3 Best Projectors For (Bed)Room Ceiling Projection (2020)

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Performance Winner
Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro 500 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector, Black, 720p Image, Video Projector, 30 to 150 Inch Image TV Projector, Movie Projector, Home Entertainment
Best Price-Performance Ratio
Anker Nebula Capsule Max, Pint-Sized Wi-Fi Mini Projector, 200 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector, Native 720p HD, 8W Speaker, Movie Projector, 100 Inch Picture, 4-Hour Video Playtime, Home Entertainment
Cheapest
ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector with Dual Harman Kardon Speakers HDMI USB Type C Auto Keystone Built-in Battery, Stream Netflix with Dongle
Model
Nebula Mars II Pro
Nebula Capsule Max
ViewSonic M1
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent May 2020
Test Result 9.6/10 Very Good May 2020
Test Result 9.3/10 Good May 2020
Manufacturer
Anker
Anker
ViewSonic
Projection Technology
DLP
DLP
LED
Brightness
500 ANSI lmumens
200 ANSI lumens
250 LED Lumens
Resolution
1280x720 (16:9, HD)
1280x720 (16:9, HD)
VGA (640x480p) to Full HD (1920x1080p)
Projection size
30-150 inches
20-100 inches
60-100 inches
Image quality
Value for money
Video playtime
3 hours
4 hours
Up to 2.5 hours
Connectivity
HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Screen Mirroring
HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Screen Mirroring
HDMI 1.4, USB 2.0 Type A, Micro USB
Pros
  • Good, sufficiently bright and colourful image in darkened rooms
  • High-power battery
  • Good speakers
  • Can be transported quickly & easily
  • High-quality image
  • Small enough to take anywhere
  • Solid battery
  • Best price-performance ratio
  • LED lamp technology
  • Up to 30,000 hours lamp life
  • Multimedia capability
  • Price
Cons
  • Comparatively poor picture in brighter rooms
  • Must be mounted on a tri-pod if projecting upward
  • Luminous efficacy very low
Recommended by us?
Performance Winner
Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro 500 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector, Black, 720p Image, Video Projector, 30 to 150 Inch Image TV Projector, Movie Projector, Home Entertainment
Model
Nebula Mars II Pro
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent May 2020
Manufacturer
Anker
Projection Technology
DLP
Brightness
500 ANSI lmumens
Resolution
1280x720 (16:9, HD)
Projection size
30-150 inches
Image quality
Value for money
Video playtime
3 hours
Connectivity
HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Screen Mirroring
Pros
  • Good, sufficiently bright and colourful image in darkened rooms
  • High-power battery
  • Good speakers
  • Can be transported quickly & easily
Cons
  • Comparatively poor picture in brighter rooms
Recommended by us?
Best Price-Performance Ratio
Anker Nebula Capsule Max, Pint-Sized Wi-Fi Mini Projector, 200 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector, Native 720p HD, 8W Speaker, Movie Projector, 100 Inch Picture, 4-Hour Video Playtime, Home Entertainment
Model
Nebula Capsule Max
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Very Good May 2020
Manufacturer
Anker
Projection Technology
DLP
Brightness
200 ANSI lumens
Resolution
1280x720 (16:9, HD)
Projection size
20-100 inches
Image quality
Value for money
Video playtime
4 hours
Connectivity
HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Screen Mirroring
Pros
  • High-quality image
  • Small enough to take anywhere
  • Solid battery
  • Best price-performance ratio
Cons
  • Must be mounted on a tri-pod if projecting upward
Recommended by us?
Cheapest
ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector with Dual Harman Kardon Speakers HDMI USB Type C Auto Keystone Built-in Battery, Stream Netflix with Dongle
Model
ViewSonic M1
Test Result
Test Result 9.3/10 Good May 2020
Manufacturer
ViewSonic
Projection Technology
LED
Brightness
250 LED Lumens
Resolution
VGA (640x480p) to Full HD (1920x1080p)
Projection size
60-100 inches
Image quality
Value for money
Video playtime
Up to 2.5 hours
Connectivity
HDMI 1.4, USB 2.0 Type A, Micro USB
Pros
  • LED lamp technology
  • Up to 30,000 hours lamp life
  • Multimedia capability
  • Price
Cons
  • Luminous efficacy very low
Recommended by us?

