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Projector vs TV: Which is better?


Our living rooms are more cinematic than ever, but are you better off purchasing a projector or a TV?

Advances in technology have meant we can simulate the experience of a movie theatre better than ever in the comfort of our living rooms. Many Australians buy the biggest TV they can get their hands on and think nothing more of it. But there's another option – the projector.

The same concepts that make projectors perfect for use in a cinema can also apply to your home theatre. There's definitely some hot competition between these 2 media players, so let's comprehensively break down the projector vs TV debate.

Projector vs TV: Size

Projector vs TV
There's a good reason cinemas use projectors. Getting a huge image worthy of your home theatre is much more cost-effective if using a projector. Even the most affordable projectors start at around 100 inches. Getting anywhere close to that size with a TV is going to put you well above the $1,000 mark.

There's a clear winner here. If it's sheer size you're after, your money is best spent on a projector.

Projector vs TV: Brightness

Brightness is a big consideration in the projector vs TV debate. It's very difficult to make your home as dark as a cinema, so depending on how much ambient light is in your viewing room, you might need a brighter projector. This is because the process of bouncing light off a wall or screen makes the light that reaches your eyes much less bright.

Whether LCD or LED, most TVs do not run into this issue. Most decent TVs are capable of producing much higher levels of brightness than all but the most premium projectors. Projector bulbs also wear down and break over time, and they aren't cheap to replace.

Using a projector also hurts contrast. The black levels of a projector are determined by the darkness of the room it's in, so if too much ambient light seeps in you'll find your favourite horror films aren't carrying the same atmosphere. Any kind of TV does a much better job of battling against ambient light, but OLED screens get special mention as the gold standard for contrast.

But if you are able to achieve cinema-level darkness, projectors are easier on the eyes and of course boast that indefinable charm film buffs rave about. If not, a TV will achieve a higher level of brightness much more easily.

Projector vs TV: Resolution

Projector vs TV
If you want the best of the best from your screen resolution, you're going to be paying a pretty penny whether you opt for a projector or a TV. With that said, 4K high-dynamic range (HDR) TVs are available for around $1,000 at their cheapest, while an equivalent projector such as the Samsung Premiere costs $5,995 – and they can go plenty higher.

And if you want 8K performance for your home theatre, going the TV route is pretty much your only option given the scarcity of 8K home projectors. So in terms of price-to-performance ratio and maximum capability, TVs easily win out here.

Projector vs TV: Convenience

Projector vs TV
Most of us are pretty familiar with setting up a TV, so they definitely get a head start in this round. Either mount it on the wall or plant it on a surface, aimlessly plug in cords until it starts working and let the good times roll. You'll also be able to connect most of your devices into it, like game consoles and media players, for easy control.

Projectors can be a little bit tougher. You'll need to correctly position the projector for maximum effectiveness without completely disrupting your room layout, then clear a heap of wall space. Or, you'll need to decide if you want to pick up a screen along with your projector. That brings us to the main reason TVs win this round – all the extra purchases projectors require. Screens, an A/V receiver or HDMI switcher to support multiple cables, a sound system – it's all a bit tedious.

The most premium projectors circumvent many of these issues. For example, short-throw projectors can be placed very close to your wall, making positioning much simpler. Projectors with quality built-in soundbars are also becoming more common.

And did we mention smart TVs? These convenient entertainment hubs are incredibly easy to come by these days, but smart projectors are still a burgeoning product and can be very expensive. Of course, you can get around this with digital media players like Chromecast.

Unless you're splashing way out on your projector, you'll find a TV the more convenient product.

Projector vs TV: Price

Projectors do offer great value at lower prices, especially when it comes to raw image size. But the further you travel up the pricing ladder, the more TVs begin to outstrip their counterparts in just about every other category. By the time you get up to 4K HDR offerings, there's no question that TVs are a much better value proposition.

Also, remember all those extra purchases most projectors require? It can all get very expensive. For example, most projectors on the market today do not offer decent sound quality, necessitating the purchase of some kind of speaker system, which can add hundreds onto your purchase. TVs, on the other hand, rarely disappoint when it comes to in-built speakers, and outside of home theatres the average person shouldn't require an external sound system.

There are also optional projector screens, bulb replacements and HDMI switchers to factor in to projector cost.

The verdict

Projectors are great if you love a cinematic atmosphere and are capable of blocking almost all ambient lighting out of your viewing room. If you spend a lot of time watching films and shows in the day and you aren't able to achieve near-pitch darkness, a projector is not an advisable purchase.

Projectors also obliterate TVs when it comes to image size, but be careful what you wish for. Clearing 100 inches of wall space isn't easy.

In most other cases, you're better off going for a TV. They deliver better images and are a much simpler way of watching your favourite content.

Best deals on projectors

If you're opting for the truly authentic home cinema experience, be sure to check out these deals on home projectors.

$1,250 off EPSON EH Home Theatre Projector on eBay
$1,250 off EPSON EH Home Theatre Projector on eBay

For serious movie buffs, this is a discount you can't turn down. The closest thing you'll get to a cinema in your living room, this monster has 3-chip LCD technology, allowing you to see colours like never before.

Buy now for $1,399 (was $2,649)

59% off ELEPHAS Mini Projector on Amazon
59% off ELEPHAS Mini Projector on Amazon

Don't let the small package fool you. The ELEPHAS mini is 2 times brighter than other 4-inch projectors, with a 1080p display of over 4.5 metres. Grab it for 59% off.

Buy now for $94.34 (was $229.99)

30% off Anker Nebula Apollo Projector on Amazon
30% off Anker Nebula Apollo Projector on Amazon

Connect wirelessly to the Nebula with Bluetooth or AirPlay, control either in-app or with touch control and let the Nebula do the rest.

Buy now for $699 (was $999)

Best deals on TVs

Prefer to keep it traditional? We've rounded up some amazing deals on TVs for you to check out.

$400 off TEAC QLED LEQ Smart TV on Amazon
$400 off TEAC QLED LEQ Smart TV on Amazon

Don't miss out on this chance to grab an exceptional, 4K QLED TV for a massive markdown. The chance to jump on next-gen tech rarely comes this cheap.

Buy now for $849 (was $1,249)

$896 off Philips 55 inch OLED 4K TV
$896 off Philips 55 inch OLED 4K TV

Don't miss out on this huge discount on an equally huge TV.

Buy now for $1,599 (was $2,495)

$757 off LG OLED AI ThinQ Smart TV on Catch
$757 off LG OLED AI ThinQ Smart TV on Catch

LG has been a pioneer in the world of OLED. You can enjoy the exceptional colour of OLED technology on this 4K display for an incredible discount. Dolby Vision IQ and Atmos complete this masterpiece.

Need more info on the latest and greatest tech? Head over to Technology Finder.

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