TVs vs Projectors: HDTVs

Everything you ever needed to know to buy your HDTV

| Jul 26, 2013

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After years of squinting to see anything on that TV that’s smaller than your computer screen and suffering through low quality sound, you’ve decided you need a change and you’re ready to enter the wonderful world of home theaters. But, that raises the question…where do you start? After all, there are so many options, styles, and sizes to consider. Do you want a home theater room that doubles as a living room? Or do you want your own personalized IMAX experience in the comfort of your own home? Are you setting up a new home theater from scratch, or just want to upgrade what you’ve got?

While there are many components that go into a home theater, the one that receives the most attention is the screen. Somehow, it doesn’t matter how great everything else is, a tiny TV can end up killing your home theater experience. When you look for a TV you’ll have tons of different makes and models to choose from, but all of these options can be boiled down to two basic types: projectors and HDTVs. So, the question is, which one is better?

As with most of the components in home theater setups, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. We’ll lay out some of the basics so that you can decide which one would be best for you. This article explains everything you need to know about HDTVs. Find out about projectors.

Home theater with an HDTV
HDTVs give you flexibility and versatility

HDTVs

There are three basic types of HDTVs: Plasma, LCD, and Rear Projection.

Rear projection: Rear projection TVs work a lot like projectors, the difference is that the projector is built into the TV and is behind the screen. Otherwise they share a lot of the same pros and cons as front projectors, with the exception being that they are large and bulky. Because of this rear projection TVs are becoming harder and harder to find.

The other two TVs (plasma and LCD) are the most commonly seen today. While current technologies have made these two TVs very comparable, there are a few differences to keep in mind.

HDTV

Plasma: Plasma TVs utilize small cells containing ionized gas. This same principle is used in fluorescent lamps. Because of this, plasma displays can be produced very large. They have great contrast ratios, excellent viewing angle, and good response time. However, they also get very hot and use a lot of power. They are also heavy and the screen can have a glare from ambient light. But, where old plasmas could have an “image burn-in,” where images burn onto the screen when left on for too long, new plasma screens don’t normally have this problem.

LCD: LCD TVs use the light modulating properties of liquid crystals to display images. They can be made in virtually any size or shape and have no theoretical resolution limit. They can be made to larger sizes at prices that are now very comparable to Plasma TVs. Mat finish LCD TVs also have much less glare from ambient light. The biggest problem with these TVs is their refresh rate, making fast moving images appear blurred. Newer TVs have come a long way with this problem, though, and most people don’t notice it. They also have a more limited viewing angle. Although this has also been greatly improved, at extreme angles the images can’t be seen as clearly. Despite these setbacks, LCD TVs are by far the most popular TVs out there.

Pros:

Less Susceptible to Ambient Light: While still affected by ambient light, they aren’t affected nearly as much as projectors. This makes them a great choice if your room will have windows, or if you want to have your home theater room also be the living room.

Lifespan: While projector bulbs need to be replaced every 2,000 hours or so, most plasma and LCD TVs have a lifespan of around 60,000 hours or more.

Standard Resolutions: If you still want to watch standard resolution TV, it will look much better on a HDTV than on a projector.

Cons:

Plasma TVs are Heavy

Heavy: All kinds of HDTVs are much heavier than projectors and projection screens. That makes them harder to hang up and position. However there are plenty of wall mounts that give you different options you if you do want to hang your HDTV on the wall.

Size Limitations: They only make HDTVs so big. Beyond a certain point it’s just not cost effective. So if you want the biggest screen possible, you’ll want a projector.

Bottom Line

Projectors are a great choice if you want the ultimate dedicated theater room, while HDTVs offer a more versatile option. Which option is best to you depends on your theater room, your budget, and your own preference. Learn more about projectors.

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