The 6 Best Reasons to Buy a Rear-Projection TV Today

Gone are the days when giant screens used to be a real luxury. You can now bring large screens with better pictures into your living room to enjoy watching movies and regular TV, thanks to Rear-Projection TVs (RPTVs). While production of new rear-projection TVs ceased over a decade ago, they remain available on the secondary market and still offer unbeatable value compared to today‘s ever larger and more expensive flat panels.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about rear-projection TVs in 2023 – their history, how the technology works, reasons why they can still make sense today, and specific models to consider across screen sizes and budgets.

A Brief History of Rear-Projection TVs

Rear projection TVs first emerged in the early 1970s as way to manufacture much larger screen sizes than the 12 to 20 inch direct view CRT televisions that were standard at the time. Projecting images onto a screen from behind allowed for big pictures without the limitations of small CRT tubes.

While crude at first, rear projection technology improved substantially in the 1980s and 1990s. TV giants like Sony, Samsung, Mitsubishi and others offered rear projection models alongside direct view CRTs as large-screen alternatives for consumers. Screen sizes stretching to 60, 70, even 90 inches provided a true home theater experience.

Rear projection TVs remained popular until the rise of plasma and LCD flat panel TVs in the 2000s. Production slowed but units continued to be manufactured. Mitsubishi was the final holdout, producing rear projection DLP and LCoS models under their LaserVue line until ceasing production in 2012.

So while new rear projection TVs are no longer made today, they were churned out for over 30 years and remain widely available on the used market from resellers and private parties. Their unmatched screen sizes still offer great bang for the buck versus newer flat screen technologies.

How Rear Projection TV Technology Works

As the name implies, rear projection TVs work by projecting images from behind the screen rather than directly emitting light like a traditional CRT or flat panel display. This allows for much larger screen sizes than self-emissive technologies permit.

There are three main projection technologies used in rear projection TVs over the years:

CRT – Uses three separate cathode ray tubes (red, green, blue) to project images onto the screen. Simple and inexpensive but very large and heavy.

LCD – Liquid crystal display panels modulate light from a lamp, images are projected through lenses onto the screen. Slimmer than CRT but image quality varies.

DLP – Uses a digital micromirror device (DMD chip) reflecting light source to precise pixels on the screen via lenses. Great image clarity but projection lamps require occasional replacement.

Modern rear projection TVs utilize DLP or 3-chip LCD projection for the best image quality, with lamps lasting 2,000 – 5,000 hours before needing replacement.

6 Best Reasons to Buy a Rear Projection TV Today

While flat panel TVs now dominate the market and capture all the attention, buying a rear projection TV in 2023 can still make a lot of sense if you know what to look for. Here are six great reasons rear projection TVs should still be considered today:

1. Massive Screen Sizes

With diagonal measurements ranging from 50 inches up to 90 inches, rear projection delivers the largest screen sizes for the money versus any new technology today. $1,000-$2,000 buys you a 70" to 80" giant screen to immerse yourself in movies and sports. Equivalent sized LED/LCD televisions often cost 5x as much or even more. Projection still rules for maximum cinematic impact.

2. Excellent Value Per Inch

Larger flat panel TVs continue to come down in price, but rear projection still beats them in cost per diagonal inch of screen real estate. Used 80" rear projection units can readily be found for $800-1500. Compare that to $2000+ for a new 80" 4K LCD tv. You get more inches-per-dollar with rear projection – great bang for the buck.

3. Integrated Audio Systems

While thinning down modern flat panels means disappearing speakers, rear projection TVs retain excellent integrated audio with multiple speaker drivers and subwoofers pushing sound forward into the room. Many models rival surround sound systems for an immersive listening experience from one unit.

4. Ambient Light Tolerance

Ever struggle to reduce living room lighting to watch darker movie scenes on a flat screen without washout? Rear projection handles ambient light much better thanks to their extra brightness and non-reflective matte screens. No need to turn the room pitch black for excellent image quality.

5. Low Maintenance

Projection TVs contain no easily damaged panel layers like OLED or LCD. As long as good ventilation is maintained and DLP lamps are replaced periodically, they hum along for years without costly repairs. CRT rear projection models run even longer sans any lamps to wear out.

6. 2D To 3D Conversion Ability

Many late model Mitsubishi and Samsung DLP RPTVs can be upgraded to simulate 3D through the addition of 3D sync hardware and glasses. It‘s like getting a whole new modern 3D tv after a simple upgrade.

