There is no doubt that if you want to go big, really big, there is nothing better than a projection setup. Up to few years ago, that meant either a video projector or a rear projection HDTV. RPTVs are on the way out but they still represent the only affordable big box TV solution at anything above 70-inch. On the other hand, a video projection – projection screen setup is the way to go if you want to enjoy that cinema-like experience in the home thanks to their massive 100-inch plus screens and an image quality that is more in line with what you enjoy at the movie theater.
We discuss video projection systems in this series of Video Projectors and Rear Projection TV guides. Issued covered include: operational principles behind the different video projection technologies, pros and cons of front and rear projection systems, differences between business vs. home theater projectors, video projector buying tips, and differences between the different HDTV formants.
Why BIG Screen Entertainment?
Large image projections draw you ‘IN‘ and make you ‘FEEL‘ more part of the onscreen action. It is this immersive feeling that is so peculiar with the movie theaters that the big screens of video projection helps you create in the home.
Today’s video projection technology can create large high quality video projections to provide you with the size you want at a reasonable price. This makes projection television, and in particular home theater projectors, the most flexible of all BIG screen TV technologies.
At this point we cannot but mention the fact that many had long predicted the demise of rear projection TVs as LED TVs and plasma HDTVs continue to get bigger, better, and cheaper. However, it was only on December 1, 2012 that Mitsubishi announced it will be exiting the rear projection TV market. A bit unfortunately but as long as these projection TVs are available in major retail stores, these remain the most viable ’70-inch plus’ option as an immediate big screen TV solution without breaking your bank account.
It is true that 2012 has brought with it a push by the flat panel TV industry and in particular by Sharp towards massive 70-inch to 90-inch LED TVs; prices range from around $3,000 for a 70-inch LED TV, $5,000 for an 80-inch set – going up to $11,000 for the only 90-inch LED TV we are aware of, the Sharp 9-inch LE745U LED TV. Feature-wise, here we are talking about mid-range HDTVs with a massive screen. In other words, for these prices you will be getting a really big screen LED TV but no superior picture quality. And despite being LED TVs, these HDTVs come with a rather thick profile that is close to 5-inch deep for the super-expensive 90-inch LED TV.
Instead, an equivalent 92-inch Mitsubishi 3D DLP TV is selling online for under $3,000 – a third the price of the Sharp while more affordable 73-inch DLP 3D HDTVs are selling at under $1,300, almost 40% the price of an equivalent screen size Sharp LED TV! More information on these rear projection TVs is available in our Rear Projection TV Review page.
It is true that when talking about RPTVs, we are talking about ‘big boxes’ with an average depth that is close to 18-inch for an 82-inch RPTV. But then keep in mind that a LED TV of the same size would not take much less when mounted on its table-top stand.
What if you want to go really, really BIG, or don’t want a big box TV?
Well, your only real affordable option as things stand today is a front projection set-up using a home theater projector and a projection screen. A mid-range home theater projector may very well provide you with a 100-inch diagonal 16:9 projected image for even less than a 70-inch LED TV. A case in point is the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3010 featured at the top of this page. The Epson is an extremely interesting video projector capable not only of superb projections but also comes with a number of convenience features more typical of an HDTV than a video projector. All this comes for under $1,500, the price you would pay for a typical 50-inch premium plasma TV.
Moreover, if you want to go for big screen entertainment on a budget, it is also possible to find bright barebones video projectors costing no more than a few hundred dollars.
One may argue that you still need to add the cost of an appropriate projection screen, but a typical manual 100-inch screen would not cost more than $100, while an electric-driven equivalent would sell for around $300.
At these prices, a projection TV solution based on a home theater projector and projection screen set-up should prove an inexpensive big screen option for your dedicated home theater room.
Note that we are saying the ‘dedicated’ home theater; the video projector – projection screen solution is most suitable for use in a dedicated home entertainment environment where you have total control over the room environment. In particular, with front projection, you need to have all lights switched off completely.
This should not be interpreted that a front projection set-up is the best option. If you are after a 70-inch plus big screen TV in your living room, or in that case, any room where viewing will take place under either partially dimmed or full room lighting without missing on picture quality, then a rear projection TV is the way to go if the TV depth is not an issue. With a RPTV, the room lighting would not interfere with the light path between the projection unit and the projection screen on the front of the TV.
But… Selecting a projection TV solution is not just a matter of size
It is true that a projection TV set-up provides you with more screen estate for you dollar than any other video display technology, yet there is more in favor of projection systems:
A Rear Projection TV provides an immediate no mess, no fuss affordable solution for a thoroughly big screen TV – simply unpack the product and there you have a big screen TV in front of you ready for immediate use. In other words, a RPTV provides you with the convenience of an affordable big screen TV solution for anything bigger than a 70-inch plus TV.
For more information on available RPTVs, please refer to our Rear Projection TV Reviews section.
A Home Theater Projector set-up gives you the possibility to enjoy a picture whose quality and size resembles more that enjoyed at the movie theater, making true cinematic experience within the comfort of your home theater, an affordable reality.
If you have the necessary room space, a front projection TV solution is the way to go. Today’s affordable home theater projectors support quality 1080p video projections up to whatever size you want; just ensure that you opt for at least a 2000 lumen 1080p video projector for best results. Cheap 720p or SVGA projectors may cost just a few hundred dollars but the lower resolution of the cheaper projectors would impact your viewing experience.
More information on available projector solutions can be found under the Business & Home Theater Projector Reviews section of the site.
Projection TV Section Index: Guides & Product Reviews
Prior to commencing with your search for a suitable home theater projector or rear projection TV, we suggest to check the ‘Video Projection and RPTV Guides’ available under this section. The additional info contained in these articles will help you make a more informed buy you really feel confident about.