Projectors offer an unparalleled option of screen size at their price point, with many 100-inch screen projectors coming in at well under the price of a 55-inch or 65-inch television. But what about for content other than movies and prestige-TV shows? What about normal every-day use: your cable-TV sitcoms and favorite news channels? Are projectors good for that too?
You can absolutely use a projector for normal, everyday TV watching. It won’t hurt the projector (though it may run the bulb life down faster), and it may lead to a better overall TV-watching experience, at a lower price-point than most larger Televisions.
Not only that, but it’s also an undeniable flex to be able to turn your nose up at the Jones’s “curved-65-inch this” or “Samsung quantum dot that.” A projector might be expensive, but it’s no more expensive than even a very large TV. It has much more of a wow-factor in a space, but it’s worth discussing some of the pros and cons in detail, including the fact that projectors are much better for your eyes - as we touched on in our guide.
There are various reasons why using a projector for everyday viewing is either a great idea or a not so great idea. It depends on the room that the projector may be located in, the people watching, and much more!
What’s the best selling, largest TV you can buy on Amazon? At time of writing, the LG 86UM8070PUA 86" 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (on Amazon) takes that crown, and it does it at a price point of nearly two thousand dollars. That’s a serious price, and there’s no question that TV will blow your socks off when it comes to performance, image quality, etc. etc.
But here’s the thing: this TV is still 14% smaller than a 100-in screen, and a projector that can do that will be half the cost. Literally. The XGIMI H2 4K Smart Projector (on Amazon), for example, comes in at less than half the 86” LG TV, and is designed for, not a 100-inch screen, not a 200-inch screen, but a whopping 300-inch diagonal projector screen.
If your goal is big, there’s no question that projectors have the advantage. And if you're already sold, you can check out some of our projector recommendations here, but keep reading to get more on the pros and cons.
The big screen just makes video more compelling. Whether it’s news, sitcoms, or a Blockbuster movie, having a huge screen to watch all of your “normal” content on makes it all feel more engaging. It takes a part of your life--a weekly ritual of watching your favorite shows, perhaps, and elevates that experience to something more substantial.
One surprising advantage is that the larger screen is actually easier on the eyes since it takes up more of your visual field, mimicking the way light in the real world works. If you watch a lot of TV and suffer from eye strain, moving to a projector may actually make those issues go away.
Typical projector bulb lives run around 2000 hours, and that will go quickly if you’re using the projector for every-day TV watching. Specifically, if you’re the type to leave the TV on in the background during your morning prep and then again all evening, you could conceivably be getting 8 hours a day of run-time, and that adds up to 2000 hours after just 250 days.
Not even a full year. However, the projector industry, and especially high-end projectors like the one listed above, are moving from traditional low-life incandescent bulbs to long-lasting LED lamps.
This bumps the lamp-life up an order of magnitude. Taking the example above, the XGIMI H2 has a lamp life that claims 30000 hours of use. At our 8-hour-per-day metric, that’s a cool 10 years. So, if you get an LED-powered projector, this “con” may be totally irrelevant.
And there might be one more hidden advantage here in that the projector is likely a little cheaper to run compared to a Television. There's more on that in our article here, if you're interested.
For streaming services that run as apps, or as streaming sticks, there are usually pretty simple solutions to get content on your Projector: whatever box you’re using to run your setup (maybe it’s a computer or an Xbox) you can almost always just download Netflix or Hulu and go.
For traditional TV feeds that you buy from a cable company, however, there might be a few more hoops to jump through. If your cable box has to be tethered to the wall where it can get access to an Ethernet or Cable jack, placement becomes an issue. If you put the cable box at the projector, you have to run the cable line to it there.
If you put the cable box near the jack, you now have to run HDMI from the projector back to that spot. Using a Wireless HDMI Kit might solve this problem handily for you, or you may be able to get a wireless cable box from your provider. However, this is definitely an added step you may need to consider if you want to watch normal TV on your projector.
TVs will almost always have speakers built in that are good enough for everyday use. Projectors...not so much. When they do have speakers built-in, they’re often cheap-sounding with tinny highs and non-existent lows.
Where a Television has a big enough width to have left and right audio speakers, a projector not only lacks any width to play with but is often mounted above you, not at the video surface, so using the projector’s built-in sound will get old quick.
This means you have to solve an audio problem with a projector that you don’t have to fuss with at all if you’re using a Television.
So, now you can see why using a projector for normal TV watching isn’t just possible, it may actually be a compelling option. If you’re already wanting to get a large TV, a projector may be a way for you to get an even better experience without sacrificing much money, or even by spending less.