Home theatre projectors

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Turn your living room into a cinema.

Cook up a bowl of popcorn and settle in for movie night on your own couch.

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What to look for

Lamp life

Lamp life for the models we tested ranged from 2000-5000 hours depending on the setting used. 5000 hours is 208 days of viewing. But as the bulbs can cost up to $650 to replace, you'll want to keep those marathons of Game of Thrones to a minimum.

The projector lamp needs time to heat up before it can display a picture. For the sake of lamp life, it's a good idea to let your projector heat up and cool down according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Fan noise and temperature

There's nothing worse than external noise (other people) in a cinema – the same goes for a noisy projector fan at home. The sound produced by the projector varies depending on the settings chosen. Higher speeds (to prolong bulb life) are usually noisier.

After an hour playing footage on its default settings, the projector temperature can become toasty so keep children and clutter away from the exhaust outlet. The projector should also be used in a well-ventilated room, or viewing could become uncomfortable.

Resolution

The physical size of the projector doesn't necessarily have any impact on the resolution it can display. Native resolution is the resolution at which the projector can display images without having to scale the picture up or down. The ideal is when the video signal matches the native resolution, but in reality you'll be watching video from different sources at different resolutions. All the models in our test have a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p).

Keystone / lens shift correction

The keystone effect usually occurs when the image is projected onto the screen at an angle. If projected upwards, it results in a picture that is wider at the top and looks like a wedge or 'keystone'. All the projectors had controls to overcome this problem (though some did not state their parameters).

Keystone correction can create jagged edges at the edge of the screen, as it effectively cuts out some of the pixels to make the image rectangle.

Lens shift (left/right or up/down) is necessary when the projector is positioned off-centre. If the projector doesn’t have this feature you’ll have to move the whole device to make a correction.

Sound

The projector only takes care of your picture needs. While some have small speakers, for cinematic sound you'll need a good home-theatre system.

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