Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Projector vs Plasma

A few months ago, my SIM2 HT300HD projector stopped working. My first instinct was to get it fixed, but when the quote arrived, I realised that I could buy a new projector for a similar price. When I purchased it (over 6 years ago) it was a state-of-the-art unit, producing a beautiful 1280 x 720 pixel image, but things have moved on since then, and prices have also plummeted.

I was offered a 1920 x 1080 InFocus IN81 projector to try out. I hooked it up to a Playstation 3 via an HDMI cable (and a digital optical cable to my AV receiver) and within minutes I had a crisp, bright image projected onto my screen, and even though I only had conventional DVDs to play on it, there was a huge improvement in brightness and definition.

I'd have to spend a few hours with a profiling DVD before I passed final judgement on the colour quality, but even 'out of the box' it is perfectly acceptable. Oh, and it is much, much quieter than the SIM2.

Two games came 'bundled' with the PS3, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Resistance: Fall of Man. According to reviews (and my kidz) the former is a good game, the latter is not. Brook began Uncharted on the 50" plasma screen before switching to the projector. The consensus was that the game was more involving and fun using the projector than on the plasma (so much so that he played the game throughout the night, completing it around 4.30am).

I think the difference is not simply that the image is larger, but that it is more relaxing to watch. Plasma/LCD screens have a glossy layer of glass between you and the image, the projected image does not. And the mild 'mushing' effect of the projector screen softens the harshness of the digital image without removing too much detail.

Of course a projector and screen set-up is more costly than a comparable 50" plasma/LCD screen, siting of the projector can be an issue, and bulbs are costly when they die.

However, if projector prices continue to fall, there may come a time when they become a more realistic option, especially as the screen can be rolled out of the way when not in use, leaving the room uncluttered by a large slab of glass and metal.

1 comment:

Mr Chops said...

I'd love to try gaming on a projector at home but they're still out of my reach price-wise. We used to have the PS2 at work hooked up to a projector and it was good in low light. I actually opted for an LCD TV over a plasma because the plasma had a gloss screen and seemed to have more glare - much like a CRT, whereas the LCD was more relaxing but still a crisp picture.