7 Best 4k Projectors | April 2017
- includes a smartphone app
- focus is razor sharp
- pixel shifting not true 4k
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- very smooth gradations
- auto isf color calibration
- sleek and compact housing
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- thx-certified surround sound
- lots of calibration options
- uses e-shift to replicate 4k
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- works well in rooms of all sizes
- accepts 4k mastered blu-ray discs
- blacks aren't super deep
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- produces the entire srgb color range
- rich deep blacks
- motorized lens adjustments
|Model||Home Cinema 5040UB|
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
- supports hd to 4k upscaling
- easy auto calibration function
- smartly placed forward-facing fan
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
In Digital Projection Mirrors Make The Difference
That image of a very fine grid of squares you're looking at is blown up 500 times its original size. Those bulges aren't any kind of damage to the surface of the squares; they're particles of dust.
Each square is about 5µm (that's the symbol for micrometer, and in case you're wondering it's option-M on a Mac. Sorry PC users, you'll have to look that one up yourselves), and a micrometer is one millionth of a meter. So, it's small.
For digital projection in the modern age, this field of extremely tiny mirrors is the very heart by which a projector's quality lives or dies, and it's referred to as the Digital Micromirror Device, or DMD.
It's tempting to assume that for each pixel there should be a mirror, but that's too romantic a notion, and these are scientists we're talking about here. Thanks to a wonderfully named phenomenon called wobulation, projectors only need one mirror for about every other pixel, and the human eye can't tell the difference in what's projected.
Wobulation essentially allows projectors to only supply you with half of the necessary visual information of a frame as it's built across the screen. By the time the second half of the picture begins to fill in, we're already on to the next frame, and your eye never catches up.
Don't feel slighted, though. Remember that the image you're seeing projected up on the wall is a series of stills passing by in such a way and at such a speed that you can't tell it isn't moving.
Home Sweet Home Theater
2015 was a good year for the movies, with 29 films grossing over one hundred million dollars domestically.
Many of these titles were long-awaited reboots of beloved franchises like Star Wars and Jurassic Park or continuations of very lucrative contemporary properties like Avengers, Hunger Games, and Furious 7.
Projections don't look as promising for 2016, and with rising or consistent sales in the home theater sector, the future of the movie theater is uncertain.
That uncertainty leads, unfortunately, to a steep rise in ticket and concession prices. I'm going to get on my geriatric soap box here and say that when I was a boy, it cost $3.50 to get into the movies, and if you kept your ticket stub you could come back all day. Popcorn was $1.50 for a large, and Whoppers–the king of movie foods in general and malted milk balls in particular (I'm talking to you, Milk Duds lovers)–cost $1.25. I don't remember what soda cost because I always smuggled in my own.
Nowadays, all that put together wouldn't even get you a popcorn, let alone get you in the door to see a film. So, more and more people are upgrading their home systems to provide them with the kind of movie going experience they used to look for down on Main Street.
Which isn't to say these projectors are only for movie lovers. TV broadcasts look fantastic on them, especially when played on those units with an upscaling feature to make the most of your 1080p HD streams while we wait for the market and local internet speeds to catch up to 4K resolution. And gamers absolutely love a good projector for the available depth of detail in its blacks.
Some projectors will handle games better than others, and some are more perfect for high resolution cinema print transfers. Know what you want to use your projector for going into the purchase, and you'll get the most out it for years.
Projection Born In Darkness
Take the idea of a periscope, or a child's toy spy glass that lets you see around corners, and you have an idea of how the camera obscura works. Those two examples rely on an eyepiece, where the original designs of the camera obscura let their mirrors reflect the image onto a flat plane or into a larger viewing area as pictured.
Really, if you follow the path that light travels through a modern digital projector, not a whole lot has changed. We're just using more concentrated, more powerful light sources, inverting the initial image so that it appears upright when projected, and we have an enormous amount of microscopic little mirrors instead of one single mirror that sends the image through precision lenses.
It's been two and a half millennia, and we're still deriving great joy from light in a box!