Finding the Best Projectors for Projecting Movies to Room Ceiling

Many people reached out to us asking questions about the right projectors for projecting movies, Netflix, Xbox & Playstation games and star effects to the ceilings of their bedrooms, living rooms or hobby rooms.

The following message came from on user contacting us about the issue of projecting to room ceilings:

I wanted to get a projector for our small bedroom and project the image on the ceiling (white woodchip, no lamp) above the bed. I wanted to place the projector in front of the foot of the bed so that the projector points upwards. The Projector should not too loud & a beginner model. My question: is it that simple, or are there problems with the “upright position” or the angle because I want to project over the bed on the room ceiling?

As many of you asked similar questions we researched and found all the answers regarding ceiling projection. In the last section of the article you can find our Ultimate Projector Guide.

But now our test results for “Best Projector for Room Ceiling Projection”.

Test Results: Best Projectors For (Bed)Room Ceiling Projection

Ranking First: Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro

Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro

Pros

  • Good, sufficiently bright and colourful image in darkened rooms
  • High-power battery
  • Good speakers
  • Can be transported quickly & easily

Cons

  • Comparatively poor picture in brighter rooms

Best performance for a room ceiling projector

The Chinese company Anker is probably known to most people primarily for its battery chargers and power benches – but the company also offers loudspeakers, headphones and extensive smartphone accessories. A completely new addition to the company’s own product range is a portable projector, which not only offers its users maximum flexibility in terms of installation, but also comes with pre-installed apps. Our test will tell you whether the Nebula Mars 2 is worth its purchase price.

Portable projector with integrated battery

Various home cinema fans are flirting with the purchase of a projector, but in the end they still stick with their TV. The reason: the installation of the projectoras also its permanent readjustment in case it is used in different rooms is simply too annoying. This is exactly the criterion that the Chinese producer Anker now wants to get rid of with the Nebula Mars II: This is a portable projector that can be transported quickly and easily from A to B and set up just as easily.

The 4.8 x 5.43 x 3.94 inch large and 3.94 lbs. light projector does not even need a permanent power connection: it has an integrated, powerful battery, so that you only need to set it up to start working immediately – it couldn’t be easier.

Technical features of the Nebula Mars II

Before we come to another ingenious highlight in terms of user comfort, let’s first take a look at the technical equipment of the mini projector: It has a maximum resolution of 1280 × 720 pixels, so that it is able to play HD-ready content, but also Full HD content – the latter accordingly in a downscaled resolution. In terms of brightness, the device achieves 300 ANSI lumens, which is a bit low compared to other projectors.

Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro

Thus, a use as daylight projector is definitely not recommended, while in the dark evening hours or in completely darkened rooms, very good and bright projections can be achieved on your room ceilings. But not only the brightness is convincing in sufficient darkness: the actual image quality also proves to be very vivid and colorful thanks to the advanced DLP technology.

Before the entertaining movie fun can finally take its course, the image of the Nebula Mars II doesn’t even have to be manually focused: For this purpose, a powerful autofocus has been integrated into the device, which focuses the image in seconds after changing position – comparable to the autofocus in a modern smartphone camera. Ideally, the manufacturer has also not dispensed with automatic keystone correction, so that the projected image has straight edges even at a slightly inclined radiation angle.

Preinstalled Android 7.1 Nougat

Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro

Now we come to the already mentioned highlight of the Nebula Mars II: The mini-projector is equipped with the Android 7.1 operating system, which brings a lot of advantages: For example, various apps can be installed directly on the device, which include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. This means that you always have all important streaming services and media libraries at hand, not only at home, but also on the road, and can access their content immediately.

The Nebula Mars II is relatively easy to operate using the controls integrated on the top, but not exclusively: ideally, you can also simply pair your smartphone with the device and control it from the comfort of your couch.

This is also possible with the remote control included in the scope of delivery, but if it has been misplaced, the mobile phone, which is always at hand anyway, proves to be an optimal alternative. In addition, the smartphone can also be used to mirror a wide variety of content directly onto the screen, making this function even more attractive.

