Floodlights: 11 points to consider
Just 20 years ago, the best-selling TV format was the 27-inch square tube screen...
The "big" screens for the TV enthusiast used to be a Lilliputian 32 or even 36 inches! Times have changed, because year after year, people are buying more and more large TV sets, and the 75 and 85 inch sizes are selling well these days.
For as long as I can remember, there has been one type of screen that has remained in vogue and is even increasingly coveted: the TV projector, which has been sold in increasing numbers since the 1970s. Like the rest of the television products, the projector has been stagnant in its evolution for much of its marketing, but like conventional televisions, it is now progressing at a rapid pace, so that the projection now offers a performance approaching that of a standard TV, but with a remarkable presence!
History of technologies.
In the early days of consumer projectors, 3 cathode ray tubes were used, directed towards a system of magnifying glasses and mirrors to reproduce the image. The lifespan was short; the low luminosity and degradation of the images generated were very fast, sometimes in as little as a year...
In 1994, manufacturers switched to liquid crystal panels backlit by a metal vapour lamp. This new concept almost completely eliminated image marking. The intense heat of the device for longer life and higher brightness were irrevocably an improvement over CRTs (tubes), but colour quality and contrast could still be improved.
Years 2000 to present.
DLP(Digital Light Processing) was born at the turn of the century. Developed by Texas Instruments, the DLP chip is an assembly of millions of micro-mirrors that direct the light flow towards the screen and, in the case of darkness, towards an absorption material known as a "light dump".
To direct the right pixels to the right mirrors, a colour filter wheel was initially used which rotated in time with the creation of the image. This principle was not recommended for people with epilepsy in particular, and many people perceived the flickering of the image created by seeing a rainbow when they moved their head. The gains of this principle were higher brightness, more intense colours and the generation of an image that could not be damaged by marking. On the weak side: colour streaking of moving images or the "rainbow" effect. The flicker was detrimental for some.
Nowadays, all the constraints have been addressed by using 3 chips corresponding to 3 colours: red, green and blue. A prism then decomposes the image illuminated by the light source, and the full range of theoretical hues (which is in the billions!) is found, resulting in a very detailed image.
All new designs since the abandonment of CRTs require a light source, whether of the high-intensity or laser type.
Samsung First Laser Projector
What you need to know to compare
Now that we have seen the principles of operation, it is important to know that the result is not the same from one model to another. At the same price, the performance will vary for different factors, including the following:
Just like standard TV sets, there are now two types of image resolution. Full HD, which uses 1080 x 1920 pixels, is gradually being replaced by the second, 4K, which offers 2160 by 3840 pixels. Because the image is so large, we do not recommend purchasing Full HD, as the limitations will be noticeable in the accuracy of the images, especially in a grainy image.
This is important to watch out for, because the lower the brightness, the more you will have to watch the picture in the dark. In the past we had no choice, but nowadays good projectors allow for daylight viewing. Brightness is measured in LUMENS; below a factor of 1000, it will be clearly insufficient, and cheap projectors are found there. Ideally, a factor of 2000 lumens or more is what will allow daylight viewing and will cause less strain on general use.
3. Contrast ratio and HDR
A bright, but non-contrasting image is equivalent to lighting, like a big lamp in a room! If the dark and bright shapes are not differentiated, you will see little detail, only the brightness...
Contrast is divided into two ratios, "native" and "dynamic". For example, assuming a ratio of 1500:1 "native" means that the brightest image will be 1500 times more intense than the lower limit just before the black point. This ratio delimits the physical capacity of the matrix. The second ratio is called "dynamic" and highlights the result of the brightness in a dark room. This ratio takes into account the result of the many technologies used to enhance image quality and dynamism. Among these technologies,
We find the variable backlighting to adapt the brightness according to the scene projected. The HDR (high dynamic range) certified circuits greatly enhance the contrast of the final rendering. This kind of ratio is in the 30,000 to 1 range in budget models and exceeds 1 million to 1 on the best units.
The contrast with the accuracy of the colourimetry is the key to a realistic representation, an image that we recognise from what we see in everyday life. I call this the wow factor in projection! The HDR standard is a must!
