Video and Audio Center Blog

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Really Big Picture Comes from a Front Projector

Everybody wants a big picture when it comes to watching at home: sports looks better and blockbuster movies don't expect those viewing to be seated in front of a small set (remember when the 19" color TV was the "gold" standard for home viewing)? This is why so many people lusted after the idea of a front projection system in the past: it provided a screen that was so many times bigger than that of the typical TV. The problem was that it wasn't so affordable; what with having to get not just the projector but also the screen for the wall. Not to mention there needed to be enough open, empty space between the two for the projection to reach. But that was on one side of the scale, with the fact that a large TV either didn't exist or was so darned expensive (remember what 42" flat panels first cost?).

But today prices for high-def flat panels are nothing like they once used to be: 50, 66, even 70 inch HDTVs are being made by well known brand names (Sony, Samsung, LG, etc.). So why would someone still want to get a front projection system? Because when we're talking about a big screen, we mean a BIG screen - 85, 95, 100+ inches. That's where detail really leaves its mark when high-definition is being made the centerpiece. But mostly it's where watching a movie at home isn't a poor substitute for going to the theater. Lets break down what is needed and how any home or apartment can stake its claim to "movie night."

The Front Projector

A front projector commonly uses either uses digital light projection (DLP) or LCD panel projection (there's also lasers but affordable, not so much). HD projectors are Full HD 1080p, just like TVs, with 4K models available but still very expensive (such as Sony's $25,000 VPL-VW1000ES). Projectors come with varying tech built in - for example there are models that expect to be projected on a wall and adjust its color image based on the paint, are designed to take a wireless transmission from a video source (like a Blu-ray player or cable box) and even have "Smart TV" features like being able to stream TV shows and movies. But the most important thing of all could be the lens and not because a quality optic means a good picture (which it does) — it's about having a "short throw" lens that doesn't require having to go way back to project a big picture, because there doesn't have to be a lot of "dead" space (projector to screen/wall). This means that the projector can be placed on a table, rather than having to be mounted on the ceiling or on a back wall: both of which are impractical for apartment dwellers and difficult due to the need for electrical wiring (for these reasons, always go to a professional installer when electrical work is involved to not just get the job done from a practical point of view but also done safely).

The Projection Screen

As noted above, it's possible to project onto a plain wall and have the projector handle the fact that it's not an off-white (providing the projector has such technology inside). There are even paints designed to mimic a projection screen that can be applied to walls, inside or out (should you want to watch in the backyard). Most will find the practical solution to be the projection screen mounted to the wall. There are many types of screens, each designed with specific strengths to consider such as their reflective quality, how they handle 3D being projected on them as well as the suitability of their physical design is for the space that they re going to be used in. Some research will be required here, just as is will be for the projector (since the makers of front projectors don't also make screens so you can't just say give me the one Sony makes for Sony projector I've got, please). Initial considerations should deal with the space where it will be used in and whether there will be a lot or little ambient light when the projector is on (affecting how much reflective qualities are required). And of course just how big an image is going to be projected (affecting the physical dimensions of the screen).

And we want to reiterate that a big screen is needed to make 3D look good, and not just for the person seated dead center but also those who might be seated more to the side. The bigger the screen, the more pronounced the 3D effect becomes too -- and what's the good of having 3D if it doesn't stand out? 3D in the theater is paid for at a premium and if you give the movie theaters your hard earned $$, the next thing you know your wallet will have been emptied out for some microwave-heated up popcorn that you didn't want in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. Few like me enjoy watching movies at home as a family to save money and some people like going to theatres as a family calling it a day to relax and having fun.
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