Projector Buying Guide

If you are looking to buy a new projector for a classroom, meeting room or home theater, the image you project on the screen should make a great impression on your audience. Researching projectors can be confusing, with many acronyms and technological terms. Our projector guide will help answer common questions regarding terminology, features and other important considerations when you are choosing a projector.

Color Brightness and White Brightness (Lumens)

Projectors come in a wide range of brightness which are measured in lumens. The brighter the projector, the higher the lumen rating, and, all else being equal, the more it will likely cost.

When shopping for a projector, be sure to look for two lumen specifications: One for color brightness and one for white brightness. There can be major differences among different projectors and brands, so color should be measured and listed separately to provide accurate information. If the information provided only gives you one lumen rating, it is typically referring only to the white brightness of the projector. The actual brightness of color may be as little as one-third of the lumens stated.

The amount of brightness you need is determined by the room you project in. Projector brightness is measured in lumens. For home theater projectors where ambient light is kept to a minimum, you'll need a minimum of 1500 lumens. For classrooms, conference rooms or rooms with windows, a projector with a minimum of 2500 lumens is best. For large auditoriums or lecture halls, you'll need more lumens.

All Epson projectors specify white brightness using ISO 21118 and color brightness using IDMS 15.4, to make it easy to compare projectors. If you are going to be projecting color images, be sure to look for a projector with high color light output.

jelly beans Epson
jelly beans Competitor
taxi Epson
taxi Competitor

Contrast Ratio

Projector Contrast Ratio

Contrast ratio is the difference between light and dark on a screen, expressed by a number. If you take the brightest white on a screen and the darkest black and compare the luminosity, you get the contrast ratio. For example, a 1000:1 contrast ratio means that the brightest white is 1000x brighter than the darkest black.

Therefore, a high contrast ratio means the projected image will have incredibly rich, crystal-clear detail.

Contrast is especially important for the home theater, where ambient light might otherwise prove it to be challenging to see rich cinematic content if there is not a significant enough difference between whites and blacks.

Epson's exclusive Vertical Alignment (VA) LCD technology provides an opaque black to be the natural state, allowing a projector to achieve astounding blacks with a contrast ratio up to 200,000:1.

Resolution

Projector Resolution

Resolution is the number of dots, or pixels, used to display an image. Higher resolutions mean that more pixels are used to create the image, resulting in a crisper, cleaner image. High resolution is important for projecting detailed charts and graphs, text and high-definition video. The resolution is indicated by a number combination such as 800 x 600. This indicates that there are 800 dots horizontally across the display by 600 lines of dots vertically, equaling 480,000 total dots that make up the image seen on the screen.

Business Projector Resolutions:

SVGA (800x600 pixels, 4:3 aspect ratio): SVGA projectors are low-resolution projectors, are more affordable and are suitable for projecting simple data and charts, as well as short video clips.

XGA (1024x768 pixels, 4:3 aspect ratio): XGA is still widely used; most computers and use XGA as their native resolution, so pairing computers to XGA projectors is common.

WXGA (1280x800 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio): WXGA is the widescreen version of XGA, delivering the same vertical resolution but providing 20% more horizontal resolution. This has become a common resolution for notebook computers and smartphone.

WUXGA (1920x1200 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio): WUXGA is becoming the standard for higher-end notebooks and workstation computers. In addition, WUXGA is increasingly used for installation and large-venue projectors needed for bright, high-definition content.

Home Theater Projector Resolutions:

720p (1280x720 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio): This format is most commonly used for economical, front-movie projection. It matches the 720p HDTV standard.

video

1080p (1920x1080 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio): This is now the standard format for home theater, front projection. It matches the 1080i/1080p HDTV broadcast and Blu-ray formats.

Ease of Use

For hassle-free projection, you'll want to look for some features that enable a quick setup — so you can project right away. These include:

  • HDMI — instant and easy digital connection to high-definition devices and allows digital audio through the same cable
  • Wireless capability — allows for projecting content without a cable and is available from many kinds of devices
  • Vertical and horizontal image correction — allows you to quickly align a skewed image on the screen which is key to setting up in a hurry
  • Instant on/off — means no extra waiting for a projector to warm up or cool down
More information on these features can be seen in the Connections, Wireless & Wired Projection and Image Position and Alignment sections below.

Projection Technologies

There are two technologies used in the majority of all projectors: 1-chip DLP and 3-chip 3LCD.

All Epson projectors use 3-chip 3LCD technology because they offer power-efficient projection that delivers bright, true-to-life images. 3LCD projectors have high color brightness as well as high white brightness. The 1-chip DLP technology uses a spinning color wheel to render color, producing a lower color light output than 3LCD technology. 3LCD engines have no color wheel, and, therefore, don't force a tradeoff between white and color brightness.

