Home Theater: Beyond Brightness and Contrast

Beyond brightness and contrast ratio, home theater projectors have many similar specifications. Nearly all are now HDTV compatible which is widescreen (16:9) native. The majority have an HD video resolution of 720p or 1080p. Finally most have standardized on HDMI connectivity. So what else sets one home theater projector apart from the other?

Video Processing

Epson Home Cinema 1080

Faroudja® and Pixelworks® are the most common video processors in home theater projectors today. Avid videophiles will stand staunchly behind their preference, but both technologies have their own loyal following.

In general, video processing capabilities improve as the cost of the projector goes up. Newer processing chips maintain higher contrast ratios and eliminate the ‘jaggies.’ But when compared to the standards of just a year or two ago, video processing has vastly improved. In general, only those who invest in very high quality sources (HD DVD players and HD receivers) need to also worry about their processing technologies.

[ photo: Home theater example eight foot wide screen with the Sanyo PLV-Z2 ]

High Definition Connectivity

As we mentioned, home theaters projectors will most likely have an HDMI connection and most will also have an analog HD connection (component video). So when looking for differences, you might look for multiple inputs for component or HDMI video. You may also want a VGA connection so that the projector can also be easily connected to a home theater PC (Windows Media Center) computer. Wireless video is still not a reliable option for home theater enthusiasts, although there are some solutions available. Hopefully the aggressive efforts of companies like Tivo and Microsoft will help make the wireless video dream a reality in this market.

Other Popular Features

There are also those intangible features that help make you “love” your home theater projector. One manufacturer includes a manual joystick style lens shift adjustment that allows users more flexibility, and instant gratification. We also hear customers rave about the electric shutter for the lens on the Sanyo PLV-Z5, which closes automatically when the projector is shut down. This feature helps keep the collection of dust on the lens for those who may forget to put the lens cap after a night of family fun.

Here are a few more popular features that set one home theater product apart from another:

  • 12v screen trigger (for controlling an electric screen with projector remote)
  • Lens shift capability (preferable to keystone correction)
  • Image mode presets (your day and night time image tweaks stored in the menu)
  • 2X zoom lens (for installation flexibility)
  • Silent fan operation (less background noise)
  • Longer warranties (beyond one year)
  • Rebates and promotions!

If you have more questions about our selection of home theater projectors. Please contact a Projector Expert today!

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