Did you know that those over the age of 60 can remember a time when home television sets were not the universal given that they are today?
Forget internet streaming and thousands of channels. At that time, the broadcasting infrastructure was so nascent that there were only 3 TV Channels and they only operated during certain hours. In fact, the first 24-hour broadcasting schedule didn’t launch until 1988.
Despite the limitations, there was a time when TV ownership was culturally mandatory, so to speak. Alternatives never caught on since TVs offered higher resolutions, greater brightness, and lower costs.
Well, let me tell you, the story since then has changed.
Today, obviously, the televisual landscape is markedly different and, therefore, alternatives abound. Enter, projectors.
Thanks to some exciting new advancements in projector technology, the debate between TVs and projectors has been ignited and the competition is fierce!
In fact, projectors with higher resolutions and higher brightness outputs than TVs can be found in similar price ranges to that of their technological competitors.
When it comes down to it, which should you choose?
In our comparison below, we’re going to help you answer that question. Between the descriptions of the different projector types, a pro/con comparison, and a 9-point breakdown juxtaposing both technologies, we’ve got you covered.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current home entertainment space or are setting up a new one from scratch, we’ve definitely got some info that you’ll want to take a look at!
Different projector types
A projector, as the name suggests, is a digital device that takes existing images and videos, and projects them onto a screen.
There are three types of projector technologies, including:
- DLP projectors
- LCD projectors
- LCoS projectors
Each of these projector types vary slightly as far as their characteristics go, with DLP projectors and LCD projectors making up a lion share of the projector market.
Even when comparing DLP vs. LCD projector technology, there are variations in the way both of them operate that makes the viewing experience slightly different on each.
In addition, projectors also use different types of light sources including LEDs, lasers, and lamps. We’ll go into more detail about each of these types of projectors in another article.
Since this article is about creating the ideal home entertainment space, we’ll be using this high-brightness 4K projector from ViewSonic as an example of some of the newest advancements in projector technology.
The rising popularity of home projectors
Since the 1950s, TVs have been the focal point of living rooms around the world. As the centerpiece for entertainment, such as watching movies and shows or playing video games, it’s no wonder why!
For as long as we can remember there just simply haven’t been any alternatives.
This changed, however, when household LCD projectors became commercially viable in the early 2000s.
Today, with the advent of computers, streaming services, and other digital television replacements, the role of TVs in the world is no longer as secure as it once was.
Although projectors have been around for some time, they were still very niche products just a few years ago. To add to that, they just couldn’t compete with TVs on specs or price.
As projector technology has advanced though, projectors have leveled the TV vs. projector playing field and become a favorable alternative.
Although some projectors are indeed fixed, in terms of location, one such recent advancement has been in regards to portability. The latest projection models, in fact, have been fully portable, with potential usage situations ranging from home cinemas to small meeting spaces and outdoor locales. It truly is the next generation.
Basically, many of the characteristics that used to turn people away from buying a projector (in particular price and brightness) are now not a flat out win for TVs anymore.
Read on below to find out how projectors have advanced over the years and why you should consider them before you hit the buy button on a big screen TV.
TVs vs. Projectors: Home entertainment comparison
1. Screen Size
Size matters when it comes to home entertainment.
As we all know this is usually the first spec many people think about when looking into upgrading their home entertainment area. After all, bigger screens give you more flexibility when it comes to how many people can watch simultaneously, how far away you can sit from the screen, etc.
While big screen TVs are the norm, projectors have the advantage of allowing you to flexibly adjust your screen size since they are not bounded to a display panel.
If you’re a part of the “bigger is better” school of thought, projectors that project images over 100-inches in size are not hard to come by! Projectors usually have a clear advantage in terms of screen size and flexible size adjustment.
Brightness is an important factor to consider if you are setting up a good all-around home entertainment area.
Why, you ask?
Well, because higher brightness results in better-looking images when ambient lighting is present.
In the past, projectors needed to be used in darker rooms which made it less flexible to use projectors in your home instead of a TV.
Today, however, projectors with a higher brightness output, such as the 3500 ANSI Lumen projector we used in our comparison, have made projectors a viable option for use in your home.
Projectors with a high brightness output can reduce the washed out image effects that occur when using a low brightness projector during the daytime or with the lights on.
If you’re planning on using a projector for your home entertainment space and want the flexibility to use it during the day or with the lights on, a high-brightness projector is going to provide an enjoyable experience.
3. Contrast Ratio
When thinking about brightness, the next topic that comes to mind us typically contrast. Without getting too technical, contrast refers to the relationship between the darkest and brightest colors color on your screen. In essence, the more contrast the better the image quality.
When comparing TVs vs. projectors, contrast is represented as a ratio. Contrast ratios for TVs and projectors can vary depending on the device.
In general, if a projector has lower brightness, ambient lighting will have a dramatic effect on a projector’s contrast ratio.