Diverse connection options

Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro

The Nebula Mars II projector also knows how to convince all along the line when it comes to connectivity: In addition to a USB input, the manufacturer has also thought of an HDMI port, which can be used to connect a Blu-ray player or a game console, for example. Also on board is a 3.5 mm jack connector, which can be used to connect external music systems.

However, this isn’t really necessary as the integrated 10 watt loudspeakers deliver a surprisingly good sound together with strong basses. Therefore, it’s all the more practical that the projector can alternatively be used as a mobile Bluetooth loudspeaker when there’s no movie night coming up.

Verdict: Best performing romm ceiling projector

Despite its compact size, the Nebula Mars II projector from Anker surprises with a very good image in dark rooms and proves to be the ideal projector for changing locations thanks to its quick and uncomplicated operational readiness and the pre-installed Android 7.1 operating system. If you are looking for a versatile and flexible projector, you’ll get a great device for a comparatively fair price.

Ranking Second: Anker Nebula Capsule

Anker Nebula Capsule

Pros

  • High-quality image
  • Small enough to take anywhere
  • Solid battery
  • Best price-performance ratio

Cons

  • Must be mounted on a tri-pod if projecting upward

Best price-performance ratio projector for room ceilings

The Capsule Max is distributed by Anker under the brand name Nebula. Particularly striking is the compact design, which strongly reminds of a can. The size is not so much larger than a standard can, as you can buy it in the market. This makes the Capsule Max particularly exciting for users who want to pack the mini-projector quickly and use it on the road, at friends or outdoors, for example when camping. It meets these demands perfectly with its built-in battery, the integrated loudspeakers and the Android system – as we noticed in our test.

Nebula Capsule Max – the mobile cinema for 4 hours!

The package contents of the Capsule Max turns out to be relatively simple; but what does one need in order to operate an all-in-one projector? Even its big brother, the Capsule Mars 2, which we already had in the test for you, didn’t have much more accessories. So the Capsule only comes with a charger and a remote control. The latter is quickly replaced by the matching Nebula Connect app. So we only need the smartphone and the Capsule Max itself to operate it. After 3.5 to 4 hours of use, it is supplied with fresh energy via the charging cable

Ports and soft-touch buttons for even more flexibility

In order to address the core functions as well as the connections, let’s take a look at the compact projector all around. On the head there are the soft-touch-buttons for the control of the projector in case one does not have the smartphone or the included remote control at hand. With these buttons you can navigate through the menus without any problems and start your favourite movie via Amazon Prime Video or Netflix with just a few tips. There are also two buttons on the back – the upper one initiates the Bluetooth speaker mode, which turns the projector into a pure Bluetooth speaker, and the other button turns the projector on with a long press.

Anker Nebula Capsule

If you let your gaze wander a little downwards, you’ll see four inputs and outputs. From left to right, there is the 3.5mm audio output, the HDMI input, a USB-A port as well as the input for charging the Capsule Max on the very right. The device is enclosed by a grid structure, which ensures that the fan can do a good job and the integrated 8 watt speakers don’t lose any sound. On the front is the lens that radiates the 200 lumens light level to the front. This allows a maximum image to be created with a size of up to 100 inches. A fast autofocus always ensures the right sharpness and brilliance. The Capsule Max also features automatic keystone correction and always projects a straight image – even if it is placed diagonally in the bottom left corner.

The most important facts about the Capsule Max

  • up to 200 ANSI lumens brightness
  • maximum 100 inch image format
  • Clear and rich 8W speaker
  • Nebula Connect App
  • Extensive connectivity – for streaming over WLAN or gaming at the console via HDMI

Nebula Capsule Max in intensive use

We have tested the Capsule Max intensively for you and would now like to tell you about our experiences with the mini projector. The compact convinced us with its narrow dimensions and could be accommodated in any backpack or bag. The projector was set up more than fast: Simply out of the bag, on the table and projected on a white wall. The rubberised underside ensures that it holds securely and is non-slip on many surfaces. Due to the practical tripod thread it is also fixed on such a surface.

Real cinema feeling with the compact – and the battery life?

