Home Theater vs. Home Entertainment Projectors – Things You Should Know About Home Projectors

With the race of advanced technology, new generations of affordable projectors coming out make it possible for consumers to enjoy a true cinematic experience in the comfort of their own home. Depending on your budget, you can go all out with a quality set of speakers and a cozy dark room along with an LED or LCD projector. Yet, impressing your guest with a theater-quality entertainment system has never been easier.

Can you imagine that the cost per image area with a projector is lower than the cost of a traditional TV? There are many more benefits of having a projector for your home entertainment that you can probably guess. However, choosing a perfect match that won’t break your bank is not a simple task. We will provide you a complete guide of different types of projectors for your home and key features you should know before making a purchase.

Types of Projectors

Digital Light Processing (DLP) and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) are the two main groups of projectors that work great for your entertainment at home. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.



DLP projectors use mirror to project their images by shining light onto a chip with microscopic mirrors which is then reflected through projector lens. Each mirror is one pixel of projected image

- Produce smooth image

- Highly accurate without shadows

- Have a high contrast ratio

- More affordable

-Limited number of pixels because of the mirrored chip

- Produce rainbow effect (visible red-green-blue flashes in scenes with bright areas against a dark background)

- Not as bright as LCD technology


LCD projectors pass light through three LCD panels red, blue and green. Pixels allow light through or close off. Open and closed pixels produce a wide range of colors shown as moving image

- Very compact

- High brightness

- Good color saturation

- Dead pixels

- Lose image quality over time

- Lower color uniformity

- More expensive


Aspect Ratios – Rectangular shape of video image

Each projector or TV has its own ratio either 16:9 or 4:3. A wide-screen TV has 16:9 ratio, while 4:3 ratio is commonly seen in a standard TV. The aspect ratio is chosen depending on the ratios of TV programs and DVDs.



- Good for classic films, regular TV programs or large IMAX presentations

- Lower resolution less sharp images

- Show black borders on top and at bottom with widescreen films

- Much higher quality images

- Blu-ray and HDTV compatible

- Small images if show average TV programs

- More commonly used in projectors

Brightness – ANSI lumens measure

The lighting in a room is a deciding factor when it comes to choosing the number of lumens. Brightness of an image is perceived based on the light output of the projector and reflectiveness of the screen. Greater light output is not necessarily better. Image should be bright enough to be sharp and clear without hurting the eyes. Brightness level for 2D viewing does not typically go beyond 2,000 lumens, while 3D viewing requires 1,800 to 2,400 lumens due to the loss of brightness from 3D glasses.

Screen size is another important element in the process of choosing the brightness level. Larger screens will require greater lumens.



Under 1,000

- Least expensive but require a dark room due to low light output

- Ideal for small screens

1,000 to 2,000

- Common range for projectors that work great in dimly lit rooms

- Work for small to average screen sizes

2,000 to 3,000

- More flexible with lighting and room setting (even work with ambient lighting)

- Handle any screen size

Above 3,000

- Most expensive as it’s very bright

- Perfect for rooms with some lighting (too bright for dark rooms)


Resolution – Pixels number projected

Higher resolution guarantees clearer and sharper images. Resolution measures the picture detail that a projector can handle without downscaling the number of pixels in original video content. Picture content loss is a result of compressing picture quality. Similar to aspect ratios, resolution should be chosen based on the source materials (i.e. HDTV, Blu-ray or gaming). Below is the common range of resolution pixels found in home projectors.



1280 x 720

Affordable but still provide good DVD and Blue-ray video quality

1280 x 768

Work well with 16:9 ratio and computer resolutions

1920 x 1080

Perfect for high definition formats (HDTV, Blu-ray and gaming) but more expensive


Contrast level

The minimum level of contrast is important for the eyes to perceive sufficient bright images. The contrast level should not be too high if projectors are used in the living room with lights turned on. Only pay more for high contrast ratio in case of a home theater projector when viewing is taken place in a dimmed-light setting

Color, gray – scale performance, and smooth video playback

As home projectors often serve the purpose of movie screening, color accuracy is also an essential factor. It matters to have color accuracy with natural-looking skin tones and capability to present subtle detail in bright and dark areas. Additionally, any movie enthusiasts would hate to have the movies interrupted every second of the screening. Ability to present smooth video playback without any added motion artifacts is key when showing fast action movies or playing games.

Home theater vs home entertainment projectors

If you’re new to the whole projector world, you are probably not aware that projectors for home owners are often divided into two major groups home theater and home entertainment. The chart below will help you have a better idea of their differences, so you can decide which one would be more suitable for your next purchase


Home theater

Home entertainment


More expensive

More affordable

Room setting, brightness and contrast ratio

- Used under dark conditions in a movie room

- Optimize contrast and black level at the expense of brightness

- Used in places with more ambient lighting

- Optimize brightness at the expense of contrast and black level


Native 1920 x 1080 or greater

Either 1080p or lower (1280 x 800 and 1280 x 720)

HDMI compatibility

Almost always 1080p/24 and HDMI compatible

May not have 1080p/24 and HDMI compatible


Usually large and not portable

Usually smaller and more compatible


No built-in speakers as users often invest in high-fidelity audio systems

Have built-in sound systems

Fan noise

Very quiet fan noise

Louder fan noise


Have 12-volt triggers and extensive connectivity

Rarely have 12-volt triggers and typically have less connectivity

Calibration control

Have comprehensive color and gamma calibration controls

Have less robust calibration control



Setting up a complete theater experience at home can be overwhelming and intimidating but it will totally worth your time and investment. We will go more in-depth about important factors in our upcoming articles, so that you can decide which projector you should get for your home entertainment.

Anthony Huang
Anthony Huang