Guest post from Mr. LivNews. Long time listener, first time caller.
You want to know how to install a projector at home for less than $1,000 so you can watch movies from your couch? I love films, but going to see one is a pain, expensive and usually involves holding it in as you wait to find out in hour 12 of Avengers 5 if Mr. Rogers really did murder Robert De Niro (spoilers).
Big screen, no talking (other than my highly-necessary peanut gallery commentary) AND pausing the movie to get a drink? Sign me up.
Step one: Space
Evaluate your space. You will need at least 12 feet between your couch and the wall it is facing. If not, get a small TV because I’m no expert but that can’t be good for your eyes. You also need to make sure that the connections for cable, Apple TV, etc. are accessible from where the projector will be placed (usually opposite where you would mount a TV). This can simply mean grabbing some extra-long cables to run from the wall to the projector.
Step two: Lighting
We don’t generally watch TV during the day (and having a projector ensures we don’t waste time doing just that), so the fact that our living room isn’t completely dark in full sunlight doesn’t bother us (Los Angeles living – yes, this is a brag). We use a $600 projector with 3,000 lumens of brightness, which works pretty well during the day and looks spectacular at night. If you think you’ll want to watch a lot TV during the day (no judgment *cough* *cough*), you might want to pick a projector with at least 5,000 lumens of brightness.
Step 3: Projector
There are a lot of companies that make projectors, so it comes down to what you want to prioritize and how much you want to spend. The key things to look for are Lumens/brightness (as mentioned above), 4k vs 1080 vs 720 resolution (I recommend going with 1080 or 4k to be able to maximize screen size without image loss) and the ability to set the picture within the projected image. Unless you want to spend hours trying to get the image to fit your screen with some arcane system setting, make sure your projector is adjustable/customizable without physically moving the body of the device.
Adding that last point for a friend. Obviously I didn’t spend hours in an abyss of existential angst cursing into the heavens as I set ours up myself with the “keystone” option (I’ll see you in hell keystone).
Step 4: Wall vs Screen
Will a projector work on a white wall? Yes. Will a projector work better on a screen? [Ferris Bueller 80’s Voice] oooooh yeah, chicka chickaaa [link to reference: here]. They are not expensive, and if you go through the trouble of setting one up, it makes a big difference in the contrast between darks and lights.
Step 5: Sound
Most projectors do not have good sound quality output. It’s worth getting an extra set of speakers. You can scale up to a full surround sound system, but we use a $150 soundbar and sub-woofer and it works great. Neighbors love it.
Step 6: Mounting the Projector
If you have a shelf or something similar opposite your wall, that works well as a placement and saves you wall mount drilling. Adjusting the image of the projection also means you can pretty much place it anywhere, and then customize it to fill your screen.
However, there are also a lot of cheap wall mounts for projectors that work well. Before I drilled the first hole in the wall to install the mount, I called Olivia over to watch because I was sure I’d slip and drill out half of the wall. 15 minutes later I was casually drilling holes left and right and still had all my fingers! Mount installed. P.S. This page may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information.
TL;DR Projectors are awesome and can be cheap and easy to install.