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.