Enjoying films and series on the big screen at home – that is the dream of every cinema fan. However, the price for such a project is not quite cheap. We explain what equipment you need for your home cinema and whether you should use a 4K TV or beamer.
Checklist for your setup
Before we address our core topic, we should start with a checklist for our interiors:
- The distance from the TV to the couch (by the way, we at tvfindr have developed a practical tool for this purpose)
- Nice furniture and seats for you and your guests
- The right light for the right atmosphere
- Acoustic elements for dispersion and absorption of unwanted frequencies
- The rigth sound system
Creating a cosy atmosphere
Every regular cinema-goer will know that the armchairs and sofas in cinemas are always very comfortable. This is just as important for the home cinema!
If there is a sofa in the living room at home, this will be enough for beginners – but for home cinemas with professional demands, there is a wide range of high-quality furniture that equals or even exceeds the comfort of large cinemas.
Light also plays a major role in a professional home cinema. Everyone knows: When the curtain goes up and the lights are dimmed, it’s “Roll film!”
A curtain may be difficult at home, but atmospheric light can be recreated. Ambient Lighting is a keyword here – imitation should mean something promising. With some models even voice control is possible!
For professional use it is worth copying a practice from recording studios and radio editorial offices: Here, acoustic components are used to disperse and absorb unwanted frequencies. If, for example, the bass at a certain volume is booming too much and the setting on the device cannot be corrected, a bass absorber in the corner can help.
However, since this is a very complex subject, it can’t hurt to consult a professional for this!
The interiors are crucial
When choosing the best picture for your purposes, you should first ask yourself some questions:
- How much money do you want to invest?
- What kind of interiors are at your disposal?
- How big can the screen be in your own home cinema?
Those who do not have a retractable screen or at least a white, smoothly plastered wall as a projection surface do not need to think long. In this case, a high-quality 4K TV is the best option. OLEDS or QLEDS are best suited for home cinema use. Because of their construction they allow high contrast and excellent black levels. Two features why they are especially suitable for HDR content. In dark rooms, high-quality OLEDS, such as the LG C9, can distinguish bright and dark details almost perfectly. This gives a nuanced and deep picture impression, which even the best beamers cannot achieve. The LG C9 is equipped with HDMI 2.1 and can therefore reproduce 4K in 120 Hz. It is also Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos compatible, making it a good choice for your home cinema.
Different types of beamers
Before we turn to the advantages of beamers, we should first get a rough overview of the types of beamers that exist. Here it should be considered that all beamer types are available, independent from the type of projection, as a standard version or as a short distance version. Thus, before the purchase one should consider if a normal or a short distance beamer is more suitable for the own home cinema.
UHP technology uses gas-filled high-pressure lamps for projection. It is the oldest and now obsolete type of projection, as it offers more disadvantages than advantages.
- High luminosity
- Gas filling of the lamps has a mercury content. May be hazardous to health if damaged
- Long warm-up period. Lamp needs several minutes to reach its full luminosity and colour stability
- Short life span (under 2000 hours). However, lamps may be replaced
- Strong heat development
Like in televisions, a liquid film through which a beam of light is passed. This is how the projection is created.
- High luminosity
- Tendency to sluggishness during projection
- Lamps consume a lot of electricity and have a short lifespan of about 2000 hours. Can be replaced if necessary.
- Increased chance of burn-in
With DLP technology, a large number of movable mirrors transmit the projection to the wall.
- In contrast to LCD beamers, almost no sluggishnes in the projection
- Longer lifespan (maximum 5000 hours) and better black levels than LCD beamers
- If the built-in color wheel (depending on the manufacturer) does not have a proper rotation speed, it can lead to an annoying rainbow effect
- Colour accuracy can work (depending on manufacturer) very poorly
- High noise level, due to ventilator and rotating colour wheel
In LED projectors, LEDs are used as light sources. DLP technology is used to create the image.
- Geringer Stromverbrauch dank LED Lampe
- In contrast to LCD and standard DLP beamers, hardly any heat development. Therefore much quieter, because no powerful ventilators are necessary
- Long lifespan (over 20,000 hours possible)
- Significantly worse light intensity than LCD beamers
- Picture quality in bright rooms even worse than with LCD beamers
- More expensive than LCD beamers
Laser Beamer/Laser TV
Uses a laser as lighting device.
- Enables projections of almost any shape
- Has the shortest start-up and shut-down time when switching on and off
- Long lifespan (maximum 20,000 hours)
- High contrast
- More expensive than LCD, DLP or LED beamers
- Mostly lower light intensity than LCD beamers
Now that we have a rough overview of the different beamer types, we should now reveal the biggest advantage of using a beamer: The size of the projection!
4K TV or Beamer?
Bigger means better?
If you want a real home cinema feeling, you also need an appropriate inch size. Here are some disadvantages for the use of TV sets. The C9 is available in a maximum 77 inch size. In this size you have to be prepared to pay around $5000. For this price there are already high-quality laser beamers that can easily switch between a picture size of 90 to 130 inches. The UHZ65UST is a 4K laser TV (short distance projector with laser technology) from the manufacturer Optoma, which you can get for ~ $3400. It creates a picture diagonal from 90 to 130 inches. In terms of inch size, with a correspondingly low price, current 4K TVs can not compete with the best laser beamers.
The C9 is 4K compatible, but the high resolution has limited potential for small or medium sized panels. In order to really see the details that 4K resolution offers, you should therefore choose a TV with a larger panel. High quality TVs in the higher inch sizes are much more expensive than good beamers or laser TVs. For the Samsung Q950R, you pay about $9,000 for 82 inches. For 98 inches approx. $59.000. With increasing size, the energy consumption of a TV set also rises considerably. The installation and accommodation is also much more complicated. However, if you are willing to make a few compromises in terms of functions and picture quality, you can find a cost-effective compromise here too. The Samsung RU8009 is available in 82 inch for around $1600. Thanks to its VA panel, it is perfectly suited for use in dark rooms. It also stands out with good black values. The low price also comes with some concessions in terms of sound and viewing angle.