Anker Nebula Capsule

The brightness of 200 lumens is enough to turn a completely dark room into a real cinema hall. However, if you pull the power cord, it only achieves 100 lumens, or the promised 3.5 to 4 hours of battery life – with active WLAN it achieves 3 hours. If you switch to full brightness in the settings, it already stops after under an hour. We recommend leaving “automatic” enabled in the settings. The energy savings mode is still enough to watch movies and series in the dark without any problems or to pursue your gaming passion via the connected console.

The built-in 8 watt loudspeakers promise a lot – at least on the page. But they also convince us in real use. Explosions and bass-heavy music come across very authentically and round off the experience; you can really immerse yourself in the action. We are very satisfied with the complete package of the All-in-One projector. Anker has done a very good job with his Nebula Capsule Max. By the way: Just like its big brother Mars 2, which we linked above, the Capsule Max also achieves a proud 720p. So a quite respectable HD resolution. Really remarkable for its size!

Controlling the mini-projector via app and other functions

The Nebula Connect App can be easily downloaded from the respective App Store. The installation is quick and easy, and after you have selected the appropriate projector, in our case the Nebula Capsule Max, in the menu that appears, you can get started. You even have the possibility to control the projector with a kind of mouse pointer. Thus, the touch screen of the smartphone functions as a touchpad as also on the notebook – very clever and also pleasant in the handling. We already liked this very much in the Mars 2.

Anker Nebula Capsule

YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are the three apps that we run almost exclusively on the Nebula Capsule Max. The operation is very easy and, thanks to Android 8.1, also quite fast. A new series or a favorite movie is quickly selected. The menu navigation is almost identical to other devices in every application – clarity is a top priority here. Mirroring the smartphone screen is also easy. So we shared our iPhone screen effortlessly and could show holiday pictures or just navigate briefly to our favourite blog in Safari. Gadget-Rausch.de can be seen.

Anker Nebula Capsule Max: Best price-performance ratio for room ceiling projector

Wow – we have to say that we waited a long time for the mini projector. We’ve been excited about it for a long time and have internalized each of the functions and performance data. After the projector was there, we were not disappointed. The Capsule Max does exactly what it promises. Best image quality and high luminosity with good battery life and flexibility. Problem-free streaming, very easy operation and even HDMI for unlimited connectivity. The Capsule Max is a real all-rounder, which has convinced us in full length. It is great for projectiong movies to the ceiling your rooms or basements.

Ranking Third: ViewSonic M1 Portable

ViewSonic M1 Portable

Pros

  • LED lamp technology
  • Up to 30,000 hours lamp life
  • Multimedia capability
  • Price

Cons

  • Luminous efficacy very low

Best price for room ceiling projectors

ViewSonic has consistently designed the palm-sized projector M1 for mobile use. A chic bag reliably protects the projector from unsightly scratches when on the move. In addition, the stand serves as lens protection. Everything appears very valuable and solidly manufactured. The company Harman/Kardon provides the good sound. The US company has integrated two loudspeakers into the stylish silver-coloured housing of the ViewSonic, each with a power of 3 watts. An automatic blank sensor ensures eye safety, as it switches off the LEDs immediately as soon as objects appear in the luminous flux.

All this was worthy of an award from a 63-strong jury of the “if Design Award”. From 6300 entries from 54 countries, the ViewSonic M1 was chosen as the winner in the “Product” discipline.
I can unreservedly endorse this praise of the well thought-out design.

Equipment and technology

The resolution of the ViewSonic M1 is 854 x 480 pixels.
An image width of 100 inches can be projected from a distance of 2.5 yrads. This is made possible by the small wide-angle lens.

Instead of a conventional gas discharge lamp (UHP), modern LEDs are used. These are expected to last a full 30,000 hours. To illustrate this period: If you watch a two-hour movie every day, the M1 can run for an incredible 41 years. This should make expensive lamp changes a thing of the past. The connectivity possibilities of the little jack-of-all-trades are manifold. Put simply, this means that the small M1 can receive and project almost everything in films, broadcasts, games, photos and streams. The required feeders only need to be connected to the appropriate inputs.

The built-in media player makes it possible that even from an SD card movies and photos can be played. The matching SD reader is also included in the projector. Furthermore, a 16 GB memory allows, for example, holiday videos to be stored in the projector so that they can be thrown on the wall at any time.
Thanks to the USB-C interface, the projector can even be supplied with power from a PC.