Rear Projection Buying Guide – Which Models Still Make Sense?

If we‘ve convinced you that rear projection TVs still deliver serious bang for the buck and screen size in 2023, you probably want to know which specific models are still worth buying used today. Here are our recommendations across various screen sizes and budgets:

50-60 inch Budget Models

  • Sony KDF-60XS955 60-Inch Grand WEGA SXRD Rear Projection TV
  • Toshiba MW20HM1 20-inch CRT Rear Projection TV
  • Sony KDF-50E2000 50-inch LCD Projection TV

Mid-sized 60-70 inch Sweet Spot

  • Mitsubishi WD-73737 73-inch 3D DLP HDTV
  • Samsung HL-R7178W 78-inch DLP HDTV
  • Sony KDF-70XBR2 70-Inch Bravia SXRD 2Projection TV

Giant 80+ inch Home Theater

  • Mitsubishi WD-82738 82-inch 3D DLP Home Cinema TV
  • Toshiba 84HM95 84-inch CRT Rear Projection TV
  • Sony KP-84HS30 84-inch SXRD Grand Wega High-Definition TV

We specifically recommend focusing on late-model Mitsubishi, Sony and Samsung DLP-based rear projection units. They provide the best balance of image quality, brightness, feature sets, reliability, and maintenance costs.

Most name-brand 1080p capable rear projection TVs from the mid 2000s onward make for great buys in the used market if total screen size for the dollar is the priority. Even 720p models works well for movies, sports and HDTV usage if your seating distance is 10+ feet.

Standout Features to Look For

Here are some other key features and capabilities to keep an eye out for when shopping pre-owned rear projection sets:

  • Digital & HDMI Inputs – Allow connecting modern set top devices instead of just analog inputs
  • 1080p Capable Models – True high definition clarity, though 720p works well from longer seating distances
  • 3D Ready – As noted above, 3D can be added to many late model Mitsubishi & Samsung DLP RPTVs
  • New Lamps – Replacing rear projection TV lamps runs $150-$350. Try to negotiate this into the price if original lamps are near end of rated life.
  • Integrated HDTV Tuners – Receive over the air HD channels; external tuners can be added if missing
  • Excellent Physical Condition – No heavy scratching/damage to screen or cabinetry. All inputs/outputs functioning.

Thoroughly test out any used rear projection TV before purchase. Project test images and video, connect external devices to HDMI inputs, inspect lamps and fans for dust buildup. This will help avoid any post-purchase surprises or expensive repairs needed.

Rear Projection TVs – Frequently Asked Questions

How long do rear projection TVs last?

With proper care and maintenance, a rear projection TV can provide 15-20 years of usage before image quality degrades or breakdown risks accelerate. Well built CRT and DLP models frequently exceed 10 years in regular use. Just be sure to periodically replace air filters and projection lamps in DLP sets.

Can you mount rear projection TVs on a wall?

No – rear projection units are large, heavy, and not designed for wall mounting. They require ample stable floor space and ventilation instead.

Can I use a projection TV for modern gaming?

For casual gaming yes, but fast twitch gamers will want to stick with modern gaming monitors. Projection TVs top out at 60Hz refresh rates and can experience some input lag. Their big screens still excel for adventure and racing titles. Just make sure your projection TV model and gaming console output align – 1080p, 720p, etc.

How often do the projection lamps need replacement?

DLP projection lamps average 2,000 to 5,000 hours before requiring replacement. Depending on usage levels,plan on a new lamp every 2-4 years. Pricing ranges from $150-$350+. Lamp life remaining can be checked in most models service menus.

Can I connect wireless streaming devices and sound bars?

Yes, modern inputs like HDMI and optical audio outputs allow connecting streaming media players, Blu-ray disks players, sound bars and more. Just check your specific model rear projection TVs input specs before purchasing external gear.

The Bottom Line – Should You Buy a Projection TV in 2023?

In our opinion – absolutely yes! If maximum screen size for your budget is the top priority and you have room for a large rear projection system, they simply can‘t be beaten.

Prices for used units continue to drop while rival flat panels trend ever more expensive in the 75 to 85 inch categories. Projection delivers an unrivaled cinematic experience at a fraction of the price of today‘s gigantic LCDs.

We expect supplies of good condition rear projection TVs to dwindle over time as secondary inventories decline. Savvy shoppers should gobble up these big screen beasts while they still can!

So there you have it – 6 great reasons to buy a rear projection TV even here in 2023. Thanks for reading and enjoy your new big screen!

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