What is the Best Resolution for Home Projector?

What is the Best Resolution for Home Projector?

January 16, 2020

Some of the best home projectors on the market cost thousands of dollars. However, there are many affordable models also available. One question we are often asked is whether it is worth buying an expensive projector over a more affordable one? While it would be simple to just say yes, there are aspects of a projector that must be considered.

Explaining why an expensive projector is best will naturally get a bit technical. Tools and features such as contrast ratio, pixel count, and lumens are important, but the resolution is arguably the defining factor.

So, is it worth paying more to get a better resolution?

You have probably heard of one or all of the resolution types, SVGA, XGA, WUXGA, 1080p, and 4K UHD. What do these mean, and which is the right resolution for you?

What is Resolution?

In its simplest terms, the resolution is the number of pixels that a projector can display in a single image. Pixels are individual dots on a screen, combined they create the projected picture. Basically, the more pixels that can fit onto the image, the higher the resolution.

This is important because more pixels result in higher levels of detail on an image, allowing for more clarity. However, on its own pixel count does not contribute to overall image quality, because the aspect ratio is also important. The aspect ratio can change the number of pixels, even across the same resolution.

For the consumer, higher resolutions are desirable, which is why 1080p Full HD and even 4K have become popular. And yes, while 8K resolution is making its way into the technological mainstream it has not yet been included in home projectors.

Resolution on Projectors

Importantly, when looking for a home projector you should remember that every model has what’s called a “true” or “native” resolution. This is the number of pixels the projector can project. So, a Full HD projector will have a true resolution of 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels (hence 1080p), for a total of 2,073, 600 pixels.

Native resolution capacity will determine how sharp and detailed the image is. Furthermore, this number will also reflect how well your projector can interact with a third-party device like a PC. Basically, if your PC has a lower resolution (such as 720p), the image your projector is capable of sending out will be reduced.

You’ll still get an image, but it will be compromised in terms of resolution. Luckily, most modern PCs and laptops have at least 1080p resolution support. So, if you buy a 1080p projector you will likely reach its full resolution capacity.

Is a Higher Resolution Better?

Again, the simple answer is yes but it comes with a caveat. It depends entirely on what you need your projector to do. If you plan on watching movies in high definition or playing games, then a Full HD or even 4K projector is a must. Alternatively, if you’re on a budget, a 720p projector will be ultra-affordable and will still perform solidly.

It is worth remembering that all projectors need an input device, like a laptop, tablet, or PC. It is important that the resolution support on your input device can match the native resolution of your projector. As mentioned, most modern devices are designed to send information to your PC in 1080p resolution or higher.

4K is a bit of a curveball. Home projectors that support 4K are readily available, but they are also expensive. Likewise, input devices like 4K laptops are also available but incredibly expensive. If you watch Blu-rays or stream 4K content on Netflix and YouTube, futureproofing your home cinema setup may be worth it.

Interestingly, there is also another resolution sat between Full HD and 4K. It’s called Quad HD and has a 1440p resolution. It is used across many smartphone flagship devices and is available on 4K home projectors.

Best Projector Resolutions

Whatever you want to use your home projector for, you’ll want it to have a native resolution that helps you get the most from your content. Interestingly, whether you have Full HD, Quad HD, or 4K, there are benefits to be had.

Best Resolution for Gaming

Many people argue the human eye can only match detail up to 1080p Full HD. In other words, any resolution beyond this is simply overkilling. It’s unclear whether this is a myth, but it is obvious there is a visible difference between 1080p and 4K gaming.

1080p remains an excellent resolution for gaming, especially if you are just starting. Not least because PC gaming remains the only place you're going to get meaningful 4K gaming. Sure, consoles are slowly adopting 4K, but it remains expensive.

Even affordable gaming PCs output in 1080p, while consoles such as Xbox One and PS4 do the same. This means you will be able to affordably buy and set up a project that has a Full HD resolution.

Best Resolution for Movies

If you are looking to buy a home projector for movies or TV shows, considering a 4K device may be worth it. There are more ways to get 4K content, such as from Netflix, YouTube, and Blu-ray discs. For movie enthusiasts, a 4K projector is a good choice.

Nevertheless, 1080p Full HD remains a good choice for users who may not have access to 4K content. Perhaps you don’t have a fast enough internet connection to stream 4K on Netflix or YouTube, and maybe you don’t collect Blu-rays.

Needless to say, if you don’t consume 4K content then the only reason you should buy a 4K projector is for futureproofing. Interestingly, the majority of modern movies are run in a 16:9 aspect ratio in either 720p (HD) or 1080p (Full HD). However, most movies are finished in 2K (Quad HD) resolution so any projector that handles Full HD, Quad HD, or 4K will be good for movies and TV.

Best Resolution for Sports

Home theater projectors are perfect for sports because they have contrast ratios that make them ideal. Sports content often pushes screen technology because of uniformed colors (think of a green football field) that can expose poor image quality.

Again, a 1080p Full HD project is a fantastic choice because you’ll get clarity in color accuracy and smooth pixel performance. Furthermore, the price of Full HD projectors and input devices such as laptops is very affordable. If you want to create an enviable sports viewing setup for a low cost, 1080p remains the undisputed choice.

So, what about 4K for sports? Well, there are not many sports broadcasters who are sending out content in 4K resolution. Sure, you could prepare for the future by buying a 4K projector now, but it would be expensive without you getting the immediate benefits.

Best Resolution for Outdoors

Whether you’re setting up an outdoor cinema in your yard or taking a projector on a camping trip, having a high-quality image is important. Here’s the problem with using projectors outdoors, it needs to be dark. Simply, the sun is too bright for just about any large screen, so wait until it goes down to the projector (also, check out what we have to say about lumens below).

Yet again, 1080p is the go-to if you want an excellent experience. However, even 720p remains a solid performer in an outdoor night setting. In fact, most resolutions work well as the most important thing for outdoor projection is arguably brightness.

Resolution Comparison

As we have seen, screen resolution is variable and diverse and can change depending on the device in question. Because there are many resolutions available, people tend to be confused about the differences between 720p, 1080p, and 4K.

Before we look at direct comparisons, check out this quick explainer:

Resolution

Pixels (Horizontal x Vertical)

Other names

480p

852 x 480

Standard Definition

720p

1,280 x 720

High Definition, HD

1080p

1,920 x 1,080

FHD, Full HD

4K

3,840 X 2,160

Ultra HD, Ultra High-Definition

 480p VS 720p

The numbers on a resolution that ends with p (480p, 720p, 1080p) represent the number of horizontal lines an image can display from top to bottom. This means a 480p projector has 480 lines available and each line has 852 pixels. 720p has 720 lines with 1,280 pixels across each line. In other words, a 720p screen will be around twice as sharp compared to 480p.

720P VS 1080P

The main difference between 720p and 1080p projectors is the number of pixels when two images are compared. Regular HD projectors are becoming less common as Full HD becomes the normal resolution. However, there are some examples available, especially in the budget market.

1080p VS 4K

Like the two comparisons above, the main difference between 1080p and 4K is the number of lines and pixels than can be displayed. However, the difference between these two resolutions is larger than we have previously seen.

Conclusion

Resolution is undoubtedly an important part of creating an amazing home projector experience. However, as we have explained above, simply having a high resolution does not automatically mean the best viewing experience. Carefully consider what you want your projector for and match your needs to the best resolution for you.



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