Audio-Visual Equipment in Business Presentations and Other Applications

Three Things to Consider When Buying a Projector for Your Home Cinema

For a relatively modest investment, almost anyone can now set up and enjoy the benefits of a home cinema, and many people want the big-screen capabilities that a projector can offer. However, before you rush out and buy the first projector you can find, it's important to learn more about the things you need to consider when setting up a projector at home, or you could waste a lot of money. The three following considerations are vital if you're thinking about investing in a new projector for your home cinema.

1. Output rating and ambient lighting

When you buy a conventional TV, it's easy to forget that the manufacturers include various settings and features to help create the highest possible picture quality. LCD and plasma screen TVs emit their own light, and technology manufacturers use various tools such as backlighting to create the effects you want. However, projectors use reflected light to create a screen on your wall, and the image they create is very susceptible to other light sources in the room.

As such, the output rating of a projector is a vital buyer's consideration. The system needs a high enough output rating to compete with other light sources in the room. The manufacturer will normally state this measurement in ANSI lumens or sometimes just lumens. You really need a projector with an output rating of at least 1,700 ANSI lumens, but a higher rating indicates a system that can more easily cope with a lot of ambient lighting.

2. Throw distance and room size

Room size is an important consideration when installing a projector. If the room is small and/or has awkward dimensions, a projector screen may not give you the sort of picture quality you want. Technically, there are various measurements you should take to make sure viewers can enjoy the projected image on the target wall, although many companies now offer online calculators that do all the work for you.

Throw distance is a term you will commonly hear about in relation to projectors. The throw distance is the distance between the projector and the image on the screen. You calculate the throw distance by measuring from the projector's lens to the projector screen. As a guiding principle, for the best home cinema experience, you should aim for one foot of screen width for every two feet of throw distance.

3. Other costs

Projectors are often excellent value for money compared to other TV screens, especially when you consider a ratio of dollars per screen inch. If you wanted an LED or plasma-screen TV that could give you such a large screen size, you'd probably have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you can now spend less than a thousand dollars on a projector with the dimensions you want.

While the up-front investment of a projector is relatively cost effective, there are other costs to think about. As well as a projector, you'll also need to invest in an audio system to give you the surround sound you're looking for. Very few projectors have any in-built sound capabilities, so you'll also need to buy speakers, likeB&W speakers, and an amplifier.

You may also need to buy a screen. For many people, a bare wall doesn't offer a suitable projection surface. There are various solutions to consider, including pull-down screens, or you can simply paint the wall with a projector-friendly paint, but you'll still need to spend more money.

Projector owners also often forget about the cost of replacing the lamps. Projector lamps may not last longer than one or two years, especially if you are a heavy user. What's more, you cannot normally shop around for replacement parts, so you may routinely have to buy a new lamp from the manufacturer that costs you a few hundred dollars.

Projectors help many Australian homeowners create the home cinema experience they're looking for, but it's important to realize the costs and requirements. Talk to your local audio-visual expert for more information or advice.