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Poll: HDR TV vs. Front Projection for UHD/4K HDR Home Cinema
4K/UHD and HDR are undeniably a killer combo when it comes to bringing cinematic image quality home. Today's TVs deliver color and contrast that is unprecedented, and movies mastered for home viewing in high dynamic range possess peak highlights that no projector can reproduce. This begs the question: Are TVs now the ultimate way to watch a movie at home, or does projection still supply the best viewing experience?
Before taking the poll, let's take a quick look at current state-of-the-art in-home video. On the TV side, thanks to HDR, 1000-nit highlights are a reality, as is virtually complete coverage of the DCI/P3 gamut used in commercial cinema. The result is striking imagery that "pops" off the screen. And as a bonus, with a TV you can still enjoy optimal image quality with some ambient light in the room.
However, the catch with UHD TVs is that to get the very best contrast you have to go with OLED, a technology that is limited in terms of available screen sizesnand pricey if you go above 65 inches in size. Meanwhile, if you're looking for a larger and more affordable LCD, you give up some performance in terms of rendering deep blacks and once you pass 88 inches, prices skyrocket.
Projection has a different set of strengths and weaknesses, as compared TVs. For one, the cost of entry to 4K and HDR is higher; you're going to have to invest a few thousand bucks to get that capability. But, you immediately have access to screen sizes TVs cannot reach, regardless of price.
The catch with projection is that peak highlights are but a fraction of what even a modest HDR TV can offer, so HDR projectors are much more dependent upon tonemapping than TVs are. But the flipside to this the larger screens of front projection home cinema systems allow viewers to see more of the detail found in 4K/UHD content while sitting at a comfortable distance.
While the discrepancy in highlight rendition between high dynamic range TVs and projectors is quite large, because proper home theater-style projection takes place in a completely light-controlled environment, a good HDR 4K projector operating in a completely black room can offer the "pop" you see with HDR TVs. Sure, the projector has to rely on tone mapping to a greater extent than a TV does, but the rich DCI/P3 color and deep blacks that state-of-the-art HDR projectors provide help make up for that.
I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer to this question, but it's still worth asking: What's the ultimate way to watch a 4K HDR movie at home? Projection or TV?
Editor, AVS Forum
Last edited by imagic; 10-20-2017 at 08:19 AM.