The Achilles heel of home projectors in the past has always been the lamp - short-lived, expensive to replace and generating heat that typically needs a noisy fan to disperse. For the past five years or so a solution has been waiting in the wings. LED as an illumination source is much cooler and longer-lasting. But for any other than small unambitious projectors it's been too dim. Or far too expensive. Until now.
Like the previous two projectors I've reviewed here, the Optoma HD91 could be described as an entry-level offering. But compared to the Epson EH-TW490 and the Viewsonic PJD7820HD it's by no means cheap. This is because it's an entry into a much higher class of projector - the semi-pro home theatre category, where prices can easily run into 5 figures. The Optoma HD91 comes in at a hair under £3,000.
Are big screen TVs too big your budget? For Chris Bidmead, they're too small for his living room. He likes a blank wall displaying a 100 inch projector screen. For full immersive HD movie watching (in 3D, if you're that way inclined) the ViewSonic's PJD7820HD delivers all this and more - for around £600.
My previous review, of Epson's entry-level EH-TW490 projector, discussed the difference Epson's keen to point out between Colour Light Output (CLO) and the brightness in lumens as normally measured using plain white light. Epson's claim is that while the plain white light lumen count looks good on paper, only the CLO figure represents what the viewer will really experience watching a movie.
Very decent home cinema projectors can now routinely be had for around 500 quid. But how do you pick a winner you'll be happy to live with from this cheap and cheerful bunch? As the TV industry hurries us ever upwards towards 4K (four times the number of pixels in a regular HD TV screen) punters tend to view pixel count as the prime requirement. Chris Bidmead thinks there are more important factors to look out for.
Epson's entry level EH-TW490 is "HD Ready". It's a confusing industry label (designed to confuse?) that in this case means it projects a screen into which it's possible to fit a 720x1280 pixel matrix with a few pixels to spare at the top and bottom. Hang on, though? Isn't that not much more than half what a true 1080p HD screen ought to be? And can't I pick up a proper 1080p projector for around the same price? The answers are yes and yes. And my response is fergetaboudit.
The EH-TW480 is a portable HD-ready cinema projector targeted at the home user. It provides high quality bright images even in daylight and, with features such as automatic vertical keystone correction, it is simple to set up and use. Consequently, despite it being in Epsons Home range, it could well have a wider application.
It is a relatively small unit, black in colour, weighing 2.3kg. Roughly 30 x 23 x 8 cm it is provided with a padded case with shoulder strap but more of that later. When not in use, a cover can be slid across to protect the lens. Known as the A/V mute slide, it can also be used during projection to hide the image and mute the sound. The projector is a HD-ready 720p, 1280 x 720 LCD unit having a 2,800 lumen output and a claimed contrast ratio of 3000:1.
For those of you that were introduced to corporate presentations in the form
of acetate slides and permanent markers things have come a long way.
Am I showing my age? Many were the important presentations where I lovingly drew multi-colour slides with charts and text ready to slip onto an overhead projector. That projector in itself was an innovation - as is this new little marvel from 3M the MPro 150. Acetate was seen off in the corporate field with the advent of laptops and then with bulky projectors that would plug directly into the VGA port.
Sometimes having to wait a while to see something is a good thing. If it is still around a year after you requested it then it probably does the job it is meant to, sometimes however the world has moved on. Here I am looking at a very small projector either hand held or mounted on a tripod.
The projector is 12.5x5.5x2cm, silver grey top and bottom and matt black around all four sides. It weights 158 grams. Do not expect to get a huge image but I happily displayed an image 60cm away on a white wall and this gave a near 40x30cm image from jpg images, The stated resolution is 640x480 which is considerably better than its sibling the T10 that is only £80 less than it, it can also display movies and play MP3 files.
This is the smallest projector I have seen; it is smaller than most mobile phones. However from two metres away it can display a bright clear image on any flat wall, in fact I even tried it on a ceiling but that would require you to be lying down on a floor or sofa.
It is 10x5x1.8cm and predominately black with silver/grey underside. It weights 110grams with its solid battery inserted. When I first saw this demonstrated in October last year I immediately thought of the Flip video recorder as a use. I was promised one the next week well three months later it arrived. Controls on the unit are minimal with the right side having a 2.5mm A/V input and a focus control. The front has the lens. The left side has mini USB and the three position on switch.
A high definition projector aimed at gamers, but that is equally at home
providing a taste of the cinema in your own home.
Optoma have developed a range of projectors based on DLP® technology developed by Texas Instruments way back in 1987. The technology provides a number of advantages over more traditional LCD projectors including better light intensity and closer pixels. The result is stunning. The GameTime GT3000 package contains everything you need to play your games or video on the large screen.
Video projectors are not new although they have only recently started started to appeal as
an option for those (with the room) that want the full cinema experience in their own home. With
the advent of high-definition, new projectors are required, spurring Sony to announce the VPL-HW10.
Whether you're a fan of the high-definition broadcast systems now on offer or have hailed the end of yet another format war and opted for a Blu-Ray DVD player there's just one problem... All the components are there - all the technology you need to create your own cinema. But how do you get the effect of a huge screen in your home? Well, the answer is to get a huge screen.
As DVD players become almost as cheap as the discs themselves, introducing the very first LCD projector under three hundred pounds.