For an additional charge, ViewSonic offers a wireless dongle for wirelessly streaming presentations and multimedia content from a smartphone. The built-in battery is designed to last six hours in eco mode, realistically it’s gonna last 2.5 hours. Wow!

Installation and adjustment

ViewSonic M1 Portable

The ViewSonic M1 makes it really easy for the user. Simply connect the USB stick, insert the SD card or connect the Blu-ray player or DVB-T2 box – and you are ready to go. The projector automatically detects the input signal. Since there is no zoom, the image size can be determined by the projection distance. Thanks to the wide-angle lens with a ratio of 1.1, even large images can be projected from a short distance. The sharpness is adjusted on the corresponding controller. This is achieved with great precision because there is little play in the adjustment wheel.

Picture impressions

Once again it has become a little late. The sun has almost set, there are still pleasant temperatures outside. A warm breeze blows through my face. While I go into the backyard with the ViewSonic M1, the green leaves rustle slightly in the wind. A few lamps light up the small cricket corner. I put the ViewSonic M1 on a small rock, switch it on and play a few photos and movies from the USB stick I brought along. The media player recognizes all stored formats immediately and creates a two meter picture from a distance of about 2.5 meters. But now the picture is a little too dark for me. The curious neighbours are delighted about the displayed image size of the small ViewSonic.

ViewSonic M1 Portable

Under 60 inch picture width the M1 then runs up to the top form. It is not impressed by the lamp, which throws a light beam on the wall in front of it. Clearly and distinctly my photo shots are reproduced. I am already a little stunned by the good sharpness. All colours are really a lot of fun. The blue water from the swimming pool glows naturally. Skin tones look realistic. Even single splashes of water can be easily seen.
The ViewSonic M1 makes curious. When one of the spectators holds his hand in front of the device in the light stream, the M1 turns off immediately (!). After the neighbor has taken his hand away again, it takes less than two seconds and the M1 projects an image as bright as shortly before. So the “eye protection” works perfectly.

Movie playback:

24-hour movies are reproduced true to the original. The films run smoothly. In addition, the so-called rainbow effect (RBE) is surprisingly low. In film images I could hardly ever force it. For this reason, the typical “color flashing” of the single-chip DLP is almost completely absent at high-contrast edges. Movies from the Blu-ray player also run flawlessly. Sports and shows via DVB-T2 are absolutely interference-free.

The handy remote control is really helpful for input changes and other change requests in the menu. Navigation through the on-screen menu is fast. The handheld transmitter doesn’t even have to be pointed at the projector. It’s enough to hold it towards the screen. I find it annoying, however, that the playback is interrupted during USB-feeding, for example when brightness and contrast are to be corrected. After that, the film has to be restarted.

Verdict: Best price for romm ceiling projector

The ViewSonic M1 is a mobile, small LED projector that projects impressively bright and sharp images up to 100 inches wide. Feature films, photos and sports events can be enjoyed indoors and outdoors after sunset, thanks to long battery life of up to four hours in high lamp mode. The integrated media player plays almost all current formats. Thanks to the ingenious security concept, even young home cinema enthusiasts can use it without hesitation, even on the ceiling in a brightly lit bedroom. For its cheap price, the ViewSonic M1 offers a lot of multimedia fun in the garden, at camping, on the beach and in your bedroom projecting movies to the ceiling.

The ultimate projector buying guide

DLP or LCD, WUXGA or Full HD, ANSI lumen, contrast ratio, Lens Shift – in the world of projectors, you first have to find your way around to make the right choice! We have summarised the most important information on the subject of projectors as a purchase advice based on the latest technological developments 2020.

1. Field of application – What do you want to use the projector for?

First of all you should ask yourself for what purpose you want to use your projector. Different fields of application result in very different criteria which you should consider when buying a projector. Basically we differentiate between projectors for home use and projectors for business use.

Projector use in home cinema or living room

For your private home cinema we recommend a projectorwith 16:9 resolution, as most films are available in 16:9 format. Full HD projectors (1920 x 1080 pixels) offer this resolution and have established themselves as the standard for home cinema applications. If you already want to equip yourself for the high-resolution future, a 4K projector (3840 x 2160 pixels) is the right choice if you have a generous budget. High-quality Full HD home cinema projectors also offer 4K upscaling, such as 4K enhancement technology. This means that they generate a noticeably higher resolution by offsetting the 1080p panel.

