Then you’ll need to acquire the necessary components: TV, receiver, DVD player, speakers. Finally, you’ll have to put it all together. Throughout the process, remember that in the end what’s important is not snazzy new technology or killer specs but how comfortable and enjoyable your home theater is. This is the guide you’re looking for, from layout to choosing curtains and the most important part of the set, the projector itself.
Projectors are the kind of device where you really do get what you pay for. Regardless of your budget, it will be the most expensive purchase in your home theatre system. Never purchase a projector blind – if you can’t find a demo room locally, then make sure you find high quality photographs, videos, reviews and comparisons online from sources you trust.
Most projectors will be either 720p or 1080p, with a few hundred dollars in price difference. Remember that with a big image, you’re really going to notice that difference in resolution – so if you can afford it and plan on projecting onto a large screen, you’re really going to appreciate spending a little more. Make sure you’re buying a projector that actually projects at 1080p, instead of one that just “supports 1080p” – which means the signal is downgraded to something lower.
One specification you’ll see quoted very often is the lumen value (except where it’s so low as to be shameful). Lumen is a measure of amount of light emitted by the projector; in layman’s terms, the brightness. A low lumen value – 1500 or less – will only be visible in a dark room. 3000 lumen and higher will be visible in daylight, but truthfully any projected image will look better when there’s less ambient light.
Another key point to pay particular attention to is the life of the bulb and cost of replacement. Projectors use incredibly powerful bulbs and replacing them can cost up a third of the original price of the projector in some cases. Bulbs are rated by the number of hours they should last for; a few thousand, usually, so it should last a year to two years with moderate usage. If you’ve set up your home theatre room to be as dark as possible, you may be able to switch the projector into a lower power economy mode without too much detriment to the picture (in fact, some movie buffs say the full brightness is too blinding on some higher lumen models).
In addition to bulb replacements, you’ll need to clean the air filters every 3-6 month, replacing them if they’ve perished.
Finally, stay well away from any ultra-portable or LED-based projectors; they may last longer, but the image quality is horrendous and they typically have 10% of the lumen output of a bulb-based model.
A quick note on image ratios: widescreen means 16:9 ratio, great for gaming, movies and general use. Avoid older projectors that only have XGA, WXGA, and SXGA, as these are all 4:3 ratio and less than 108op resolution.