How to Buy a Projector – Buying Tips, Help and What to Look Out For

This week I have been looking to buy a new projector to replace my broken 1080p LCD TV. I am not looking for anything too serious, but the projector should work with a minimum resolution of 720p and in medium light. This is some of the information I used to help me choose the right projector.

The main uses for a modern projector are:

  • Business or classroom projector.  When buying a projector for business presentations of a classroom environment be sure to focus on lumens.  With lumens, a higher number means it still looks good in bright light.  The higher the lumens figure, the better you can see the projected image when the room is bright.  For a business projector you’re also looking for quality build and ease of use.
  • Media, films or gaming projector.  When buying a projector for media or gaming you are looking for something different from business or classroom projectors.  You will be focused on high resolutions to get the maximum detail out of the images.
Now let’s cover the main purchase considerations when buying a projector.

Picture Quality

Resolution is the main component of picture quality.  More pixels are always better, but come at a price.  Here are the main resolutions and the jargon terms projector sellers use:
  • SVGA resolution is 800×600.  This is the cheapest projector resolution you can find in the modern day.  Good for low end office use and basic presentations.
  • XGA has a resolution fo 1024×768.  This is not widescreen, and is usually called the standard screen size (4:3).  XGA is like old square tv’s.
  • WXGA represents a 1280×800 resolution for projectors.  WXGA is widescreen, rectangle, and is great for movies because it is the standard 16:10 format required.  WXGA is the minimum spec you would want for viewing a 720p movie.
  • WUXGA is a resolution of 1920×1200.  This is also widescreen and is ideal for projecting full 1080p movies and media.  WUXGA is also super expensive compared to the other formats.  I went with WXGA and not WUXGA, but if your budget can scratch it and you need 1080p then WUXGA may be ideal for you.
Lumens are a measure of white light brightness.  Brightness is important for a projector because the image is “projected” onto a screen and must pass other light sources before hitting the screen point.  Because of this, the more lumens a projector has, the more strength and power it has to push through other room light.  A bright office will need more lumens than a dark media centre in your basement.
Classrooms and conference room use should go for 2500 lumens.  A home media center can be acceptable with as low as 1500 lumens.
In the modern day there is also color light output.  The higher the color light output, the more colorful the projected image.  A higher number is always better, and a higher color light output is more important for home theatre or gaming uses.

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