Projectors: the ultimate in extreme PC displays

PC owners just aren’t imaginative enough. Ask one to think of a big PC display and chances are their thoughts will dreamily drift towards a thirty incher from Dell. Compared to other PC displays thirty inches is a behemoth but stand it next to a plasma or LCD TV and it starts looking like an oversized postage stamp. With increasingly large numbers of PCs being used exclusively for gaming and multimedia use it’s time PC owners got serious about big screen displays. And when it comes to the best wall-fillers around nothing beats a projector. 

Not only are projectors perfect for watching 3D Blu-ray movies in crystal clear 1080p they’re absolutely amazing for PC gaming. You see only the PC has the necessary grunt to deliver 1080p visuals at a rock steady 60fps. Try that on a PS3 or 360 and it’ll laugh in your over-expectant face. Once you’ve played the PC version of Battlefield 3 on a 2.5-metre wide screen and have seen how beautifully crisp and clear it looks there’s no going back. Projectors are becoming increasingly popular in Australia but there’s still a lot of misinformation remaining from earlier projectors. Let’s try to clear some of that up.

Projector globes are nowhere near as expensive or short-lived as they used to be. Expect to pay around $300 for a globe that will last around 4000 hours so you’re only paying 7.5c per hour for this big-screen bliss. However the biggest shortcoming of projectors is their need for a light-controlled room. Ambient light is a projector’s greatest enemy but a set of thick curtains can work wonders. Most decent projectors still look great with a lamp or two nearby for a spot of TV viewing but you’ll want a perfectly dark room when it’s time to fire up your movie or game.

There are two main types of projectors available – LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and DLP (Digital Light Processing). We don’t have the space to explain how either works so we’ll only talk about the pros and cons of both. DLP projectors tend to have better contrast and blacker blacks but they suffer from an issue called the rainbow effect. Moving objects in scenes have a subtle rainbow trail and looking from one side of the scene to the other reveals the same thing. Some people are more susceptible to the Rainbow effect than others; for this author it’s an absolute deal breaker. LCD doesn’t suffer from this problem at all and also has better colour reproduction but at the cost of a more visible pixel structure and lower contrast. LCDs seem to be the dominant form of projector technology around the consumer/prosumer space these days with DLP limited to the budget and upper ends of the market.