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The Ultimate Showdown: Large-Screen TV or Projector?


Which display technology is the best choice for your home theater system?

At one time in the not-too-distant past, movie projectors and screens were the best display choice for home theater systems. Televisions couldn’t compete size-wise and picture quality-wise, and homeowners loved the authenticity a movie projector brought to a private home cinema.

Today, projectors are still a fantastic display choice for home theaters. But they’re no longer the best and only option: television technology has advanced to the point of competing with projectors, especially in terms of picture quality. And introducing televisions to the theater landscape has made the big-screen experience possible in smaller theater rooms.

If you’re building or updating a home theater in Pittsburgh, PA, which display screen is the right one for you and your family? Read our blog to compare TVs and projectors to help you make the right choice.  

SEE ALSO: The 5 Components You Need for a Custom Home Theater


Flat-Screen TVs

First, let’s dispel the notion that televisions aren’t large enough to recreate an awe-inspiring visual experience. Today’s TVs are big and getting bigger — leading manufacturers like Sony have screens up to 85 and 100 inches in size. Additionally, bigger isn’t always better. Have you ever sat in the first few rows of a movie theater and spent the entire film craning your neck upward? Compared to projectors, flat-screen TVs offer more size options to find a comfortable fit for small, medium, and large theater rooms.

Next, let’s talk about picture quality. Here, TV technology is beginning to edge out projectors in resolution, color, and contrast. High-end sets support 4K and even 8K resolution for sharp, detailed image quality. Another boon for TVs is the emergence of high-dynamic range (HDR) technology, a type of video formatting that delivers superb contrast range and vibrant color accuracy.

Finally, let’s discuss one factor that significantly impacts how good your picture looks: brightness. Overall, TVs produce much higher brightness than projectors, even in rooms with ambient light. You can be assured of a quality viewing experience even if it’s not pitch black in your theater room.

Movie Projectors

Even with rapidly advancing television technology, projectors remain unmatched in terms of sheer size. The average display screen for home theaters is between 100 to 120 inches. In most cases, purchasing a quality projector and screen is more cost-effective than buying a supersized TV. High-end TVs with the latest display technologies become substantially more expensive the larger they are.

In terms of display technologies, TVs have the edge — projectors don’t support 8K resolution or native HDR technology. But that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker if you have your heart set on a projector. High-end projectors do support native 4K UHD resolution and have good contrast and color rendering. High-resolution picture quality projected onto a massive screen delivers a stunning visual experience that won’t disappoint.

And finally — brightness. Even a bright projector won’t produce the same brightness output as a TV will, and ambient light can make your image quality look washed out. But there are ways to solve that in your home theater. If your theater has windows, motorized blackout shades will envelop the room in darkness to optimize picture quality. Or you can look into ambient light rejecting (ALR) screens (we recommend the Screen Innovations Slate screen) that absorb light or selectively reflect it away from the viewing audience. ALR screens produce brighter images in rooms with some ambient light.

Overall, if your goal is to create a truly immersive viewing environment that recreates the cinematic magic, a projector will deliver the most authentic experience.

Let the team at Simply Automated help you make a final decision. We’re here to help you design a custom home theater system and choose the technologies that will deliver the best viewing experience. You can find us in two locations: one in East Pittsburgh and one in West Pittsburgh. Call us, visit our Control4 certified showroom, or fill out an online contact form to get in touch.

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