4K Projectors vs. 4K TV - Which one is right for you?

Kim Jong By Kim Jong - April 13th, 2021
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If you’re thinking about upgrading your home entertainment, a new 4K TV or 4K projector might be on the horizon for you. No matter which technology you’re looking at, the quality and size of what’s available today has taken home entertainment to an entirely new level. You can now have crystal clear, crisp, detailed images; and a cinema-like experience in your very own home. While both are great options, there are some differences between a 4K TV and a 4K projector that, depending on your needs and preferences, will make one more suitable than the other.

With visuals being a central hub of home entertainment, making the right decision could go a long way in elevating your overall experience. Both 4K TVs and 4K projectors have advantages and disadvantages, and there are specific scenarios where one is better than the other. To help you decide which is best for you, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of each to help with your decision.

Size

If we’re putting it short and straight, projectors would undoubtedly beat TVs in the size department. The price-size ratio is fantastic for those who have vast wall space to fill, with some 4K projectors going up to 300 inches. What’s more is the size is adaptable to match the needs of the room or occasion.

With that being said, there are numerous 4K TVs available that are more than big enough for most consumers. For example, an 85” 4K Smart TV would be far too big for my living room, so I wouldn’t choose a projector for the size advantage. However, the adaptability and immersive experience from being able to fill an entire wall could still be worthwhile to some.

If you’ve got a large room, plenty of wall space to utilize, and/or you’re looking for the ultimate immersive cinematic experience, a 4K projector is the winner here.

Resolution

If outstanding image quality is important to you, then we need to talk about resolution. If you’re looking at a TV with a resolution of 3840 X 2160, that’s a 4K Ultra HD TV - anything less doesn’t count. If it checks that box, you’ll get that super crisp, detailed resolution that you expect from a 4K TV; and luckily, this is pretty easy to come by without having an astronomical price tag.

When it comes to 4K projectors, you’ll have to shop more carefully. This is because some ‘4K projectors’ offer a pseudo 4K resolution through pixel interpolation; these projectors upscale native Full HD to 4K meaning you’re not getting the true experience. If you want true 4K resolution, you’ll need a premium 4K projector such as Samsung’s The Premiere Laser 4K Smart Projector that actually reads and displays at 3840 x 2160.

Screen resolution comparisons
Here is a way to understand how many more pixels you'll be getting at different resolutions.

While both are capable of delivering beautifully crisp and detailed images, a true 4K projector is often more costly than a 4K TV; so from a price-quality standpoint, 4K TVs win. If you’re willing to splash out on a premium 4K projector though, the size advantage offers more real estate to showcase the finer details that come with 4K resolution.

Brightness & Contrast

For a superior movie experience, outstanding brightness and contrast will go a long way. While projectors certainly have the ability to deliver, it’s largely dependent on the light conditions of the room. The more ambient light that’s in a room, the more washed out the picture will become; therefore, to get the best performance out of a projector, you’ll need to ensure that the room is dark. Even in a darkened room, most projectors can't generate the same level of brightness as a 4K TV which undoubtedly performs better in a variety of light conditions.

When it comes to contrast, most premium 4K projectors will be on-par with 4K TVs; with some 4K projectors, such as Samsung’s The Premiere, topping it out with incredible contrast ratios and HDR10+. If you’re looking at OLED TVs though, these always win as OLED blacks are difficult to reproduce.

Colours

Both 4K TVs and 4K projectors are capable of delivering stunningly accurate and vibrant colours. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to say precisely where one might perform better than the other, as it ultimately depends on the models you’re comparing.

The best 4K TVs can produce a wider colour gamut than most consumer projectors, but you’ll likely be shopping in a higher price range as TVs require more effort and better processing to do this. With a wide colour gamut being easier to produce on a 4K HDR projector, there’ll be more consistency across different models here.

Despite both TVs and projectors being pretty equal in the colour department, colours may appear more vibrant on TVs due to the brightness advantage.

Audio Quality

Another important part of home entertainment is audio. All 4K TVs have built-in speakers that are enough for an enjoyable viewing experience. While some models of 4K projectors have speakers, they’re often not the best quality and the position of the projector may also affect the experience. Generally speaking, you’ll need some external speakers to get an enjoyable viewing experience with a projector.

There are exceptions though! Samsung has a reputation for delivering on quality and performance, so as you’d expect, The Premiere 4K Smart Projector is one of the very few projectors where the audio actually excels. With 30 watts of 2.2ch audio built-in, it delivers powerful cinema-quality sound to match the immersive visual experience.

Smart Features

While smart features are pretty normal on 4K TVs, projectors don’t often come with them. That means, unlike 4K Smart TVs, you’d need to connect your projector to other devices to set up your own smart platform or play movies. The main drawback is it creates extra hassle and will always require a bit more effort on your part. While there are bountiful options when it comes to 4K Smart TVs, 4K Smart Projectors are harder to find.

Smart features in the Samsung Projector.
Smart features in the Samsung Projector.

Installation

The quick and easy answer is that TVs are easier and quicker to install than projectors. Aside from just installing the projector itself, you’d need to consider the distance from the projection screen; use power tools if you’re hanging the projector from the ceiling; you’ll likely need to adjust picture sharpness and brightness too. Another potential disadvantage is you might need to invest in a white projection screen, adding more costs and installation efforts.

Some newer projectors - are much easier to install than most as it doesn’t have a bunch of wires to worry about, and it can be placed almost anywhere. 

4K Projectors Overview

The main selling point for 4K projectors is the size. While 4K TVs can go to around 85 inches, some 4K projectors will go up to 300 inches which can deliver a more immersive and cinema-like experience. What’s more, is the display size is adaptable so it can be adjusted to fit the needs of the room or occasion. The increased display real estate also means projectors can better showcase all the details of 4K technology - so long as the projector has a true 4K resolution as opposed to pseudo 4K or ‘4K enhanced’.

4K projectors fall behind TVs when it comes to brightness and contrast. The brightness is often dependent on the ambient light in a room, so you’ll need to ensure the room is dark to get the best performance. If you’re shopping for a home theatre or you always watch in the dark, this likely won’t be an issue for you. If you enjoy watching things with the blinds up or with some light in the room, you’ll have a better experience on a TV that has consistently better brightness in all light conditions.

Other areas projectors often lack in is audio quality and smart features, though certain premium 4K projectors such as Samsung’s The Premiere 4K Smart Projector make these a total non-issue.

4K TVs Overview

4K TVs generally deliver a richer viewing experience at a much more affordable price point. The richer experience often comes in the form of better brightness and contrast (which can also make colours appear more vibrant), greater audio quality, smart features, and a better interface. 4K TVs are also much easier to install than projectors, so depending on the type of user, this could be a very important factor.

Unlike 4K projectors, 4K TVs are more limited in size and you won’t get that same immersive, cinematic experience. For the average household though, the sizes available for 4K TVs is more than enough.

Which one is right for you?

This all depends on what you’re looking for and how much you have to spend. If you’re setting up a home theatre and can afford to splash on a premium 4K projector, you’re definitely going to appreciate the cinema-style experience a projector can provide.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a massive budget; you want clear, rich images even in a well-lit room; and you prefer less hassle, chances are you’ll find that a 4K TV is the better option for you.

Check out the full range of 4K TVs and 4K Projectors!


Written By

Kim Jong

The one from NZ, not NK.

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