Pick a Projector Like a Pro

How To Pick A Projector

A projector screen makes an impact whether in your home theater or giving an office presentation. For home viewing, setting up a projector means you can get astounding picture quality, without the large screen TV price tag. Setting up a conference room, you want your images to be as bright and clear as the ideas you’re presenting on. Follow our guide to pick out a projector like a pro.


Basic Measurements

The specs that you’ll notice first when buying are resolution, contrast ratio, and Lumens.


Resolution refers to the amount of pixels that a projector screen is capable of displaying. The higher number of pixels means the better quality of picture you can expect. Resolution runs in the lower range of 480p and 720p (best for office settings) to 1080p and 4K (best for home theaters). You’ll want to match the resolution to the screen source. For example, the higher number of pixels are best for a home theater as you’re most likely playing HD content such as Blue Ray.  You don’t need a high amount of pixels for projecting charts off of a laptop in a board room.

Contrast Ratio

Contrast ratio refers to the difference between the darkest and brightest areas of a picture, or black to white light. This is mostly important to pay attention to when selecting a projector for a home theater. A high contrast ratio provides richer color experience and finer detail for all your nature documentaries and moody tv dramas. A higher contrast ratio is less important for an office setting if you’re primarily showing power points and static imagery.


The brightness of your projector is measured in lumens. The higher the lumen number, the brighter the projector is. The Lumens are measured in both white and color brightness. White brightness is the total amount of white light emitted. The color brightness refers to the amount of color projected, a higher color brightness means more detail and vibrancy in your images. The relationship between white and color brightness to pay attention to is if color brightness is less than the white brightness, your images might be washed out.

A high lumens projector is preferable for a space where there is a lot of ambient light. Think an office with lots of windows and overhead lights. High lumens also help to increase the viewing distance. Another example is that if a teacher has a bright projector, students can better see a power point at the back of a lecture hall.


Types of Projectors

We’ll talk about the different ways a projector processes images and the three different kinds of light sources. 

Different image processing; LCD, DLP and LCoS

An LCD projector is defined as a Liquid Crystal Display. An LCD projector sends light from a metal-haliade lamp through a (very complicated) filter that allows individual pixels to be opened and closed to allow or black light to pass respectively. An LCD projector has a brighter output of colors, sharp images, is energy efficient, and quieter. An LCD projector can also project 3D content.

DLP stands for digital light processing and produces the projection via a set of chipsets that use a digital micro mirror decive. A DLP screen offers smooth images and they aren’t limited by fluids as their projection medium. This means they are good for large, high definition theater screens.

A Liquid Crystal on Silicone (LCoS) stands for liquid crystal on silicone. An LCoS is a micro display that uses liquid crystal layer on top of a silicone back pane. You can find LCoS in pico-projectors, which are mini projectors designed for travel and are small and light enough to fit in your briefcase.

Light Sources: Standard Lamp, Laser, LED

Light source has an impact on price, power demand, and image quality.

A standard lamp projector has a bright light output and is very affordable. Bulb life ranges from 3-4,000 hours.

A Laser projector offers brighter color contrast than a a standard lamp. It also offers a wider color range than a standard lamp projector, has no bulb, and is energy efficient.

LED projectors are 20K hr bulb, better color control, are quieter/less electricity because it doesn’t require a fan.

Dialing in Your Image

The last step in choosing your projector is to take all the aforementioned information and apply it to where your image will be placed.

Throw Ratio

Throw Ratio determines how wide the image will be when you place the projector at a certain distance from the screen. Throw distance is the measured distance between the front of your projector to where the screen is. To calculate how wide the image will be multiply your throw distance by your throw ratio. For example if you have a throw ratio of 1.5:1 and the projector is 8 feet away from the screen you can expect to have an image width of 12 feet. If you’re doing the math and are concerned your room is too small for a projector there are Ultra Short Throw projectors that can compensate for shorter placement distances.

Lens Zoom

If you’re purchasing a portable projector or one that will be moved from room to room pay attention to lens zoom ratio. Flexibility in lens zoom means you can manipulate your projected image to fit the necessary space. For example, a high the zoom ratio means you can make the projection quite large for the board room, and then scale it back for displaying something in your own office.

Keystone & Lens Shift

Keystone & Lens Shift will modify an image if you can’t place the projector exactly perpendicular to the screen. Keystone will digitally current distortion, this is a super quick solution that’s good for projectors that are moved around frequently. A lens shift compensates for skewed images by manually adjusting the projector up, down and sideways. This is

Aspect Ratio

Aspect Ratio refers to the viewing dimensions of your image. The Standard viewing dimension is 4:3, best for classic films, DVDs, and power points. A Wide Screen aspect ratio is 16:0, good for HDTV, Widescreen DVDs, Blue Rays and Laptop out puts. Cinemascope’s aspect Ratio is 2.35:1 or 2.4:1, which recreates a true movie theater experience.