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Home Theater Hacks by Brett McLaughlin

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Hack #14. Avoid Cheap Projectors

One of the more difficult decisions you'll encounter in the evolution of your home theater is whether you should add a projection system to replace your television. However, this isn't always a matter of adding quality; sometimes you're trading picture depth for picture size. Make sure you understand the difference between a better picture and a bigger one.

Although it's true that throwing a movie picture onto a huge screen in your theater makes you look cool, the picture might sometimes suffer as a result. Before buying any old projector just to brag to your buddies, make sure you're getting something that's going to perform better than the TV you've already got.

The Players

One of the first things to take note of is the differences between display technologies. Here's the basic rundown.

Cathode-ray tube (CRT)

One of the earliest types of front projection technology, CRT uses the same scanning electron beam technology used in old-fashioned picture tubes to create the video image. In the case of CRT projection, the projector increases the light output to project an image across a distance onto a screen. CRT display is an analog process, meaning it is not locked into a specific display resolution like a digital display, which is based on a fixed number of pixels. The only display limits on a CRT display concern how fast the electron beam can draw (called the sync or refresh rate).

You probably have seen a CRT projector in a conference room or your favorite ...

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