Home Theater 101: The Basics of Screens and Projectors


What to Think about When Choosing a Home Theater Display

We’d venture to say that when people think about a new home theater, the first thought might be about what type of screen they envision and how big it can be. It makes sense; a big screen is a large part of the cinematic experience. Fortunately, the options for large screens continue to multiply, enabling you to have a small home theater in your bedroom and a huge one in a dedicated room, with both providing an exceptional viewing experience.

To get you started thinking about your home cinema, we’ve put together a basic Q&A about home theater screens. While this blog can start your thinking about options, the best way to choose the ideal display is to partner with a home theater company like Malibu Wired, which can do everything from design to installation in your West Hollywood, CA home. Keep reading below to learn more about home theater displays and screens.

SEE ALSO: What Can a Home Theater Company Do for You?

What Size Screen?

While everyone would like the largest possible screen for home cinema, there are some rules of thumb to optimize screen size and viewing distance. For example, THX, which certifies performance standards for audio and video equipment, recommends that the viewing distance be .84 multiplied by the diagonal screen size. For instance, with an 86-inch flat panel, an optimal distance would be about 72 inches, or six feet away. You can, of course, sit farther away and have a good experience, but this one considers today's high-resolution screens and an immersive field of view. This is only one way of calculating viewing distances; there are other models!

Are Flat-Panel TVs Good for Home Theater?

The answer is yes, depending on the room size, viewing distance, and ambient light. Flat panels are bright and may be a great choice in rooms where some light is coming in from windows. While we recommend blackout motorized window treatments in these spaces, we understand that sometimes home theater entertainment is not just for films in a completely darkened room. OLED TVs offer superb color, contrast, and brightness in darker environments, and so do the best high-end LED TVs. When looking at screens above 100 inches in size for a more traditional home theater experience, projectors are more flexible and make more sense.

What Should I Know About Projectors?

The answer here is a lot! But to break it down, at a minimum you want a projector with native 4K resolution and HDR. 4K resolution came later to projectors than flat-panel TVs (which are already coming out with 8K at the high end), and the first models simulated 4K with pixel-shifting technology. Projectors now are commonly available with 4K and HDR, the latter highly valuable for getting the best color and contrast for images that really pop. Whether streaming from Netflix or Blu-ray discs, today's content is taking advantage of HDR technology for more lifelike picture quality.

How Much Brightness Do I Need from the Screen?

Brightness needs may depend on your viewing preferences, content, and the ambient light in your home theater. A traditional home theater will be a room that can be fully darkened, either by blackout window treatments or more typically designed with no windows at all. In darker environments, incredible high brightness may not be as much of a factor for excellent picture quality. But if your room has ambient light, you'll want a high brightness projector and perhaps a light-absorbing or rejecting screen so that you can watch football on your big screen without total darkness. If it's a smaller space and you use a large flat panel display, in daytime situations with some light, you might want a very high brightness display like some LED models offer.

What’s an easier way to get the right screen for your home cinema? As one of the premier home theater companies in Los Angeles, Malibu Wired can help. Contact us by giving us a call, filling out our online contact form, or chatting with an expert in the pop-up window below to schedule a no-obligation consultation. We look forward to working with you!

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