As with many devices of the last technological age, the cinema projector is also about to see the sunset in favor of LED screens.
The purists of the rooms illuminated by the light beam of the projection might shiver at the very thought.
But this is precisely what has been happening in recent years, even if in a completely initial and experimental way.
In some Swiss cinemas, for example, a partnership with one of the largest television manufacturers in the world, Samsung, has led to the creation of a cinema based on CinemaLED Onyx.
Before turning up your nose, however, it is important to analyze the benefits that the installation of LED modules has brought to image quality.
The screen is equipped with 24 million LEDs, with a size of 10 meters in width and about 5 in height and comprises 96 modules, installed with millimeter precision and individually replaceable in case of malfunctions.
The video quality is stratospheric with a resolution in cinematic 4K, or 4,096 x 2,160 pixels (higher than the 4K we are used to which instead stops at 3,840 x 2,160 pixels), the possibility of using 3D with active glasses and a frequency of 3,000 Hz.
Although die-hard fans of the projector may find this choice an aberration, it is undeniable that there are advantages, especially from an image quality point of view.
First, the brightness of the projector is limited and on large screens this limit is clearly noticeable, the cloth on which the image is projected is white and this requires a completely dark room, which cannot be achieved 100% in a room.
Where emergency lights are needed to show emergency exits and where the light from the image is also reflected.
The difference with the Onyx screens is clear, the latter are completely black, thus offering a sharp and HDR image with colors that a projector could never achieve.
Romantics will talk about the minor flaws that make the cinematic experience unique, such as vignetting, chromatic aberrations and even blurring at the edges of the screen, characteristic elements of viewing in the room via a projector.
Samsung’s LED technology erases all these defects that have now entered everyday life, so much so that they are normal, returning instead a perfect image, with no distortion, directly on the screen as the directors conceived it.
Not all that glitters is gold and therefore even the mega-screen made up of LEDs has some problems that have not yet been solved, mainly related to the audio sector.
The speakers in traditional cinema are behind the screen since it is very thin and therefore allows you to house everything you need, getting an audio that comes directly from the images.
This is not possible in theaters like the one installed by Samsung in Switzerland, thus forcing to opt for alternative solutions, placing the speakers around the screen or closer to the spectators, but creating a central hole that will inevitably be noticed by those used to going to the cinema to see your favorite movies.
Surely over time alternative solutions will be studied to improve this aspect or simply the films will be shot considering the problem but it is not yet clear whether viewers will prefer the old cinemas, even with all their flaws, or will opt for this new video standard at the expense.
However, it would certainly interest to see some proposals for theaters based on this technology in the largest cinemas in the country.
If cinema is moving in one direction, home entertainment goes against the trend. There are many cinema enthusiasts who, to get the same emotions into the room, install a video projector at home.
However, these usually have a high cost, especially if you want to maintain a certain image quality.
A device capable of projecting a Full HD image without loss of sharpness or with a high Lumen value to illuminate a room that is not completely dark could cost as much as a latest generation 4K TV.
So why is this technology so sought after?
The speech is certainly broad and complex, but it is the relative ease of use. All you need is the projector and a source with the files to be played.
You will not need any additional screen but simply a white wall or sheet to immediately start viewing the projected images.
How to choose a projector?
If you have bought a projector to install at home, there are some fundamental elements to consider.
First, the cost, give yourself a budget and then start from that to see if the projectors in that price range satisfy you.
Make sure you have enough space for the projection, so prepare a room where there is a completely clear wall, and that is white.
What will you connect to the projector? If you have DVD players, Blu-Ray players, notebooks, desktop computers, smartphones and are planning to connect them to the projector to view multimedia content, you need to make sure there are enough USB and HDMI slots.
The resolution is definitely vital. Among the most common we find 800 x 600 pixels, 1,024 x 768 pixels (classic HD), 1,280 x 1,024 pixels and, sometimes, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, or Full HD.
As for the value in question, don’t be fooled by projectors boasting HD or Full HD quality.
Often it’s about the ability to receive input, which is then resized and made lower.
To choose a projector that can display the image in Full HD quality, look for the item “Native resolution” in the datasheet.
The last important value is called Lumen, or the brightness of the image. The higher the value, the easier it will be to project in bright environments.
Lower values will require a completely dark room.
By following these simple guidelines, you will select a satisfactory projector that gives you the feeling of being in the cinema.
An element not to be underestimated, especially if in the future the cinemas as we know them today will disappear. It will be a way to relive one’s childhood.