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Home Theater FAQ: What To Know About Screens and Projectors


The Questions to Answer for Choosing the Right Home Theater Display

With the closure of many Regal theaters and others due to pandemic fallout and major blockbusters pushing back release dates, the options for movie nights out are getting thinner in Salt Lake City and across the country. You may be considering bringing the cinema experience home with a dedicated home theater.

While we hope commercial cinemas survive and prosper, a dedicated home theater is an excellent investment for any time. The large screen and immersive sound will make any video watching session a memorable experience. In this blog, part of a three-part series on home theaters, we'll cover common questions and answers about the video part of the equation – size, types, technology, and more.

The good news is that the choices are ample and can fit budgets from relatively modest to the cost-no-object variety. No matter what you want out of your home theater, there are options to match.

How Big a Screen Should I Get?

This might be the key question for many. A large screen is a given for a genuine cinema experience. The answer depends on the seating arrangement you desire and the size of the room. For example, the oft-used screen size is 120 inches (measured diagonally) in many medium-sized theaters. For a screen of that size, a minimum seating distance might be around ten feet away. Typical seating distances used are about 10 to 12 inches for every foot of screen size. Some folks prefer a closer-in experience, and some do not like to sit as close. You can, of course, have this variability in a multirow seating arrangement - perhaps the kids will want the front row!

Can I use a Flat Screen TV for the Display?

The answer is yes, and it might be a good fit for smaller spaces. Should you go that route, a high-end OLED set from a brand like LG would be a good choice. OLED panels have superb color reproduction and excellent black levels, which are ideal for film. However, understand that the largest OLED panels top out at 88 inches and are relatively expensive at that size compared to some projector options. Another consideration is that you lose a significant amount of screen real estate to black bars when viewing 21:9 wide format films, a common format for theatrical releases.

What Are the Options for Projectors?

There are too many options for projectors to do them justice here! There are a few critical options to look for in projector technology. The first feature is the resolution. While 4K resolution in TV panels is now commonplace, full 4K has only arrived more recently in projectors. To take advantage of today's high-resolution formats in streaming services like Vudu and Netflix, as well as UHD Blu-ray discs and movie servers like Kaleidescape, we'd highly recommend 4K projectors. The other major feature is HDR or High Dynamic Range. This refers to a processing ability that enhances contrast and color reproduction to make images more lifelike and three-dimensional. Both of these features will make a real difference and deliver a genuine cinematic experience.

Another big differentiator for projectors is the light source. Projectors use either conventional lamps, LEDs, or lasers to push light through an LCD or other panel to create an image. Lasers are the most high-end approach and offer significantly longer lamp life.

How Much Brightness Do I Need from My Display?

Brightness may have a little to do with your personal preferences and much to do with how much ambient light the room will have. While most people might envision a dedicated home theater as a windowless and totally dark room, in reality, some home theaters have windows. The other reality is that the theater might be used to enjoy a football game on a Sunday afternoon, and perhaps you don't want the total darkness of movie night. You may use options like motorized shades to control ambient light. Various projectors with different lighting technologies can go from bright to very bright. Your room and usage will dictate what you may need. Another factor is the screen material; several top brands offer ambient light-absorbing and rejecting materials that are excellent for use in variable lighting conditions while still delivering the brightness and contrast you want. 

SEE MORE: How Can You Optimize Your Home Theater Audio?

We’ve only scratched the surface here with video considerations for your Salt Lake City home theater. Show and Tell AV Solutions can take you through all the options for your Utah home. Just give us a call at (801) 444-3200, fill out our contact form, or chat with us below – we look forward to working with you!

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