Q: I have a large game room and am debating between buying a 75-inch flat-panel TV or a projector with a 100-inch (or bigger) screen. It will be mostly for movies from Blu-ray and a Roku streaming box, viewed with the lights out. Do you think I will give up a lot of picture quality if I go with a projector?
A: Projection picture quality is not inherently inferior to a flat-panel display. In fact, a top-of-the-line system based on a JVC D-ILA or Sony SXRD projector can exceed the picture quality of a flat-panel television. And that holds all the way up to projector screen sizes of 300 inches, although now we're talking about costs that run into tens of thousands of dollars and require professional installation.
Even without such a high-end system, for watching movies with the lights out I would much rather have a projector. Flat-panel TVs can look very sharp and bright, but when it comes to cinematic immersion, nothing can match projection. It's a great way to present the big game for a large group of sports fans and play video games at enormous sizes. And with warmer weather on the way, you can use it for a socially distanced movie night in your backyard with family and friends.
A spectacular 120-inch front projection system can be put together for under $1,000. I recommend starting with the $649 Optoma HD28HDR 1080p projector (optomausa.com). True 4K projectors still are very expensive, but the HD28HDR has a 4K-compatible input that can be used with sources like a 4K Roku box or 4K Blu-ray player. The HD28HDR will display the 4K signal at 1080p resolution, but it includes the high dynamic range (HDR) information for a deeper, richer image with brighter whites, improved shadow detail and more vibrant and accurate color. I am reviewing the HD28HDR right now and have been delighted with the beautiful images it produces.
Buy a screen with a gain of 1.1 for a brighter, more-colorful image. The highly rated Visual Apex screens seem to have disappeared from the market, but a company called JSWT is selling screens on Amazon that appear to be the exact same models. (I own one of each and can't tell the difference.) The 120-inch JWST has a sturdy, collapsible stand that can be fixed to the ground when used outside, bright, sharp screen material and a handy carrying case to hold it all. For only $165 it is a bargain.
The projector has only a tiny, single speaker, so you will need a sound system to go with it. If you do not have a 4K Blu-ray player, the Panasonic DP-UB820 is without peer for its flawless images, and I suggest you add it to your system.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.