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Projectors vs TVs: Which one should you go for?

Is it just a matter of choice?

CES was the usual this year. A lot of incremental upgrades with quite a few interesting products and services, many of which had some AI service or the other. However, I couldn’t find many practical products which could be termed disruptive. So CES 2018 wasn’t all that great. One product did catch my eye, though. It was a projector of all things. What grabbed my attention was the price, a not so measly $30,000. That’s more than what most 4-wheelers in the country are priced at. For those who are curious, I’m talking about Sony’s LSPX-A1. More importantly, it got me thinking about getting a projector myself.

Up until a few years ago, buying a projector, especially one that could compete with the likes of TVs was an expensive affair. Only those with deep pockets and a home with the right prerequisites could make the most out of a projector. Even with all the checkboxes ticked, projectors could never compete with TVs. The image quality was always washed out and should there be some rapid motion on the screen, then it would get even worse. You would have to get an LCOS projector if you want picture quality closest to TVs. And those things aren’t cheap. Don’t forget, setting up a projector can take up more space based on how you get it installed. Roof-mounted short-throw projectors would take the least space whereas if you decided for a tabletop setup, then you’re wasting precious real estate since the space where the projector is placed and the space between the unit and the screen would be off-limits to people and pets.

Sony LSPX A1

Let’s keep the $30,000 projectors aside. Most folks would end up going with the cheaper units. These are very noisy and the onboard speakers are absolutely pathetic. The noise I’m referring to is that of the cooling fan. And don’t even get me started on the lamp. The average projector offers about 2,000 hours of life which is very less. Adults spend 35.5 hours a week watching TV, so your average lamp would last a little over 56 weeks i.e. 1 year and 1 month. So getting a projector involves signing up for a recurring expenditure of 15-20K per year based on your model. So you can see why most sane individuals wouldn’t get a projector. That money can easily be spent towards getting a nice 49-55 inch LED TV with 4K and HDR support. Now that OLED TVs are entering mainstream market, projectors are going to find it increasingly tough to sell.

However, recent developments have made owning a projector even cheaper. For starters, the lamps are now much cheaper and they last up to 10,000 hours in eco mode. They’ve even become smaller than earlier. 4K HDR projectors have become quite compact and they even support most colour standards to their fullest. For roughly the same cost of a proper TV, you can get a projector that can display a much larger screen with the same resolution. The problem of real-estate, however, remains.

Dell S718QL

Which is why I don’t see myself getting a projector anytime soon. And the brightness still hasn’t equalled that of TVs. There are 3200-3500 lumens projectors out there but in a well-lit room, it’s always a bit washed out compared to your average TV. We know how much projectors cost to make and how much they sell for. Even if retailers dropped their profits and started selling projectors for near about the cost price, they’d still find people drawn towards the traditional TV. At the end of the day, it comes down to this giant cone-shaped unusable area in front of the projector which is a huge waste. There absolutely no way that I can sit around with a projector knowing that I’ve just marked out 5-6 square meters of space to be unusable. If projector manufacturers can build an extremely short-throw 4K LCOS projector like the Sony LSPX-A1 or the Dell S718QL for about the same price as your average 4K TV, then you have my attention and my money. If not, I’ll stick with my TV.

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