Today, we enjoy images and videos of incredible fidelity thanks to high-performance displays. Modern projectors, in particular, offer a range of choices that fit different lifestyles and needs.

Stream the latest blockbuster on a massive seven-plus metre display, impress clients with a sharp yet compact presentation setup, or add some zest to an event or party with background projections.

Projectors precede televisions and other display technologies – the first projector arrived in the mid-1800s! This technology evolved slowly for most of the 20th century, allowing other options to surpass it. Then, around two decades ago, modern technologies and improvements delivered a new generation of projectors that cover a wide range of display jobs, from travel to expert home theatres, at very affordable prices.

“The projector market has evolved incredibly since the turn of the century. Top models easily compare to 4K televisions, and there are many different options available for various uses and budgets,” says Riaad Mangera, product business unit lead at Acer Africa.

Modern projectors enhance their most famous trait – large displays – with many new features. Top models can project at Ultra-HD 4K resolutions with enhancements such as high dynamic range (HDR). Business people and students carry portable projectors in their bags for impressive presentations and on-demand displays.

Yet choosing a projector can be a baffling experience. What are the primary things to know?

Let’s start with your needs:

  • What is your budget? Projector prices can range from that of a small screen to a very big television.
  • What image quality suits you? The projector’s resolution determines how crisp and clean its display is; higher resolutions usually cost more.
  • How much space do you have? Look at a projector’s throw ratio, the distance between the projector and screen; some projectors require a lot of space.
  • How will you connect to the projector? Connection options include AV cables, HDMI, VGA and USB, and wifi and network cables.
  • Do you need portability? Depending on its size and other features, a projector can stay installed in one spot, move around the house or office, or travel with you.
  • How easy is it to use? Most projectors have a remote control; some offer an app or web interface via wifi.

You can start browsing options once you understand what you want from a projector. But projectors use a lot of jargon. What are the descriptions you should look for?

  • Display types: This is the most essential difference between different projectors. Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors use tiny mirrors to create high-quality visuals; they are excellent for large and colourful displays. LCOS and Laser projectors also offer fantastic visual quality but are more expensive. LCD and LED projectors have slightly lower visual quality but are more affordable and require less power.
  • Short and Ultra-Short throw: A projector’s ‘throw’ is the distance between it and the surface it displays on. Short throw projectors need much less space than standard projectors, and ultra-short throw models can practically sit next to the wall they display on.
  • Lumens: A way to measure light, the amount of lumens you need will depend on the size and quality of the display. For example, a home theatre or conference projector can range between 3,000 and 4,500 lumens, while portable projectors can work with as little as 300 to 800 lumens.
  • Home theatre projector: A projector specifically designed for home theatres will offer excellent image, colour and contrast performance with excellent refresh rates. They are best for high-quality movies and gaming.
  • Business projector: A projector marketed for business belongs in conference rooms. While they don’t always match the quality of home theatre projectors, they often include value-added features such as built-in speakers and USB ports.

Modern projectors are affordable, versatile and portable. Create a theatre-quality experience at home, wow meetings with an attractive portable projector, travel with a battery-powered projector, and so much else is possible with the right projector.