How to Shop for a Home Theater Projector

Typical Home Theater Setup

How can you tell if the price is right for a home theater projector? Projector People offers you shopping tips for the best buys in home projection. Read on.

Determine Your Price Range

It’s always a good idea to determine a budget before making a major purchase. For an idea of how much to allow for this purchase you can look at package offers. Even if the products in the special offers are not what you want, it can at least give you a general idea of what a system costs. In a front projection home theater system, your projector should be your most expensive line item, because it will be the primary focus.

Surround sound speakers, a screen, a projector mount, and other components such as a DVD player will round out your total package. See our Typical Home Theater Scenario for more information.

Basic Specs to Check

The specifications that have the greatest impact on projector price are internal technology, brightness, and resolution. Here is a quick look at which specs cost more and which typically cost less.

Typical Specs and Price Breakdown
Specification Costs Less Costs More
Resolution WVGA (854×480) WXGA (1280×720)
Brightness 700 lumens 1000+ lumens
Technology LCD DLP™

Features that Add Value

Beyond the basic specifications there are additional features that add value to a projector purchase. These extras should be factored into the overall value of the projector you choose.

  • Lower noise level – Less than 30 dB is preferable
  • Zoom lenses are more desirable than fixed lenses.
  • Multiple video inputs are a plus
  • Longer lamp life will save money down the line

Mitsubishi projectors such as the HC3 have a feature called “Natural Color Matrix” which is a color adjustment system that allows users to adjust a wider spectrum of color. Beyond the usual RGB (red, green, blue) to include a broader YMC (Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan) adjustment, Natural Color Matrix allows each of the six colors to be individually adjusted without affecting the hues of the other spectrum colors. For example, red can be increased to appear richer and more intense without altering yellow and magenta.

Special Offers and Rebates

Don’t forget to factor in the manufacturer and reseller incentives available on specific models. High-volume purchases by resellers and end-of-life specials from manufacturers are great ways to save money or add value to your purchase. Projector People is currently offering a number of special offers on home theater projectors, some of which are exclusive to Check out our rebates and promotions for current specials.


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Color Critical Applications and Projectors

Just a few years ago, there was no standard for interpreting colors on computers, monitors, printers, projectors, digital cameras and other peripherals. The lack of standardization created problems for professionals who rely on accurate color such as advertisers, photographers, biologists, architects, and more. So the stage was set to determine a standard ‘color space’ which would allow display devices and computers to see and display colors uniformly.

sRGB on and off

What is a color space?

A color space is a model for representing color numerically in terms of three or more coordinates. In order for color to be reproduced predictably from one device to another, each device (projector, printer, monitor, etc.) has to be responsible for accurately recreating color, and for matching the six parameters of color. The six different parameters which define every color are: luminance, hue, color saturation, and RGB (red, green, and blue) values. In order to define a standard color space for all devices, Microsoft worked with top manufacturers of the most commonly used devices. The standard color space they developed is known as sRGB.

What is sRGB?

SRGB was developed in October 1999 and defined with specifications compliant to the International Color Consortium’s – IEC 61966-2-1 – color standard. It is a system of color spaces that determines tone, saturation, and brightness. This enables computer operating systems to easily decode and translate color expression into actual color displays. Testing methods and evaluation criteria for compliance of projectors were partly developed by Mitsubishi Electric with full support and endorsement from Microsoft Corporation.

Potential Drawbacks of sRGB

The sRGB standard has received some criticism from those who have worked extensively in digital photography or graphic arts because the sRGB color space is smaller than another common standard, Adobe RGB 1998. Adobe RGB is a ‘larger’ color space that allows for a wider range of colors. This standard was created to allow users access to the entire spectrum of color possible when printing. The sRGB standard, on the other hand, was designed to provide the same level of flexibility on a monitor. In fact, according to Popular Photography magazine online (, sRGB is “…ideal for images destined to be viewed on a monitor or digital projector. We’ve also found it works better when sending images to digital minilabs or to online photo processors.”

Beyond sRGB

If you find the sRGB color space limiting, you might want to consider a projector that allows for a more ‘tweakable’ color experience. Mitsubishi projectors, for example, have a feature called “Natural Color Matrix” which is a color adjustment system that allows users to adjust a wider spectrum of color. Beyond the usual RGB (red, green, blue) to include a broader YMC (Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan) adjustment, Natural Color Matrix allows each of the six colors to be individually adjusted without affecting the hues of the other spectrum colors. For example, red can be increased to appear richer and more intense without altering yellow and magenta. Natural Color Matrix

Wireless Projectors Pick Up Speed

Wireless Projector Networking

Wireless presentations are already a reality in the business world. But as older (802.11b) wireless projectors are used for regular business applications, bandwidth limitations are brought to light. Some effects of the bandwidth deficiency include slower display of transition-heavy PowerPoint

Portable Home Theaters Add Entertainment Options

Portability used to be a buzzword reserved for business projectors, but now you can add portable to your home theater projector vocabulary. But what is the benefit of portability, and what features make one portable projector better than another? Read on.

Dedicated Home Theaters

Dedicated home theaters are essentially a simulation of the movie theater experience. In fact many people try and recreate the experience entirely, from installing a candy counter to serving fresh popped popcorn from a cinema style popper. Projectors for dedicated spaces can be mounted to the ceiling to get them up and out of the way, and are typically connected to a high-quality surround sound system. So why would you want to use your projector any other way?

Benefits of Portability

A portable home theater projector is a kind of tool for the family. It combines a big screen TV, slide-show photo viewer, life-sized gaming display, and even an instant party d

High-End Features on Moderately-Priced Projectors

When a screen and projected image are not perpendicular to each other, keystone correction is needed

As a subscriber of this newsletter, you probably already know that video projectors have become more affordable over the past few years. But the recent trend in adding higher-end feature sets, such as optical zoom, automatic keystone correction, and image presets have also made mid-range projectors an improved value. So what are these features and how do they benefit you?

Optical Zoom

If you have ever set up your projector to present and realized that it is not possible to position your projector back far enough for the image size you want, optical zoom is a feature you will appreciate.

Optical zoom allows you to make a larger image from a given distance, without physically moving the projector or sacrificing image quality. As easy to use as a zoom lens on a camera, the optical zoom is usually just the turn of a lens, or a press of a button.

Projectors that have optical zoom have varying degrees of zoom capability. Some can nearly double the size of your image. Optical zoom is listed in the projector specs as a number such as 2.0x, or two times for double the image size from the same distance. This feature may also allow you to use shorter cables, meaning less signal degradation and a lower cable cost.

Keystone correction features

Automatic Digital Keystone Correction

Keystone correction has come in varying forms over the years. Some projectors offer keystone correction by including adjustable legs at the front of the projector, while others are able to square the image digitally through an internal computer.

Automatic correction is an added convenience, as the projector can automatically detect if keystoning is occurring, square the image automatically, saving you time and effort.

Projectors measure keystone correction capability in degrees. Projectors with +/- 40 degrees can correct for greater angles than those with +/- 15.

Image Presets

Sometimes you want the technology you use to just know what you want, without having to do anything. That