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How to Pick a Home Theater Projector

Skip the expensive movie tickets and outrageously priced snacks and put that money toward your very own home theater.


  • Step 1: Choose DLP or LCD Choose between an LCD and a DLP projector. LCD delivers better color saturation and a sharper image, but the image can be pixilated and have weak black and contrast levels. The DLP is smaller and produces excellent black and contrast levels, but can produce a visible artifact on the screen known as the "rainbow effect."
  • Step 2: Consider the room Consider the projector's room to determine the amount of brightness you want, measured in lumens and ranging from 700-2,000. If you have a dedicated home theater with controlled lighting, 1,000 lumens will do. If your room has some ambient light, get at least 1,200, and if your space has a high amount of ambient light, go with 2,000 lumens.
  • Step 3: Consider viewing habits Consider your viewing habits, which will help you determine a lamp life. Standard projectors have between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of lamp life. Replacement bulbs can cost between $200 and $500, so if you're going to use it a lot, consider a longer lamp life.
  • Step 4: Understand resolution Understand resolution so you can get the best image for your needs. Codes like 420p, 720p, and 1080p are indicators of the projector's resolution. The higher you go, the better the resolution.
  • TIP: If you're just content with watching DVDs through your projector, 480p will be fine, but if you're projecting HDTV, consider 720p or 1080p for the best image.
  • Step 5: Choose the cables Choose the cables that you will use to connect your projector. Your projector should have a at least one component video input. HD projectors typically have either an HDMI or DVI connection.
  • Step 6: Read reviews Read online reviews to see what other people say about different models, and talk to sales staff at your local electronics store before purchasing. Once you've decided on a projector, bring it home and fire it up!
  • FACT: In 1891, Thomas Edison patented the Kinetograph, the first motor-powered camera that could capture motion.

You Will Need

  • Viewing room
  • Cables
  • Internet access
  • Sales staff

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