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4K HDR LCD TV vs 4K HDR projector: Which is best?

Fancy some 4K HDR home entertainment but not sure whether a UHD projector or LCD television is best? Here's our projector vs TV comparison guide to help you decide.

The battle for your home entertainment space is well and truly on, as televisions get bigger and better, boasting funky technology such as HDR compatibility and 4K resolution visuals. But to make the choice even tougher, better-than-cinema quality projectors are now affordable enough to sit in your lounge. Both offer HDR and Ultra HD support, so the question is, which is best for you?

The main advantage that projectors had over televisions was picture size, but now that you can buy a TV that's as big as Uncle Roger's beer gut for less than a grand, that benefit is moot. And when you factor in brightness levels and pricing, it might seem like projectors are beaten by modern televisions.

Here’s what you need to know about the head-to-head between the latest 4K HDR projectors and 4K HDR televisions.

4K HDR LCD TV vs 4K HDR projector: Brightness and contrast

Brightness is near impossible to compare here as a number value, as projectors are measured in lumens (i.e. the amount of light reflected off a surface), while TVs are measured in nits (i.e. the amount of light given off directly by the screen). When you factor in wall colour, room darkness and other variables, the question of light becomes even more murky.

What it comes down to then is contrast, or the variation between light and dark. Top-end TVs like LG’s Signature OLED churn out near 600 nits but, crucially, scale all the way down to 0.0005 nits, meaning light areas are nice and bright while dark areas look pleasingly black. Meanwhile top-end affordable home projectors like the Epson Pro Cinema 6040UB kick out about 2,500 lumens, while once again offering a contrast ratio of around 1,000,000:1. So the picture will look quite similar to a TV's output.

But for the greatest contrast variation, an OLED television will trump most other TVs as well as projectors.

4K HDR LCD TV vs 4K HDR projector: Picture size

It’s hard to beat a projector when it comes to picture size. Top-end units can beam an enormous viewing space onto your wall, while still offering strong clarity thanks to their 4K resolution. That's something that plenty of cinemas can’t even manage on those mighty screens.

Sure, televisions are bigger than ever and larger 65-inch screens are now actually affordable too. But then the argument of which is best, TV or projector, comes down to space. If you want a massive screen but can’t fit a TV of that size in your lounge, then perhaps an out-of-the-way ceiling mounted projector is the way to go.

4K HDR LCD TV vs 4K HDR projector: Colours

Thanks to the invention of HDR, most TVs and projectors now support over one billion colours, a big jump up from the standard 16 million that non-HDR screens manage. That means 100 percent of the DCI-P3 colour gamut can be reproduced for a cinema-like range of colour.

In normal speak, wide-ranging colours means more realistic skin tones, something the brain picks up on very subtly. You’ll only really notice how good it is when you go back to a non-HDR screen and realise how fake the skins tones appear.

Since both TVs and projectors are highly capable in this area, victory comes down to the brightness levels behind those colours, which adds to the realistic visuals. We’d argue that OLED and SUHD are still some of the best platforms in this regard, but some may prefer the crisper bright colours a projector can offer.

4K HDR LCD TV vs 4K HDR projector: Price and verdict

If you want to get a projector that’s able to produce the kind of brightness, colours and resolution that a top end TV can manage, you’re going to have to dig deep. They’re really not cheap.

While top end OLED TVs will set you back around £3,000, a 4K and HDR projector is going to push that up to nearer the £5,000 mark.

The main advantage that projectors have over TVs is their space-saving nature and the size of image that they can produce. If you want a cinema-style experience in your home, or your living space is compact, then consider grabbing one. Else, a TV is going to produce images just as strong for less cash.

Read next:

Best HDR TVs you can buy right now

Best 4K streamer: Amazon Chromecast vs Roku vs Nvidia Shield TV

Best Ultra HD movies you can watch right now

 

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