Last Updated November 16,2018
When you buy a video projector online, to ensure the correct purchase, you'll look at each of the configuration parameters like the native resolution, lumen rate, contrast ratio, etc. carefully and read lots of reviews, but what matters most is that you need to do your own test on this projector after receiving it.
In this article, I'll show you how to use only the tools available at hand to make a quick performance test of a projector, including the image quality, sound quality, brightness, ease of use, and fan noise.
To judge a projector’s image quality, there are four aspects to measure including color reproduction, color layers, detail level, and motion scenes.
The color reproduction is the reproduction of the real color of the photographed objects without distortion on a display device like a projector. The Color Layers means the highlighted objects in a picture has high color lightness and purity while the rest has a low value so the two can create clear contrast. I suggest you play one of the three movies, Blade Runner 2049 (2017), The Fall (2006), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), on a projector to test its color reproduction and color layers.
The detail level means how clear the details of an object in a picture like hairs, lustre, etc. are presented on a projector. The motion scenes refer to the smoothness of the fast-paced action like car racing, fighting, etc. The three films, Deadpool (2016), The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011), Casino Royale (2006), are recommended to test a projector's detail level and motion scenes.
In the test, you can have the same movie played simultaneously on both the projector and your phone (it's best to use an iPhone or Android phone with good configuration) to watch and compare the differences of the two display devices in color reproduction, color layers, detail level, and motion scenes, and that will give you an insight into the picture quality of the projector. Besides your phone, you can also compare with your TV, laptop, or other models of projector if you have one.
Today's home projectors often have an inbuilt loudspeaker and also can be used as a Bluetooth speaker. There are three aspects to test, including midrange, bass, and treble when testing a projector's sound quality.
The midrange has a frequency range of 500 hz - 8000 hz which is close to human voice so the midrange of a projector need to be clear, stable, fine and emotional. I suggest Fool's Errand from Fleet Foxes to test a projector's midrange quality.
The bass has a frequency of less 500 hz and is the frame of sound so the bass of a projector should give people a feel of solidness, power, and energy. The Paper Trails from Darkside is a great track to test a projector's bass quality.
The treble's frequency is higher than 8000 hz. The treble is the details of sound and required to be bright, sharp, and crisp. I suggest you listen to You've Got to Have Freedom from Pharoah Sanders on a projector to test its treble quality.
Similar to picture quality test, if you have a nice sound box you can also do a comparison test by listening to the same track on both the projector and the sound box.
The test of a projector's brightness is objective compared with the picture and sound quality test which is based on personal feelings more, and you just need a illuminometer to measure the actual value of the brightness. When measuring brightness you project a white screen with nine circles evenly spaced throughout. You measure the brightness inside each one of these circles and then average those 9 measurements to get an overall brightness figure.
Dr.Meter LX1330B Digital Illuminance/Light Meter
The price of illuminometer varies from a few bucks to tens of dollars to thousands of dollars. You can buy a cheap one online, or if you don't want to spend the money, your phone actually can be an illuminometer by installing an illumination testing APP like the Galactica Luxmeter, LightMeter by whitegoods, Luxmeter, etc. but the accuracy is not good as the illuminometer.
The usability test actually starts when you unpack the projector you buy, and ends when you sort things out and begin movie watching or gaming on the projector, and in this process, you may take the projector out of the box and put it on a suitable position, plug the projector in and find the power button to start it, adjust the front legs, dial in the focus and zoom, use the keystone correction to get a square image, and use the remotes to scroll through menus, adjust the volume, and switch color modes. Depending on how simple or frustrating each one of these tasks were, you can judge whether the projector is easy to use or hard to start.
A projector's fan noise is all about its working temperature. When a projector continues to generate heat and the temperature rises in working process, its fan will start spinning to cool it, and once the temperature become normal, the fan stops. So, be sure to let your projector work for a while, one hour at least, when you test its fan noise, moreover, it's best to make the screen brightness at full, then listen to the noise to see whether it's unbearable or not.
After the test on the above five aspects of the projector you buy, I bet you already know whether to keep the projector or return it to the seller.
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