Two projectors are more than the sum of its parts


If you're thinking of buying a projector, think of buying two rather. Here's why...

Toby Kurien articles home theater projector

If you're thinking of buying a projector, think of buying two rather. Here's why...

Long before Plasma and LCD TVs were around, the biggest picture I could have hoped for would have been from a 74cm TV. Pthewy. That kind of middling size didn´t catch my interest, never mind the fact that the monstrosity of a TV would have taken up way too much space in my single-room bachelor pad. So I bought a projector instead.

Lying on your back in your bed, and watching a movie on your ceiling is one of those rare pleasures you can only get from a portable projector. Bliss. Especially when all you have is a bedroom. But that kind of spoils you. Now you want a bigger picture...

Eventually, what I´d secretly hoped for happened. The lamp blew. When faced with such a calamity, there is only ONE solution - buy a bigger, better projector! And so I did. The new projector had a zoom lens and much higher resolution, allowing me to view movies on a 2 meter wide screen (actually a white wall). That´s plenty of inches for any man, right? Wrong!

There are several problems with such a setup. For one, you need to max out the zoom and distance of projector from the wall to get a big enough picture. This leads to the second problem: you need a big enough room. Not a heck of a lot you can do about that. Don´t get me wrong though, I am eternally grateful to the significant other for letting me have this room in the first place!

In your relentless pursuit of more inches, you will have diminished the picture quality in several ways: the larger picture leads to less densely packed pixels, meaning you could actually see individual pixels; the brightness of the picture diminishes with the larger size; and the colours wash out a bit more. And the final kick in the nuts: for all that screen space, your widescreen movie only uses a fraction of it, cropping the rest with black bars. Colour me disappointed.

Giant screen

Enter a second projector. Granted, the setup can be very tricky, especially if you don´t already have a home theater PC with a decent enough graphics card. Luckily, I have just such a thing. Okay, it didn´t magically appear in my home theater, I custom build it. I´m handy like that. After plugging in the second projector, and then spanning the desktop across both, I was able to play videos across both projectors. Luckily for me, both my projectors were of the same make, so I had one remote to rule them all. The trickiest part is to line up the projectors perfectly so that the picture is seamless. You also have to adjust colour and brightness on both projectors to get an even picture. It can be a bit unnerving to see Nicole Kidman take on a green hue as she walks across the screen. I didn't bother with these though - another problem for another time.

The difference that the second projector makes is huge, so to speak. In order to accommodate the gargantuan picture, you have to reduce the size of each screen by reducing the zoom on both projectors. Suddenly, those pixels get all warm and cozy. So much so that you can't distinguish individual pixels anymore, and all you see is glorious high resolution and sharp picture. The brightness also goes up, and the colour saturation improves. Since the screens are side-by-side, you have a nice wide screen that suits those 16:9 aspect ratios beautifully. No more black bars. Instead of the entire picture frame taking up a portion of one screen, it now spans two full screens. That's about a four-fold increase in effective picture size! The picture is now so big and wide that you have to pan your eyes and head around to take it all in. Orgasmic.

Giant screen 2

So surely, this is it? The ultimate home theater? Well, sadly, no. Technology progresses. Suddenly, that 480p DVD quality picture doesn't look quite so high res anymore. You can see more craters on the moon with your naked eye than on a close-up of Lawrence Fishburne's face. Enough to give you sleepless nights. Enter high definition video. And full high definition projectors with 1080p widescreen output. Now my setup looks inadequate. Projectors have become cheap though. I can now get a DLP projector for the price of the replacement bulb on my old projector. So I could get 3 projectors of 1024x768 resolution, and stand them on their side next to each other, giving me an output of 2304x1024. Not quite 1080p, but maybe this 3 projector setup can restore my manhood while I wait for prices on the full HD projectors to drop?