Are you wondering whether to get a smart projector or a smart TV?
To help you decide, we will take a keen look at the two, focussing on how each works and the key features that make the two different.
Keep reading to find out which is the best in keeping your family entertained.
What is a smart projector?
A smart projector is a projector that comes with a built-in computer interface, complete with an operating system, apps, and connectivity.
In other words, it’s a high-tech version of the regular projector that has computing power, apps, and Bluetooth, WiFi, and Ethernet connectivity.
It features multiple input options, including DisplayPort, HDMI, USB, Optical, and LAN. All these cater to different file formats and make the projector compatible with diverse storage and streaming devices.
You can connect it to your smartphone, computer, camera, DVR, Blue-ray, gaming console, Apple TV, and other devices.
Like many modern devices, some of these intelligent projectors feature touchscreen technology, which takes their user-friendliness a notch higher.
What is a smart TV?
Aside from the basic function of displaying audio and video content broadcast via satellite or cable, a smart TV can also connect to the home/office network and Internet-based media and applications.
It does this via a built-in operating system and Internet capabilities.
The difference between a smart TV and a traditional TV is that the latter is limited to displaying broadcast content and video playback, and does not have connectivity.
A smart TV does all that a regular TV does and, in addition, has network connectivity.
It also comes preloaded with different apps, and you can install more apps on the TV on-demand.
Side by side comparisons: Breaking it down
Let’s now compare the smart projector and the smart TV side by side to see how different or similar they are.
Smart TVs and projectors do the same thing, basically. They are both smart display devices, and you can swap one for the other.
With both, you get to enjoy benefits like streaming videos, gaming, and connecting to your home theatre.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the two smart devices is that you can use your smart projector to make presentations, whereas a smart TV is not ideal for making presentations.
When you feed content (through the input port or from the Internet) into the projector, the content displays on a tiny built-in screen. And the projector light automatically shines on the content.
At the same time, the projector laser beams this light onto the display screen. In doing so, it reflects the image that’s on the projector’s miniscreen onto the display.
To use your projector’s advanced features, you first have to connect the device to your WiFi network.
Smart TVs also need internet connectivity to offer advanced features. Unlike smart projectors, they are easy to use, set up and operate.
You basically plug the TV in as you would a regular TV and follow the on-screen instructions to set it up, select your preferred channel, and begin watching your preferred TV channels.
While you will need to purchase a screen or DIY one for a smart projector, the smart TV doesn’t. It’s good to go the way it is.
Even though smart projectors take very little space in the home compared to smart TVs, you may actually need a bigger room to enjoy the cinematic-like experience of the smart projectors.
It all comes down to the throw distance.
Throw distance is the space between the projector and the projection screen and determines how big and best the picture will be displayed.
Throw distance ties in well with the viewing distance.
Depending on the smart projector you need, you may need a bigger or smaller room space.
However, with a smart TV, you don’t need to make any arrangements for extra space regardless of its size. With that being said, you also don’t want to buy an oversized screen that will look like it’s suffocating in your living room.
For years, projectors had the upper hand on matters of cost. And they offered plenty more screen inches than you’d get from a TV within the same price range.
Smart TVs that were 75-inches big or bigger cost a lot more than the average smart projector.
And the price went higher if the TV had 4K .
4K projectors, too, were equally expensive.
Over time, however, smart TV prices have come down sharply, and big TVs are now selling at reasonable prices. Likewise, the cost of 4K projectors dropped drastically .
So the price gap between the two technologies has narrowed significantly.
But when it comes to these two, affordability is not entirely about pricing only. It also extends to the features tied to each option.
Smart TVs offer unrivaled quality on technologies such as HDR and resolution, with many now supporting dynamic HDR, 4K, and even 8K.
The projectors struggle in this area, and not all have 4K support.
This limitation affects aspects of using the projector, most notably when gaming, where 4K gives the best experience—of course, depending on the game you’re playing.
Again, unlike smart projectors, smart TVs also support a wide range of expanded color spaces. So they portray color brightness, contrast, and depth in far greater detail than projectors do.
And that means they have better image quality than projectors.
