Today’s TVs are undeniably getting bigger, and a 75-inch screen can certainly create some impressively big images in the home.
Even at that size, however, you’re still a fair distance from a real cinematic experience: to truly achieve the latter at home, you really want a picture that’s over 100-inches in size or, ideally, stretches up to a massive 130 inches – that’s the size of four 65-inch TVs combined!
While that size is impossible to achieve with TV technology (at least at anything short of taking out a second mortgage), 100-inches is the size where today's projectors take over, and can deliver cinematic image sizes that create true entertainment immersion.
Until quite recently, home projectors were largely bulky and expensive units that were difficult to set up, often requiring ceiling-mounting, specialist help to adjust them properly, and a separate sound system to deliver the audio.
In the last couple of years, however, most of these fiddly aspects have been minimised or resolved, making now the perfect time to consider a projector for your home.
In the run up to Christmas one major retailer, The Good Guys, is out to become your online and in-store projection destination, showing how these new technologies, smaller projectors and even battery operation are transforming projection into something more practical and price-effective, while still delivering those thrilling wall-filling movies – and sound too.
Ultra short throw: ultra-big images!
One key advance in simplifying big-screen viewing at home has been the rise of Ultra Short Throw (UST) projection. This lets you turn your lounge into a cinema without the need to plonk a huge projector in the middle of the room, or attached to the ceiling.
Instead new lens types and laser light sources allow Ultra Short Throw projectors to sit close to the wall itself, shining the light straight up to deliver high-resolution, clear and bright big-screen images without the need for cables across the room or sight lines being broken when someone heads out to refill the popcorn.
Even better, the top manufacturers are including audio systems and smart operation in the projectors themselves, so they can stream TV and movie services directly, so that the complete entertainment experience comes from just one unobtrusive unit.
Great for room-friendly, big-screen viewing: Samsung The Premiere
Samsung’s compact and stylish ‘The Premiere’ is a UST design that sits close to the wall yet delivers full 4K/Ultra High Definition on your wall up to a massive 130 inches in size.
The light source is no old-style projection lamp which dims over time and requires replacement. The Premiere uses lasers – three of them in the LSP9T model, extending expected lifespan up to 20,000 hours of use (that’s two movies a night for 18 years) and delivering 2800 lumens of brightness. For gamers there’s a Game Enhancer option which optimises colour and contrast while keeping lag time down.
Two things transform The Premiere from mere projector to a complete entertainment solution.
First is a 4.2-channel audio system, built-in like a soundbar, so there’s no need for an external sound system to be added.
Second is Samsung’s Smart TV platform, so that The Premiere works like a TV, not a dumb projector. It’s ready to stream Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, YouTube, Stan and more right out of the box, with a host of other apps available. Mobile connectivity is fast and simple with ‘tap to connect’ for playback from a phone.
There are even multiple voice assistants available – including Alexa and Samsung’s own Bixby. This is big-screen entertainment with the lot.
Great for the full package: Hisense Laser Short-Throw Projector TV
Hisense has also harnessed Ultra Short Throw technology to deliver bigscreen 4K images from an all-in-one unit that uses a long-life laser light source, which is calibrated to the same standards the company applies to its successful ULED televisions, and using the same image processing to achieve smooth motion and depth in detail from High Dynamic Range.
The Hisense projector again includes its own built-in sound system, here capable of Dolby Atmos audio delivery, all coming from the unit’s neat position, tucked against your wall.
But Hisense here also delivers a fully unified solution, pairing its projector with the perfect screen for the job – a 100-inch Ambient Light Rejecting screen that comes included with the purchase. The ability of a screen to enhance image brightness should not be underestimated, particularly when the screen is specially designed to reject ambient light from the rest of the room.
That makes the Hisense solution ideal for big-screen entertainment in lighter rooms, even potentially during daylight hours.
The portable projection revolution
Another technology that has transformed big-screen projection entertainment is portability. With smaller projectors that can be easily moved, their images quickly optimised, you can shift them around the home using either mains or battery power, take them on holiday, or surprise friends by turning up with your own portable big-screen movie theatre in a box.
Those offering battery operation allow you to take them outside to light up a wall or a tent with big-screen entertainment and some level of built-in audio.
These smaller projectors generally have lower resolution and brightness than larger models, but their advantage lies in their compact design, making them more versatile, while their lower prices bring them into special gift territory for the movie fan in your life.
A home cinema projector and smart speaker in one: Samsung's The Freestyle
Perhaps designed with the intention of making projectors as approachable as possible, Samsung's The Freestyle is ready to go within minutes of being taken out of the box, offering Full HD projection at up to 100 inches in size.
Looking a bit like a small spotlight, The Freestyle brings Samsung's smart TV experience to any surface you point it at, meaning all of your favourite apps and streaming services can projected in an instant – all you need is a Wi-Fi connection.
Conveniently, The Freestyle can be placed practically anywhere thanks to Digital Keystone Correction, which automatically adjusts your picture to provide a perfectly squared image, even when projected onto angled surfaces. Its auto-levelling feature means you can even place it on uneven ground and still get a perfectly straight image.
In terms of portability, The Freestyle is small and light enough to be carried and used anywhere. Though it's primarily intended for use with a power outlet, The Freestyle can also be used with a compatible power bank, which makes it quite handy for outdoor settings. Additionally, The Freestyle brings Bixby smart speaker functionality with omni-directional 360˚ sound, so you should be able to hear it no matter where you sit.
The Freestyle is available for preorder now and as a special bonus includes a genuine Samsung travel case via redemption, valued at AU$99.
Great for Android TV projection portability: Philips NeoPix & PicoPix
Philips has two ranges of mini models, called its NeoPix and PicoPix projectors. All use long-life LED light sources that promise rich colours and long life of up to 30,000 hours, while they offer a variety of ways to connect multimedia devices, storage and streaming to get the entertainment writ large on the big screen.
The NeoPix models start at remarkable pricing, and include mains-powered mini projectors rising from 480p resolution and 65-inch potential screen sizes up to full-HD 1080p delivery and up to 100 inches. They also simplify placement and set-up, thanks to easy focus and keystone adjustment of the image, while you can use the DSP-tuned built-in speakers or attach the minijack audio output to headphones or an external sound system.
The top NeoPix Ultra2 model adds Wi-Fi and the Android TV interface to directly access and stream full-HD entertainment without the need for any external signal connections – an impressively neat and smart projection solution.
Philips PicoPix projector design has been described as the “smallest, mightiest, and most nomadic projector ever built”. A key advantage is the inclusion of built-in battery power, freeing you to take your bigscreen entertainment outside to enjoy the PicoPix’s combined light projection and in-built stereo speakers. You can connect streaming devices, PCs, gaming consoles and more, while the higher model can again use a Wi-Fi connection to deliver content from its own onboard Android TV platform – and all this from a unit less than 14cm wide. The PicoPix is tiny, mighty, and smart!
Best for cool and portable projection: Anker Nebula Capsule
Projection has never looked so cool as the Capsule – it’s the size of a drinks can, yet combines a four-hour battery, 360-degree speaker system and a DLP projection system capable of a 100-inch image, backed by Android 7.1 support to play from your favourite streaming apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and others. It also has inputs for external devices, and can mirror your phone’s screen.
This is the epitome of how projection has changed from big and bulky to small and convenient. With a projector of this size, weighing less than 400g, you can keep the Anker Nebula Capsule in your bag, so you’re ready to go big screen at a moment’s notice.
The Good Guys offers all these projectors and more, both online and in-store – check out the full projector line-up here.
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