Ultimate Guide to TVs & Projectors

Watching a show or movie is a day-to-day experience for most of us, so why settle for a less-than-stellar experience? Today's Video displays can provide more high-definition picture quality, with more options for consumers than ever before. The perfect fit for you is out there somewhere.

But with that comes many questions – should you get a TV or a projector? If you go with a TV, what kind should you get? Or what type of projector? Is there anything you should know that isn't immediately obvious when shopping?

With a little research and organization, you can buy the best video display for your wants and needs, eliminating buyer's remorse or blown budgets. 

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What TVs and projectors are and what kinds are commonly available
  • Which one is right for you
  • What to look for in buying a TV or projector set-up
  • Installation
  • Common problems

Hive specializes in smart home automation technology, including smart TVs and projectors. But we're aware that we're not the best fit for every client and hope this information can be helpful to anyone interested in the topic, regardless of whether they work with Hive or not.

What are TVs and Projectors?

First, let’s start with the basics, even if it feels obvious at first – what are TVs and projectors, and what kinds are there?

Both allow you to enjoy your favorite shows and movies on larger screens, but there are different kinds to explore.  



Everyone knows what a television is – a standalone screen that displays an input. But where most people get lost is when we discuss the specs of different kinds of TVs that are available. One look at the TV section in your favorite big box store, and your head might spin with all the acronyms, sizes, and features available.

But two main categories aside from size and smart features matter – LED and OLED. Though there are also other kinds of TVs, like outdoor TVs and modular TVs, LED and OLED TVs are two of the most common types you’ll see when shopping.

We'll discuss what option is best for what application later in the article, but first, let's explore each one. 



LED TVs are made up of several layers, the most important of which are the backlight and the liquid-crystal display (LCD) panel. The LCD panel contains millions of pixels (the tiny dots that make up a TV's image), lit up by the backlight that shines through it using long-lasting LED lights.

TVs differ in how many LEDs are in the backlight and how high quality those backlights are. The more LEDs there are and the higher their quality, the better the TV's picture will be. When it comes to brightness, they're a much better option too, which is great for rooms with a lot of ambient light or outdoors. 



OLED stands for "organic light-emitting diode ."Instead of having separate layers of LCD panels or backlights, they're combined into one layer that does both. Because of this, they can be extremely thin (something with pros and cons, as we'll discuss later in this article). 

They can also produce deeper blacks, which gives the picture a higher contrast and realistic colors, leading to better picture quality.



Projectors project an image onto a screen. Typically they don’t have speakers built in, and they’re used in situations where you’d like a very large image. This large image can be around a hundred inches, all the way up to the size of a movie screen. 

Projectors fall into three throw distances – or in other words, the distance light has to travel from the projector’s lens to the screen: standard (or long), short throw, and ultra short throw. 

Standard throw projectors require eight to ten feet of distance to create a 100’ (or 16:9) image. A short throw projector needs about half that distance to create the same size picture, and an ultra-short throw requires only three to twenty inches of distance to create a large image.

Short throw and ultra short throw are good for spaces where having a projector in the ceiling might not be possible or where you’d like to put the projector on a credenza right in front of your screen.

Projectors also have different mechanisms that allow them to create images. The most common types of projectors are:

  • DLP
  • LCD
  • Laser

DLP Projectors

DLP (digital light processing) projectors work by shining a light against microscopic mirrors, which then shine through a color wheel and lens onto a screen. The light source is a lamp with a finite lifespan and can dim or lose its intensity over time. Unlike regular lightbulbs, these lights typically cost a few hundred dollars to replace.

But thankfully, the lamps can last between 1500 and 2000 hours before they need to be replaced. 


LCD projectors

LCD projectors use the same liquid crystal display that LED TVs use to project an image, sending light through liquid crystal displays to create the images on the screens. Like DLP projectors, they have lamps that can burn out and need to be replaced after a few thousand hours.


