First consider the following three questions:
- What will it be used for? (TV viewing, movies, gaming, internet)
- When will it be used? (Daytime, evening or both)
- Who will be using it? (Adults, kids, guests)
The answers to these three questions will tell you much about the type of display which will work best for you. Also, consider the room where the display will be used. Where will it be sited or mounted? Where will people sit to watch? How will the cables connect the display to source equipment?
Should I get a projector or a normal "direct view" set such as a Plasma or LCD?
Projectors are great for the full movie experience. Modern projectors offer a very large screen size and can not be matched for "size per dollar". However, a projector requires a quite specific environment to work and that you should consider these before choosing one:
- The room will be need to be very dark for the best picture
- Long cable runs are often required between the projector and the source
- The projector will need to be mounted securely
- Bulbs will need to be replaced and are often expensive
- You will also need to budget for a good screen
Many customers choose to invest in a projection system for night time movie viewing and gaming and support it with a smaller direct view TV for daytime viewing.
What screen size should I look for?
Measure the distance between the most common viewing chair and the screens location. The screen width should be around half of that distance. If you prefer to sit up close at the movie theatre then you may like a slightly bigger screen, conversely if you prefer a seat in the back row then the screen can be a little smaller.
When buying a projector talk to your dealer about your screen size plans and the viewing distance. This will help the dealer ensure the projector they recommend has the right "throw ratio" for the setup you're planning.
I'm looking at a direct view set, which should I choose LCD or Plasma?
The choice here is often decided by your choice of TV size. For screens of 42" diagonal and above then most sets are Plasmas. For sizes below 42" diagonal most are LCD. Technologies and models move very fast so consult your local dealer and see a few on demonstration. A good look at a well calibrated TV will reveal much more about picture quality than any internet search will ever do. Do not expect large general electrical stores to have all their sets properly calibrate, go to a specialist who will be able to show TVs properly and guide you through the choices.
I have my set; it's unpacked and switched on so that's it, right?
Well no. Displays are setup to look bright and garish in a high street TV shop. That way people gravitate to the brightest screen and buy it. Since such stores often have harsh florescent lighting, whereas most living rooms do not, the settings on your TV need to be adjusted when it arrives to suit your room conditions. A few moments setting up your TV will yield a huge benefit in performance and should be treated as an essential part of the purchase.
Many specialist dealers will calibrate your TV as apart of the service (try getting an internet shop or large high street store to do that!). Do not under-estimate this type of support as your shiny new TV will never look its best without proper alignment.
There are also DVD discs available for purchase that can assist you in setting up your own TV. These can be helpful in making improvements over the sets factory settings. However, a good setup takes time and practice so if you have the opportunity, get your dealer to do it properly.