Home Theaters allow the consumer to have a cinematic experience in the comfort of their residence. The viewers can pause the movie at will. There are no interruptions. All from the comfort of one’s sofa. A home theater projector is a one-time investment and an expensive one. The most important thing to decide when buying a home theater projector is its resolution.
The resolution of the home theater projector determines how great is the experience. Resolution is the number of horizontal and vertical lines of pixels on a screen. Every displayed image or video is made up of pixels. A pixel is the smallest constituent of the displayed image. A screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768 has 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically. The more the resolution, the higher is the pixel density and the crispier and clearer is the picture. The lower the resolution, the blurrier the picture will appear. As the resolution of the projectors increase, so do their costs. Projectors, unlike monitors, have a fixed resolution.
There are different types of projector resolutions depending on the aspect ratios. Aspect ratio is defined as the ratio of width to the height. Popular aspect ratios of projectors are 4:3, 16:9, 16:10 and 17:9. Resolutions are of two types – full screen and widescreen. Full-screen resolutions have an aspect ratio of 4:3. Widescreen resolutions have a higher aspect ratio than full screen. 16:9 is the most popular widescreen aspect ratio followed by 16:10.
The most common projector resolutions include:
WVGA: Wide Video Graphics Array or WVGA resolution projector has 800 pixels long side and 480 pixels short side making for a total of 3,84,000 pixels. It is a widescreen resolution with an aspect ratio of 5:3. WVGA projector’s quality is comparable to 480p media.
SVGA: An SVGA or Super Virtual Graphics Array resolution has 800 pixels long side and 600 pixels short side with a total of 4,80,000 pixels on the screen. The resolution has an aspect ratio of 4:3. SVGA projectors are of better quality than WVGA projectors and are more suited for small areas.
XGA: XGA or Extended Graphics Array projectors are popularly used in home theaters. Their resolution is 1024 x 768 which totals to 7,86,432 pixels on the screen. It is what most computers used as their native resolution a few years ago. XGA projectors with an aspect ratio of 4:3 strike an ideal balance between budget and picture quality. Projectors with XGA resolution are a bare minimum for a decent home theatre experience.
WSVGA: Wide Super Video Graphics Array or WSVGA projectors have a resolution of 1024 x 576 though some models may also be 1024 x 600. It is a widescreen variation of the SVGA resolution, but it has a different aspect ratio of 16:9. The quality of these projectors is better than WVGA.
WXGA: With a resolution of 1280 x 800 (sometimes 1280 x 720),WXGA or Widescreen Extended Graphics Array resolution projectors, like JMGO P2, E8, provide a decent picture quality. It is a widescreen resolution with 16:10 aspect ratio and a total on-screen pixel count of 10,24,000. It can display 720p as well as 1080p media. It is a great fit for individuals who want a widescreen projector of decent quality without spending a lot of money.
SXGA: Super Extended Graphics Array or SXGA projectors have a resolution of 1280 x 1024 making a total of 13,10,720 pixels on the screen. The SXGA resolution has an uncommon aspect ratio of 5:4. Later, two versions of SXGA resolution with 4:3 aspect ratio were released – the SXGA+ with 1400 x 1050 and the SXGA- with 1290 x 960. The SXGA projectors are slightly better and more expensive than those with WXGA resolution. A projector only has a fixed resolution, so it will either be SXGA, SXGA+ or SXGA- projector.
UXGA: Ultra Extended Graphics Array or UXGA projectors have 1920 pixels long side and 1200 pixels short side. The screen of the projector displays 19,20,000 pixels at a time. UXGA projectors, like JMGO J6S, SA Laser Projector, have a great resolution for work and entertainment and are among the best projectors available in 4:3 aspect ratio. But they have a high price tag.
WUXGA: Widescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array projectors are at the top end of the performance. These have same vertical pixels as UXGA but have more horizontal pixels. Their aspect ratio is 16:10 and the resolution is 1920 x 1200 which is a total of 23,04,000 on-screen pixels. WUXGA projectors can function as 1080p displays. They provide a crisp viewing experience but have a price tag on the higher side.
4K UHD: 4K resolution is becoming popular with the innovation of hardware. Projectors with 4K resolution have 3840 pixels long side and 2160 pixels short side with 16:9 aspect ratio. Native 4K projectors have 4096 X 2160 resolution with 17:9 aspect ratio but are less common. 4K projectors currently available can be divided into two types. True Chip 4K projectors have chips that can process 4K input video signal and display the advertised resolution. Besides these, there are pixel shifting 4K projectors which produce a resolution better than 1080p by moving the entire video frame and overlapping pixels. If they have an effective resolution of 1920x1080x2, they output 1920x1080 signal twice. 4K projectors are quite expensive though they produce a detailed image.
Projectors project the video or image onto a specific area. Video or image projected is formed of pixels just like on monitors. On low-resolution projectors, the pixels are visible, called pixellation, when the projector is at some distance from the screen.
With the increase in resolution, the on-screen elements such as text become smaller. It is why low-resolution projectors suit offices that need to display textual presentations. However, for home theaters, the higher the resolution that a person can invest in, the better is the viewing experience.
For a fixed display area, increase in resolution of the projector means that a higher number of pixels are used to display an image or video. A video displayed by a projector that runs at 800 x 600 is going to appear inferior to that of a projector with a resolution of 1600 x 1200. It is because the latter is using four times more pixel than the former to display the same image. Every pixel adds more details to the image. As the resolution of projector increases the video becomes sharper and crispier uplifting the viewing experience of the user.
Choosing the appropriate resolution for your home theater depends on a few factors:
Home Theatre Output Resolution: The first and foremost thing to consider is the output resolutions of the home theatre. If the home theater has an output resolution which is greater than that of the projector, the projector will compress the image before displaying it. It will decrease the image quality. If the input signal resolution is lower than that of the projector, it may add black spaces, seen in widescreen projectors, or expand the image.
The best scenario is to match the resolution of the projector to that of the home theatre’s video output. It will make both devices perform optimally. If the output media format is 1920 x 1200, a projector with similar resolution will make sense. If a consumer is planning to upgrade their home theatre shortly, they can opt for a higher resolution projector that is within their budget for future proofing.
Size of the Projection Screen: The size of the display area of the projection screen will also determine the ideal resolution. For a smaller projection screen, lower resolution projectors will be sufficient. However, a larger screen will require a higher resolution for ensuring the images displayed are crisp. Another factor is the ratio of the projection screen. A 16:9 screen will be ideal for a projection with similar aspect ratio. The image or video produced by the projector must fit in the projection screen.
Distance from the Projection Screen: Along with the display area, the distance between the projector and the projection screen must be factored in. For a fixed resolution, the closer a person sits to the screen, the more pixellation they will notice. The lesser the distance between the screen and the projector, the higher should be the resolution of the projector.
A home theatre projector is a onetime purchase and a long-term investment. It makes it important to find the right one. The highest resolution might not necessarily be the best fit. While shopping, an individual can ask the vendor for a demonstration of projectors with different resolutions. It can help them in finding the perfect projector resolution for their needs.