Projector Resolution Guide

Steve Scott

Updated on

When you purchase a projector, be it for personal use or for use in a classroom setting, you want as clear of an image as possible. A clear image more easily transmits ideas and will not distract the viewer. While there are a number of factors that will determine how clear of an image you get with your projector, two prominent factors include image resolution and color resolution.

In this guide we will look at both and discuss how they impact image quality. Let's get into it!

Image Resolution

image resolution comparison

The image that you see projected onto the projector screen is made up of a number of little dots. Each dot represents a small fraction of the composite image. You can compare what your projector does to what a paper shredder does. If you took an image on a piece of paper and ran it multiple times through a shredder, you would be left with a bunch of small pieces of paper, which on their own would not produce a clear image. However, if you took all of those little piece of paper and organized them properly, you would be able to re-create image that was sent through the shredder.

This is a basic explanation of what your projector does. An image is transmitted to your projector. That image is broken down into millions of little bits known as pixels. Your projector takes those pixels and transmits them onto a screen in an organized manner. This is what creates the image that you see.

What Is Resolution?

Image resolution is typically described using PPI. This measurement describes the number of pixels that are displayed in each inch of an image.

resolution per ppi

The higher the resolution, the more pixels there are in each inch. Higher resolution means a higher quality or a crisper image. When an image has lower resolution, there are fewer pixels per inch. Lower resolution images not only have less clarity, but if the image is made large, like what you would see with a projector, the pixels become visible and make the image even less appealing to look at.

A projector that has a higher resolution is able to deliver an image that has better detail. Resolution can be described in two different ways. The first way is with an acronym, including:

  • HD
  • WXGA
  • XGA
  • SVGA

The other way would be using a number to display the vertical and horizontal pixels that the projector is capable of displaying. This is represented by the width and the height.

Some common examples include:

  • SVGA= 800x600
  • XGA = 1024 x 768
  • HD 720 = 1280 x 720
  • HD = 1920 x 1080
svga resolution

This means that if you purchase an XGA projector, the projected image would be 1024 pixels in width and 768 pixels in height. The more pixels, the better the image detail you will see, especially as you enlarge the projected image.

If you select the 4:3 ratio, your options would be XGA and SVGA. Since XGA has a higher resolution, it would deliver a better quality image if everything else was equal, including the screen and the projector used.

See related - best hd projectors and best 4k projectors

The Cost Factor

The higher the resolution projector you purchase, the more you should expect to pay. Because a lot of information is presented in HD, many professionals opt to purchase a projector with these capabilities. XGA projectors can be purchased at a decent price. They offer resolution that is more than adequate for the majority of classroom settings.

It is good to think about the material that you are going to present and then select your projector accordingly. For example, if you are going to use Apple’s iMovie application, you should note that they require XGA as a minimum video resolution.

See related - best cheap projectors

Color Resolution

color resolution

Color resolution shares a lot in common with image resolution. The difference is that in this case we are discussing the number of colors that each pixel can generate. The more colors that can be generated within a pixel, the more real to life the image will be.

When digital production was in its infancy during the 1990’s, being able to reproduce 16 million colors per pixel was thought to be phenomenal. Today, the industry has moved well beyond that. Modern projectors are able to produce in excess of 68 billion colors per pixel. This explains why images have taken on a more life-like quality.

color resolution chart

An easy way to think about these two concepts is that image resolution describes image detail as well as color detail. Just about every projector is going to offer similar color details. Where you will see a difference is in the image detail. Different projectors offer different levels of image detail. Take the time to consider the material that you will present with your projector. Then choose the right pixel resolution for your situation.

To learn more about projector technology, please check my guides to:

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