Couple watching home movie on projector

Your easy to understand guide to projector technology

Published 4th January 2023
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Home projectors are one of the best ways to watch movies and TV at home, offering the kind of magic you can usually only get at the cinema. However, they're also quite complex, and rely on different technology than regular televisions to work that magic.

So, to help you find the best home projector for you, we've written this blog as a simple guide to some of the more mysterious parts of home projectors, namely different projection techniques and the differences between short- and long-throw projectors. Let's begin!

This blog will make more sense once you've read our home projectors buyer's guide.

Types of projection technology

Unlike modern TVs, which use almost exclusively LED panels to create the images that appear on screen, projectors use one of four projection technologies: LCD, LED, DLP and laser. Let's take a look at each one in more detail:

LCD projectors

An LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) projector uses thin liquid crystal panels to display images. This type of projector typically offers good image quality at lower price points than other types of projectors.

However, they often have difficulty displaying dark scenes accurately due to their low contrast ratio. They also tend to have lower brightness levels than other types of projectors, meaning they may not be suitable for large rooms or outdoor use.

DLP projectors

DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors use millions of microscopic mirrors to create its images. This type of projector is smaller and brighter than an LCD projector and has a faster response time. Response time is really important for playing video games, so this is the type of projector that's preferred by gamers. Also, DLP projectors can show 3D images, while LCD projectors can't.

DLP projectors are known for their excellent picture quality, thanks to their high contrast ratios and deep black levels in darker scenes. However, their colour reproduction isn't as good because of a rainbow effect created by light bouncing off the mirrors. This effect is called 'colour ghosting'. They tend to be more expensive than other LCD projectors too, and may not be suitable for everyone’s budget.

LED projectors

Both LCD and DLP projectors use an old fashioned bulb to focus the images they make for the projector screen. An LED projector replaces the bulb with a group of light emitting diodes, the same ones found in LED light bulbs.

This has a bunch of advantages. First, the bulb in LCD and DLP projectors wears out after time and needs to be replaced quite often, whereas LEDs will last for thousands of hours. LED bulbs also don't produce any heat, while LCD and DLP projectors can get quite hot after a while and can even overheat if not used properly.

LED projectors have excellent colour reproduction and great contrast ratios, but their brightness is limited compared to DLP projectors, and they're more expensive than LCD ones.

Laser projectors

The last type of projection technology is based on lasers. Laser projectors replace the bulb or LEDs with powerful lasers, which are beamed through the projectors lens onto your projector screen.

Because their laser beams are so precise, laser projectors tend to have the sharpest image quality. They also have some of the best colour reproduction and colour ratios. Some models, like those made by Epson, support high-dynamic range (HDR) video, which have more colour depth than you would find normally. If you want the best possible picture, choose a laser projector.

Laser projectors are also energy efficient and last a long time - most are rated for 20,000 hours of watch-time at least. The problem is that this technology is expensive, so laser projectors cost thousands of pounds.

Short throw projectors vs long throw projectors

In projector-speak, the 'throw' is the ideal distance between the projector itself and the wall or screen it's projecting on. There are two main types: Short throw projectors and long throw projectors.

A short throw projector has a short distance between the projector and the screen, usually about 90-240cm. This distance is ideal for smaller rooms or areas where space is limited.

On the other hand, long throw projectors have a longer distance between the projector and the screen, about 240-1220cm making them better suited for larger rooms or auditoriums. Long throw projectors require more space to be set up but can provide larger images than short throw projectors.

When looking at brightness, short throw projectors tend to have higher lumens than long throw projectors. This means that short throw projectors will provide brighter images even in well-lit environments. The downside is that a short throw projector can't fill an ultrawide screen the way a long throw projector can. For more information about projector set up, read our blog on how to get the best picture for your projector.

The resolution capabilities of both types of projectors vary depending on the model. Short throw models generally have lower resolutions than their long-throw counterparts since they require less light to produce an image due to their shorter distance from the screen. However, some higher-end short-throw models can offer resolutions as high as 4K and beyond, making them a great choice for anyone who wants a big picture without sacrificing image quality. Long-throw models typically offer higher resolutions than their short-throw counterparts as they require more light due to their greater distance from the screen, but they may not be as bright as short-throw models when used in a brightly lit environment.

Finally, when comparing cost, long throw models tend to be more expensive than short throw models due to their larger lenses and higher resolutions. However, if you need a projector for a large space or one with high resolution capabilities then it may be worth investing in a long-throw model as it will provide better performance overall.

We hope this blog has helped you understand the differences between short and long throw projectors, as well as the various types of projection technology available. Now that you know what to look for, you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the best home projector for your needs!

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