How to choose the right projector

One of the most common questions we get asked here at Optoma is ‘how do I know which is the best projector for me?’

Buying a projector can be a confusing business with its own world of jargon and acronyms* but the key is to ask yourself the right questions.
 
How will you use your projector?
Is it mostly for showing presentations and slide shows, watching films or playing games? Would you like to watch 3D?

This will help you to identify what native resolution you require and the ports/connections and accessories you will need.  

Native resolution is simply the number of pixels in an image.  The higher the number of pixels, the greater the resolution and the better the image quality will be. Projectors have the following native resolutions: SVGA (800 pixels high x 600 pixels wide), XGA (1024x768), WXGA/HD Ready (1280x800), 1080p (1920x1080) and 4K UHD (3480x2160).



So, if you are looking to use the projector to mainly watch DVDs or Blu-Rays® you would probably chose a high resolution 1080p or 4K UHD projector with HDMI input.  If you need the projector for business presentations, you might choose a more basic SVGA or XGA projector.  

How big is the screen/image that will need to be projected and what is its aspect ratio?
The bigger the screen, the higher the native resolution you will need. Aspect ratio is dimply the ratio of image width to image height. This could be widescreen (aspect ratio either 16:9 or 16:10) or more square, like old-style televisions (aspect ratio 4:3).
•    SVGA and XGA projectors have a 4:3 aspect ratio
•    1080p and 4K UHD projectors have a 16:9 aspect ratio
•    WXGA projectors have a 16:10 aspect ratio

How far from the screen would you like to install the projector?
If the projector is to be permanently sited you will need to calculate the throw ratio to ensure the projected image fills your screen. A projector's throw ratio is defined as the distance that a projector is placed from the screen divided by the width of the image it will project.  If you know the screen size but are unsure how far back to site the projector, you can use the given throw ratio to calculate where the projector needs to be installed.

Optoma’s short throw projectors can be installed very close to the screen.  Its mobile, desktop and home entertainment projectors must be sited further back.  We have a distance calculator on our website that will help.

How bright is the room where will the projector be used?
Can the lights be turned down/blinds shut? This will determine the ambient light in the room and how bright the projector needs to be.  The brighter the room, the brighter the projector will need to be.  Brightness is measured in lumens.

And finally, is the projector for home or business?
Home: Consider whether you would like built-in speakers or will you be connecting the projector to external speakers.

For home cinema and gaming you will need a high resolution projector to ensure the contrast and picture quality is crystal clear.  So, ideally a 4K UHD or 1080p projector.

For gaming, check the projector’s ‘input lag time’ which is the time it takes for the projector to produce an image. Latency in games can be crucial and a few milliseconds can mean the difference between shooting the enemy and being shot. A lower lag time will improve your gaming experience.

Business:
Where will the projector be used? Does it need to be light and portable for off-site meetings or installed in the boardroom?

This will help you to chose between mobile or ultra mobile, desktop or installed projectors.

For basic Powerpoint presentations SVGA and XGA projectors are good all-round cost-effective projectors.  

Boardrooms and larger meeting rooms might need a larger screen and a higher resolution projector – so a WXGA projector may be a good option or if you need greater detail a 1080p or 4K UHD projector would be ideal.

For those looking for a projector to install in a much larger space, such as an auditorium or exhibition, a professional AV projector may be what you need, such as Optoma’s ProScene range.

*There is a helpful glossary on our website to help make sense of this world of aspect ratios, lumens and throw ratios.

www.optoma.co.uk

Create a spectacular Christmas display

Are you dreading the annual tussle with the tangled ball of Christmas lights?  We are too!  So we have put together some suggestions on how to create a stunning seasonal spectacle with a twist.

 

Project onto your windows

Simply line your windows with tracing paper, a frosted shower curtain, a thin cotton sheet or frosted film and you have a screen to project your decorations.  This could be a Christmas tree, a festive greeting or even an elves workshop!

