What Is A Projector? How Do Projectors Work? (The Complete Guide)

How do projectors work? How are they able to project images and videos onto screens so large? Find out all you need to know about projectors, including how they work, the different types of projectors available, and the uses of this technology today!

What is a projector and how do projectors work?

Basically, a projector is a device that takes an image and enlarges it. This can be done in one of three ways: with rear-projection systems, direct-view projection systems or pico projectors. 

The differences between them have to do with how you get images from devices like computers and video game consoles onto your screen. Most popular are front and rear-projection systems, but there are also some good uses for direct view TVs if space is limited. 

However they’re made, all projectors function in basically the same way as huge magnifying glasses; more on that later!

Different Types of Projectors

Before you dive into learning how projectors work, it’s a good idea to know about the three main types by application and size: large-venue, small-venue and fixed. 

Large Venue Projectors

As you might have guessed, large-venue projectors are used in places like auditoriums, stadiums and more.

The biggest advantage of these types of projectors is that they’re very powerful, but there’s one huge drawback — they require a lot of space. On top of being big, high-powered projectors also cost quite a bit (some can run up to $50,000). 

Fixed Projectors

On another end of the spectrum are fixed projectors. These aren’t as powerful as large venue models and aren’t really designed for movies, but they do give off some pretty decent light while costing significantly less than their high-powered counterparts.

Their biggest disadvantage is mobility; since they have to be connected to a wall or ceiling, it’s not possible to move them around too much. 

Small-venue projectors

If you want to get an image on a screen right away without having to buy any extra equipment, then small-venue projectors are what you need.

You may only get 200 lumens out of these little guys, but if all you need is something to see your presentation at a meeting or give off some ambient light from your bedroom wall, then that’s perfectly fine.

They’re cheap enough that it makes sense to just keep a projector in every room of your house just in case.

Based on their features and technology, here are the different types of projectors:

  • Classroom Projector
  • LED Projector
  • Laser Light Projector
  • Short Throw Projector
  • Pocket Projector
  • Optoma Projector
  • Movie Projector
  • Projector TV
  • 4k Projector
  • Video Projector
  • DLP Projector
  • Film Projector
  • Light Projector
  • Laser Projector
  • LCD Projector
  • Mini Projector
  • Mini Ray Projector
  • Nebula Projector

What are the different display types of projectors?

Small LCD video projector on table in living room, watching movies in home theater

DLP, LCD and 3LCD are all display types that manufacturers use for projectors. Let’s take a look at each one and explain how they work.

They can be found in everything from huge conference rooms to classroom whiteboards to your living room home theater system. Here is a breakdown of each type.

DLP (Digital Light Processing) 

DLP projection uses an array of millions of tiny mirrors to project images onto a screen. Each mirror flips between two angles causing light either through or away from a lens depending on what you want it to do, creating clear images with excellent color depth and quality. 

The downside to DLP technology is that if any individual mirror on any individual chip fails, then there’s no backup. You need every single mirror working perfectly to get an image out of it.

Also, because these chips have moving parts, care must be taken when cleaning them so as not to damage them. 

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

LCD projectors work by illuminating three separate color panels which together create an entire RGB (Red-Green-Blue) picture. This means that all three colors must function properly before you see anything and because of this, parts such as lamps last much longer than their DLP counterparts. 

But even here, if only one panel fails you don’t get an image; something to think about when choosing your next presentation tool. 


3LCD stands for three liquid crystal displays and works exactly like LCD but instead of using red/green/blue pixels it uses cyan/magenta/yellow pixels. These triads combine to produce full color. 

If one pixel goes down, you still get a viewable image whereas DLP requires perfect functioning of each pixel and lamp for everything to work. 

In fact, 3LCD projectors will always have more lumens per watt. 

Uses of a projector

Projectors have many applications and uses. These are the most common uses of projectors:

In classrooms

The most common use of projectors is in classrooms. Teachers often show videos or use transparencies to help teach students. The teacher can also use a projector for presentations to parents or to students from other schools. 


Projectors are also very common at conferences, seminars and trade shows. Presenters often display their work on a large screen so everyone can see it at once. 

Playing video games

Finally, with advancements in technology many people have started using projectors to play video games. Although not as popular as televisions, many homes now have small pico-projectors that connect wirelessly to their computers and allow them to stream movies onto their walls. 

Watching movies

You can even connect larger projectors directly to your computer if you need more space than your wall offers! This makes these devices perfect for showing movies during parties! More expensive models are sold specially designed for outdoor movie nights. 

These outdoor projectors come with different features like ambient light sensors and advanced focus adjustment systems that can make projection easy in any situation.

These models often include infrared connectivity which allows users to control them without ever having to move away from their seats. An excellent feature when you’re sitting outside and don’t want rain getting into your device!

All these uses have helped make projectors both affordable and necessary items around most offices today.

Benefits of owning a projector

There are several advantages of owning a projector which includes the following:

1. Massive Screen Real Estate 

The big advantage of a projector is that it can produce massive screen sizes without any bezels or borders getting in your way. Of course, if you want to go really big, you’ll need to invest in a good screen as well.

That’s where 4K projectors excel – by using pixel-shifting techniques, they can display over eight million pixels at a time on a screen as small as 60 inches. 

2. Flexible Viewing Angles 

So even though we’ve already discussed how limited viewing angles are one of LCDs major disadvantages, let’s look at why most projectors don’t suffer from these issues.

First off, almost all projectors use DLP technology which was originally developed for use in cinema screens and brings with it two distinct advantages: zoned illumination and fixed mirrors (rather than moving ones).

Both ensure that regardless of where you’re sitting, you’ll get a clear picture with no degradation whatsoever. 

3. Low Maintenance Cost 

Unlike traditional TVs, projectors don’t have power-hungry backlights. Instead, they rely on LEDs placed directly behind each color filter in order to create their light source.

Not only does that make them more efficient overall but also considerably easier to maintain since you won’t need to replace blown bulbs anymore. Additionally, LED lights tend to last a lot longer so unless there’s some kind of manufacturing defect involved, chances are these will outlast your entire TV set! 

4. Easy Set Up 

No matter what size screen you prefer, setting up a projector is an easy process that doesn’t require too much work. Simply connect it to an HDTV tuner box or console via HDMI then choose whether you’d like to mount it on a ceiling or wall and voila! You now have yourself a large screen TV. 

5. Better Control Over Image Quality 

Last but not least, projectors give you better control over image quality because many allow you to fine-tune image settings such as brightness and contrast levels in order to achieve optimal results under different lighting conditions.

All of those features combined make owning a projector far more practical than keeping another bulky flat panel TV around…not to mention how great they look understated in any room’s decor!

READ: How do Wireless routers Work? – How to set them up


Now you know what a projector is and how projectors works, plus some of its uses. While projectors have been around for many years, they’re more popular than ever before. 

With today’s ultra high definition televisions becoming more common, there are plenty of reasons to consider purchasing a projector rather than buying a television set.

Projectors provide an immersive experience that can’t be matched by flat-screen TVs and make it possible to watch content in large groups or outdoors. 

There are even special projectors designed specifically for gaming! If you’ve decided to buy a projector, now all you need to do is choose which one best suits your needs and budget. We hope we’ve made your decision easier with our buyer’s guide.


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