For those who don’t want to settle for a mid-size, mid-range 4K TV, it’s better to get a good laser TV like the Optoma UHZ65UST. In terms of cost and installation effort, this will make your life much easier. The advantages in the inch size, but unfortunately come with disadvantages in terms of contrast, black level, and image depth. The top 4K devices are still superior to all beamers in these points. Specially if you dont’t want to pay extra for a suitable projection screen.
DRAW: Beamers are cheaper with the higher inch sizes, but still not on the same level of picture quality as the best 4K TVs.
Installation of beamers really easier?
Short-distance beamers are ahead of ordinary beamers in terms of installation and user-friendliness. A classic beamer must either be placed in the middle of the room or attached to a special bracket on the ceiling. This limits mobility and can result in additional costs. A short-distance beamer avoids all this. It is placed, like a television, less centimetres in front of a wall. Its projection is thrown directly against the wall from below. Thanks to this technical feature, you no longer need to worry about limited mobility, suitable mounting brackets and the correct distance.
Theoretically, you can save extra costs and throw your projection directly against a smooth, white wall. But this leads to drops in contrast and black level. Thus, those who want to fully exhaust the image quality of their short distance beamer will need a special screen that is designed for their projection angle. For normal beamers, one also needs a screen that is suitable for the projection angle and distance that is used here. This is a disadvantage for the use of a beamer in the home cinema area, because you get extra costs (for a 90 inch screen you pay $250 to $300).
Flexibility in the Image
With a television set, you need the correct seat spacing and viewing angle, depending on the inch size. With a beamer, the inch size of the projection can be changed. Depending on the resolution of the beamer, the enlargement of the projection can be accomplished without or with minimal quality loss. Laser TVs are also characterized by an extremely high viewing angle.
BEAMER: When it comes to image flexibility, beamers are the clear winner. Especially the high-quality laser TVs.
The current beamers and laser TVs also have the in-house operating systems of the individual manufacturers. Here too, important apps such as Netflix or Amazon Prime are pre-installed. However, there is some criticisms that the operating systems on the beamers and laser TVs are a bit slower in terms of menu navigation. The LG HF85JS Laser Beamer is definitely more sluggish in this respect than LG’s TV models. Whether these quality interruptions in the menu navigation are valid for all beamers and laser TVs would have to be tested more closely (but seems unlikely).
DRAW: In terms of menu navigation, operating system and app usage, TVs and beamers are on the same level.
Most televisions have mediocre to solid sound. Because of the thin construction, it’s almost impossible to build in decent speakers and a subwoofer that gives you something special. You won’t get cinema-quality sound here. But with most beamer types this is even more problematic. The built-in speakers are bad in most cases. Laser TVs, like the H100LDA from Hisense defy the standard, as they are equipped with integrated speakers and subwoofers. The sound is not great, but worlds away from most other beamer types. No matter if 4K TV or beamer. If you want real cinema sound, you have to invest in a decent sound system. In our home cinema article, about sound, we give solutions for different price levels.
TELEVISION: In terms of sound, current TVs are in most cases better than beamers.
Heat generation and electricity consumption
A big shortcoming of most beamer types is the heat development as well as the noise level that is generated during cooling. For home cinema use, this can become an annoying drawback, especially in quiet dialogue scenes. Televisions are clearly superior in this respect, as they produce almost no noise. However, the larger panels can generate more heat and consume more power. Whether beamers eat more electricity than televisions cannot be said exactly, since the power consumption varies from model to model. The Optoma UHZ65UST, for example, has a similar consumption as the Samsung Q90R in the 65 inch version. With larger panels, however, it can quickly happen that a TV set eats considerably more power than a powerful beamer.
DRAW: Too many factors play a role here, so it is not possible to name a clear winner.
Home theater, with gaming options?
If you want to connect an additional console in your home cinema and play games, a beamer is not the best choice. Beamers have a significantly higher input lag than high-quality 4K TVs. This is a big shortcoming for games that are reaction-heavy, like shooters. Thus, those who want to have the option to gamble in their home cinema should choose a larger 4K TV.
TELEVISION: In terms of motion handling and input lag, current TVs are superior to all beamers
Unfortunately, the longevity of beamers does not come close to that of current TV sets. The laser beamers have the best lifetime of all beamer types with 20.000 hours. This is a respectable number, but it seems rather modest compared to the 100,000 hours of life offered by an OLED TV. UHP, LCD and DLP projectors only have a lifetime of 2000 to 5000 hours. To be fair, however, it must be said that a beamer is not used as intensively in everyday life as a TV set.
TELEVISION: Beamers cannot compete with televisions in terms of durability.
Conclusion: 4K TV or beamer?
It is difficult to name a clear winner, as both have their advantages and disadvantages. So whether 4K TV or beamer depends entirely on the premises and the specific requirements of the customer. If you want to reproduce the cinema experience 1 to 1 in your home, you should buy a high quality laser TV. In our opinion, it is the best projection technology currently available, with the least disadvantages. For the average user, who doesn’t need a 90 to 130 inch size, but instead wants superior picture depth, contrast and black levels, as well as the option to use his home theater for gaming, it makes much more sense to purchase a high quality TV. The LG C9 OLED is an all-rounder, which is characterized by excellent picture quality, low input lag, as well as HDMI 2.1. connection and is available in 77 inch for about $5000. If you are looking for the hottest TV offers at the moment, you can also check out our deal page. Here we present you the best and cheapest selection of TV sets that the Internet has to offer.
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