About Home Theater Projector Resolution

by Jane on October 25, 2015

About Home Theater Projector Resolution

This information is intended to help those buying their first ever home theater/movie projector. Specifically, those who are inexperienced with the technology, who might feel confused when reading product descriptions and specifications of different models.

Here we want to glance over the “resolution” specification. Due to the significant role it plays in picture/image quality it’s the single most important spec to consider when buying a home movie projector.

We will address a couple common mistakes or misunderstandings centered on resolution many first time buyers have made.

Briefly, what is resolution?

It has to do with the pixels, man! More pixels, more detail.

A projector’s “native resolution” is the number of pixels available to create an image.

Common resolutions types for projectors are:

  • XGA (1024 x 768)
  • WXGA (1280 x 800)
  • HD (1920 x 1080)
  • 4K (4096 x 2160)

What do these numbers (1024 x 768) actually mean? The first number (1024) represents how many pixels make up each horizontal row, the (768) equals the number of pixels making up each column.

The total number of pixels provided by each of the different resolutions listed above is found simply by carrying out the multiplication, for example: (XGA: 1024 x 768 = 786,432).

From the list above it should be obvious XGA is the lowest resolution and 4K is the highest resolution, providing the most pixels. As we mentioned above more pixels, equals greater the picture/image quality.

What you should buy

There’s many different attributes or qualities to consider when choosing: Contrast, resolution, brightness, aspect ratio. All hold a certain level of importance but as we have mentioned, “resolution” is by far ad away the most important quality to consider when buying a home movie projector.

For the most part, resolution will be the biggest cost driver. Models with higher resolutions will be more expensive:

  • HD (1920 x 1080)
  • 4K (4096 x 2160)

These lower one’s will be least expensive:

  • XGA (1024 x 768)
  • WXGA (1280 x 800)

Although there are some decent XGA and WXGA models, for home theater we recommend HD (1920 x 1080) otherwise known as 1080p resolution. Of course if you do have the money, 4K projectors are fantastic but very expensive!

On the other hand, the once expensive 1080p home movie projectors have seen a sharp decrease in price. It’s now possible to pick up one of these for well under $1000.

Common mistakes we mentioned

There are two common mistakes many  first time buyers make.

When reading product description they will come across words such as: “1080p ready or 1080p compatible”. They might think WOW! this projector only costs $300 and I get high definition (1080p) resolution!

This is wrong!

What “ready or compatible” means is the projector can accept and play content from a 1080p device such as a Blu-Ray player but the content will be played down to the “native” resolution of the projector.

  • XGA (1024 x 768)
  • WXGA (1280 x 800)

To make things as clear as possible. See the two lower resolution listed above? You may read in their product description, “1080p ready or compatible” if you wnt to be absolutely positive you are buying a 1080p resolution projector you must see the words “native 1080p” in the product description of specifications.

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