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Most video projector applications will have a simple requirement: to reproduce quality images. When shopping for a model that will meet that requirement, however, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers and specifications. Before comparing specific types of projectors, let’s define some of the basic gauges of quality to look for.
Denoted by lumens (or “lm”), this is the measure of light an individual video projector can put out. Brightness affects the projector’s capacity to display an image in ambient light, as well as what screen size can be used. As a rule, the more lumens, the more brightness the projector can provide, the larger the screen you can use, and the less dim you’ll need your environment to be.
However, the more lumens a projector offers, the more expensive it’s likely to be. That’s why it’s best to look for a brightness capacity that fits the needs of your environment: If you’re in a smaller room with plenty of control over ambient lighting, you don’t necessarily need to spend tons of money on a high-lumen projector.
The number of dots or pixels a projector uses to create an image is referred to as resolution. In a projector’s specifications, the resolution is indicated by a number combination that shows the number of pixels that fit on the screen both horizontally and vertically; you can multiply the two numbers to get the total number of pixels on the screen. Resolution is also sometimes described by letters in the projector’s name or description, such as WUXGA, which is short for Widescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array. The more pixels a projector uses, the crisper and cleaner the resulting image, and the higher its resolution. Many of SoundPro’s best-selling projectors offer resolutions of WXGA (1280x800 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio), WUXGA (1920x1200 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio), and 1080p (1920x1080 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio).
Keep in mind that the surface you project onto will also affect the clarity of your images. You can use projectors on any flat, smooth surface, such as a light-colored wall, but an actual projector screen will allow you to achieve the best results.
PROJECTOR CONTRAST RATIO
Contrast ratio is the measurement of the difference between the light and dark extremes in a projector’s image. For example, if a projector’s contrast ratio is listed as 10,000:1, that means that its brightest white is 10,000 times brighter than the darkest black on the screen.The more difference between the numbers, the higher the contrast, which in turn results in a better-quality image.
How much contrast ratio to look for depends on your application. For things like education or business, you may not need as much contrast and can go as low as 4,000:1—particularly if you can control the ambient light in your space and can turn off the room lights to increase the image visibility. For medium-quality applications, such as home theaters, you’ll probably want something over 10,000:1, while a professional venue should look for the highest quality of 100,000:1.
PROJECTOR THROW DISTANCE
This is the distance between the projector and the screen. Projector models are designed to meet a specific throw distance, and usually have an intended installation or mounting method to achieve the best picture results:
- Long-throw (at least 6 feet) – These projectors deliver very large images; they are usually designed to be installed in the ceiling at the center of a large room.
- Short-throw (3-8 feet) – These projectors are designed to be installed closer to the screen (either mounting them on the wall or ceiling). Like long throw projectors, short throw provides large image projection—and adds the benefit of reduced shadow and glare.
- Ultra Short-throw (4 feet or less) – These projectors are ideally mounted on the wall, ceiling, or even a table that is very close to the screen. Because ultra-short throw projectors are so close in proximity to the screen, shadows and glare are practically nonexistent.
It’s common for models to list the optimal throw distance in the product description—if not in the product name itself. Knowing these different throw types will help narrow down your options when shopping for a projector, as you can confine your search to the throw distance that will best fit your space.
Video projectors are commonly used in movie and home theaters, classrooms, corporate boardrooms, houses of worship , and more. There are a variety of models available on the market, each designed to fit the needs of a different space or application. Now, with a better understanding of what these design features mean, you’re sure to find the perfect model for your application.
Need more information to decide what projector is right for you? Reach out to the experts at SoundPro at email@example.com or 800.203.5611.
Laura has been a part of the SoundPro team since the summer of 2021. In her downtime, she enjoys hiking, quilting, and watching shark documentaries with her cat (though not all three at once).