What are 4K projectors? Things to Consider Before Buying

What are 4K projectors? 4K projectors or Ultra HD projectors are projectors capable of achieving the pixel density and displaying the full quality of a 4K resolution video on the big screen.

4K is widely available at present compared to a decade ago when only a handful of TVs and projectors offered this option at an exorbitantly high price and 1080p FHD remained the King of HD projection. It’s considered the next generation of high definition or even an upgrade to all your HD display devices.

With that in mind, should you take the leap and get yourself a 4K projector? What is a 4K projector anyway? What should you keep in mind when considering buying such UHD projectors in the first place?

What are 4K Projectors?

Simply put, projectors with 4K or Ultra High Definition resolutions are considered 4K UHD projectors. By HD we mean Full High Definition in terms of resolution size—in this case, about 1080p or 1920 x 1080 pixels. 720p is almost HD at 1280 x 720 pixels or 0.92 million total number of pixels.

4K, UHD, and 2160p all refer to the same resolution of 3840 x 2160 or up to 4096 x 2160. The 3840 one is that’s considered the 720p of 4K or almost 4K. True 4K is the 4096 resolution. At any rate, 4K projectors aren’t limited to the wealthy or commercial use.

They’ve become regular consumer products the same way 1080p went from being niche to standard in video formats and videogames.

What are 4K projectors
What are 4K projectors

How Does 4K Compare to Other Resolutions?

Here’s a chart showing how 4K compared to other resolutions.

ResolutionOther NamesHorizontal x Vertical PixelsTotal Number of Pixels

 

Devices
2140p4K, UHD, Ultra HD, and Ultra High Definition

 

3840 x 2160

4096 x 2160 (True 4K)

8.3 millionTVs and projectors
WUXGAWidescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array

 

1920 x 12002.3 millionProjectors and monitors
1080pFHD, Full HD, and Full High Definition

 

1920 x 10802.1 millionTVs, projectors, and monitors
720pHD and High Definition

 

1280 x 7200.92 millionTVs and projectors

4K is currently the peak resolution commonly available in projectors. 8K projectors exist but they’re fewer and far between compared to the wealth of 4K and True 4K projectors out there.

4K Projector Buying Guide

Here are a couple of things you need to know before buying your own 4K projector or upgrading to 4K in order to build a decent 4K home theater system in your living room, guest room, basement, or “man cave”.

Compared to 1080p or Full HD, 2140p or 4K Ultra HD has a pixel density that’s four times as dense. 8K is even better but 8K projectors are as rare as 4K projectors used to be just a decade ago.

 Epson Home Cinema 3800 4K PRO-UHD 3-Chip Projector with HDR
Epson Home Cinema 3800 4K PRO-UHD 3-Chip Projector with HDR

What is 4K Content and Where is it Found?

Most 4K content nowadays is found through streaming. You can get 4K from the cinema too that even uses high frame rates, like in the case of The Hobbit Trilogy. However, most content in 4K is gained through streaming a Netflix or Amazon Prime series.

Although you might be under the impression that 4K content is mainly aimed at those searching for the highest quality resolutions possible. However, multiple platforms you’re probably using right now also feature such content from time to time.

How to Steam 4K Content

You need a steady Internet connection and a compatible device like an HDTV, monitor, or 4K projector in order to stream 4K content. Many popular streaming services out there offer 4K streaming if you know how to look through their library.

  • Netflix: This streaming service is actually one of the pioneers for 4K UHD content streaming. Its offerings keep growing as more and more of the newer shows go for the 4K format. All original series produced by the platform come with a 4K and High Dynamic Range version.

The Neflix app even has an option where you can double-check whether what you’re watching is in 4K or not. Take note that older shows in 4K or even 1080p tend to be upscaled or blown up to that resolution size. 

  • Amazon Prime: As Netflix’s chief competitor, Amazon Prime doesn’t only deliver quality shows like Invincible or The Boys (superhero deconstructions, at that). Their rotating movie and TV series selection has all kinds of content in 4K, particularly the newer ones. 

Like with Netflix, you can only access this 4K content with an Amazon Prime subscription. In light of the buzz surrounding their myriad of content, it’s more than worth it to subscribe and get the highest quality viewing experience possible on the big screen with a 4K projector. 

