There was a time when the only option for big screen video in your home was projection. You may even remember the earliest kind of projector. It was the CRT (which stood for Cathode Ray Tube), it had three huge lenses in red, green and blue and was so dim it was sometimes projected on silver screens to try and brighten the image. It was also almost impossible focus. Some of them weighed as much as 80 kilograms. Basement ceilings needed special bracing to take the weight.
The next generation of home theatre projection was LCD. Smaller, cheaper, lighter and brighter, it became the standard for home theatres everywhere. It has its drawback (short life expectancy, expensive lamps, noisy fans) but folks still loved it. Then came DLP. Even smaller, these digital projectors gave us amazing contrast and saturated colours from “colour wheel” technology.
We would probably still be using them, but something happened that proved to be a game changer.
All of a sudden, projectors and plasma screens started to disappear. Especially the plasma screen, which was a heavy, expensive, energy sucking monster. Plasma and projectors were being elbowed out by the LCD screen. Cheap and cheerful, the LCD may not have had the same smoothness of motion that the plasma image did, but it weighed a fraction as much and cost way less.
Suddenly, with only a few exceptions, the LCD screen was king of the home theatre market. The available sizes continued to grow to the point where a 96” diagonal LCD at $10,000 can replace a plasma screen that may have at one time cost $80,000.
That could be the end of the story right there. Why would we be looking at going back to projection? I can tell you that in three initials – LED.
Several companies, including LG, Optoma and Sim2 have introduced new LED projectors for home theatre. Why is that such a big deal? Using Light Emitting Diodes instead of a regular lamp changes almost everything. First, they’re almost noiseless. Second, they are environmentally friendly. They use almost no power and generate almost no heat. And here’s the kicker. The LED lamps are designed to last 30,000 hours. That’s three times the life of some LCD screens. They aren’t super bright, but home theatre projectors never were. The Sim2 Mico line is already becoming a favourite of integrators. With its high definition image, small size and competitive price, it is the go-to LED unit for many companies. They are available right now with a Canadian distributor supporting them.
So, you ask, why bother? Weren’t we doing fine with LCD? Well, yes we were and for most applications we will continue to do so. But with this low-maintenance, long lasting, power saving option, we can go back and look again at why people wanted projection in their home theatres in the first place. The truth is, it has many advantages that we may have forgotten:
Projection is the by far the most efficient way to get really large images in high definition. In theory, if the room was large enough, you could have a 300” diagonal projection system, but that isn’t realistic. However, a 120” is definitely not out of the question.
Conversely, if you’re trying to fit a screen into a smaller space or an odd sized area, projection is still your best bet. By moving the projector and the zoom lens, you have many more size options available.
You can actually mount a projection screen closer to the wall than an LCD screen. The projector can be tucked out of the way in the ceiling.
For a really large image, projection is by far the cheapest way to go, even less expensive than LCD.
Better Wide Angle View
Many people feel that the viewers off to the side get a far better experience with projection than they do with LCD, as LCD is subject to a very sudden drop-off of brightness once you leave the area in the middle of the screen.
A True Theatre Experience
Admit it – there is nothing like darkening the room and watching a projected image. That’s what the cinema experience is all about. Add a motorized curtain in front of the screen, and you don’t just have another blu-ray showing, you have an event.
When the time comes to build your home theatre, don’t forget that LED projection just might be the option you’re looking for.
OneTouch Automation is your home for every kind of integration technology, including home theatre. We make it our business to stay ahead of the latest trends in technology to make sure the system you get – LCD, Plasma, Projector – is the one that is exactly suited to your budget and lifestyle. Call us today to arrange a visit from one of our home automation professionals.