Projection TV Buyer’s Guide
One of the advantages of projection TVs over traditional CRT TVs is that they can provide a bigger picture. Although the technology behind the two systems is very similar, the main difference is that projection TVs create a small picture, like a CRT TV, and then using a beam of light project the image to a much greater size.
In this expert guide the different types of projection TVs are explained as well as the features you can expect from the projection TVs within the various price ranges.
Available types of Projection TVs
There are two types of projection TV setups available on the market, front projection and rear projection.
Front projection systems are similar to those found in movie theaters. It consists of a projection unit and a separate screen. The projection unit projects the pictures onto the screen using the beam of light.
Rear projection systems are completely different, in that their technology is similar to CRT TVs. The projection unit and the screen are contained in a single television unit and the projector displays the image onto the back of the screen. Although these systems can have very large screens, even bigger than LCD TVs – they are bulker and heavy because the technology behind them is similar to CRT.
Note: This expert guide will only discuss rear projection TV sets, including the specifications and options available within the different budget ranges.
When shopping around for a rear projection TV, it is important to keep in mind the following specifications.
- Aspect ratio
The aspect ratio refers to the shape of the screen, depicted as “width:height”. Most rear projection TVs have an aspect ratio of 16:9, in other words are widescreen.
The rear projection TV specification will display the resolution as a figure like 1,920 x 1,080. This indicates the physical number of horizontal and vertical pixels within the screen display matrix.
- High definition
Not all rear projection TVs are high definition enabled so if this is an important feature for you, look to see if the specification states HD-ready or HD compatible.
- Connection points
A rear projection TV must have at least one SCART socket, while most also offer S-Video as well. Some may even come with USB hubs so that you can connect peripherals like digital cameras or even a PC. High definition Plasma TV’s will also have a HDMI connection.
- Viewing angle
As rear projection TVs use a similar technology to CRT TVs, their viewing angles are not as great as LCD or Plasma TVs. Always check the glare and the angles when viewing rear projection TVs.
- Contrast ratio
A high contrast ratio means that blacks will appear deeper and whites will appear brighter on the screen. As a rule of thumb DLP sets generally have a very good black level.
Entry level budget
Rear projection TVs are cheaper than Plasma TV and it is possible to buy a set for under $500 but the picture clarity and color display is usually poorer than the more expensive television sets.
The Sharp 65DR650 is a 56 inch DLP television. It offers an aspect ratio of 16:9; a 1,200:1 contrast ratio and a good quality image for a very reasonably priced rear projection TV. This high definition TV also has a built in ATSC and NTSC tuner, and has all the required inputs and outputs, including the ability to connect to a PC.
The options for those on a tight budget are limited as rear projection televisions are expensive. If you want to review a wider variety and ensure you get stunning picture quality and clarity then it is best to look at those within the $1,000 to $1,500 range.
There is more of a variety in the medium budget range. Most offer better picture quality and a contrast ratio but be prepared to spend up to $1000.
The Samsung HL-50A650 is a 50 inch DLP television. It offers a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a very good contrast ratio of 2,500:1. This high definition television can also be connected to a PC, as well as having S-Video; composite and HDMI inputs. Priced at around $950, it has received a very good expert review score of 80%. Refer to www.testseek.com for more details.
Be prepared to spend in excess of $1,500 for the top of the range, best high definition picture rear projection TV with a massive screen.
The Mitsubishi WD-65736 comes with a huge 65 inch DLP screen. It offers a 1920 x 1080 resolution and uses 1080p high definition technology. The crystal clear images and stunning colors make you feel like you are sitting in a movie theatre. Priced at around $1,500 it certainly isn’t cheap but even the experts agree that this is a superb television.
Rear projection televisions are a lot more expensive than CRT TVs, however if screen size is important to you then these are the types of televisions you should look at. If you are unsure of a particular model then read the expert reviews, like those available at www.testseek.com, to weigh up the pros and cons of each model.
Disclaimer: This guide was written in late 2008 and the specific product recommendations may be outdated. However the basic discussions in this buyer's guide may still be of great value.
Written by; TestSeek staff