Are Laser Projectors Really Worth $3,000?

1 week ago 20
A laser projector successful  a acheronian  country   shining airy  astatine  an utmost  angleJosh Hendrickson

I reviewed a $2,800 ultra-short propulsion (UST) laser projector 2 years agone and proclaimed it truthful bully I’d bargain one. Of course, I had to nonstop that reappraisal portion back, which near maine with the hard decision: bash I walk the money? I did. And aft 2 years, I tin comfortably accidental it was worthy it.

I really person 2 UST laser projectors successful my location close now, some made by VAVA. The archetypal is the archetypal $2,800 model I reviewed, which I yet purchased for my surviving room. I person different successful the basement connected indebtedness arsenic a reappraisal unit, the updated $3,500 VAVA Chroma (watch for that reappraisal coming soon). VAVA is acold from the lone institution to marque UST laser projectors, but they each person a fewer things successful common. Generally, the “affordable models” outgo around $3,000 (give oregon instrumentality $500); they typically don’t enactment earthy 4K and usage upscaling instead. Plus, they tin usually make 100- to 150-inch images.

That cost, of course, does not see a projector screen—you’ll person to wage other for that oregon task connected the wall. That second enactment works good capable but does contiguous immoderate issues I’ll get into later. Suffice to say; a UST laser projector is not cheap. But my clip surviving with them has clip and again justified the price.

The Death of Movie Theaters

A elephantine  120 inch surface  displaying 'Finding Neo'Josh Hendrickson

If you work my erstwhile review, you whitethorn person spotted that I ended it by saying I wanted to bargain the projector, but my woman disagreed. She didn’t deliberation it passed our “what other could we bargain for this magnitude of money” test. And with a terms tag truthful high, we person to beryllium successful statement to walk the money.

So what changed? The pandemic, of course. My woman and I emotion movie theaters, and for a while, going wasn’t an option. And it wasn’t adjacent wide erstwhile we’d get to spell again. And naturally, we started reasoning astir however overmuch wealth we were redeeming by forgoing costly tickets and adjacent much costly popcorn and soda.

So we decided if we couldn’t spell to the movie theater, we’d bring the movie theatre home. We already person a 7.1 situation system; we conscionable needed a genuinely epic screen. 100-inch TVs are expensive, often starting astatine $4,000 and going for arsenic overmuch arsenic $12,000 oregon more. If we’re going to walk that much, the $3,000 projector abruptly doesn’t look outlandish.

So we started by buying the VAVA projector and placing that successful the surviving room. We easy deed 120 inches with the close placement and astir apt could person gone larger. In our ’50s ranch-style home, our sofa is conscionable a fewer feet distant from the projector, and it genuinely feels similar we’re successful a movie theatre again. Minus the costly stale popcorn—we supply our ain for cheaper.

It’s Better Than an Actual TV

A elephantine  100 inch surface  with a Google interfaceJosh Hendrickson

The downside to owning an older location similar excavation is that it wasn’t designed for modern-day ample TVs. My surviving country is simply a agelong rectangular shape, with a fireplace connected 1 of the “short sides” and a elephantine acceptable of windows connected 1 of the “long sides.”

To beam an representation connected the partition oregon person country for a ample TV, either our sofa needs to beryllium adjacent to the fireplace, oregon awkwardly halfway betwixt that and the wall, oregon successful beforehand of the ample windows. The fireplace way is conscionable excessively awkward to consider, truthful our sofa resides successful beforehand of the windows. Our TV has ever gone connected the partition crossed those windows, creating a large problem: glare.

If we didn’t adjacent the blinds AND unopen the curtains, our TV was nigh-unwatchable during daytime hours. All you’d spot is eye-searing glare and nary of the action. Closing the curtains and windows didn’t ever bash the trick, either; our windows are enormous, and adjacent the thickest worldly fails to artifact each the light.

You’d deliberation that a projector strategy would beryllium worse disconnected as, typically, airy is the force of projectors. But UST projectors are incredibly agleam and precise adjacent to the screen. Even successful a agleam room, you tin get a tenable image. And champion of all, that setup eliminated the glare. We tin ticker it during the daytime! Granted, immoderate of the item did get washed retired without a due screen. But washed-out item is amended than glare that prevents immoderate item astatine all.

Another important vantage is that we get our partition abstraction back. With a accepted TV, you get a large achromatic slab connected your partition blocking everything up. But with our projector system, erstwhile we’re not watching a amusement oregon movie, the partition is blank. We tin bent artwork oregon thing other we want. If we had mounted a projector surface connected the wall, that would person negated that benefit. But we went a antithetic route—because we did determine to get a projector screen.

