What makes a good projector?
We are going to look at a selection of key features and let you decide which of them are relevant to you. This does not mean that other important features will be overlooked as we go along in finding out what makes a good projector. As we know every product has to have some minimum standard features depending on its market segment, year of production, and competition strategy.
Key features to look out for
- Solid light technology and brightness
Although 2016 has been declared the year of the laser projector, other technologies such as DLP, LCD LCOS and LED are still very much on the market and doing very well. From the look of it the laser and laser raster projectors will not go main stream until 2017 when manufacturers have had the chance to evaluate their performance and feedback from consumers, even though so far it has been getting positive reviews from tech pundits like us.
The brightness and solid light technology are tied together on most projectors, the good thing is they are not totally dependent on each other, what I mean is that you can have a laser projector with a brightness of 100 lumens and a LCD projector with 5000 lumens. In the business and consumer segment of the market you will find projectors of similar lumen count that are powered by different light technologies. The brightness is most important if you use the projector during the day or in lit up rooms. The advantage of laser is that the human eye perceives it better and the advantage of LCD variants is that they consume less energy and emit less heat. On the lower end of the market there are small Pico projectors of 50 lumens and at the top of the range you can find 20,000 lumens or more. Within similar lumen counts laser projectors are more expensive than other types.
The resolution on the other hand is the number of pixels the projector can process, the higher the pixels it can process the sharper the images (with all the small visual details) will be especially on a large screen. The resolution is usually quoted in two numbers “1920×720”, the first number is the number of pixels across the screen from left to right while the second is from top to bottom. It is also quoted as WXGA (1280×800), SXGA+ (1400×1050), UXGA (1600×1200), and WUXGA (1920×1200). The higher the resolution, the more expensive the projector will be. Just remember that if you do not need to project large images of 25inches or more, you do not necessarily need to invest in a high resolution projector.
- Connectivity, ports and storage
Projectors just like laptop computers and mobile phones are increasingly being fitted with wifi and other wireless connectivity sources (Bluetooth and Infrared). This trend has been popular in 2016 where we have seen wireless connectivity available across all segments of the market. In addition we all know by now that most projector come with a combination of HDMI port, USB, Auxiliary jack, memory card slot and/or internal storage capacity.
Wireless connectivity also gives the advantage of adding on accessories such as wireless speakers, keyboards and mouse.
- Throw ratio
Increasingly, manufacturers are seeing short throw ratio as a strong selling point and some have even gone further to develop lens with ultra-short throw ratio. My argument here is this, what is the point of having short throw ratio if the projector cannot give crisp images? Projectors have long been known to project better images at short distances except you want a large crisp image when you have limited space then a short throw ratio becomes a necessity. Anyways, if it is important to you then by all means go for it but remember to look out for other important specifications in addition to this. Remember the short throw ratio means higher prices.
- User interface
Apps and projectors now go together, smart projectors are a thing. These projectors can access apps on the android and apple ecosystem for streaming video and gaming content, accessing online office tools, navigating through files, adjusting settings, improving functionality and uploading/downloading content. This key feature has propelled the increasing popularity of projectors as consumer and entertainment modules. Popular apps have been Miracast, HBO, Airplay and YouTube. This has been made possible by incorporating Wireless connectivity along with fast CPU. The most important feature of this yet has been offering computer-free projection.
- Size and mobility
The size of a projector will always determine how it will be. This has become an increasingly important factor thanks to the recent introduction of pocket size projectors on the market. There are smart projectors that come in the size of smart phones with laser light technology and brightness of up to 300 lumens. These projectors run on internal batteries, access apps and have a resolution of 1920×720. They can comfortably fit into your pocket and the prices are also affordable.
My good projector is not necessarily your good projector. So the consensus will be that a projector that meets your demands with a combination of the above key features within your budget will always be the good projector. The market is filled with options and you will certainly find the right projector.