Guide to buying a home media projector

May 1, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. ET

Whether you’re a movie buff or a heavy television watcher, adding a home media projector to your media room will enhance the viewing experience, but there is a long list of specifics to consider before making the big, pricey projector purchase. Here are a few tips to make sure you make the best buy.

Projecter in home theater

1Look for lumens

Depending on where you plan on using your home media projector, you need to look for the number of "lumens," a measure of the power of light perceived by the human eye. According to the projector sellers at, the brighter the room, the more lumens you'll need. A dark, dedicated media room will need fewer lumens because less light will interfere with the picture. If you have a home theatre, 1,000 lumens should do the job. If you plan on putting your projector in a room with a lot of natural light, look for 2,000 lumens or more to get the sharpest image.


Looking for the appropriate projector resolution can be confusing, but there are just a few basic things you should know. First, there are two different types of resolutions -- WVGA and WXGA-H. WXGA-H resolution is twice that of WVGA. From there, it's all about personal preference. A sharper picture with WXGA-H projector means a heavier price tag. A little cost/benefit analysis will help with your decision.

3Choose the correct cables

DVI and HDMI cables carry the high definition video through the projector and onto the screen. Choosing the appropriate cables for your system and needs is an important step. These are the cables of the future, unlike component cables, which will likely be outdated in a few years. Get the best video quality with future technology now.

4Think about future costs

Buying a home projector isn't just a one-time cost. The lamp inside the system will last somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 hours and will cost between $200 and $400 to replace. Identifying this future expense will help prevent a projector black-out in the future.

5Try the projector out in THE store

Make sure the projector is for you by trying it out in the store. Ensure you know how to operate it and how it works. Get a good idea of how large the projector will be and where to place it in your home for the highest impact.

6Look at reviews

Before pulling the trigger on that big projector purchase, look at the reviews of the product on sites like Amazon. Listen to what people are saying about the product and decide whether their complaints are ones you can deal with, or if you should keep shopping around.

More tips for family media rooms

Best furniture for your movie room
Must-have electronics for your media room
How to set up a movie room on a budget