       

 

       

For the 2018 Gadget Show Christmas Special presenter Jon Bentley showed how to create a magical Christmas display by projecting AtmosFX digital decorations onto the Gadget Show house windows.  We used a £3 shower curtain from Dunelm Mill and beamed the elves workshop via our ultra short throw Full HD HZ40UST laser home entertainment projector. AtmosFX creates digital decorations with fun and entertaining animated characters and stories for Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day and other special occasions.  Watch again on My5: www.my5.tv/the-gadget-show/season-28/episode-9

 

Don’t get the needle

If you are fed up schlepping in the tree from the garden centre (or loft) and spending hours arranging baubles – why not project your tree or decorations

    

 

            

Optoma helped Craig Charles projection map his Christmas tree and create a snowy scene on a mirror, using the GT1080Darbee short throw Full HD projector and Optoma’s Projection Mapper app, for the 2017 Gadget Show Christmas special.  Watch again here: www.my5.tv/the-gadget-show/season-26/episode-10

 

Project decorations straight onto your house

If you have a shed or a friendly neighbour opposite, you could project your Christmas lights straight onto your house.  This avoids battling with blown bulbs and just needs a bright projector, images or animations to project onto the house and somewhere secure under cover where you can place the projector.  Your house would be the envy of the neighbourhood!

     

Richard Ayoade, showed how to do this in the Gadget Man Guide to Christmas when decorations and animations were projected directly onto the Gadget Man house. 

 

Have a very merry 4K Christmas

More films, TV and sport will be broadcast in 4K this Christmas than ever before. Bring a cinematic experience to your home and enjoy your favourite festive flicks in 4K.  Join the 4K party this Christmas!

 



The pros and cons of a projector over TV

A projector can give you amazing gaming experience and a true cinema-like feel at home – but what are the pros and cons of choosing one over a big screen TV?

Pros

Size This is a major reason to go projection! Actors on TV look larger than life. Hang on a second – they ARE larger than life. Filling your entire field of view creates a completely absorbing experience.

Viewing a standard TV of 37 inches from the average sofa distance of nine feet, your eyes just cannot see all the detail in a 1080p image. Blow that up four times to 100 inches and you can see each strand of hair, every blade of grass. And this is where the benefit of 4K comes into play. A larger image benefits greatly from the added resolution. At that distance most people will see pixels on a 150-inch 1080p image, but not with 4K.

As seen on the graph below, at nine feet from the screen anything bigger than a 65” image will look better with 4K. Optoma projectors can produce images up to 300 inches.

 

 

Easier on the eyes You may think having such a large screen may hurt your eyes. Actually, it's the opposite. Filling a larger percentage of your visual field, and with less overall brightness, a big screen is actually more comfortable to watch and, just like in the cinema, the picture is also more immersive.

Space and setup Projectors can be used anywhere there is a power source, a flat surface and enough space. They are light and portable to be taken around to a friend’s house for a gaming session or an outdoor film night. A TV is less flexible to pop under your arm and take to your mates!

 Projectors can be ceiling mounted or simply placed on a table or shelf – and you don’t have to have a screen. You can project straight onto a plain wall. If you do want a screen - these come in all shapes and sizes. They can hang on the wall or be retractable, where the screen disappears into the ceiling or you can get a portable one that you simply pull up.

Short throw and ultra short projectors are ideal for gamers as these create a large image from very close to the screen or wall. Gamers are therefore behind the projector ensuring no shadows are cast across the image.

Cost

Projectors are, on the whole, cheaper than comparably sized Full HD TVs. Getting a TV larger than 100 inches currently costs around £30,000 (if you can find one to buy). Getting the same screen size and equivalent picture quality could cost as little as £500 with a projector.

Audio

Most home projectors have a built-in speaker – perfect to plug and play. And if you want to connect to an external sound system, you can with the audio output. 

Wireless connectivity

Optoma projectors can also work wirelessly up to HD quality using the optional WHD200.

 

Cons

Light

Light can be a problem if the screen or wall is subject to direct sunlight. But Optoma’s bright home entertainment projectors are designed to be used with the lights on. And the darker the room, the more vibrant the image will be. 

Lamps

Nearly all home projectors are lamp-based. Like any lamp-based light, these will eventually need replacing. How often will depend on how much use the projector has had and putting the lamp in Eco mode will greatly increase the lifespan of the light source from 5,000 to 8,000 hours*. Based on a 20 hours a week that equates to around 5-8 year’s use. 

Expectations

After getting a projector all your friends' TVs will seem unbearably small.

 

Upsize that tiny TV; go projection!

A projector doesn't have to cost a lot of money, nor is it difficult to set up.  Interested? Read our blog on choosing the best projector for you