I dreamed of transforming part of the basement into a multimedia room where I would play “The Godfather”, “The Wizard of Oz” and “The best years of our lives” in a continuous loop. But where to start ? Chris Heinonen, the audiovisual editor of the team The wire cutter, the New York Times product review site, has tested all options.
Could I realistically substitute a projector for a flat screen TV and be happy?
It depends on how you look. If you don’t usually watch TV shows during the day and usually only use it for movies or streaming, and you can close the curtains and block out the light, a projector can produce a much better picture. great for less money.
How do projectors compare in price?
An $ 800 projector can give you a 120-inch picture, while an 80-inch TV costs almost $ 4,000. Projectors wash poorly with ambient light, unless you have a screen designed to prevent this, but they can cost more than a projector. Our recommended display costs around $ 190 for a 100in, so the last time I checked, it’s still a lot cheaper. And you can get blackout curtains for around $ 50 or more a panel. (We also have a guide for these.)
Some people don’t care about a screen – they’ll just use their wall. The picture is not as good, but some people prefer having a giant picture for movies and being able to put the projector back in the closet when not in use instead of having a huge TV that takes up space. .
I want to make it clear that you can’t just put a projector where you had a TV and expect it to replace a TV in every situation. Any projector will usually be insufficient in terms of contrast ratio – the black-to-white ratio – unless you spend at least $ 2,000. But, and this is the key, you don’t see the benefits of this contrast ratio unless your room is completely dark with no ambient light. If there is light in the room, it will wash out the black on a spotlight.
That’s why our favorite $ 2,000 projector is recommended for dedicated home theaters. In a living room, you wouldn’t really see the benefits.
What do you recommend for a salon?
We really like the BenQ HT2050 projector which retails for around $ 740. It’s really bright, runs quietly, and is much more color accurate than a lot of its competition. The more expensive models from BenQ offer slightly better picture quality, but not enough to justify the price increase.
What if I converted my basement into a theater?
The Sony VPL-HW45ES is our current home theater recommendation. For around $ 2,000, it has almost five times better contrast ratios than the BenQ because blacks are much darker. It also has very precise colors. As a result, the image comes out of the screen. It’s also more adjustable, so it’s easier to find the perfect position in any room.
How did you test these things?
The test room is in my house. It was a bit of a requirement when we went to buy a house last year.
I have a completely light-tight test room with a 92 inch screen. I didn’t make the room an all black cave or anything. It’s a neutral gray like you find in many modern homes. I installed a blackout roller blind in the window, put trim pieces on the sides to cut out any extra light, and then covered the window with the door. I really need to replace it with a windowless one.
I do a lot of measurements on projectors with devices that measure their brightness, color accuracy, and even video game quality. And I watch a lot of movies that I really know to see how they work, especially the ones with dark shadows or high contrast scenes like “Skyfall“ and the latest “Harry Potter” movie.
These are the hardest things to display well. I will also be testing in the same room with the lights on.
Do you also have large, comfortable chairs?
I actually had reclining home theater chairs, but found them boring at the end of it because it meant my wife and I were in separate chairs watching a movie. Now it’s just a sofa.