Laser projectors

Laser projectors provide the best picture of any projector and have the most longevity. Instead of using lamps, they use blue, green, and red lasers to create a high-quality image with deep blacks and color saturation.

Because they use lasers instead of lamps, they don’t lose brightness over time and don’t emit as much heat.

But along with those benefits comes a higher price point than other types of projectors. However, with less maintenance and more longevity, they might be a better option for someone who plans to use their projector frequently or wants something that they can get a great experience with.

TVs vs. Projectors: Which one is best for you?

Both TVs and projectors get you a similar result – you can use them to watch something. But they aren’t interchangeable in every instance. 

These four questions will help you figure out whether a TV or projector is best for you:

  • What will you watch?
  • Where will you use it?
  • How big do you want the image to be?
  • What’s your budget? 

Seeing them head-to-head on the criteria that matter most will help you choose the best possible option. Once you've determined that, you can find out what kind of TV or projector will get you the desired results.


What will you watch?

Knowing what you’ll primarily watch is a simple but necessary step in picking a TV or a projector. Thinking about this will help you get the right type of device for your needs. 

For instance, if you only want to watch your favorite reality shows in the evening or as you cook dinner, going for a high-end projector might not be the best move. But if you’re a movie buff or even just someone who wants to have friends and family over for regular movie nights, you might find that a projector is the best fit.

Also, consider whether you plan to use it for gaming, as certain TVs and projectors have more favorable frame rates for gameplay. 


Where will you use it?

Placement is key when it comes to visual displays. Not only do you have to think about the size of your TV screen or projector screen relative to the size of your space, but you have to think about the environment and how that can interact with the TV.

Think about:

  • The size of your space - is it large enough to support a projector screen, which may need to be motorized to roll out of the way? Is there enough space for you to sit a comfortable distance away from a large screen?
  • Whether it’ll be indoors or outdoors - Outdoor visual displays need to be durable, weather resistant, and able to be seen in bright sunlight. Typically that means an outdoor TV is the best choice, as they’re built to be in the elements.
  • What your space is also used for - if you’d like to watch something in your main family room, you might want a screen that blends in seamlessly or can be put away, like a motorized screen or The Frame TV that can display art in a way that looks like an actual painting.


What size do you need your TV or projector screen to be?

It might feel like a misstep to think about your TV or projector screen size before you figure out which one is best for you. But it's actually important to determine early in the process to choose the right device.

Essentially, the larger the picture you want, the more likely you’ll need a projector instead of a TV – but not in every instance. 

Until recently, the line between TVs and projectors was much starker since technology had not advanced enough to build TVs over a certain size. You needed a projector if you wanted an image that was a hundred inches and up.

But now, TVs can rival that size – though a larger screen comes with a higher price. If you're in the market for a large screen and have a higher budget, keep the other criteria we're discussing in mind to pick one over the other.



TVs and projectors come in at different price points, but they also have considerations beyond the equipment that add to the price. 

Projectors require hardwired installation and screens, which usually require professional assistance. No matter who you choose to install your equipment, that’ll be an added cost. And while you can still use your TV without one, a soundbar significantly improves your TV’s sound. 

But for the devices themselves, you can expect the following average costs:

  • TVs: $300-$500 for a 4k 42″-55″ screen, $500-$1000 for a 4k 65” and above screen
  • Projectors: $2000-$60,000, with entry-level options starting below $2000
  • Projector screens: Start at around $1000, with many between $2000 and $6000

To sum it up, projectors are typically more expensive than TVs due to the installation costs and screen required. If you have a smaller budget, you can easily find a great TV and soundbar that won't break the bank. And if your budget has more flexibility, you can choose a projector or a TV – whichever is the best fit based on the above criteria.

No matter your choice, you can expect higher quality with equipment at a higher price point. 


Should I get a TV or a projector?

To sum it up, while both TVs and projectors can give you an amazing viewing experience, both have pros and cons depending on the situation.

