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Not all projection systems are alike. Whether it is for your home or office, or going in the basement or living room, we will take the time to talk to you about what you want out of your projection system, as well as the equipment that will be best suited for your space.
We take into account details like ambient light levels, room usage, square footage, projector throw distance, and budget to recommend the best equipment for you and your media. If you don't know what you're doing, it can get very confusing, very fast. There's no need to give yourself a headache when you have friendly and knowledgeable pros right here, ready to help.
Even lights and a window are no match for this 3,000 lumen laser projector and 120" Black Diamond ambient light rejecting screen.
Building or renovating a home? Don't forget to plan ahead for your audio/video, network, security and smart home needs! Head on over to our Wiring page to learn more about how our Pre-Wiring Services can get your base of operations tech-ready and even save you money!
Projectors 101: The Basics
Two of the more common types of projectors used these days include 3LCD (liquid crystal display) technology similar to that of a TV, and DLP (digital light processing) methodology that utilizes a multitude of microscopic mirrors. Here is a brief description of how each one creates a colored image on the screen:
3LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
For LCD projectors, a bright beam of white light is reflected off a combination of mirrors, including dichroic mirrors that separate the light wavelengths into either red, blue, or green light. The red, blue and green beams shine through 3 liquid crystal screens that create the image's dark and light contrast- the liquid crystals either block light or allow light to pass through based on the electrical current running through the crystals. When the colored light passes through the LCD screens, it makes 3 color-tinted versions of the same image. The three images are then sent through a dichroic prism and combined to bring millions of colors to life before coming to rest on the screen.
DLP (Digital Light Processing)
Projectors with DLP technology utilize a digital micromirror device (DMD) chip that contains a grid of close to two million, extremely tiny mirrors that are one-fifth the diameter of a human hair. Each mirror represents one pixel that can be individually tilted towards or away from the light source in an "on/off" position to reflect an image on the screen. To add color to the image, the light first passes through a red, blue, and green colored spinning wheel before contacting the DMD chip. The combination of these colors when bounced onto the mirrors and then merged together gives rise to an endless variety of colors. Lastly, a lens collects all the beams of light to produce the final image you see.
Laser Outshines Lamp: The Superior Light Source
The light source is arguably the most important part of a projector. There won't be a picture if there isn't a light source, and thankfully we now have some options when it comes to that- a conventional projector lamp, LEDs, and cutting-edge laser technology. There's really no contest; laser projectors edge out the competition in multiple aspects:
Lifespan: Most conventional projector lamps last around 3,000-5,000 hours of use before needing to be changed. Laser, on the other hand, can pump out upwards of 20,000 hours of watch time- that's 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, for ten years! Finally eliminate those obnoxious "change lamp soon" interruptions.
Consistent brightness: Traditional projector lamps tend to lose brightness over time, causing the image to become slightly faded prior to a new lamp being installed. Not with laser. You get an intense, richly colorful image every single viewing hour.
Minimal maintenance: No lamps means no purchasing and installing those expensive lamps, so forget the headache and put that money back in your pocket. Thanks to their minimal hands-on needs, laser projectors are perfect for tight or hard-to-reach locations.
Instant enjoyment: Laser units can start up and shut off immediately, so no needing to wait for the lamp to warm up to the ideal operating temperature and brightness.
Environmentally friendly: With fewer energy needs than standard lamp projectors, and with no toxic mercury to dispose of properly at the end of the projector's life, a laser projector is considered the more eco-friendly projection option.
Similar to how LED (light-emitting diode) lights are becoming the standard for car headlights and holiday decorations, LED lights have made their way into projectors now, too. Like laser projectors, LED units offer the benefit of long life and near-instant start-up, plus LEDs run cooler than traditional lamps, saving energy and eliminating the need for additional fans or cooling systems. So why don't all projectors use LED lights? Well, until very recently, LEDs struggled to produce the light output needed to compete with brighter environments. As time goes on and the technology improves, we may start to see a shift away from traditional lamps in favor of LED projectors.
ULTRA SHORT THROW PROJECTORS
Using special lenses and mirrors, ultra short throw units can project a huge image from a very short distance- we're talking a 100”+ image from mere inches away here. These projectors are meant to be placed right under or over the screen, allowing you to enjoy a massive picture in spaces that are otherwise too tight to accommodate traditional projectors. Since the projector sits so close to the screen, no one can get between the projector and screen to interrupt the image, so say goodbye to accidental silhouettes and shadow puppets. You don’t point these bad boys directly at a blank wall though; there are screens made specifically for short-throw situations, where the screen material is optimized to provide an extra bright image while preventing ambient light from washing out the picture. If you want some truly epic gaming and sports experiences, this is your ticket.
4K vs "Faux-K": Pixel Shifting Explained
First, it is important to note that there are two specifications for resolution: native resolution and maximum resolution.
Native resolution is the true, physical image resolution of the projector. The projector will never be able to display more actual, full-sized pixels than this amount.
Maximum resolution relates to incoming resolution formats. It is the highest resolution signal that the projector has been programmed to process and display.
What does that mean? Well, when you are watching 4K content on a native 4K resolution projector, that projector is displaying all 8.8 million full pixels to make up the image- roughly 4 times the 2.2 million pixels you get with a 1080 HD image. In an effort to create a sharper, more 4K-like image while staying affordable, some projector manufacturers figured out a way to increase the number of pixels used to about 4 million- no, they didn't make the pixels smaller. Instead, they fired the pixels twice, the second time with the pixel shifted diagonally halfway onto the next one. This creates an overlap between two diagonal pixels, which when combined with some high-tech picture processing, creates a sharper image than a standard HD projector can achieve.
Pixel shifting projectors, or "e-shift" as some manufacturers refer to it, are a massive improvement over their standard HD predecessors, but if you have the budget, native 4K is definitely the way to go.
Planning to have a totally dark, dedicated theater space strictly for watching movies? No? You would prefer to have some additional light in the room to see by, but don't want the picture to be washed out, right? Believe it or not, this is an easy problem to fix using the right screen material. Ambient light, be it from windows, lamps, floor lights, or decorative LEDs, can wash out the projector's picture, leaving you craving a darker image with more color saturation. This is where Ambient Light Rejecting screens (ALR screens) swoop in to save the day. ALR screens are specially made to either absorb or divert light that isn't coming directly from the projector, leaving a crisp, colorful image on the screen. The best part? ALR screens are available as both fixed and motorized units, so we can put your screen in the ideal spot without sacrificing image quality.
Thanks to acoustically transparent screen material, the look of the front speakers take a back seat and let your screen be the star of the show. Screen Innovation's micro-perforated acoustically transparent screens have a pattern of 30,000 half-millimeter sized holes in just one square foot of screen space, delivering all the sound with virtually no distortion. Amaze your guests and leave yourself more room for decorating when you hide the speakers behind the screen.