So if you’re hoping to get the most out of a display that supports advanced technologies, a smart TV would be your best bet.
When deciding whether one is more affordable than the other, it helps to consider the features you get with each. And so it comes down to personal preference.
All smart TVs come with inbuilt speakers, which are fairly great that you don’t need to amp with a surround system or soundbar.
Many of the recent smart projectors, too, come with inbuilt speakers. However, the audio quality cannot be matched with that of smart TVs.
Unless you get the smart projectors that come with integrated soundbars, you are better off with a smart TV.
A caveat, though:
Neither the smart projector nor smart TV has excellent sound quality. If you are a sound fanatic, consider getting yourself a proper sound system.
This is perhaps the other biggest difference between smart TVs and projectors. While there are extremely big smart TV screen sizes, the most common big size in homes is 65 inches.
On the other hand, smart projectors can project a screen size of up to 200 inches, which is bigger than any smart TV.
While choosing between the two may be a no-brainer, it really isn’t as simple as it looks.
Even with their small screen size, smart TVs have the best picture quality. The brightness, contrast, HDR, among other factors, place the smart TVs higher on the scale as far as image quality vs screen size is concerned.
However, if you fancy large screens and don’t mind a little compromise on the image quality, knock yourself out with a smart projector.
Smart projectors come with preset brightness that is often measured in lumens. For instance, you’d see on the specs section something like 5000 Lumens or 3000 Lumens.
Important to note is that the brightness cannot go beyond the set lumens.
On the other hand, smart TVs have adjustable brightness compared to smart projectors, they are brighter.
While brighter isn’t necessarily the best, smart TV brightness is much more pleasant to the eyes and especially because you can adjust to suit your tolerance or needs.
With a smart projector, you’d have to use it in a dark room to enjoy the brightness. Otherwise, a very bright projector in a well-lit room looks washed out and will cause eye fatigue.
Smart projectors compete with the environment as far as brightness and contrast, whereas smart TVs don’t. Whether in a dark room or a well-lit room, smart TVs do just fine.
The greatest thing about smart projectors is that it has a higher contrast ratio than smart TVs.
There are no known safety concerns tied to the use of smart TVs and projectors.
Both emit radiation levels so low that they are not known to cause any harm.
Should you be worried?
No, because all displays sold in the US must meet the Electronic Product Radiation Control guidelines.
Most non-commercial projectors use Class I laser light. And according to the FDA, Class I laser beams are not powerful enough to cause harm.
Nonetheless, doctors recommend that you avoid staring directly into the beam because that could damage the eyes.
When using either technology, observe safety practices for electrical product usage.
For example, use surge protectors and avoid overloading your electrical circuit or outlets. Doing this minimizes the risk of device damage due to power surges.
Presently, no technology can do what the smart TV does. That is, run traditional TV, on-demand TV apps, and access the Internet.
Note that some of the features you enjoy in the projector may not be available with either alternative.
Plus, these alternatives are limited in screen size. They are no match for a projector that can allow you to project videos on an entire wall.
|Smart Projectors||Smart TVs|
|Use cases||Home theater/media player display
Computer display Presentations
|Home theater/media player display
|How they work||Intense setup||Simple setup|
|Screen size||Up to 200 inches||Up to 90 inches|
|Audio quality (inbuilt speakers)||Fairly good||Great|
|Alternatives||Smart monitors, interactive displays||None|
Smart TVs and smart projectors are alike in many ways. Both serve as media-player displays and computer displays. And both have connectivity, giving you access to diverse on-demand content and apps.
But they are also different.
You can use a smart TV to watch TV the good old way without connecting it to your Internet network, but the smart projector on its own cannot function on its own. You’d have to connect it to your TV and use it as an alternative display for your TV set or connect to a projector screen.
And while you cannot get an alternative for your smart TV, you can get displays that, to an extent, are comparable to a smart projector.
So which is better between the two?
Going by the points of comparison, we’ve looked at price, audio and picture quality, brightness, functionality and screen size. Smart TVs seem to be the best for daily home use. A smart projector is a great option for when you want a cinematic experience, entertain guests or even outdoor use.