Luckily, high-brightness projectors like the one mentioned above are better able to preserve a high contrast ratio than low brightness projectors.
Since the contrast ratio for TVs and projectors differ, the comparison for TVs vs. projectors can go either way.
Just make sure to check the contrast ratio for specific models you are considering and keep in mind that a higher contrast ratio will usually give you a better picture.
High resolution – it’s what everyone rages on about when it comes to home entertainment.
The resolution of a device is essentially the number of pixels it contains, with higher resolution devices containing more pixels. The resolution directly determines the clarity of finer details in an image. As an example, subtler details, such as grains of sand, individual strands of hair, etc. become more apparent at higher resolutions.
It’s not hard to see (no pun intended) why higher resolution translates to a better viewing experience.
While Full HD 1080p is the current standard, 4K resolutions (which is 4x that of Full HD) seems to be available everywhere, from cameras to TVs, and now even projectors.
What many people don’t know, however, is that the benefits of 4K resolution may be imperceptible unless a screen is large enough to properly display each and every pixel.
In the past, 4K projectors were few and far between. However, recent advancements in projector technology have resulted in an influx of high-resolution projectors, like the 4K projector we used in this comparison.
In some cases, you can even find 4K projectors at a price point well below that of what you would pay for a 4K television
In terms of projectors, their large screen size pairs well with higher resolution images, giving projectors an advantage in this regard.
The bottom line here is to aim for the highest resolution within your price range and thank us later.
5. Installation Process & Room Size
At first thought, many people may assume that when comparing TVs vs. projectors, installing a TV is easier. This, however, is only partly true.
If you’re considering wall mounting your TV (as most people do), then the truth is you’re probably going to need someone to come out and help you with the installation.
In comparison, wall mounting a TV or ceiling mounting a projector will most likely require the help of a professional to make sure it is done correctly. If this is the case then the installation process for a TV or a projector is quite similar with neither side having an advantage.
In addition, traditional projectors used to have to be ceiling mounted and placed away from the projection screen.
Today, however, a new breed of projectors know as “short throw projectors” have changed this and made it possible for setting up a projector close to the screen without having to mount it. These projectors can be useful if you’re working with a smaller home entertainment space.
6. Sound Quality
In the realm of home theater systems, who wouldn’t want to spring for the best speakers possible!
If you’re going to emulate cinema-level quality, you’ll likely want external speakers regardless of whether you plan on purchasing a television or projector.
The bottom line is:
Regardless of your choice, whether TV or projector, a solid external sound system is the way to go.
Nothing can be expected to last forever, especially now, in the era of designed obsolescence.
When debating between TVs vs. projectors, it’s important to factor necessary future maintenance into your decision-making process.
The good thing is, contrary to popular belief, projector maintenance isn’t all that bad.
The amount of maintenance you’ll have to do for a projector will vary depending on the projector’s light source but even the most high maintenance light sources may only need to be changed every 5 years or so.
Changing the light source also comes with an added benefit.
Switching out a projector’s light source will actually restore brightness back to its original state which is good for long-term usage.
8. Eye Comfort
Have you ever noticed that your eyes never feel irritated after going to the movies?
The reason for this is that projector technology is actually comfortable for your eyes to look at.
The reason for this is that projectors use a screen to bounce light and reflect it back to your eyes.
This process eliminates some of the more harmful light rays that would be directed into your eye for more comfortable viewing.
In terms of eye comfort, projectors have the advantage of images that are more comfortable for your eyes than a TV’s images.
They say that money makes the world go around, and they’re right.
The cost of both TVs and projectors therein can range from surprisingly cheap to grossly expensive, depending on what exactly it is that you’re looking for.
The good news is:
It used to be the case that when comparing a projector and a TV of similar quality, the projector was normally more expensive.
Today, however, projectors have come down in price dramatically. In fact, high-quality projectors with high resolution and high brightness may even be less expensive than you may think!
TVs vs. Projectors: Comparing the pros and cons
As an overview of the points discussed above, projectors have some significant advantages related to creating the ideal home entertainment space generally include:
- A bigger screen size
- Flexible screen size adjustment
- Eye comfort
- Lower cost in relation to a TV with the same specs
Whereas TVs have advantages in terms of:
- Less maintenance
- Better sound quality
When comparing TVs vs. projectors, creating a list of pros and cons to reference while testing out each is a good idea.
Paying attention to the characteristics above and deciding which matter most to you will get you off to a good start in making the right choice for your home entertainment needs.
Which should I buy?
By and large, the outcome of TVs vs. projectors is a matter of personal preference.
The standard living room typically has a television at the center, but that’s no reason not to embrace home projectors technology.
If your aim is to truly emulate a movie theater experience, then it goes without saying, a projector is a pretty good choice.
If you’ve already decided to make the switch from TV to projector and are interested in looking for some suitable models, we’ve provided links to the projector we analyzed in this article below. We’ve also included some of our other top picks that we think may make your transition into home projection a smooth process.