TVs are great for:

  • Casual viewing
  • More modest budgets
  • DIY applications
  • Multi-use rooms
  • Outdoor environments

Projectors are better for:

  • Larger viewing
  • More robust budgets
  • Dedicated indoor spaces

What to look for when buying a TV

So you’ve decided a TV is best for you. Now what? What should you be thinking about when you compare and contrast different options? Here’s what to keep track of while you shop:

  • OLED TV or LED TV?
  • Size
  • Indoor TV or outdoor TV?
  • What smart apps does it support?
  • TV brightness
  • What supporting equipment is needed, if any?



As mentioned above, LED screens have several layers of LED lights to illuminate the picture and LCD panels that create an image, while OLED has one panel that does both.

But they differ in a few key ways.



  • Are much thinner
  • Have better contrast because of their better black levels, creating a more high-definition picture
  • Are typically priced higher



  • Are less expensive
  • Can be brighter than OLED TVs, making them a good choice for bright areas
  • Have more vibrant colors but lighter blacks

TVs today have drastically better picture quality than they did even ten years ago, so you can’t go wrong with either. But if you’d really like a crystal clear, vivid image, choose an OLED. But be aware that you’ll pay extra for the higher quality. 

Also, the thin screen means there’s not enough space for speakers large enough to produce good sound.

If you want to spend less and get a TV that can withstand the brightness of your room, choose LED. But it won't have as sleek of a screen or as sharp of an image.



Figuring out what size TV you'd like is more complex than measuring the wall where you'd like to put it. You should also consider how TVs are measured and where you'll be sitting so you can see your TV comfortably.

A TV might be 55 inches, but that doesn't mean it's 55 inches across – TVs are measured diagonally from corner to corner. So that means while you're buying a 55-inch TV, the TV itself is less than 55 inches width-wise. Not taking that into account might make you buy a TV that's smaller than you intended it to be.

[photo of how a TV is measured]

A quick rule of thumb is to measure the distance between your couch and where the TV will be in inches. Divide that number by 1.4, and you'll roughly have the ideal TV size for your space. 

For instance, if your TV is five feet (60 inches) away from where you'll be sitting, divide by 1.4 and get 42, meaning a 42-inch TV will give you the best viewing experience.

Indoor TV or outdoor TV?

Knowing whether you want a TV inside or outside is more important than you think. If you don't mind replacing it relatively soon, you can probably get away with putting in an inexpensive indoor TV outside.

Outdoor TVs typically cost more, but they're worth the added price to get the most out of your purchase. Outdoor TVs are:

  • Built to withstand the elements, including dust particles and water
  • Are brighter, so they can be seen in the sun
  • Come in partial-sun or full-sun, depending on how much sun exposure they’ll get

In some instances where you have a lot of coverage from the elements, like on a covered lanai, you can get away with an indoor TV outside. But in many cases, it’s better to spend a little more on an outdoor TV now than replace a TV meant for the indoors later.

Smart apps

Smart TVs are widely available, making it easier than ever to access every streaming platform or app you can imagine. But did you know that not every TV can support every app? It’s worth checking to see what your TV can support or if you’ll need an additional streaming device like Roku or Apple TV.

Out of everything, this is a feature that is easy to fix if your favorite app isn’t supported. Amazon and Roku sell streaming sticks or devices at very affordable prices, and can even have extra features like voice control.


Brightness (NITS Rating)

As we mentioned when talking about outdoor TVs, your TV’s brightness is important in your viewing experience. 

This is especially true in rooms or areas with a lot of ambient light. Aside from the obvious point of the brightness allowing you to see the screen, the TV’s brightness also heightens the contrast, which makes images easier for the human eye to distinguish.

Essentially, the brighter the ambient light, the brighter your screen needs to be. For instance, if your living room is constantly exposed to natural light, you’ll need an indoor TV that can get very bright.

Brightness is key if you’re buying an outdoor TV. There’s no point in having one outside if you can’t see it. When looking for a TV, look at the amount of NITS, which is the measurement of brightness for TVs. The typical indoor TV is 450-550 NITS, while outdoor TVs have around 750 up to 2500 NITS.


