You can massively upgrade your viewing screen for your home theater by various means, from buying a larger HDTV screen or simply getting multiple screens as though you’re a guard at a high-tech guardhouse. You can even extend the display unto two screens, but that usually works with computers rather than TVs.
You can also invest in a projector you can connect to it. Nowadays, High-Definition Televisions (HDTVs) have High-Definition Media Interface (HDMI) connections that are compatible with the latest projector types that range from LCD, DLP, and LCoS projectors with standard, LED, Laser, or hybrid lamps.
So can you watch TV on a projector? Yep. Absolutely.
The Details of Using a Home Theater Projector for Television Viewing
Nowadays, YouTube has seemingly taken over the TV landscape due to its immediate accessibility on your computer or smartphone. In order to compete, terrestrial and cable television have either adapted the Netflix streaming format of allowing Internet streaming to happen on your TV or they’ve also gone the other direction of allowing TV content to be viewed on your smartphone and computer. Then there are projectors.
- A Great Home Theater Display Option: You can stream content on a projector too but many homeowners with home theaters use it to instead watch Blu-Ray disc or DVDs in full 1080p or 4K glory at a much bigger screen than even the biggest flatscreen can offer. On that note, the same people are also trying out to view television shows or cable shows on the same display device as well even though it’s more associated with movie viewing.
- Nothing Stopping You from Doing Projector Television: Never you mind Music Television or Digital Television! We’re now living in an age where LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon), or DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors have become advanced enough to allow you to do Projector TV! You can now marathon TV shows in a cable box or DVD/BD form using a screen much larger and detailed than even the biggest of HDTVs. Projectors aren’t just for presentations or slideshows any longer.
- The Logistics Behind TV Viewing on a Home Theater Projector: An HDMI connector and a TV with a cable or satellite box is enough to allow you to project the same digital content on your projector and projector screen. For certain vintage VCRs and game consoles, you might need an A/V to HDMI connector for a modern projector or a projector that connects with vintage A/V connections such as component, composite RCA, and SCART.
How Can You Watch TV on A Home Theater Projector?
It’s unsurprisingly easy to connect your projector to your home theater TV. This is especially true to those who’ve done the wiring for the home theater by themselves or had a professional do excellent cable management with matrix switchers and whatnot. It’s all plug-and-play at this point and the only compatibility issues you’ll have is trying to link a vintage TV or a modern projector or a vintage projector to a modern TV.
- Digital TV Allows for Easier Projector Connections: Everything in modern home cinemas or theaters are digital. Your laptop, smartphone, Wi-Fi, satellite or cable box, game consoles, streaming box, and so forth can be connected to a projector or connected to your TV which could then daisy-chain itself to your projector using the universal HDMI format. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility to use a modern home theater projector to project TV the same way it can also project Netflix, Twitch, your smartphone or laptop display, DVD/BD players, and game consoles.
- Substituting Your Projector for Your TV: Projectors have a setting that allows it to mirror content on your TV unto itself, thus making it a second monitor. It’s the same tech that allows you to turn it into your laptop’s second computer monitor when you’re doing projections of slideshows or presentations with it. It has the same HDMI input/output connection at the back and there are models that allow it to connect directly to streaming or cable boxes outright, serving as a projector display of sorts.
You also have the option to directly connect to media players so that your projector can serve as a TV or monitor substitute in case you don’t want your TV and projector to run at the same time. Here are all the common digital devices that easily connect to modern projectors.
- DVD/BD player
- Games console
- Satellite receiver box or cable box
- Streaming box (Android box or Apple TV)
- Certain Limitations: Projectors allow you to watch livestreams on your projector with certain limits. Your Internet connection’s fastness and bandwidth limits will affect quality. If your stream cuts off or lowers its quality from 1080p to 480p it will reflect on the projection. In turn, your Projector TV won’t allow you to watch live TV if the signal is received directly by the TV. Some TVs have HD satellite receivers on them so you won’t have to buy a cable or satellite subscription.
You can’t watch that sort of TV on your projector. Stick to the ones with cable boxes. This is the same deal with old-school projectors and CRT TVs with terrestrial television. For vintage CRT TVs with an antenna that catches terrestrial television and local channels, you can’t display their signal on a digital projector no matter what converter or adapter you use to connect to them. It’s simply not possible. You can watch the Super Bowl live provided that you have a digital cable or Internet streaming box though.
Projector versus HDTV: Which Is Better?
A home theater setup becomes more “theatrical” or “cinematic” when you add a projector to it. It’s a viable second option for your HDTV that’s probably connected to everything, from your Nintendo Switch or PS4 to your BD player and Satellite Box. If you’ve invested a good amount of money on a good surround-sound system to match your video system then your home theater can practically do screenings for a classroom-sized audience.
Here are the biggest things to consider when deciding between using a TV and a projector for your home theater needs.
- Space Concerns: A projector is a perfect fit for many a living room when livestreaming things like a boxing match or the NBA Finals. However, the biggest deciding factor on whether your home theater can incorporate this device in space. For smaller spaces, you might need a short-throw projector that projects the screen at a short distance from it. However, certain spaces are so small that even this projector type isn’t enough to fit a home theater projector setup.
- Cost versus Value: When buying new equipment, the cost should be a major priority. Naturally, if you can’t afford a home theater then don’t make one. For those who can, it’s more of a concern of finding the sweet spot between price and quality. When it comes to size to cost ratios, projectors outdo televisions considerably. An HDTV requires, for example, a 60-inch screen and all the necessary components to power it at a high price. The same-sized screen for a projector is much cheaper.
- Screen Size: A 60-inch screen for a projector is cheap because it’s only made of fabric. You’re getting more screen real estate for less when you go the projector route instead of the TV route. The same projector can even service a 50-inch screen or a 100-inch screen by simply moving it or adjusting the throw distance. This gives you the freedom to splurge on a good projector and some affordable screens. You have more flexibility to widen your screen in accordance with how many people are watching your TV show.
- Resolution: Both projectors and TVs have pretty much the same resolution capabilities as picture quality arms race continues. Do HDTVs have native 1080p HD? So do projectors! Newer HDTVs can now support 4K Blu-Ray disc movies and videogames? Projects can do that too! 8K for projectors hasn’t happened yet. The current future of high-quality picture content lies in 4K. Projectors do better with 4K because a huge TV is needed to fit a 4K resolution. Meanwhile, projectors can blow up the image to show the full quality of true 4K.
- The True Home Theater Experience: A theater or cinema experience implies you’re viewing something on the “big screen” instead of the “small screen” that is television. A home theater attempts to replicate that experience through integrating media players or sources into one hub even though it’s still using a comparatively small TV screen. At least with a projector and a sufficiently large viewing screen—the same tech still being used in cinemas to show movies—you’re much closer to an actual theater experience in a home environment.
The Bottom Line
A home theater projector won’t be suitable in every situation that calls for a TV. It takes time to setup, it’s kind of a waste of space to view something on the large screen when you’re watching something alone instead of with your family or a small audience that fits into your home theater, and it’s not the most convenient thing to use for solo viewing.
Even family viewing is more conveniently done with people on a couch watching something on an HDTV’s widescreen. However, maybe that’s a matter of personal preference and you do prefer watching something in a theater-like setting in your lonesome in order to capture the full theater experience at home.