Home theatre buffs have long asked the question: which is better, a projector or a TV? It’s a hard question to answer, because both offer their own advantages and disadvantages, but as with all home theatre decisions, the devil is in the detail. Before you make the call in the battle of projector vs TV, you need to have all the facts. You also need to have your own priorities lined up, including price, purpose, simplicity, smart home compatibility, and viability.
In this guide, we’re going to look at each of those categories in more detail to help you make an informed decision.
What’s the screen’s purpose?
What is it that you love most about your home theatre? For a lot of people, it’s being able to indulge in cinema quality entertainment in your own home. If that’s the answer you had in mind, then projectors are going to be a standout—after all, it’s what they use at cinemas.
Ultimately, the true home theatre experience demands a projector, and having one allows you to get the highest resolution over the largest surface area possible. At this stage, TV screens can’t match projectors in terms of surface area, although it’s important to recognise that TVs win in terms of HDR resolution. Projectors, on the other hand, can come in a number of configurations and are adjustable to cover your chosen surface area.
Price is king in most AV decisions, but in this case it’s not much of a tie-breaker. You can get cheap TV screens for just a few hundred dollars these days, and the same goes for cheap projectors. By the same token, expensive models of either can set you back thousands of dollars—and that’s not including installation costs.
Overall, TVs will win on price in the higher range. If you want a top of the line projector, then it’s probably going to cost more than a large and high quality TV.
Projectors are the go-to for those wanting the largest display possible, but to have that you need the space. If your home theatre doesn’t have space for a projected image much larger than a TV screen, then is a projector really viable? The answer is probably not. TV screens offer brighter images because they emit light. In contrast, projectors emit light onto a surface, which then reflects that light to create the image you see. During that process, some of the brightness is lost and that will always be a disadvantage for projectors. As a result, they’re only really viable when they offer you something that a TV can’t: size. If you have a large home theatre with plenty of space for a huge display, then projectors are a winner.
Smart home compatibility
Most home theatre components are smart home compatible – from sound systems to screens, and everything in between. But in the battle of projector vs smart TV, the latter takes victory. TVs come with a wider variety of smart home features, and they are more smart home compatible than most projectors. Smart TVs are also reasonably priced, so you can get more value for money.
Finally, let’s look at simplicity. Your home theatre shouldn’t feel like an airplane cockpit, or take you days of hard work to install different components. For the most part, your home theatre setup should be a matter of plug and play. But that’s not always the case, and some projectors require careful calibration to optimise their images. They might also require a bit of experimentation with screens or wall surfaces to ensure that your image is the best it can be.
TVs, on the other hand, work from the word go. Sure, you can adjust the settings as you please, but that’s a simple process and it’s rarely going to leave you worse-off than when you started. Worst comes to worst, you can simply reset it to factory settings.