Video Projector Buying Guide

3-D Video Projectors

If you're in the market for 3-D video projectors, you have a lot to choose from. What makes 3-D devices different is that they can project what looks like two images overlaid with a slight offset. You'll need to wear the 3-D glasses that come with the projector to perceive the two images as one three-dimensional picture. We've covered this technology in more detail in our article How 3-D TV Works.

When selecting a 3-D video projector, you'll first choose between these different types:

  • Full HD 3-D projectors can project two separate images on the screen at once in the offset needed to produce a 3-D effect, and they're compatible with the 1080p 3-D signal from Blu-ray players and other HDMI 1.4 standard devices.
  • PC 3-D-ready projectors can accept 120 Hz video refresh rates from a computer's 3-D video card, such as those featuring NVIDIA's 3-D Vision technology.

As of this writing, HD 3-D projectors range in price from $850 to $6500. The PC 3-D-ready projectors fell in the same range, but included some cheaper models around $300. No matter which type you choose, the projector's up-front cost and maintenance is higher when you decide to go 3-D. Here are some of the costs you should expect besides the projector itself:

  • A screen and mounting mechanisms -- These additions apply here as with other types of video projectors.
  • Additional and replacement 3-D glasses -- Most 3-D projectors we found included two pair of glasses. Extras could run you between $80 and $150 for each pair. The type of glasses you need depends on the requirements of your particular projector.
  • A 3-D video card -- If you're using a 3-D-ready projector with a computer, the computer will need 3-D video capability. NVIDIA GeForce cards with 3-D Vision cost between $75 and $750 -- the higher-end cards are recommended for gaming.
  • Cables -- If you don't have an HDMI cable that's capable of carrying HDMI 1.4 digital signals, you'll need to purchase one. Be sure it's long enough for a direct connection between the video source and projector.
  • Batteries -- Besides batteries for a remote control, each pair of glasses might require batteries, too. This is because many 3-D video projectors rely on technology in the glasses to actively work with the projector to form the image that your eyes should perceive. Most of these glasses have rechargeable batteries, though, which minimizes battery cost over time.

Sometimes you need portability in a projector. On the next page, we'll check out what makes video projectors portable, and how you should shop differently when you have portability in mind.