Home Theater Projectors - Front and Rear Projection
Projectors on the market
A home theater projector is a great way of creating an authentic movie theater feel in your living room. When you think of a projector, you probably conjure up an image of something very similar to a traditional movie projector, shining light onto a screen. However, this is only one kind of home theater projector, so you should consider all the possibilities before making a purchase.
Home theater projectors: leading from the front
Front-projection systems are the kind that most closely resemble a movie projector. The projector unit can be hung from the ceiling; mounted on a rear wall or placed anywhere that allows it to work effectively. Visual information comes from your DVD player, your VCR or whatever you’ve chosen to play the movie, and the projector displays them on a separate screen. This screen is usually wall-mounted, and can be as big as you like. If you want an absolutely enormous screen (one that covers the whole wall), you should choose a front-projection system, because plasma screens and rear-projection systems don’t come in those sizes yet.
Another advantage of front-projection systems is that the screens are usually flat (or only slightly curved) so they don’t protrude into the room. Some screens can be rolled away when you’re done watching a movie.
One disadvantage of front-projectors is that they sometimes create fan noise which must be managed with sound damping. Another disadvantage is that you usually need to minimize the light in the room before you can see images to their full effect. However, many people love this aspect of front-projectors, because it means dimming the lights, shutting out the world and imagining you’re in a real movie theater.
Home theater projectors: rearguard action
Rear-projection TVs (also known as RPTVs) are big-screen TVs where the projector and the screen are part of the same unit. As you might guess from the name, the projector shines light onto the back of the screen instead of the front. They’re less expensive and easier to set up than front-projection TVs, which makes them a popular option. The main disadvantages of rear-projection relate to size. Rear-projection TVs can have very large screens, but they don’t have the humungous dimensions of some front-projection systems. Also, rear-projection systems have much deeper screens than front-projection systems, which means they take up a lot more space in the room.
Ways that home theater projectors can work
Once you’ve chosen between front and rear projection, you have to choose your projection method. The classic method uses the cathode ray tube (CRT) that you find in regular TVs. Cathode-ray tube projectors can provide very high resolution and good color . However, CRT front-projectors aren’t as bright as other kinds of front-projector, which means it’s even more important to shut out extra light when you’re using one. (Brightness is less of an issue for CRT rear-projectors.)
In the next few years, you’ll be hearing more and more about LCD (liquid crystal display) home theater projectors. LCD technology has come a long way since the days when it was associated with cheap calculators and little else. Now it’s used in laptop monitors as well as home theater systems. An LCD front projector costs less than a cathode-ray tube projector. Another advantage is that they are brighter and more compact than CRTs. However, they can’t reach resolutions as high as those of a CRT projector. They may do this in the future, but the technology hasn’t reached that stage yet.
Digital Light Processors, or DLPs, are another option. They use a new technology involving an optical semiconductor made of up to two million tiny mirrors (each measuring less than a fifth of the width of a human hair). They’re inexpensive, bright and compact. However, like LCDs, they can’t reach the high resolutions of a cathode-ray tube projector.