  • YouTube: YouTube also has 4K content available along with its traditional 720p and 1080p HD videos. It even has content that scales all the way back to 144p, but most of the earliest videos are in 480p or 360p instead. 

Loads of content creators or YouTubers have expensive 4K camera equipment, so you can now view vlogs and comedy skits in full 4K. You don’t need a membership fee or extra charges to view videos in 4K, but YouTube Premium offers original content and ad-free viewing.

Two Pixel Resolutions in 4K

Most projector-based 4K is 3840 x 2160 pixels. Widescreen 4K is 4096 x 2160 pixels. They’re both 4K UHD and 2160p but one has more pixels horizontally than the other, resulting in a wider screen at a 16:9 aspect ratio. Initially, truly 4K projectors didn’t exist and they had tech for pseudo 4K.

It uses the same flickering tech as DLP color wheels wherein they flickered back and forth between millions of pixels at a fraction of a second to produce a 4K effect by the persistence of vision. This allowed the projector to play 4K content.

True 4K vs. Enhanced 4K

True 4K produces 8.3 megapixels of pixel density. True 4K projectors, meanwhile, use the DLP 4K UHD chipset. It features advanced image processing that ensures pixel switching speed that’s amazingly fast. This allows the delivery of 8.3 million distinct pixels for every frame or four times higher than FHD.

Projectors still require fast pixel switching in order to produce pixel-dense frames, whether it’s True 4K or 8K. Enhanced 4K, in contrast, mainly turns 2K resolution into 4K by slower and more limited pixel shifting tech. Most projectors stick with the 3840p horizontal instead of 4096p horizontal.

Is Getting True 4K Worth It or Not?

Enhanced 4K only offers 4.1 megapixels but seemingly shows 8.3 megapixels on the screen by switching out pixels. True 4K switches the pixels faster and displays more of the pixels, resulting in a true 4K video.

Both showcase fantastically detailed and excellent imagery, but their difference is clearer when shown on bigger screens, like outdoors one or commercial cinema screens.

ViewSonic PX701-4K 4K UHD 3200 Lumens 240Hz 4.2ms
ViewSonic PX701-4K 4K UHD 3200 Lumens 240Hz 4.2ms

What’s the Difference between 4K Projectors and 4K TVs?

The 4K TV is smaller. 4K projectors display 4K better because the pixel density is better translated on a bigger screen, where you have more space to fit in more pixels. Even the biggest 4K HDTVs pale in comparison to the magnitude and size of a cinematic DLP UHD projector screen.

Pixel density in a smaller space is also the reason why 1080p FHD and 4K UHD might look indistinguishable from one another in a laptop screen or a mid-sized HDTV. You can only appreciate 4K once you start using projector-sized screens, especially when you use True 4K.

What Should You Look for When Buying 4K Projectors?

4K projector content isn’t far off from TV at this point. If you’re searching to build a decent home theater system, the projector remains the most obvious choice to deliver the ultimate in cinematic entertainment at the comfort of your home.

When searching for 4K projectors, you should search for the following key features.

  • High quality, no motion blur pictures.
  • 4K in 2021 that’s no longer overpriced.
  • More often than not a DLP or LCoS projector.
  • A projector that recreates the cinematic experience.
  • A device that recreates what you’d seen in modern cinemas.
  • Imagery that’s vivid and colorful for sports, streaming, and gaming purposes.
  • Traditional image quality limitations like pixel artifacts or blurriness no longer apply.

Top 4K Projector Picks of 2022

The Final Words

When recreating the cinematic experience at home, 4K UHD projectors offer superior quality, details, sharpness, and motion smoothness even when compared to a much smaller and more expensive 4K UHD plasma TV, OLED TV, or standard HDTV.

You simply get more bang for your buck or more screen real estate per pixel when you go the 4K projector route that’s becoming more and more affordable for consumers as time passes by. With that in mind, here are our top 4K projector picks.

References:

  1. Why You Need to Upgrade to a 4K Projector? Are 4K projectors any good?“, BenQ.com, January 28, 2019
  2. What do you need to know before building your 4K Home Theater System?“, BenQ.com, Retrieved June 27, 2021
James Core
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right projector.

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