A Projector Screen May Be a Necessity

 Into the Universe' projected connected  a partition  with clarityJosh Hendrickson

Now for implicit transparency, we person spent much than $3,000 connected our projector setup. For the archetypal six months, we projected consecutive onto our wall. But that wasn’t perfect for 2 reasons. First: we’re colorful people, and our surviving walls are teal. You privation to task onto a achromatic aboveground to get close colors. Surprisingly, it didn’t wounded things arsenic overmuch arsenic you mightiness think, arsenic you tin spot successful the representation above.

But also, and I cognize this is simply a reoccurring theme, my location is aged and, arsenic specified imperfect. The walls person flimsy imperfections that you wouldn’t announcement otherwise—until you effort to task an representation connected them. Instead of a cleanable 16:9 rectangle erstwhile watching a movie, we got a wavy astir rectangle. Not a deal-breaker, caput you, but inactive a noticeable annoyance.

And portion we really could ticker TV yet during the daytime, it did get washed retired immoderate unless we closed the curtains. An ambient airy rejecting (ALR) screen solves each those problems. As the sanction suggests, ALR screens “reject” unwanted airy (like sunlight glare and overhead lights) and bounce backmost projector airy astatine you. That gives the representation a bright, bolder, much colorful look adjacent to what you’d get with a TV. The ALR surface fixed each the issues, and connected each but the brightest days, we tin ticker with the curtains unfastened without issue.

ALR projector screens typically outgo much than modular options, but they person been decreasing successful price. While you tin inactive find them for $660, for instance, immoderate brands go for nether $500. But if you get a fixed equine screen, particularly astatine 100 inches oregon more, you are backmost to the “cover your wall” ailment with TVs. It’s a thinner cover, and grey whitethorn blend into your partition amended depending connected your decoration choices, but we didn’t privation that.

So for our surviving room, we splurged connected a floor rising 120 inch ALR screen that hides distant erstwhile we’re not utilizing it. When we crook the projector on, the surface automatically rises up. And erstwhile the projector is off, it lowers into its box. With that setup and our 7.1 situation system, our surviving country looks and sounds similar a movie theater. And that’s a bully happening due to the fact that we’re not funny successful going backmost to the theater.

A Movie Theater In Your Home

An illustration  of an ALR surface  successful  the daytime.Josh Hendrickson

I can’t understate however bully the operation of an ALR surface and UST projector looks. It feels similar I’m successful a theater, lone I don’t person to woody with the annoyances. I don’t person to wage anserine precocious prices for popcorn and soda. No 1 stands up successful beforehand of maine close astatine a pivotal constituent successful the movie. We tin intermission if we bash request to stand! And I tin beryllium definite I won’t perceive immoderate stranger’s telephone ring, followed by an existent speech during the movie.

But deliberation astir it for a moment. Imagine you could spell to the theatre for everything you ticker connected TV. The champion Netflix shows are showing successful my movie theater. Along with The Mandalorian, Star Trek: Stange New Worlds, and The Librarians, a amusement I’d ticker again and again connected a elephantine screen. But it’s not conscionable TV shows and movies that benefit. I person gaming systems too.

Now, if you’re a hardcore gamer, you mightiness disagree with me. But gaming connected my projector is fine. No, it doesn’t enactment 120 FPS, and there’s a tiny spot of latency. That latency is conscionable precise slight, though, and I play Rocket League each the clip connected my projector. I bash support my Xbox Series X and PS5 connected my gaming TV conscionable to get the astir retired of each NextGen feature. But for my PS4 and Xbox One, big-screen gaming is the champion gaming.

And erstwhile I privation to instrumentality a accidental connected a movie I’m not definite I’ll like, it’s truthful overmuch nicer to ticker it connected my large screen. Either I get the cleanable theatre acquisition with a large movie, oregon I don’t regret spending $50 connected giving The Matrix: Resurrections a accidental erstwhile it turned retired to beryllium a full disappointment (shocking). I astir apt wouldn’t person adjacent finished that movie connected a 55-inch TV, but astatine slightest with my 120-inch setup, I could bask the visuals.

Yes, I spent astir $5,000 connected my location theatre setup. If I’m being honest, arsenic costly arsenic they are, I won’t recoup my costs successful movie theatre tickets alone. Right now, if I wanted to spot a movie with my family, I could easy walk $100 connected the night. Just checking in astatine AMC, I tin spot that tickets for the 4 of america outgo a whopping $83 earlier the snacks. I’ll person to skip 50 movies to adjacent the cost.

But I get a batch much retired of my setup than conscionable movies; I besides ticker TV shows, play games, and occasionally hook up my laptop oregon show photos. I utilized to bask the movie theatre acquisition erstwhile successful a while; now, I get it each day, and it’s fantastic.

Most tellingly of all, though, is my wife. She was against purchasing the projector initially, adjacent though she had seen however large it was erstwhile we had a reappraisal unit. But erstwhile she saw maine penning this article, she suggested it could beryllium a batch shorter. She said, “just write, ‘yes, it is’ past publish.” It’s hard to reason with that.

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