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Projector vs TV: Pros, Cons, and What to Choose

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Projector-vs-TV

Whether you want to enjoy your favorite movies or play games on a big screen, you have plenty of options in the market. TVs and projectors are the best way to view DVDs or Blu-ray pictures on a large screen.

For years, people have been using projectors to watch movies or play games mainly because they are cheaper and more convenient than huge TVs. Plus, you don’t need any sort of installation for them. However, things have changed quite a bit over the past few years. Viewers are now looking for high dynamic range (HDR) quality, which, unfortunately, most projectors don’t offer. Moreover, projectors use light to produce images on the big screen, while TVs generate the same picture without requiring any lighting.

So, what should you use? This guide will outline some significant differences between projectors and TVs to help you make the right decision.

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Overview of Projectors

Projector bulb

Image Credit: Piqsels

A projector projects the picture onto a plain, large surface. Most projectors produce images with a light shining through a small lens. However, recent models now come with lasers that enable them to project the pictures directly.

These optical devices allow you to enjoy your favorite TV shows, games, and movies on a big screen of around 100 inches. The good thing is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars buying one. Compared to TVs, projectors are reasonably affordable. However, they do have certain limitations.

For example, you’ll need a dark room to see the picture clearly. Plus, if you don’t have space to mount it on your ceiling, where will you put it for the perfect angle? If that’s the problem with your room, projectors may fail you here.

Some things to consider while buying a projector include:

Brightness

A quality projector needs to create enough light to cover the entire screen without being too shiny. Typically, a projector’s brightness is calculated according to the number of lumens. High lumen comes at a premium price. However, lumens between 1,300 and 1,500 work just fine without breaking the bank.

Screen Options

People mostly use a wall as a projector screen, but it is better to use a dedicated projector screen for the best picture. You can also go for manual projector screens of various types, including wall-mounted or tripod. Motorized projector screens are another type that you can store for later use.

Connectivity

You can make the most out of a projector by connecting it with several multimedia devices. A projector usually comes with composite video handles that manage the standard definition sources, while the HDMI sockets handle HD video equipment like gaming consoles or Skybox. Moreover, you can also view photos from USB sticks or hook up a laptop or PC with the help of video graphics array (VGA) monitor sockets.

Pros
  • More affordable
  • Versatile and convenient
  • 3D capability
  • Multiple brightness and display options
  • Easy installation
  • Occupies little space
Cons
  • Can be noisy
  • Lamp may burn out
  • Needs regular maintenance
  • Requires a projector screen
  • Picture quality may vary
  • Needs separate speakers

shutter camera divider 2Overview of TVs

Smart tv

Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

TVs have come a long way. From sitting on a table to now being mounted on a wall, TVs have experienced a significant change in the picture quality as well. Nowadays, you can find a TV for home theaters not just in 1080p (Full HD: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels) but in 4K (UHD: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels).

TVs’ unique, clear picture quality gives them an edge over projectors that typically come in 1080p only. Smart 4K TVs are the best choice if you’re looking to create a home theater in your bedroom. They sit in one place and are noise-free.

You can also build your own gaming arena as Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox consoles are compatible with the 4K screening. In addition, newer TVs come with HDR, bringing more lively colors and shadows.

When buying a TV, consider these things:

Screen Size

TVs come in various sizes. To determine the right size for your room, you need to evaluate how far away you’ll sit from the screen, how many people will be watching the TV at the same time, and your budget. The ideal size for a living room is between 55–65 inches. However, you can opt for a smaller one for your bedroom.

Screen Resolution

Resolution is determined by the number of pixels that display the picture on the screen. The more the pixels, the sharper the picture will be. So, go for the TV with a higher resolution. Previously, 1920 x 1080 resolution or Full HD was considered a standard for high resolution. However, it has shifted to ultra-HD sets or 4K with four times more pixels than HDTV screens. This means 3840 x 2160 pixels are now the norm.

Connectivity

Smart TVs for home theaters can easily connect to your local Wi-Fi network or a wired Ethernet connection. They also have USB and HDMI ports for your multimedia devices.

Pros
  • Sharp and crisp picture quality
  • The perfect image quality in all types of lighting
  • No noise
  • No additional speakers required
  • Wall mounts occupy little space
  • Multiple resolution options
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Can be hard to install
  • Needs a location to sit on
  • Every TV has a fixed picture size

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What Are the Differences Between a Projector and TV?

white projector with remote

Image Credit: Dylan Calluy, Unsplash

If you’re still confused in choosing one, here is a detailed comparison of the features of a projector and a TV:

Size

Projectors are relatively smaller than TVs. Every projector has a range of image sizes. While some projectors cover the entire wall with clarity, the others give you the best picture at a distance of around 3–4 feet.

On the other hand, TVs are now available in sizes up to 100 inches. Typically, TVs with a bigger screen size are considered more expensive. Meanwhile, projectors’ prices are evaluated on the image quality and features.

So, size-wise, a quality projector can offer you the exact image size at a lower cost than TVs. But if budget isn’t the problem for you, consider opting for TV.