A good home cinema projector is nowadays 3D-capable. A very good home cinema projector offers another important feature: the intermediate image calculation in 2D as well as in 3D. This ensures a smooth image during fast movements. The interframe calculation is called frame interpolation. In order to display colours and gradients in the best possible way, your Home Cinema projector should have a contrast ratio of at least 10,000:1.

The brightness level you need for your projector depends on the ambient brightness. If your home cinema can be completely darkened, a brightness level of approx. 1500 ANSI lumens is sufficient. If there is a high level of ambient light in your premises, a minimum of 3,000 ANSI lumens is required. To be able to play high-resolution Blu-ray movies, the projector also requires an HDMI connection or HDCP-compatible DVI connection.

The volume of the projector is an important criterion, especially in home cinema. If you want to enjoy movies in peace, a quiet projector under 30dB is the right choice for you. In the living room, on the other hand, the volume is less important, as factors such as light output play a more important role here.
Only the right sound makes the home cinema experience perfect. However, the internal speakers of a projector are not sufficient for this, which is why we recommend using an AV receiver with Dolby Digital or DTS sound.

FullHD or 4K resolution, DLP or LCD (HDCP compatibility), 3D capability, contrast ratio min. 10,000:1, operating volume <30dB, Dolby Digital or DTS sound

Projector use in business for presentations

Basically we distinguish between presentation projectors for installation on the ceiling and portable presentation projectors for mobile or tabletop use. For ceiling installation the projector should have a corresponding mounting hole. In addition, a projector with automatic keystone correction is very helpful to compensate for distortions of the projection.

Mobile devices should not weigh more than 6 lbs. for easy transport and ideally have internal speakers to be able to hold presentations at any location. If the sound is not sufficient, you can fall back on an external speaker that can be connected directly to e.g. your notebook via Bluetooth or 3.5 mm jack. Also look out for USB or SD card slots if you want to play presentations without a PC directly from the stick. To achieve maximum flexibility, WLAN capability is a helpful feature for your projector.

If you have an MHL-capable smartphone or tablet, an MHL-capable projector is of interest to you. You can connect it directly to the mobile device via cable. Since business projectors are usually used in a bright environment, a high luminosity of at least 3,000 ANSI lumens is important for good contrast. A contrast ratio of approx. 3,000:1 is sufficient for use in daylight.

In terms of resolution, at least a WXGA resolution (1280 x 800 pixels) is required for a clearly legible display of fonts and graphics. WXGA is particularly popular with customers who have a laptop with a widescreen format. Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) or WUXGA projectors (1920 x 1200 pixels) are an even better choice, as these resolutions allow higher quality display of graphics and video. They also offer more space for displaying content, such as an Excel spreadsheet.

Ceiling installation or mobile projector, WXGA, WUXGA or FullHD, brightness 3000 – 4000 lumens, MHL capability, video/media connections, low weight

2. Brightness – How bright should your projector be?

The brightness of a projector, also called luminous intensity, is measured and indicated in ANSI lumens. It describes how much light a projector can project onto a certain surface. To determine how high the luminous intensity should be, you have to consider the conditions of the room. Can your room be darkened? For example, the brighter the ambient light, the brighter the projection must be. Also the image size and the projection distance are important factors for the required brightness of the projector, as with further distance the light intensity naturally decreases.

In the following some examples for the required light output in different rooms. The figure illustrates the optimal luminosity for LCD projectors. For DLP projectors, you should add approx. 1000 lumens for the values listed below, as these are somewhat darker due to the technology used, if you project predominantly colored content.

3. Contrast – What are the lighting conditions of the location?

The contrast ratio describes the maximum difference in brightness between black and white. Thus, at a contrast value of 1,000:1, the brightest point is one thousand times brighter than the darkest point. The higher the contrast of a projector, the sharper and more natural the projected image appears.

