Finding the best projector for your home theater doesn’t need to be a grueling mission. Leave those for the heroes in the cinematic epics you’ll watch. Instead, the scene where you find your ideal projector will be a heartwarming Hollywood romance, and we’re here to help make that happen by walking you through some talking points so you don’t lose the plot.
Read on to see what you should pay attention to before you invest in a projector or cut to the chase and check out some of ViewSonic’s projectors for home entertainment.
The words “it’s complicated” should only be heard in rom coms, not when discussing your search for the perfect home theater projector. But, when you think about all the technical terms and specs involved in buying a home theater projector, it can become quite daunting to make sense of what’s important. Luckily for you, ViewSonic has some tips to help you choose the best one.
If the mention of a projector makes you think of days back at school with a dusty overhead machine that took ages to heat up, you’ll be surprised by how things have changed. Today’s projectors are mobile, modern, and flexible, turning movie night at home into a trip to the theater — with the bonus of not having to leave your house, and the addition of comfy pillows and your favorite drinks.
This article will help you to understand five of the most vital aspects to think about if you’re wondering what makes a great home theater projector. You’ll read about the difference between lamp, laser, and LED projectors, and be introduced to more technical aspects like lumens, throw ratio, and resolution, and some other fantastic characteristics of the best home theater projector that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Lamp, Laser, or LED?
When buying a home theater projector, the first element to consider is if you’ll choose a lamp, laser, or LED projector. To make it easier for you, let’s simplify things by saying that a lamp projector is a great entry-level option, and a laser projector is more high-end. But the star of the show is certainly the LED projector. Renowned for giving greater picture perception, it offers strong color saturation and luminous efficiency, making it appear to have a higher perceived brightness than it’s actually measured by meter. What’s more, an LED projector has greater light source longevity than its lamp counterparts which require frequent bulb replacements.
Simply put, smart LED projectors have main character energy. They have a wide color gamut which gives you lifelike colors, offer wireless connectivity, have integrated speakers with fantastic audio, and they emit less heat so there’s less fan noise — which makes for a more immersive viewer experience. What’s more, they’re environmentally friendly. When it comes to accessing a world of entertainment at home, they’re a catch.
If you want to learn more about lamp, laser and LED projectors, we’ve got you covered.
Near, Far, Wherever You Are
Not all films are created equally and not all projectors have the same throw ratio. Throw ratio refers to the distance between a projector lens and the screen or wall on which it shines, and this brings us to a consideration of your space. Where will you most likely use your projector?
Short throw and ultra short throw projectors give you a big screen, with no need for a big room. Nifty and practical, they fit in spaces where a regular projector cannot, producing a large picture from a short distance using unique lenses and mirrors. There’s no need to mount it on the ceiling or clear a fixed location behind your couch for it (unless you want to). These projectors are made to rest anywhere — from a coffee table to a shelf close to the wall.
Regular throw projectors need to be placed about 8-10 feet (244-305 cm) away from the wall for a 100” visual. This is great if you have a larger living room. So, if you’re planning a dinner and movie night, you’ve got all your friends around for the big game, or you’re simply spending a cozy weekend at home binging series, then this is the choice for you.
If you’re a movie lover who is always on the go, you may want a compact and portable short throw LED projector like the XII-4K which will project a 100″ large screen only 1.77 m away from the wall. Aside from transforming your space into a home theater, you could also create a gamer’s den in your living room with the X2-4K (product launching soon). This short throw smart LED projector is the world’s first projector that is certified as being Designed for XBOX, so, you’re guaranteed the ultimate gaming experience, be it battling enemies in Fortnite, building cities in Minecraft, or shooting hoops with the Nets in NBA2K23.
If your apartment is fully furnished and decorated, you’re sharing common spaces with friends and roommates, or simply choosing a more minimalist aesthetic, you may find you’ll fall for ultra short throw projectors like the X1000-4K as it’ll produce a 100″ image when placed 15 inches (38 cm) from the wall and can therefore be used even in close confines.
Camera, Action, Lights!
Not everybody can have a dedicated darkened cinema at home, so the next element to consider when finding your dream projector is your living room’s ambient light. Consider the size and positioning of your windows. If your movie night typically takes place with a few dimmed lamps on, or a streetlight glowing outside the window, then brightness is worth thinking about.
