Dedicated Home Theater vs. Media-Friendly Living Room

TVs keep evolving. After abandoning plasma, adopting 4K, flirting with the curve, debuting OLED, dumping 3D, and doubling down on LED/LED FALD the industry is returning to one of the most fundamental of all specifications: Screen size. There are now many options at 75″ and above that perform great whether showing sports in the daytime or playing a movie at night. A projector is no longer a requirement for having a cinematic experience at home.

On the other hand, dedicated home theater benefits from a plethora of highly affordable “e-shift” type 4K projectors that deliver a crisp image, as long as you control for ambient lighting and reflections. With a minimal budget you can exceed the screen size of any TV aside from the micro-LED mega-TVs sold for six figure sums. However there’s a catch, which is that projectors are simply not able to reproduce HDR content as it’s mastered because projectors lag far behind TVs when it comes to peak brightness.

Having recently moved, I have given up a dedicated home theater but gained a larger living room that can accommodate an 82” 8K Q900 (arriving this week) as well as other, even larger TVs. Moreover, with ultrashort-throw laser light-source projectors, it’s possible to put projection into the living room without having it get in the way. This got me thinking about the question of the dedicated home theater versus equipping a living room to deliver an enhanced media viewing experience that does justice to movies.

Ultimately, this is a poll about preference… which of these options is the most appealing? Click here to go to the forum thread and vote in the poll.


Dedicated Home Theater

Pros

Replicates the distraction-free environment of commercial cinema
Optimal speaker placement
Total control over lighting
Huge screen sizes are achievable with front projection
A basic rig is not expensive
Acoustically transparent screens are available for realistic dialog placement
3D still supported
Dedicated seating includes features like reclining and cup holders
Maximum immersion for movies and gaming

Cons

Requires dedicating a room to nothing but home theater
Can’t do “true” HDR (i.e. reproduce 1000-nit highlights)
A high-end room is very expensive to put together


Huge TV in Living Room

Pros

You have an excuse to put a huge TV in the living room
Reproduces HDR as its mastered (>1000 nit highlights)
Compatible with Dolby Vision
Also usable for sports and gaming and regular TV
Living rooms already have seating, no need to buy more furniture
Usable in the daytime

Cons

Huge TVs are expensive
Limited speaker placement options
Easier to get distracted in a living room
You still need to control lighting (shades, dim lights) when watching movies
Limits in terms of screen size, extremely high prices above 85”
A great projector in a dedicated room can look better than most TVs when playing SDR content

 


Projector in Living Room

Pros

You can have a huge screen in your living room, larger than any TV
Roll-up screens can make the system “disappear” when not in use
Can be combined with a TV for “best of both worlds”
UST laser light source projectors sit inches from the screen and last for years
Affordable 4K e-shift projection gets bright and looks good

Cons

Installation costs are high
UST laser light source projectors remain expensive
No true HDR (i.e. reproduce 1000-nit highlights)
Limited options for acoustically transparent screens
Requires control over ambient light for daytime use
Limited speaker placement options
Easier to get distracted in a living room


Click here to go to the forum thread and vote in the poll.


Cover image from shutterstock.com