How high the contrast values should be always depends on the field of application and the surrounding brightness. Especially in case of home cinema projectors, a high contrast is important in order to create a deep black. Even in darker rooms, high-contrast projectors can reproduce vivid and true-to-life colours.
If you want to use your projector mainly in daylight or artificial lighting, contrast therefore plays a very minor role. However, a contrast ratio of at least 5,000:1 should be provided by every projector.

Contrast of at least 5.000:1 for any projector

4. Resolution / format – How many pixels does your projector need?

The resolution describes the number of pixels that produce the image. The higher the pixel density, the sharper the image.

The resolution you need for your projector depends on the intended use and the image source. Since we are used to high-resolution picture quality on TV sets and PC monitors nowadays, you should start your projector with a resolution of at least HD ready. With an HD ready projector (1,280 x 720 pixels) you can experience DVD’s on a big screen. If you expect a razor-sharp picture from a Blu-ray, you should go for a Full HD projector (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). A Full HD projector is also the right choice for gamers with a PS4 or XBox 360.

Full HD is not the end of the story – in the upscale home cinema segment there are already 4K projectors with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. Although a large amount of content with 4K quality is not yet available, with a good upscaler (e.g. in the AV receiver) you can already enjoy Full HD content in 4K.

  • SVGA = 800 x 600 pixels (4:3 format) / lower entry level (today no longer up-to-date due to the picture quality)
  • XGA = 1024 x 768 pixels (4:3 format) / Entry and business class (today only interesting for replacement purchases)
  • WXGA = 1280 x 800 pixels (16:10 format) / Business & Multimedia
  • HD ready = 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9 format) / Home cinema entry
  • Full HD = 1920 x 1080 pixels (16:9 format) / home cinema / business
  • WUXGA = 1920 x 1200 pixels (16:10 format) / Business
  • 4K = 3840 x 2160 pixels (16:9 format) / high-end home cinema

5. Volume – How many decibels are quiet, how much loud?

Depending on the application, the noise level of a projector plays a more or less central role. In order for you to be able to enjoy the film on a home cinema evening or not be disturbed by loud background noise during a presentation, your projector should not generate more than 30 dB.

The larger a projector is, the quieter it is normally. Therefore home cinema projectors with a large chassis reach values below 30 dB much faster. A small, portable projector is usually somewhat louder. The light intensity also plays a decisive role. The brighter the projector is, the louder it becomes. This is because the stronger lamps need more cooling. Beside the volume, the frequency of the fan is also important if the noise is disturbing. Therefore the dB value is not always directly comparable.

The volume of your projector should be below 30 dB

6. Technology – Which method is suitable for your projector?

What are the different technologies and how do they differ? We present the most important projector technologies and show you the advantages and disadvantages.

DLP

In the DLP (Digital Light Processing) process, the image is created by millions of tiny mirrors that project the emitted light onto the screen. Each mirror corresponds to a point of light whose tilting movement, invisible to the human eye, allows the creation of a wide range of colour gradations. Thus the contrast ratio is very well represented. Due to the fine mirror structure, the image representation is also very fine and no raster in the image is visible. DLP technology requires less space, which makes it interesting for the production of smaller devices. DLP projectors work with a closed system from the light source to the optics. Since no dust can penetrate, DLP devices require little or no maintenance.

Pros

  • Fine writing and line drawing
  • High contrast
  • Durable DMD chips

Cons

  • Rainbow effect (slight colour flashes visible)
  • Color wheel that may be audible
  • Lower color fidelity

Particularly suitable for the business / home cinema entry

LCD

In the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) process, the white light from the projector lamp is split into the three primary colours red, green and blue and passed through three individual LCD screens. This way it is then combined to form a recognizable color image. In simple terms, one can imagine that this process works like slide projectors. Instead of a slide, they contain small liquid crystal elements that represent the image to be projected. LCD technology produces particularly strong and natural colours and high-quality colour gradients, but you have to accept slight gradations in the saturation of the black level. With home cinema projectors, on the other hand, the black level is displayed in an optimised way.

Pros

  • High quality images, true-colour images
  • Fine pixel delineation
  • Slightly brighter in direct comparison with DLP technology

Cons

  • Possibly screen door effect at low resolution
  • More maintenance-intensive (filter change necessary)

Particularly suitable for high-end home cinema

D-ILA, LCoS and SXRD

This procedure is known by various names among manufacturers. JVC calls it D-ILA (Direct-Drive Image Light Amplification), Canon calls it LCos (Liquid Crystal on silicon) and Sony calls it SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display). All three are based on the same functionality.

