What makes projectors the best display solution for serious home theaters? The answer to that is so obvious that you almost don’t have to ask—they’re BIG. OK, it’s not really that simple. There are a lot of reasons to go gaga over projection systems, but flat panel (and rear projection) TVs have a lot going for them too.
I stumbled across an article at Runco’s blog that did such a good job of summing up the strengths of a projector system that I thought it worth sharing here. I agree 100 percent with about 90 percent of the points here, so I thought I’d pass it on, with my take on each item:
1. The Big Screen Experience
Home theater enthusiasts have known for decades how impressive front projection entertainment systems can be. They are the dominant technology in commercial cinemas for good reasons and many of these translate into residential applications.
My take: Yes, projectors are impressive. On a dollar per inch scale, projectors are a better value and create a better movie-viewing experience. A large plasma or LCD is cool, but a 100-inch or bigger image on a screen the thickness of your jeans is the ultimate Wow.
2. Design Flexibility
The second reason to consider front projection in the home is that it fits your lifestyle and blends seamlessly with your décor. You can hide the electronics away and with a touch of a button bring a home theater to life, without having to leave the room.
My take: Many people worry that a projection system has to take up the entire room or will be difficult to install. That’s just not true—sure you can put up a fixed screen that will dominate the room, but motorized screens concealed in a soffit make the screen disappear. I’ve seen many installations that even combine a retractable projector screen with a flat panel TV. The TV does the job of everyday viewing, while the projector system gets deployed for those theater moments.
You also don’t necessarily need a completely light-controlled (i.e. dark) room. Most of today’s projectors, when combined with the right screen, can been enjoyed in rooms with moderate ambient light so you don’t need all the lights off for your football party.
3. Unmatched Image Performance
From color performance to black levels, in the right environment, projection dominates. Plus, you are not limited to a fixed aspect ratio of 16:9 high definition (which is a 1.781 aspect ratio).
My Take: I’ve heard people complain that a projector creates washed-out, pixelated images that are never straight. I assume those people are thinking of the business projector in their office conference room, because that doesn’t describe home theater projectors at all. I’ve used even entry-level projectors that create phenomenal images in the right conditions. The key is making sure the pro who’s helping you select the product and doing the integration knows what circumstances to consider in order to get you the projector/screen match appropriate for your room and budget. And if you want to see ultra-wide movies at their best, only a projector with cinemascope-style screen and lens option will do.
4. 3D Done Right
The market excitement around 3D in the home is palpable and there is no better way to watch 3D than with projection.
My Take: 3D is the feature that makes a 50-inch television look small. If you really want to be impressed by a home 3D experience, then try it out in a projector showroom. Runco’s system uses two projectors and passive glasses. SIM2 does also. But I’ve seen single-projector/active glasses solutions that also look great. What works best for you will depend on your budget, expectations and installation requirements. Sample several showrooms to see what you like.
The complete post can be seen at Runco’s bog here.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.