A projector’s brightness is measured in lumens: a candle emits 14 lumens, a sunset 400, and a sunny day can reach up to 100,000 lumens. Lumens are important because a projector cannot display vivid images if it does not produce enough light. Images will appear muddy and fuzzy if the light output is too low. Other factors such as ambient light, screen distance, and desired screen size will inform you if fewer or more lumens are required.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Lumen is a popular unit of measurement for projector brightness. In general, projectors with 2,000 ANSI Lumens or more are the best range for smaller spaces like a living room as this easily produces a bright screen. ViewSonic’s LED projectors’ brightness, on the other hand, is rated using the LED Lumen rating, not ANSI. That’s because they have a higher perceived brightness (which reflects what is seen by human eyes), so their LED Lumen count would start at a higher number. To better understand the difference between ANSI and LED Lumens read here.
The Right Resolution for the Best Home Theater Projector
Film aficionados — be it a love for Marvel superheroes, French new wave cinema, or the best tearjerkers out there — may want to bag 4K resolution when investing in the best projector for home theater as this guarantees crisp and expressive detail in every frame. 4K resolution is frequently marketed as UHD (ultra high definition) and is currently the best you can get. If you have Premium Disney or Netflix subscriptions, this is for you.
The most popular resolution format is 4K UHD and what’s great is that even if you only access online content, you’re still sure to have all the detail, color, and luminosity you could hope for. It’s also helpful to know that most projectors typically have fixed resolutions, which means that regardless of the quality of the signal received, they can only output in one resolution, so some information will be shrunk so that it can be output in the correct format (however, if the projector’s native resolution is 1080p without 4K support, then the projector can’t project the 4K content). This is why it’s vital to know if your projector is compatible with these formats. Support for 4K Ultra HD and HDR can vary based on your device’s make and model.
Color gamut is the slick sidekick to resolution, and together this captivating duo steals the spotlight. The color gamut is the range of colors that can be reproduced on an output device. REC .709 is the color gamut utilized by the US Theater industry and is produced by the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). It ensures that all devices on the market that use it as their standard share a common language for the colors they utilize, ensuring that the “postbox red” produced by one manufacturer is the same “postbox red” produced by another. Make sure to choose a model with at least 100% coverage of the REC .709 to ensure the highest color fidelity to the original content.
To read more about projector resolution read this article, and if you’re interested in knowing more about color gamut you can click here.
There are a few other elements that are guaranteed to help you decide on the best home theater projector for you. Movie lovers without a dedicated space will love the progress that has been made in developing portable and lightweight projectors, which is both practical and magical. What’s more, with built-in instant auto focus for clear and sharp images in seconds, you can rest assured your films, series, games, and videos are going to be aligned even if your projector isn’t front and center of the screen. No more fidgeting to make it straight! Likewise, the high native contrast ratio ensures you have clear viewing, even if you’re watching a game outdoors or you’ve turned your campsite into a makeshift cinema.
Many models now come with built-in high-end Bluetooth speaker systems — which guarantee connectivity and deliver crisp and clear sound that can be used for karaoke nights or to simply provide the backtrack to a dinner party — so you’re guaranteed night after night of fun, entertainment, and cinematic moments. Add to this, wireless screen sharing and embedded Smart OS, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll fall head over heels in love.
But perhaps one of the best things about these modern LED projectors is how silent they are. There’s no noisy whirring fan desperately trying to cool down various components, regardless of how many sequels to Fast & Furious you watch in one go.
When searching for the best home theater projector, you want to think about lifespan, and it’s quite clear that an LED projector is a cost-saver in the long run. You can use it for 30K hours without frequent lamp replacement, or in other words, you can watch movies for 6 hours each day, for more than 10 years (*cue collective gasp from the audience). When it comes to investing in a projector, you want something you can enjoy for years to come.
There’s plenty of fish in the sea. You’ll find projectors for gaming, small portable ones for people on the move, projectors made for streaming, projectors for high-end home cinemas, and ones for small spaces. After looking at LED projectors and their lumens, throw, and resolution, as well as considering their lifespan and other practical components like keystone correction, contrast ratio, high-quality speakers, and the sweet absence of fan noise, why wouldn’t you want to recreate Hollywood’s happily-ever-after with the best home theater projector on the market?
To turn your meet-cute into your ride-or-die, take a look at ViewSonic’s home theater projectors or learn more about projectors for education, business and entertainment.