This works similar to the LCD technology, but the panels reflect the light instead of letting it pass through (as with the DLP technology). D-ILA / LCoS / SXRD thus combines the advantages of DLP and LCD technology.

Pros

  • High resolutions
  • No screen door effect
  • Better contrasts

Cons

  • Lower lumen scores
  • Relatively high-priced

Particularly suitable for home cinema

7. Features – Which functions should your projector have?

Depending on the application, there are different features that simplify the use of the projector. Among the features that are generally very useful are the following:

Optical zoom

  • 2x zoom for great flexibility in home cinema projectors
  • Helpful if an optimal distance to the display surface cannot be guaranteed

Lens Shift

  • Move image horizontally and vertically without distortion without tilting the projector
  • Helpful, if projector cannot be placed in the middle of the display area

Keystone correction

  • Also: Keystone correction (-> avoidance of trapezoidal distortion)
  • Image is compressed using the keystone buttons at the top until the trapezoidal distortion is compensated
  • helpful to compensate for oblique projections and straighten the image

8. Connections – analogue or digital interfaces?

With the connection possibilities you should consider with which devices you want to connect your projector . In general, we distinguish between analogue and digital interfaces.

Analogue connections include inputs for VGA, S-video, composite video or component video. With the analog connections, if still necessary today, the VGA connection is most likely to be used.

Digital connections – today’s standard – are HDMI and DVI, which are considered the highest quality connections. You should consider one of the two connections with every purchase to be prepared for current requirements.

The main difference between the two standards is that DVI is only suitable for video transmission, whereas HDMI can also be used to transmit sound. Today, the DVI connection is usually only used for installation projectors, as HDMI has become established for the display of HD content. If your source and projector offer a digital interface, you should always use the digital connection for better picture quality, e.g. HDMI.
More about all connections, their meaning and functionality on our “Connect projector” page!

The digital connections HDMI and DVI are regarded as the highest quality

9. Setup – How do you place your projector correctly?

Seat spacing

The optimal seating distance for the viewer to the screen depends on the resolution of the projector.
With an HD Ready resolution (1,280 x 720px), you should plan for at least 1.8 times the screen width as the optimum seating distance. If you want to use a Full HD projector (1,920 x 1,080px), the minimum distance for a high-quality image is 1.5 times the screen width.

Would you like an even bigger picture? Then a 4K resolution is the right choice! With 4K projectors (3.840 x 2.160px) you can reduce the seat distance to 1 times the screen width. Thanks to the high resolution, the image is of high quality despite the small distance and the pixel structure is not visible.

  • HD Ready resolution: seat distance = screen width x 1.8
  • Full HD resolution: seat distance = screen width x 1.5
  • 4K Resolution: seat distance = screen width x 1

Placement

When placing LCD projectors, the projector should be placed parallel to the lower edge of the screen if possible, or, in the case of a ceiling installation, hung parallel to the upper edge of the screen.

DLP projectors often use a so-called offset. This means that the image starts a little higher. The projector should therefore be positioned slightly below the lower edge of the screen or hang slightly higher than the upper edge of the screen. You can make small corrections to the image using the keystone correction. However, there are exceptions. Please refer to the technical information of the manufacturers.

10. Operating costs – how expensive are replacement lamps?

When purchasing a room ceiling projector, pay attention to possible follow-up costs for replacement lamps. Depending on the lamp, the price can vary between approx. 35 and 350 Dollar.

Usually the lifetime of a lamp is between 2000 and 4000 hours. With mobile projectors, the lamp life is much shorter due to the different design and is approximately 1000 to 1500 hours.

If you use the projector every day and want to keep the maintenance costs as low as possible, an LED or Laser-LED Hybrid Projector is interesting, which can last up to 20,000 hours without changing the lamp. In addition to the cost of the lamps, there are no costs for changing the lamp if you are not allowed to change the lamp yourself (e.g. in a school).

The cost of a replacement lamp varies between 35 and 350 Dollar, LED projectors have a longer life


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