TV vs. Projector. Which is Best for You?

Deciding on whether to install a projector or a TV in their home cinema is a question most audio/video enthusiasts have asked themselves at one time or another. Buying a high quality, large screen TV would seem to be the easiest option of the two, but that's not necessarily true. In this article, we'll be looking at why you might want to consider a projector over a TV, but before we start, it is important to remember that projectors and TV's serve different purposes and that there are pros and cons to both.

Purchase Price

For some reason, people tend to think that projectors are really expensive. But in most cases, a good budget projector is actually going to cost you less than a large TV. Of course, if you choose a projector you'll have to add the cost of a screen, but again there are a lot of reasonably priced products on the market and if you are really pushed budget-wise, then anyone with a little DIY savvy can buy the materials and quite easily build their own screen for about the price of a couple of cinema tickets.


Alternatively, if you have a good dry wall in your home theatre, then a coat of good quality paint will work just as well. If you think your DIY skills may not be quite up to scratch then your best option will be to buy either a pull-down screen or a fixed frame screen. Of these two options, a fixed frame is going to give you the best picture quality.


Room Light

Considering that a projector uses a light from a bulb, it's not going to be as bright as a TV, so a projector will typically work better in a basement, a dedicated theatre room, or somewhere you can easily control the light.


But if you really want to place your projector in a bright room there are still ways to improve the quality of the picture. You can make the screen smaller, simply because the larger the screen, the darker the picture will be. You can also get different types of screen material that will actually reject the light. Or if you are projecting on a wall, there are different types of paint available that will help your viewing experience.


Throw Distance

Another thing to consider when deciding on a TV or projector is throw distance. This is basically how far the projector is from the wall or from the screen. The average projector needs to be several feet away from the screen in order to project a large image. For example: if you wanted to use a 120-inch screen, most projectors will need to be about 13 to 14 feet away. Throw distance is definitely something you should take into account, especially if you want to place your projector in a small(ish) space.


If you really don't have the space you could also consider buying what is called a 'short throw' projector. These projectors can be placed much closer to the screen. Some can actually be placed right in front of the screen. Short throw projectors do cost a little bit more, however, and compared to a long throw projector, the image quality may slightly suffer, but not enough for most people to notice.


Bulb Burnout

Some of you may have heard that projector lamps burn out and are really expensive to replace, and for many home cinema fans, this reason alone means that it's not worth getting a projector. But this is not really true anymore, even in the case of a budget projector.


Consider first that you will get an average of about 4,000 hours out of the lamp. This is a considerable amount of time for the projector to be on. And if you do go beyond that and the lamp does burn out, it will only cost you somewhere between fifty and a hundred pounds to replace the bulb on a budget projector. Which isn't really bad at all.


Price vs. Size

TV's are great for just about any space. But when you want something really large and you're comparing them to projectors, it can get very, very expensive. A really cheap 70 inch TV will cost you around £1000. A good quality 70 inch TV can cost twice that much. And once you start to get into the 80 inch and bigger, the prices can really begin to rocket.



Smart or Not so Smart

To be fair, TV's do have a lot of benefits over projectors. The first thing is that they are really bright, so you don't have to worry about putting a TV in a bright room because it's bright enough to overpower whatever light you have in that room. Another thing about TV's is that most of them are now smart. They have smart features built into them, and this is something you would not normally find on a projector. So in order to get smart features on a projector, you'll have to hook up to something like a Roku, Chromecast or a Fire TV.


You should also consider 4K and HDR. There are already 4K projectors out there, but if you're the average person and you're really interested in the whole 4K HDR phenomenon, you might want to choose a TV over a projector, unless you have quite a substantial budget.

Viewing Experience

So, after reading all this you're probably wondering why on earth should you want to buy a projector in the first place? Basically, there are 2 reasons; Reason number one is the WOW! Factor. There is nothing like walking into a room and seeing a huge screen with a nice picture on it and when that screen is in the relativity limited space of a home theatre, the effect can be even more spectacular than in your local cinema.


Reason number two is that it can be more immersive. Sure, there's nothing wrong with watching sports or an episode of your favourite soaps on a TV, but if you want to truly 'experience' a film, then once you've seen it projected onto the screen from your very own projector, you'll never want to watch it any other way again.

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