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Projectors vs TVs: The key pros and cons

Projectorpoint Blog - Difference between Projector and OLED

Those who have watched a movie in a cinema have once or twice marvelled at the big-sized and high-quality cinema screen. What if it was possible to acquire such an immersive experience inside the comfort of your home at roughly the same cost as a comparable TV?

TVs have been popular for the last few decades, but projectors are now trending. They are portable, cost-effective, versatile, and offer an enhanced viewing experience. Yet, both projectors and TVs have advantages and drawbacks. It’s important to understand the differences between the two.

In the guide below, we will analyze the projector vs TV debate in detail so that you can have your pick out of them. So, let’s get started!

There are some clear-cut differences between a projector and a TV. These differences boil down to a few key aspects: image quality, setup, sound, function, portability, and price.

The main differences between a projector and a tv

Below, we go over each of these aspects in detail.

Image quality

The quality of an image is governed by its resolution and size. While TV and projectors now offer up to 4K resolution, it all comes down to the image size.

A TV displays a fixed image size, regardless of the resolution. Therefore, the image remains the same sharpness. On the contrary, a projector allows varying image size. As long as you maintain the focus, the sharpness of the image can be altered by adjusting the size. The bigger the image, the blurrier it becomes.

However, you can turn the projector’s property of changing the image size to your advantage. For instance, if your projector supports a resolution of up to 720p, you can go for a small-sized image whereas if your projector can offer 4K, you can resort to a much  larger image. This way, the sharpness, or in other words, the quality of the image won’t be compromised.

Besides resolution and image size, the projecting surface of a projector also has a say in its image quality. Ideally, you should go for a screen. If that is not possible, make sure that the wall you are projecting onto is uniform and has minimum ambient light for optimal output.

Setup

TVs are very simple to set up. Once you’ve picked out your favourite TV and figured out how much space it needs, just place it right in that space, and you are more or less done.

Contrary to common belief, projectors are also very simple to set up. Initially, you may have to spend a couple of minutes adjusting the keystone and focus for some models, but beyond that, it is the same as switching on a TV.

Sound

Regarding the sound, both projectors and TVs have built-in speakers. Depending on the quality of the projector or TV you buy, these speakers can vary from not great to excellent. 

However, if you are presented with a need to upgrade the sound system of your projector or TV, you can utilise soundbars that are compatible with both.

Function

While TVs have dominated the world in recent decades for state-of-the-art functionality, the concerned consumers have begun resorting to high-quality, 4K projectors.

Although you can get a good-quality projected image on a light-coloured and uniform wall, a mid-range projector screen can produce the best results. Even if we consider a cheap projector, it can provide an image display of up to 100 inches. Unlike a TV mounted on a wall, this display doesn’t have the odd effect of appearing small.

Projectors can be the highlight of your home gatherings. For example, if you’re having a movie night, you can make it a real cinematic experience by getting a good sound system (if your projector doesn’t have one) and turning off the lights.

TVs can also serve the same purpose, but their visual appeal doesn’t come near to that of a high-end projector.

Portability

With a TV, you usually leave it mounted on the wall or on a stand. It stays there for years, unless you change your living room’s setup. But a projector is lightweight and small, so you can easily move it from place to place, or store it when not in use.

Whether you feel like having a movie night with your family in your garden or playing games with your friends, the portability of a projector certainly comes in handy.

Moreover, if a standard projector is too bulky for you to carry around, you can buy its battery-powered mini counterpart, which would still offer you over 100 inches of display.

Price

Nowadays, projectors and TVs are priced almost the same.

For instance, you can get a small TV, with a laptop-sized display or a cheap 1080p projector for less than £100. However, that cheap projector would also offer a display of 100 inches, unlike the small TV. Moreover, when combined with a dark room, sound bar, and a projection screen, that cheap projector can provide you with a very decent experience.

Next, if we talk about mid-range projectors, they are around £500-1000 and can offer you certain benefits. These include a fully-focused display with high brightness, meaning that even in the daytime, you can watch whatever you want with the curtains open.

