PROJECTORS: the choices


You can spend $1500, $15,000 or $150,000 on a projection system. What makes the difference?

Budget: There are some amazing bargains in the projector world if you stick with full-HD resolution of 1920 x 1080. Indeed you can go even lower and still enjoy a big-screen image — portable and pico-sized projectors may use only WVGA resolution (1280 x 800) but can still be fun for a quick set-up, or for use on holiday, even when you’re camping, with some able to operate on battery power and using mobile-streamed video as a source. But at home a full-HD projector is the minimum to avoid the ‘flyscreen’ effect of visible pixels. For best results, you should budget for a screen; projecting on a wall may look good at first, but once you realise how bumpy your wall is, those long cinematic pans start looking pretty silly.

Midrange: Ultra-HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 is available in two ways — using pixel-shifting at mid-range prices, or using native 4K panels at higher prices. Although the benefits of High Dynamic Range remain dubious in a projection system, you do gain a wider colour gamut, while more and smaller pixels banish the flyscreen effect and smoothen even full-HD source material. Look also at this level for laser light sources rather than replaceabl­e lamps, which offer 20,000 hours or more of operation, likely enough for the lifetime of the product.

Premium: Here you can experience native 4K projection, smart auto-adjustment­s for different aspect ratios, long-life laser light sources and enough lumens to fill the largest of screens. Most such projectors are large, and will require profession­al installati­on.

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