Projector

Projector for the Home

The beauty of being a reviewer is that I can try out devices that wouldn’t be possible unless I buy or borrow.

Last year, I attended an EPSON blogger event and received a projector for review. Through the experience, I was convinced that projector, instead of a physical television unit, is the way to go for the modern home. Why so?

1. Unit Size
Projector is more compact and takes less space than a TV. I can also move around a projector easily, or even keep it away when not in use. I can’t do that with a TV.

2. Aesthetics 
The most important reason for choosing a projector is to look inconspicuous. The projector unit sits at a corner of a room, and springs into action only when switched on. A TV, when unused, remains visible and even an eye-sore unless you design your room with the TV in mind.

3. Pretend Home Theatre
Projector image is hard to match a TV unless you pay top dollar to set up your room. But watching movies in a dark room feels more cosy and theatre-like compared to watching on a TV. So I am willing to compromise image quality for the first 2 reasons I mentioned.

And so during the last PC Show, I bought one unit for a good price to install in my bedroom.

There are many projectors to choose from, so let me list the features that determine the price value:

1. Brightness
You want a projector that is bright enough to watch even if the room is not totally dark. So look for the amount of lumens around 2500. To me, it’s not that critical because average projectors are powerful enough for my needs – unless you need to project in a huge venue.

2. Native Resolution
If you want the projector to display full HD resolution, then you would need a projector with a native resolution of 1920×1080. My content are mostly video streaming or half-HD (1080×720), and therefore, an WXGA (1280×800) resolution is the benchmark resolution.

3. Keystone Adjustment
This is the most important factor in deciding the projector model to purchase. Keystone adjustment refers to the ability to tilt the projected image. This happens when the projector is not aligned with the projector screen. Vertical keystone is a common feature but horizontal keystone correction is a premium feature. I needed horizontal keystone because I would have to position my projector at the side of the room instead of the middle.

4. Multiple Connectors
The standard connector is VGA. Most modern projectors should come with HDMI connector so that you can connect consumer devices like DVD, Blu-Ray, laptops. Some premium projectors come with USB ports that lets you plug in flash drives to view photos and videos.

5. Lamp Replacement Cost
Beware! Some projectors cost a bomb to replace the lamp! Ask the replacement cost and the ease of installation.

After considering features and price, I bought the Epson EB-W12. Apart from satisfying the above requirements, the W12 has a few more additional features:

3-in-1 USB Display
With a USB cable plugged to the computer, you get video, audio and display control.

Built-in Speakers
Although the speaker quality is not as good as dedicated speaker units, it’s a nice to have premium feature.

Front Exhaust
My projector is placed at the corner of my room, so a rear or side exhaust would blow onto the wall causing ventilation issues. EB-W12 exhaust is to the front.

3LCD Technology
The major advantage of using 3 LCD to project images is no rainbow effect. For single-chip DLP projectors,  each primary colour is projected in sequence one at a time, whereas 3LCD projectors project all colours at the same time. 3LCD projectors are also more light-efficient (i.e. brighter), sharper, and visually clearer. More information on the differences can be found here.

Fast start-up and shut-down
Many low-cost projectors take over a minute to start-up, and a lot longer to shut-down because they need to keep the fan running to cool down the lamp before shutting down. The EPSON EB-W12 starts up in about 30 seconds and shuts down in less than 5 seconds!

Portable
The EB-W12 comes with a padded bag and a remote control. The unit is 2.3kg and has a slide cover to protect the lens element. You’d be surprised many projectors still come with a removable lens cap that risks being misplaced.

A small drawback for projector is fan noise. However, once the show starts, you wouldn’t notice the whirling sound in the background.

Another constraint is that you need a certain distance to project the screen. However, you could opt for short-throw projector. Installation is also more unconventional compared to TV, and if you want impeccable image quality, you might even need to invest in a good projector screen.

The major drawback would have to be the ambient room light. You can only watch a projector clearly in a dark room.

Projector or TV?
It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth considering. It works for me because my room is large enough for a good-size projection, has a nice corner next to my bed to projector onto an empty wall. Even if your room is too small for a standard projector, you could consider a short-throw projector.

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