Finally, when it comes to high-end projectors, like 4K projectors, they will set you back a few thousand pounds but are worth it. These projectors are categorised into different variants, such as ultra-short-throw or long-throw projectors.

In mid-range and high-end TVs, although you would get a comparable image quality as well, if you want a similar display size to projectors, it would tend to cost thousands of pounds.

Pros & cons of projectors

Projector

When it comes to projectors, they are an affordable technology featuring an adjustable screen and offering an immersive experience. However, they have costly maintenance and poor brightness and audio quality compared to TVs.

Pros

  •  Adjustable screen: there is flexibility when it comes to choosing your display. All you have to do is place the projector accordingly at a certain distance from the projection screen.
  • Affordable: projectors are cheaper in comparison to comparable HD TVs. For instance, a TV of more than 100 inches would cost tens of thousands, whereas a projector offering the same display would set you back only under a thousand pounds.
  • Immersive experience: the larger display size of a projector coupled with its low overall brightness makes your experience more immersive and comfortable at the same time.
  • Portable: projectors are easier to move around or store compared to TVs.

Cons

  • Low brightness: Due to the low overall brightness of a projector in comparison to a TV, ambient light, especially during the daytime, can affect the contrast and quality of the display.
  • Maintenance costs: In the case of some projectors, such as LCD projectors, there is the extra cost of periodic replacement of the lamps. Moreover, laser projectors must be replaced entirely once their life runs out.
  • Poor-Quality audio: Although projectors come with built-in speakers, these speakers could be better, and honestly, with a screen that big, you would want to invest in a stand-alone audio system for optimal results.

Pros & cons of TV

Tv

As for TVs, they are preferable for their good-quality audio and ability to be used 24/7. However, they offer a much smaller display than their counterparts, nor are they portable.

Pros

  • 24/7 usage: Whether it is daytime or midnight, you can get the most out of the TV’s screen. Ambient light, your room’s lights, or any other light, for that matter, doesn’t affect the quality of the display.
  • Good-Quality audio: The built-in speakers that come with TVs are much better quality than projectors and even if you want to take your audio system up a notch, it can easily be upgraded with a soundbar.

Cons

  • Smaller display: TVs generally have a smaller display, but due to their high image quality, they can be costly. For example, a TV featuring a display of 100 inches is not only rare but also costs tens of thousands.
  • Difficult to move: Suppose you are decorating your home, and you want to move around your TV – it’s going to be more hassle because, unlike projectors, TVs are not portable.

FAQs

Do projectors last as long as TVs?

A typical projector lasts as long as a TV (or even longer). However, if you own a lamp-based projector, you need to replace its lamps from time to time.

Can you use a projector for everyday TV watching?

Yes, you can use your projector for daily TV watching. It would lead to a better, more appealing experience at a lower price point than most larger Televisions.

However, the lifespan of the lamps in your projector would run down faster, and you will have to replace them more often.

Can you use a projector as a smart TV?

Given that you have a compatible device, yes, you can. Plug any compatible streaming device into the projector’s HDMI port to turn it into a smart TV.

Do projectors use a lot of electricity?

It depends. On average, a range of different projectors uses electricity somewhere between 150 to 800 watts an hour.

What is the downside of a 4K TV?

Although a 4K TV displays sharp and defined images, it is quite possible that on 4K, some items may appear smaller than at lower resolutions, as they no longer need to stretch to fit the screen resolution.

How long can a projector run continuously?

If we talk about lamp-based projectors, they usually have a lamp life of 1500-2000 hours. The newer, more advanced lamps may last up to 5,000 hours before needing replacement.

On the other hand, laser and LED projectors typically last for 20,000 hours (if not more).

Summary

Well, there you have it – a complete guide, comparing every single aspect of a projector and TV.

While a few years back, the cost was the main factor behind people choosing a TV over a projector, with so many high-end and affordable projectors available these days, it is safe to say you should not hesitate to buy a projector instead to level up your home entertainment experience. In most of the other factors besides cost, a projector seems to have a clear edge over its counterpart.

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