Required Lighting

Projectors produce images on the wall with the light. So, if your room has a significant amount of light, it may blur or wash out the contrast and color of the picture. Thus, to enjoy movies or games on a projector, you need to ensure that your room is dark enough to resonate with the projector’s requirements.

However, you can also find projectors that give a brighter image in light as well. You need to look for the number of lumens a projector produces before making your choice. About 1,000 lumens are perfect for a dark room, 2,000 lumens are ideal for a slightly bright room, and 3,000 lumens are most suitable for a very bright room. Of course, the higher the lumens, the higher the price.

Contrastingly, TVs don’t require an optimum lighting level to produce images. Whether streaming your favorite movie in daylight or at night, a TV will offer crisper and sharper pictures.

Smart tv

Image Credit: Jonas Leupe, Unsplash

Resolution & Color Adjustment

The image quality of a projector depends on the color of the wall you’re using as a projection screen. Typically, a white wall or screen gives you the best color, while the other tones may throw off the actual color. Most projectors offer an excellent resolution of 1080p when you set them at an optimal distance.

On the other hand, a TV’s resolution can only offer resolutions depending on what you’ve input into them. For instance, the standard resolution for cable would be 1080p, while the DVDs and Blu-rays supported by HD are displayed in HD.

Some TVs can also adjust the color on their own to give you the optimal accuracy.

Installation Procedure

Projectors and TVs don’t require installation or mounting at all. However, it all comes down to the size of the device.

Projectors are smaller, so it’s easier for you to place them on a table, plug them in, stream a movie, and put them back. You can also permanently mount them to a wall or ceiling with brackets, but the place you choose to mount it should be reachable. Doing so helps you remove or add gaming consoles and USBs to the projector.

Meanwhile, TVs are standalone units but can also be mounted on the wall. It’s better to ask for a professional’s help for TV mounting as it involves several technicalities.

man watching tv

Image Credit: mohamed_hassan, Pixabay

Longevity

Like every other electronic device, TVs and projectors also have a lifespan. One rule of thumb is that the more you take care of your device, the longer it will stay with you.

If you haven’t mounted your projector and take it out every time to watch a movie, it could damage the device over time. You may unintentionally drop it on the floor and disrupt its ports. Thus, a fixed location can help increase the durability of a projector.

Similarly, mounted TVs are less likely to get damaged than those sitting on a table or other furniture. On the other hand, there will be fewer chances of people bumping and knocking into it if mounted.

All in all, both electronics should be turned off when not in use. Plus, clean them with a dry cloth before and after using them to increase their longevity.

Noise Levels

The fans on projectors cool down the lamp to prevent it from burning out. While this feature is helpful, it does result in a lot of noise when the device is running. The noise can be loud enough to interrupt the sound of your movie or game. However, some projectors may also have quiet fans.

On the other hand, TVs don’t have fans, so there is no noise. They give your clearer, crispier, and more audible sound quality.

projector on the table

Image Credit: Piqsels

Maintenance

TVs and projectors require scheduled maintenance to function correctly. Projectors usually have lamps that can burn out when not replaced for several years.

To avoid this situation, you should first turn off the picture but keep the fan working to cool down the projector. Then, you can turn off the device and put it away. This is the right way to maintain your projector.

If you have an LED TV for better image quality, you may have to ensure the right amount of ventilation for your device to work. It’s better to turn off LED TVs after using them for a few hours to prevent the picture quality from getting compromised. In addition, you shouldn’t increase the contrast and brightness of the TV to the maximum since it can also result in dim image quality.

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Our Favorite Projector

Epson LS11000 4K Laser Projector

 

This is a high-end, 4K projector with lasers instead of lamps to offer more precise and quality pictures. Compared to the previous versions, the LS11000 4K Laser Projector delivers more refined pixels on-screen with an 8.29-million-pixel image and 2,500 lumens. Other features include:

  • HDR-compatible
  • 3D-compatible
  • Motorized zoom feature (2.1x)
  • Motorized HxV lens shift
  • Up to 20,000 hours of laser life

Our Favorite TV

Sony A90J 4K Smart TV

The Sony A90J is hands down one of the best OLED 4K resolution TV for all purposes. Its sleek design complements a modern home theater setup and can even elevate the soundbar system. The OLED gives you near-infinite contrast and crisper pixels that cancel all the blur effects.

Some highlighting features of this TV are:

  • Comes in 3 sizes: 55″, 65″, and 83″
  • HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatible
  • Excellent color accuracy
  • Efficient gradient handling with reduced banding
  • Multiple modern features

shutter camera divider 2Conclusion

Projectors and TVs offer high-quality images, better contrast, convenience, and the ability to build a movie theater without much effort. With any device, you can melt away all your week’s stress by enjoying an HD movie on a big screen.

The key to making the right choice for one depends upon your requirements and budget. While projectors are affordable, they don’t support HDR for the best picture quality. Similarly, TVs have a fixed size and resolution, so you can’t adjust them as you wish. But with a projector, you can easily adjust the size and resolution.

When making your decision, evaluate your budget, weigh the pros and cons of both devices, and choose one that meets your expectations.


Featured Image Credit: (Left) Loner Nguyen, Shutterstock – (Right) Clker Free Vector Images, Pixabay

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.

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