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Video Projector Buying Guide

Sep 11, 2008
In the past, video projectors were limited to high-end home theater installations that were very expensive, but today these same types of high definition projectors are available for less than $2,000.

Whether you plan on using a video projector for professional or personal use, a projector can provide you with many benefits. Depending on what you will be using the projector for, there are certain things you should look for before making a purchasing decision.

Below you will find a set of questions that our product specialists ask our customers before recommending a projector for them to buy.

How much light is in the room you plan on using the projector in? Generally, the more light that enters the room the more Lumens you will need a projector to have. The more Lumens a projector has, the brighter the picture will display, making it easier to see when in a room with a lot of light. Note that a projector with less than 1000 Lumens might require you to block out almost all of the external light in order to be able to see the picture clearly.

What aspect ratio do you want the projector to display in? The two main types of aspect ratios are either 4:3 (standard) or 16:9 (widescreen and HDTVs). Most people now are choosing projectors in the 16:9 format for their home theaters, while a few prefer the 4:3 format as many movies created before 1953 are in that format.

Do you plan on taking the projector around with you? If you want a projector that is easy to take around, from room to room or office to office, consider the size and weight of the unit. The lighter and smaller the projector, the more portable it will be.

Do you care about the contrast of colors in the picture displayed? If you want a good contrast in your colors, such as blacker blacks and whiter whites, then take a look at the contrast ratio of a given projector. The range of contrast ratios is anywhere between 500:1 and 5000:1 and more. The higher the contrast ratio is, the higher the amount of available colors. Therefore the higher the contrast ratio is the more life like images the projector can produce.

How do you plan on connecting to the projector? Make sure that the projector in question has all of the inputs you plan on using available. These include S-Video, Composite, Component, HDMI, as well as many others.

What type of accessories do you want with the projector? Projectors can come with many accessories, including the necessary cables to make a connection such as an s-video cable, HDMI cable, or something of the like. Make sure the projector has the necessary cables when purchasing a projector. Other accessories can include remotes, lasers, lens cap, etc.

Lumens: The unit of measure for the light output of a projector.

S-Video (Separated Video): An analog video signal that carries the video data as two separate signals.

Composite: A single video connector that combines all the color and brightness signals into one cable using a single RCA male connector. Often color-coded yellow, it is the most common type of analog video connection between older VCRs and TVs.

Component: Video signal in which the luminance and sync information are recorded separately from the color information. Component is superior to composite.


HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface): HDMI supports standard, enhanced, or high-definition video, plus multi-channel digital audio all on a single cable.

4:3 Standard Aspect Ratio: The shape of standard (non-widescreen) TVs, which simply means the picture "frame" is 4 units wide for every 3 units tall.

16:9 Widescreen Aspect Ratio: The shape of widescreen TV's, which simply means the picture "frame" is 16 units wide for every 9 units tall. This ratio is used for high definition televisions.
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