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.