3LCD or DLP, that is the question.
There are many different uses for projectors from business presentations to watching a really big movie in your home. What sort of projector you buy really depends on what you plan to do with the thing. There are some key things to look for in a projector depending on what you plan to do with it so be sure that you know what you want going into the purchase or you may end up disappointed.
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If you want a projector that will only be used in your home and the use will strictly be for movies, TV and games with no eye towards business needs you will want to specifically look for home theater projectors. Many of the projectors on the market may sport a HDMI input and support HD resolutions but that doesn't mean they are appropriate for dedicated home theater use.
A good home theater projector will have lots of adjustability for the color and picture so you can customize it to your room. Home theater projectors also usually have better optics than business projectors and they will at times have better zoom so you can adjust the throw and image size to your room. One thing you want to look for in a home theater projector is brightness. If you have a room with lots of windows the more lumens the projector has the clearer (to a point) the image will be. You will also want to look for a projector that has good contrast levels.
Home theater projectors can run the gamut from under $1000 to tens of thousands depending on how all out you want to go. You will need to decide as well what technology you want; you can get 3LCD and DLP. The debate over which is better rages and mostly it's a personal choice between installation ease and image quality. Many claim that DLP has better image quality with the trade off being it lacks the adjustability for the image making the installation range much narrower. On the other hand, 3LCD projectors are able to adjust the image to be square in just about any room no matter how off center you need to install it.
There are many other features that you may want to know about home theater projectors before you spend big money on one. Be sure to look up reviews of your projector and check with the manufacturer to be sure it will throw the image size you want in the room you have. This list is some of the better and more popular home theater projectors on the market. There are many offerings and you are sure to find something that suits your needs and budgets on or off this list.
If you shop around and read reviews and opinions in the under $2,000 range for projectors, one will continually rise to the top and it is the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350. This projector uses 3LCD technology and has tons of image adjustability for the price range and it features zoom as well. That zoom is manual, which might be a downside if you are mounting it on the ceiling. The projector uses a D chip and support up to 1080p resolution with 50,000:1 contrast ratio. The 8350 has 2000 lumens of color and white light output, but those levels will be reduced significantly in some modes. The Epson 8350 can be purchased on Amazon for about $1280.
If your tastes lean more towards DLP projectors, the Mitsubishi HC4000 is right there with the Epson 8350 in popularity in the $1,300 dedicated home theater projector range. The use of DLP technology means that the projector has little adjustment for the image and if you have to offset the projector significantly from the screen, it simply may not work in your room.
If you can get right in the center of the screen, DLP fans swear the projector will deliver better blacks and overall image quality than anything in the 3LCD family at the same price. That is all a matter of taste though. The projector supports 1080p resolution, has HDMI connectivity, 1300 lumens of light, and uses Darkchip 3 DLP technology. Another benefit of DLP projectors is that you don't have to bother with filters as you do on 3LCD units. The HC4000 sells for about $1,250 on Amazon.
If you are interested in DLP home theater tech, but you need something that is cheaper than the HC4000, the Optoma HD20 is another popular option in the DLP realm and it can be purchased for under $1000. The HD20 supports 1080p resolution, has 1700 lumens of light, and a 4000:1 contrast ratio. It will throw up to 300-inch image and is available now.
3LCD fans can also get offerings in the dedicated home theater space for projectors that cost under $1000. In the case of the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 705HD, the price is well under $1000 at about $750 on Amazon. For the money, you get a projector that maxes out at 720p resolution, has 2500 lumens of color and white light output, 1.2x optical zoom, and HDMI input. The contrast ratio is what you lose most of with cheaper projectors like the 705HD. It has a 3000:1 dynamic contrast ratio.
If your budget is larger and you want a DLP home theater projector with more features and better specs the BenQ W6000 1080p projector might float your boat at about $3,500. The projector has 1080p resolution, 50,000:1 contrast ratio, 24-bit color, and 2500 lumens of white and color light. The projector also converts low resolution video to HD quality.
If you want 3LCD and have a budget that supports more than the Epson 8350 I mentioned before a nice option is the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350UB. This projector sells for about $2200 on Amazon. The 8500UB has a HQV processor inside for better video quality, 1080p resolution, and a contrast ratio much, much better than the 8350 at 200,000:1. It also supports 12-bit color.
Whatever projector you end up going with, one thing is sure. You will get a much larger picture for less money than a comparably sized TV. With the right combination of projector and screen, you can get a 300-inchimage for a fraction of the cost of a LCD TV. Have fun with your projector!