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Hey guys, new to this forum and must say learned quite a bit from just reading for a while. Lately been wanting to get a projector for the screen size, but my problem is that I'm not that familiar with projectors and was wondering if you guys could give me an idea what specs are the important specs to look for when deciding on a projector.

I know you probably goin to tell depends on the room, lighting, etc., so the room is going to be light controled for the purpose of home theater. So if any of you could just point me in the right direction thanks.

Andrew
 

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the three main specs you need are lumens (brightness), contrast level and resolution. Typically home theater projectors are rated anywhere from 700-1200 in lumens. Some manufacturers are more accurate than others so its somethimes hard to compare unless you have someone who has actually rated each in a real life situation. Lumens are important if you are going with a large screen, but less if the screen is under 100 diag. Lumens are again important if you are in a room without amibent light control, but less if you are in a cave


Resolution - at this point of the game, its either going to be 720p or 1080p. The 720p projectors still have a wonderful picture but at this point you might as well get a 1080p


Contrast level - the higher the better although again some companies do a better job than others in coming up with their numbers. Also dynamic irises can also inflate these numbers


A fourth would be the throw range of the projector. If you have a large room but the projector has small throw, then you wont be able to use it and likewise, if the throw is large, but the room is small,you wont be able to use it.
 

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also specs only tell part of the story. Is there hot spotting, is there uniformity, what processing is done, how easy is it to calibrate and how much control do you have.


Specs should be used to narrow the field down to a manageable lot, then you need to see it and play with it before buying.
 

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In this business, specs are often overinflated, and sometimes highly overinflated. Lumens are very often quoted for some non-video optimized mode, and will be significantly lower for the usual high contrast movie watching modes.

They also don't tell you that brightness for UHP bulbs falls off by ~50% during the bulb's lifetime. With significant falloff by the first 1000 hours.

So 1 year into a "1000 lumen" projector you could be looking at 200 lumens in video mode.


Contrast is often overcooked for spec docs too - the use of dynamic and manually adjustable irises, quoting contrast in overly green (bright) modes, etc causes big contrast over-statement in some cases. There are a few cases where contrast is quoted for a video color optimized mode.


Bottom line, you can only get a limited impression of a projector from its specs. How the pj actually renders colors with depth and saturation, shadow details, lack of artifacts, sharpness, 'pop' - i.e. how it really performs is not evident from specs. You need to back that up with reviews from trusted sources and (the sometimes confusing and contradictory) impression from trusted members here.

Demoing a projector helps too, except a lot of shops (such as Magnolia) do a really poor job of setting up optimized demos.
 

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You also have to sort through the various different technologies...DLP vs LCD vs LCOS/SXRD...they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Also of importance -- though there is nothing in the typical spec that will tell you this -- the quality of the optics can make a huge difference and are a major factor in the final cost of a product.
 
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