide great output levels. Large three-chip projectors will provide a greater sense of depth and fidelity with extremely accurate color spectrum, more advanced signal processing, and grayscale performance that provides increased image detail and subtlety. 

Q. What are the features and benefits of a DLP projector?
A. By price range:
Under $3,000: Entry-level, 720p, single-chip DLP projectors for DIY enthusiasts.

$3K to $10K: Typically sold through certified dealers, these projectors offer greater levels of customization and features.

$10K to $25K: High-performance 720p, three-chip DLP, and 1080p single-chip DLP projectors offering increased connectivity, flexibility, and near cinema-quality performance.

Better lenses, more placement choices, video processing, even 2.35:1 viewing options.

$25K to $70K: High performance 1080p, three-chip DLP projectors with 2.35:1 size options.

$70K and above: Commercial theaters have much to fear. These projectors provide the highest levels of 1080p three-chip DLP performance for the most ornate home cinemas or extreme viewing venues. Sold, installed and serviced by certified professionals, these elite projectors are intended for the most discerning or difficult video applications.

As always, consider the product and the services being purchased. Do not underestimate the services that trained and certified custom installation professionals provide to create and maintain your entertainment room or dream home theater.

Factors to Consider
The room: As with audio, the environment is the big component. In order to maximize the performance of any projector, know your current room conditions (ambient light, noise levels and such), as well as the room you ultimately desire (entertainment-filled living room, dedicated home theater or something else).

Room size: Where are you mounting the projector, and what is the throw distance? These precise measurements can save you valuable time by narrowing the projector options (720p or 1080p) that would best suit that room. Where you choose to mount the projector also plays a role in determining lens, lens shift and additional features that may be necessary to optimize the installation.

Screen size: Ideally a function of projector light output, viewing distance, pixel array and source resolution.

Features: Based upon the other considerations, there are a variety of features that complement specific rooms, challenges, connectivity concerns and more.

Technology: Of course, we all want the newest technologies and features, but you shouldn’t discredit or dismiss the old. While 1080p content and 2.35:1 viewing capability rivals a true cinema experience, there are numerous applications for which 720p projectors will serve well.

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