Wireless & Wired Projection

wireless

From your computer, there are various ways to project content without needing to use a wire:

  • Select a wireless-ENABLED projector . This means it comes with built-in wireless LAN (802.11 b/g/n). Once you plug the included LAN module into the projector, it's enabled to project wirelessly.
  • Select a wireless-OPTIONAL projector, and purchase the wireless LAN module that is needed to enable the wireless function. Simply plug the purchased LAN module into the projector, and it's enabled to project wirelessly.

Once your projector is configured to project wirelessly, use one of the following methods to start projecting your content without cables:

  • Install the free EasyMP software onto a computer to wirelessly project content from that computer to any network-capable Epson projector.
  • Use the Quick Wireless Connect USB Key (purchased separately) for quick and convenient pairing to a network without the need to install software. Simply plug the USB key into the wireless-enabled projector and then the computer for easy and instant wireless pairing.
  • Use the free iProjection App for iOS and Android to bring selected content from a smart device to the big screen. Simply install the app onto your compatible smart device and connect the device to the wireless-enabled projector.

Connections

There are many types of projector connections, including USB, VGA, Component, HDMI and Display Port. Many connection types are cross or backward compatible using an adapter.

USB Plug 'n Play

Epson's USB Plug 'n Play technology projects images in seconds, using just a USB connection - allowing for instant set up and eliminating the hassle of bulky VGA cables and computer function keys to toggle.

PC-free slideshows

PC-free slideshows allow you to project slides and photos without a computer by plugging a USB thumb drive or digital camera directly into the projector. Compatible with JPG, BMP, GIF and PNG file formats, simply plug your own drive into the USB port, and you are ready to display your images or create a slideshow.

USB

Universal Serial Bus (USB) may be connected and disconnected while devices are in operation (hot swapping). USB devices are self identifying, and USB is Plug-and-Play compliant which means installation and configuration of USB devices should be relatively easy.

HDMI

HDMI digital connectivity is compatible with the latest laptops, Blu-ray and other media players and allows you to project high-definition video and audio for powerful possibilities, with just one cable.

Display Port

Display Port connectivity is a simple, high-bandwidth interface that allows you to easily transmit audio and video through one small connection. It's designed to work on most devices — from computers, monitors, and televisions to cameras, DVD players and more. Display Port is also able to work with older technology; and with adapters, it can allow backward compatibility with VGA, DVI and HDMI.

Interactivity

Interactive Projectors

Epson's interactive projectors make a table or almost any wall interactive. The projector and pen combination give you interactive functionality in one package, without the constraints or expense of a separate interactive whiteboard. Interactive projectors have either short-throw or ultra-short throw distances, allowing you to project without glare or shadow. Interactive functions allow you to display and annotate content from a variety of sources and create large or small interactive areas, using interactive pens to navigate, click and draw.

Throw Distance and Positioning

throw distance

The projector position and the size of the image will depend upon the room configuration. Therefore, you will need to consider the throw distance and the projector features that will give you flexibility in placement.

A projector's throw distance is the distance between the projector and the image on the screen (i.e., the distance that the image is "thrown").

throw distance

A few common throw distances are:

Long Throw: Providing very large images, this type of throw is usually seen from projectors that are installed in the ceiling in the center of a large room.

Short Throw: Providing large images while reducing shadows and eye glare, this type of throw is usually seen from projectors either installed on the wall or the ceiling nearer to a wall — anywhere that is close to where the image will be projected. Short-throw projection generally refers to a distance between 3 to 8 feet away from projector to screen.

Ultra-Short Throw: Virtually completely eliminating shadows and eye glare, this type of throw is seen from projectors installed on the wall, the ceiling nearer to a wall, or a table projecting downwards. Ultra-short throw projection refers to a distance between 0 to 4 feet away from projector to screen.

Use the Epson Throw Distance Calculator to assist you in calculating proper throw distances for your Epson projector.

Image Position and Adjustment

A projector that gives you simple control of image alignment makes using your projector effortless.

Manual adjustment should require only a few steps. Having a physical adjustment button or slider on the projector keeps you from having to go into the menu to change your settings. Automatic adjustment is an even greater benefit, allowing instant alignment with no need for user control of any kind. Most projectors have some degree of adjustability, but some are more advanced than others. Here are some methods of positioning your projected image:

keystone

Horizontal and Vertical Keystone Correction

When a projector is not centered directly in front of the screen but tilted or angled toward it, the resulting image will be distorted into a trapezoidal shape. However, keystone correction will correct this so the picture will be perfectly rectangular. This can be done manually or automatically.

With automatic keystone correction, the projector will automatically detect and correct the distorted image, with the touch of a button. A vertical keystone correction aligns the distortion on the top or bottom of the image, and a horizontal keystone correction aligns the distortion on the left or right side.

Lens Shift

Lens shift allows the lens to move vertically and/or horizontally within the projector to provide a perfect, straight-edged image with uniform focus. This allows for more flexible installation and placement options for the projector, with no loss of resolution. A vertical lens shift allows the projector to move the image up and down, and a horizontal lens shift allows a lens to move from side to side.