4. Colorimetric rate or colour space
A colour space is a set of colours, also called a gamut. The gamut of a screen or video monitor represents all the colours it is capable of displaying.
It is sometimes expressed as a percentage versus a standard that was first established by the film industry, but is now used by manufacturers of television products. This normative standard is called DCI-P3. Of course, it is important to get as close as possible to this standard and it is preferable to aim for 100%. The better the colour nuances are reproduced, the more you will be able to discern the richness of the hues, the transparency effect, the pearly colours, etc.
5. Distance of use
There are two principles of projection, the "standard", which requires mounting 10 feet or more from the screen to the wall, and the "shortthrow", which is movable and used within a few inches of the screen.
If it were up to our Sonxplus experts, we would only make short-throw projectors. New products of this kind allow the projector to be placed only a few inches from the screen, which means that you no longer have to do the fixed installation on the ceiling, no wires to run through the walls. Also, the sound comes from the front of the unit, not the back. People moving around never conflict with the image (shading) and this gives you the possibility to store the projector when not in use.
SAMSUNG FIRST short range laser.
6. Speakers and Bluetooth
Believe it or not, there are still projectors that only project the picture, forcing you to turn on your sound system or sound bar to listen to your shows!
7. Ease of installation
It will be interesting to see if the device you are looking for has automatic settings and an intuitive on-screen guide. Your sales consultant will be able to give you a demonstration to see which products are best suited to your needs.
The initial adjustment should only require a few steps. Having a manual adjustment button on the projector means you don't have to go to the menu to change your adjustments. Automatic adjustment offers an even greater advantage, allowing instant alignment without the need for user control of any kind. Most projectors have some degree of adjustment, but some are more advanced than others. Here are the adjustments required to get the most out of your projector:
8. Horizontal and vertical keystone correction
When a projector is not centred directly in front of the screen, but tilted towards it, the resulting image will be distorted into a trapezoid shape. However, the keystone correction will correct this so that the image is perfectly rectangular. This can be done manually or automatically.
With automatic correction of this distortion, the projector will automatically detect and correct the distorted image by simply pressing a button on the device, remote control or mobile device app.
9. Lens shift (focus)
The lens shift allows the lens to move vertically or horizontally within the projector to provide a perfect image with straight edges and uniform focus. This allows more installation options and more flexible placement for the projector, without loss of resolution. In the past, this setting was subject to spot misalignment and the lens had to be manually rotated to remove the blur in the image.
Again, look for auto focus.
10. Maintenance interval, lamp duration
The lighting system should last a very long time to avoid frustration and costly use. A lamp with a life of 3000 to 5000 hours is a bare minimum. Be aware that a lamp does not produce a uniform glow all the time, it gradually degrades and fades. This is why the new laser technology, with its 20,000 hour life, should be favoured in your choice. In terms of safety, it is good to know that laser lighting is safe, as it incorporates a presence detection system in front of its light projection that interrupts the light flow in the event of a glare hazard. They have thought of everything!
11. Price to be paid
As with anything, the price usually goes with the expected result.
For less than $1500 you will get a low output projector, that's how it is.
Between $1501 and $4000 spent, you will get 4K performance and an acceptable brightness and contrast ratio.
The best value for money is found in the product family in the $4001 to $8000 range. This is where you get the most automation, HDR and DCI-P3 certification, 20,000 hours of life for the laser transmitter and the new short throw principle of the projector. Of course, these features can be found in less expensive devices, but here you get the whole package in one device.
As for the $10,000 and up, we'll get into the specialization; it will depend on how important the cinema is to you at home. Most people won't go there.
Sony Specialty Brightness 10,000 lumens $85,000
- Set yourself a realistic budget for what you are looking for.
- Prefer a three-chip system rather than a one-chip system, as this will affect the veracity of the colours.
- Demand DCI-P3 compliance for 100% colour gamut and HDR for high contrast for better object distinction.
- Look for a brightness level of 1500 Lumens or more for daytime use. Ideally, 2500 is a "must" for everyday listening.
- Maintenance-free life: The laser is preferable with its 20,000 hours.
- Projection principle. The short throw is preferable, as it allows for easy and flexible installation.
- Automation of settings.
Choice from the Sonxplus team. Samsung LSP-9T