Should you buy the latest flat-screen TV? Or should you consider a projection TV instead? Here are the pros and cons.
I’ll never forget my first visit to an actual home theater. It wasn’t some grandiose affair you might expect to find in the mansion of a Hollywood mogul – it was simply a small projector mounted on the ceiling, similar to the conference rooms in many offices. Nevertheless, we were still able to experience a kind of “movie magic” that’s absent from the harsh light of even the finest flat-screen television.
That first experience was so memorable, I soon began to convert an unused room in my basement into my own home theater. What I discovered was that projectors offered a far greater value than a television. For example, a 50-inch (diagonal) TV currently starts around $700. For that price, you can purchase a high-definition projector that will easily display a picture of 100 inches and beyond!
Advantages of a projector over a TV
- Screen size per dollar. Once you go beyond 50 inches, there’s simply no way that televisions can compete with projectors in price.
- Ambiance. If a movie theater were able to install a gigantic flat screen, would you want to go? The soft glow of a projector is just far more soothing to the eyes than a flat-screen TV.
- Portability. A projector arrives in a small box, whereas the delivery and installation of a big-screen television can be quite a chore.
- Great for outdoor use. Another side benefit of owning a projector is that you can use it in your driveway or your backyard on a nice evening for an outdoor movie night.
Drawbacks of projectors
- You still need accessories. By itself, a projector is fairly useless – you’ll need to provide a screen or at least a smooth wall to project the picture onto. Although high-end screens can be pricey, a fine 120-inch model costs about $200. You’ll also need a sound system, since they typically don’t come with speakers. They also don’t come with a tuner for over-the-air television, so you’ll need to buy one – or just use a DVD player or cable/satellite box to input the signal.
- Projectors hate light. These devices are best suited to a basement or a room where you can draw the curtains. You won’t enjoy the washed-out picture that’s produced when using a projector in a room with ambient lighting.
- Installation requirements. Beyond just providing a dark room, you’ll also need to find a place to mount your projector. While they can be placed on a coffee table, the preferred installation is on the ceiling. This will require managing the cables. If you plan to snake them through the ceiling, that’s best left to the pros.
- Projector bulb replacement. Televisions and projectors both have sources of illumination that can wear out. With a projector, its bulb is easily replaced, while a television must undergo a costly repair that may not be justified. Unfortunately, however, projector bulbs can cost hundreds of dollars. With a lifespan of 3,000 to 5,000 hours, your bulb will last a decade or more if used a few hours a week. Use it several hours each day, and you will wear it out in a few years.
Projectors clearly aren’t going to replace flat-screen TVs any time soon. But if you’re looking for an incredible alternative to an expensive big-screen purchase, explore the possibility of a projector instead.
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