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The Battle of the (Home Theater) Big Screens: TV vs. Projector

Battle of the Big Screens

Tonight’s main event puts two home theater mainstays head-to-head in a competition of great entertainment wonder.  When building your perfect home theater do you go with a large screen, flat-panel television or an authentic projector and screen set up? Let’s put them in a ring and let the best screen win.

We’re going compare the best selling television (over 60 inches) to the best selling projector on Abt.com.  All prices will be from Abt.com because, well,  there isn’t a better price out there and great customer service is invaluable. Ok – pitch over, let’s get ready to…I can’t finish the rest without having to pay someone.

In this corner, at just over three inches thick, weighing 121 pounds,  and rocking a black bezel – the Sharp Aquos 80” LCD HDTV.

The contender, just 17 inches long and 5 inches tall, with a 50,000:1 contrast ratio and a 100 inch projection size – the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 Projector.

Let’s keep this fight fair – Please keep everything above the power supply…alright…let’s get it on.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Round 1: Cost

The most economic-relevant factor, cost is always on your mind.  The Sharp TV costs around $5000 and doesn’t require the purchase of extra components – maybe an HDMI cable.

The projector costs $1,296 and also requires a projector screen. While a painted wall will work, a special screen will give you much better results. We’ll use the highly rated Draper HD Onyx Series 106” fixed projection screen for $1,349 – bringing out total to $2,645 for the projector and screen. The projector’s bulb is said to give around 4000 hours of usage but, let’s add in one replacement bulb for good measure at $299, bring our grand total to $2,944.

Round Winner: Projector ($2,056 difference)

The TV costs around $62.20 per viewing inch, while the projector only costs around $30 per viewing inch – giving it the better cost per inch ratio. While it does require a few extra purchases, the entire projector set up is still well under the cost of the 80″ flat screen.

Round 2: Size

When shopping for a home theater piece, we don’t pick the 19” TV on sale. Instead, we find the biggest screen for our money so we can replicate a true silver-screen experience as best as possible. Which competitor is the biggest?

The TV is obviously 80 inches from corner to corner giving you a very well backlit display; however, the projector will give you a 100 inch display, corner to corner.

Winner: Projector

With 20 extra inches for more sports, action, and gaming, the projector screen brings the cinema feel to your home theater.

Round 3: Picture

In my opinion, the second most important factor behind price. A large screen means nothing if there isn’t solid picture quality to back it up. They both have 1080p resolution, so they can display the highest quality of movies, television, and gaming content available. However, the contrast ratio that defines the dark from the light on the screen is a bit one-sided – the TVs whopping 4,000,000:1 ratio crushes the projectors 50,000:1 giving viewers increased clarity and vividness of picture on the TV.  Furthermore, the backlighting of the television will give a brighter, more intense display of color than the projector’s abilities.

Also, the projector needs a dark room to truly shine while the TV can display great picture in pretty much every room in the house.

Winner: TV

Hands down, the technology inside this flat screen is leaps and bounds ahead of the projector. The picture on the TV will be brighter, clearer and overall better than the projector in every room in the house.

Round 4: Features & Connectivity

The icing on the cake for all home theater products are the features available that accentuate the entire experience. While we do enjoy watching our favorite films in high-definition on huge screens, features and connections make the entire experience more enjoyable and can broaden the devices usage possibilities as well.

The projector doesn’t really have any features. It has an energy efficient lamp and two HDMI ports to connect your TV/Cable box/DVR and a Blu-ray or DVD player. There are audio inputs to connect your sound system as well.

On the complete opposite of the spectrum, the TV  has Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to stream custom selected movies and other content based on your tastes. It also has a specific video game mode that reduces buffering. As for connections, you have a 4 HDMI inputs for all your components and video game consoles, as well as audio, PC, and Ethernet inputs to connect your audio system and anything else. There are also USB inputs so you can connect your flash drive or hard drive to view movies and photos, or play music – all through your TV.

Winner: TV (by far)

With the wealth of smart features and connections available, the TV gives a more rounded experience outside of just home theater viewing. The streaming option gives users access to a variety of content for an inexpensive subscription and adds more value to the TV over the projector.


In this battle of home theater centerpieces, the TV edges out the projector with its extra available internet features and screen flexibility.  Because you must have a room dark enough to accommodate the projector’s screen, you are limited as to where you can set up your home theater. The backlighting in the TV give it perfect picture anywhere there is a wall outlet.

Keep in mind, the screen size and cost of a projection set up are both larger and cheaper, respectively, so it’s not worth counting out of your home theater equation.

In the end it comes down to what you want and need. Biggest screen and authentic silver-screen experience comes from the projector but, modern internet features and consistently perfect picture make the Sharp TV stand out.

What do you think? Which do you think is better for a home theater? Comment away.

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