Like keystone correction, lens shift corrects the distortion of the image. However, lens shift has no loss in the quality of the image, since there is a physical movement of the lens to account for the adjustment rather than an alteration of the image itself for the correction.

Screen Fit

Screen Fit is a quick-setup function with an auto-sensing feature that intuitively sets up the correct screen size, keystone and focus — all at the touch of a button. Screen Fit uses a sensor that is on the front of the projector, to automatically correct the shape and position of images to fit properly on the screen.

quick corners

Quick Corner®

Epson's innovative Quick Corner feature helps you move any of the four corners of an image independently using the remote control, to help achieve a perfect, rectangular image.

Zoom

Optical zoom is a function of the lens allowing you to increase the image optically without distortion or loss of image quality, while digital zoom, which simulates optical zoom, is a function of the projector allowing you to enlarge a portion of an image.

Optional Lenses

Some projectors have lenses that can be changed. if a projector allows for optional lenses, you have greater flexibility on where you can position the projector in relation to the screen. Lens options allow users to choose the motorized lens most suited for their environment, and a quick-release lever allows for easy lens exchange. Using optional lenses, projectors can handle projection distances near and far.

Horizontal Easy-Slide Image Correction

To make quick horizontal image adjustments, the easy-slide control bar is a manual toggle on the top of many Epson projectors that easily corrects the projected image.

Networking

Projection Through a Network

Content can be delivered from a computer to a projector over a network, for meetings, presentations and digital signage applications. Using Easy MP Network Projector software, you can:

  • Send a single image or multiple, different images to multiple projectors from one computer
  • Share the projector with other presenters without changing cables
  • Connect up to sixteen computers to one projector

Message Broadcasting

This feature enables you to broadcast customized announcements, real-time messages, and alerts to Epson projectors connected to a network. Messages can be sent to over a thousand projectors simultaneously and will take control of the current screen content if the projector is being used, unless this function is disabled. For educators and large institutions, this feature can be a useful tool to send campus-wide or company-wide messages , announcements and instructions.

Monitor & Control

Epson's monitor and control capability helps make projector maintenance convenient and easy. Benefits of using this feature include having remote access and management of Epson-networked projectors, saving you valuable time and money.

Installation Projector Advanced Features

Stacked 3D Projectors

Stacked 3D Solutions

Epson's stacked solution, using two projectors, creates an impressive viewing experience with twice the brightness. Polarized filters, in combination with low-cost glasses, make it easy to enjoy a theater experience.

Split Screen Projection

Split Screen

Great for collaborative meetings, classes and video conferencing, split screen allows you to display content of multiple formats from two to four images simultaneously on a single screen.

DICOM

Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) allows for superb and accurate tonal reproduction, for improved medical imagery such as X-rays.

Projector Edge Blending

Edge Blending

Use multiple projectors to overlap images with no bright spots where the overlap occurs. Projectors with this feature are ideal for art galleries, digital signage, video walls, command centers and stages.

DCDi

DCDi (Directional Correlation Deinterlacing) is a video chipset that improves movie reproduction by de-interlacing video content, reducing noise caused by decompression and enhancing sharpness.

360 Degree Projection

360-Degree Projection

With 360-degree projection you can project from any angle, by installing the projector from any position within a 360-degree radius.

Product Support and Reliability

Reliability and the cost to operate your projector depend on one main factor: Lamp maintenance. Look for a projector with a long lamp life; at least 3,000 hours is preferred, and about 5,000 hours is typical.

Additionally, filters protect the lamp and engine from dust build-up, keep your projector running reliably, and make for easy maintenance.

Some projectors claim to be "filter free." Though these projectors have no filters to replace, they also do not have a method to protect the lamp from outside environmental elements such as dust and humidity which greatly impacts the lamp's life.Reliability and the cost to operate your projector depend on one main factor: Lamp maintenance. Look for a projector with a long lamp life; at least 3,000 hours is preferred, and about 5,000 hours is typical.

Additionally, filters protect the lamp and engine from dust build-up, keep your projector running reliably, and make for easy maintenance.

Some projectors claim to be "filter free." Though these projectors have no filters to replace, they also do not have a method to protect the lamp from outside environmental elements such as dust and humidity which greatly impacts the lamp's life.

Finally, if something goes wrong with your projector, you want to make sure you can get it fixed quickly. Be sure to look at the service or support available for the projector you are considering to purchase. Can you get a support representative on the phone? Can you replace your machine quickly if something malfunctions? Service and support, especially in mission-critical situations, puts dollar-for-dollar comparisons in a whole new light.

Finally, if something goes wrong with your projector, you want to make sure you can get it fixed quickly. Be sure to look at the service or support available for the projector you are considering to purchase. Can you get a support representative on the phone? Can you replace your machine quickly if something malfunctions? Service and support, especially in mission-critical situations, puts dollar-for-dollar comparisons in a whole new light.