Do you wish you could watch important events on a big screen without having to venture out to the nearest public viewing? Do you want to experience the feel of the cinema at home? Then a projector might be just what you’re looking for. Of course, projectors can be used for all types of visual entertainment, from video game streaming to political elections to sport matches. But what should you look for when purchasing this entertainment investment? Technical editor Justus Zenker has taken a close look at four promising products, just for comprigo readers.
Quality is just as important as screen size. Technology enthusiasts especially love a crisp picture. The 4K trend for projectors is not as advanced as for televisions. That’s why 4K-enabled devices are significantly more expensive than HD projectors. In addition to the resolution, two other factors play an important role: the contrast (at least 10,000:1 is recommended) and the brightness, which should be at least 500 lumens. The sound level stated on the packaging should be below 40dB so the fan noise doesn’t interfere with viewing. The last important factor are the connection opportunities: cheap devices only have the outdated VGA interface. Set-top boxes like Apple TV, digital antennas or a Sky receiver cannot be connected via this connector – they need an HDMI connection. And don’t forget: you can only get an optimal picture with the right screen. Projecting onto a wall or bed sheet noticeably reduces picture quality.
- Ambient light sensor
- Only 720p HD
- No lens shift
The projector is an entry-level device for the home cinema sector and is great for everything from football matches to films: despite its low price, the Acer H5382BD is 3D capable. The projector automatically detects a dark environment and reduces the light output with increased contrast. The projector receives external signals via analogue RCA, VGA or HDMI. Although a speaker is integrated, we don't recommend using it because of its low power. External speakers connected via the output jack provide more power. A USB output simplifies connection, as the projector can provide small speakers with direct power that way. Lens shift, which corrects the image when the projector is not right in front of the screen, is not integrated. For a two-metre wide image, the distance between the projector and the screen should be about three meters. The lamp life is estimated by Acer at 5,000 hours. In addition, a remote control and a carrying case are included in the delivery - which is practical, if you’d like to take the next movie night over to your friend’s place.
- RGBRGB colour wheel
- Sport modes
- Not very strong contrast
- Not very bright
- No lens shift
The BenQ device projects full HD video on the screen and in 3D with DLP glasses. However, the brightness is only 2,000 lumens, and the contrast is a bit weak at 10,000:1. The model scores points with an RGBRGB colour wheel that reduces the rainbow effect and makes the colours more natural. As a result, it projects a quality image on the wall. Consumers who prefer minimalism can even do without speakers connected via cables since a 10-watt loudspeaker is integrated which provides sufficient power for many applications. External devices are connected via RCA, VGA or HDMI. The USB port is particularly useful; it can even supply small set-top speakers with sufficient power. This allows for ceiling mounting, as you will no longer need an additional power source. To achieve a picture of two metres in size, the projector should be placed between about two and a half to three meters parallel to the screen. The lamp life is 3,500 hours.
- Cheap 4K alternative
- Motorised lens adjustment
- No carrying bag
- No lens shift
Projectors with real 4K are only slowly arriving in the market, mainly due to its complicated relationship. That’s why some manufacturers are taking an intermediate step, which Epson calls 4K Enhancement. From a technical point of view, the resolution is still HD at 1080p, but a particularly fast vibrating glass shifts the pixels diagonally and thus ensures an overlap of individual pixels. As a result, the resolution appears much higher than it actually is. Two additional glass lenses also sharpen the image. Of course, a 4K image source is required. It also includes HDR for better contrast and a smart inter-frame calculation so fast movements and action scenes don’t look jumpy. The completely motorised optics make it easy to use: you adjust focus, zoom as well as lens shift with the remote control. The latter allows the correction of the image when the projector is placed obliquely in relation to the screen. The light output is good at 2,300 lumens but not really outstanding. The projector is convincing with a contrast of 160,000:1. The fan is relatively quiet at 24 dB. For a two-metre-wide image, the projector must be positioned between three and six metres in front of the screen. The lamp life is 3,500 hours.
Unlike a permanently installed TV, many living rooms projectors are just set up for a movie night or a sports Sunday. Ceiling mounting is often difficult for aesthetic reasons alone; LG wants to eliminate this shortcoming. LG already wanted to revolutionise projector design with the HF85JS LG, but wasn't able to convince consumers with the image quality. But the successor offers the overall package: the device can simply be placed on the floor as a tower, placed on the table, or mounted on the ceiling and projects a 4K image up to almost four metres with 2,500 lumens and HDR. Thanks to lens shift, direct positioning in front of the screen is not necessary. Two 7-watt speakers are enough for watching movies spontaneously. In order to really dive into the acoustics of a game or film, it would be worth getting a sound system that can be connected via the optical output, Bluetooth or HDMI-out. The high initial costs pay for themselves in the long run simply because of the longevity of the lamp: the lamp life of 20,000 hours is significantly longer than that of conventional bulbs.