Supporting equipment

As we mentioned above, your TV’s sound probably isn’t great because its speakers aren’t very big. You can get by without an additional speaker, but many TV buyers get soundbars or speakers to enhance their TV-watching experience. 

The choice between soundbars and speakers depends on your circumstances, which we detail in this article weighing their pros and cons, but factor this into your TV-buying budget if audio is important to you. Both can fit into a range of budgets to suit your specific needs.


What to look for when buying a projector and screen

A projector is a great option for making your watching experience as cinematic as possible. But choosing one – and the screen to go along with it – means thinking about three key factors:

  • DLP, LCD, or laser?
  • What kind of screen do you need?
  • How big would you like the image to be?


DLP, LCD, or laser?

When we discussed the three major types of projectors above, you might have felt that DLP and LCD projectors were more or less the same. In some ways, they are – they both operate with lamps and fans. They’re also fairly comparable when it comes to picture quality. 

If you’d like a solid projector with some upkeep and good picture quality, you can’t go wrong with either; it’s a matter of whatever fits your budget and looks best to you. 

Laser projectors will get you the highest quality and the lowest maintenance, but you'll have to pay extra. Again, it's a matter of taste and budget. Laser projectors are definitely a good investment for anyone who plans to use their device frequently.


What kind of screen do you need?

Finding a good screen is nearly as important as picking the right projector. With the wrong screen, you might not have a picture that fits and it may not show the best image possible. When looking for a screen, think about the following:

  • Whether it’ll be motorized or fixed
  • Its size
  • Screen gain


Pull-down, motorized, or fixed

Choosing a fixed or a moveable screen depends on your budget and where you'd like to place it. If your screen is in a multi-use area, like a living room, you might want a moveable or motorized screen that can roll up. If your space is a dedicated room for your projector and screen, a fixed one might be a better fit.


Your screen's size depends on several variables – the size of your space, your budget, and your projector. It can be complicated, but this guide is a great start to figuring out this key step.

Screen gain

Projectors work by reflecting light off of a screen, and a screen's gain is the measure of how reflective the screen is. The image will be brighter if you have a high-gain screen. Like with TVs, the brighter the screen, the more easily it can be seen in rooms with a lot of ambient light.

If you have a screen with lower gain, it won’t be as bright, but it can better reproduce dark colors. They also have wider viewing angles.

Acoustic transparency

Acoustic transparency is the amount of sound a screen can let through without distorting it. If your speakers are placed behind a screen, like in the case of in-wall speakers, pay attention to your screen's acoustic transparency so you can get the most out of your speakers and your screen.

Setting up your TV or projector can be easy – like pulling it out of the box and connecting a few wires – or difficult, with hardwiring and professional help needed.

But what can make a TV or projector set-up too complicated to do yourself? When is calling in a professional the best fit?


Should you DIY or call a pro for installation?

When to DIY your TV or Projector Installation

At one point or another, you've probably moved from one home to another and moved your TV. The setup is simple – put the TV on your media stand, plug it in, and connect a few wires. If you want to connect a soundbar, the setup is probably still easy too.

Essentially, simple TV set-ups are more suited to DIY setups because you don't need a significant amount of knowledge to do so. If you want to hang the TV on the wall, you may want to call a handyman who can ensure your TV will be secure, but you can do it yourself if you have the right tools and a good tutorial.

Putting up your own projector is a different story. Excluding portable and wireless options, projectors must be hardwired and often placed in your ceiling. You need both the knowledge of what cables to use and the ability to install something on your ceiling.

Not only that, they require screens. Even if you decide to put up a simple fixed screen, you may need a professional to ensure everything is properly aligned. A motorized screen requires even more knowledge, as it has to be connected to a power source.


When calling a professional for your TV or projector is best

As you can guess, installing a projector is often left to a professional who can handle the hardwiring and placement of the projector itself and hanging the screen. 

But sometimes, a professional can be an asset when installing surround sound speakers with your TV, especially if those speakers are hardwired.

With any professional installation, there are added costs for labor and materials, something to factor in when putting together your budget.


Should I DIY or call a professional?

To sum it up - 


DIY if you:

  • Only have a TV and a simple soundbar
  • Don’t need to conceal wires
  • Are just placing it on a TV stand or credenza

Hire a pro if:

  • Projector (because of the screen and because it needs to be hardwired)
  • A TV plus surround sound speakers, which require a receiver
  • Need to conceal wires
  • Can’t hang it yourself

No matter how advanced technology gets, problems will always arise. TVs and projectors are no different. 

Luckily, knowing what could happen can get you ahead of the issue. Most problems with TVs or projectors boil down to a lack of connectivity, whether that’s connectivity to wifi or the physical device’s connections being weak.


TV Problems and Solutions:

Having sound, but no picture

Hearing your TV but having a dark screen can be frustrating, and it’s a common issue with TVs. Luckily, you can easily troubleshoot this problem.

Checking your TV's connections first; if you're getting picture from an external source, the cable may not be connected tightly enough. If that doesn't work, check your TV's settings, as the brightness may have been turned down.

If your screen isn't working at all, it may be a mechanical issue with the screen. Electrical surges, temperature extremes, or water can all be the culprit.

Looking up your specific TV's manual can help if you're stumped on your TV's issues. 


No wifi or poor wifi signal 

More and more people are cutting the cord with cable, making them rely on streaming services like Amazon Prime or Netflix to get their shows. But your TV may not be functional without wifi or with poor wifi signal.

Luckily there are ways to fix your wifi signal to ensure it's consistent and strong enough to stay connected to your smart TV. 


Repairs can be costly

Once you have your TV in your home, you probably won’t want to take the time to remove it, secure it in your car, and bring it to a repair shop if it breaks. And calling someone out to repair it means paying a labor fee on top of whatever the cost of the replacement parts.

So, depending on your situation and the TV you have, sometimes the repairs for TVs are more costly than the TV is worth. If your TV is out of warranty, it may be hard to repair them cost-efficiently – you might just need to replace it. 


Projector Problems and Solutions

Mismatch of the screen to the projector 

Sometimes your projector produces an image that you can’t see clearly, whether that means it’s blurry, too small for the screen, or too big. 

Sometimes, the fix is just an adjustment in the settings, but in some instances, you may need to adjust the positioning of it. If you have a short-throw projector, that can be easy, but a ceiling-mounted one may be more difficult to move.


Lamps going out

Without a lamp, your projector can’t light up, meaning you won’t have a picture at all. 


Thankfully, most projectors have lamps with very long lifetimes, meaning you likely won’t run into this issue until you’ve used your projector for thousands of hours. However, if your lamp happens to go out, the only solution is to replace it.

Lamps overheating 

Just like your computer can overheat despite having built-in fans, projectors can overheat also. Sometimes this is due to filters clogged with dust, which don’t allow air to flow through, or a faulty fan. 

Consistent maintenance on your projector by clearing your filters and ensuring your fans are in good condition will prevent overheating.

Are you ready to upgrade your viewing experience?

Getting a new TV or projector can be a worthwhile investment. You can make a regular occurrence more immersive and enhance your experiences with family and friends.

But choosing the right TV or projector, down to the smallest details, is the best way to make sure you get the most value for your dollar and the most use out of your equipment. You won't have little moments where you wish you could change one small thing about how you're watching a 

If you still aren’t sure as to whether you want a TV or projector or a new visual display at all, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there anything that's bothering you about your everyday watching experience? For instance, does it feel like your image quality isn't as good as you'd like or that your screen isn't big enough for your space?
  • Do you want to enhance anything in particular, like your picture quality or visibility in a specific room?

If you're ready to buy a new smart TV or projector and screen and think Hive is a good fit, you can call us at (813) 575-HIVE or through this contact form here.