What Is a Front Projection Television?

A front projection television uses a small projector to push an image onto a separate screen. In most cases, a front projection television is made of two parts that are completely separate from one another. The projector takes in the television signals from outside sources, digital video disk (DVD) players or other connected devices and uses a strong light to send those images to the second part of the system. The picture is actually viewed on a screen or clear part of the wall. While these televisions are less common than they were in the past, the large display size coupled with a lower cost still make these systems attractive to many people.

There are two basic types of projection TVs: front and rear projection. The two devices work in a very similar way, but the front projection has two separate parts and the rear projection is enclosed in a single unit. The core of both systems is the projector. This device sends the picture through open air to a screen where people watch it. This is contrasted by other TV technologies where the picture moves through a sealed area or is created right on the screen.

In many ways, a front projection television is like using a movie projector for a television. A bright light shines through a series of lenses and a screen containing a picture. On older movie projectors, this is a strip of film, but on newer projectors or a front projection television, this is a transparent plate containing a digital image. The lenses focus and magnify this picture and the light projects it across open space to the screen.

The screen portion of a front projection television has a specific level of reflectivity. This allows the picture to display without glare or distortion. If a projection television projects onto a bare wall, the paint may distort the picture. To counteract this, a special type of paint is available that will create a screen-like finish. The downside of this process is the wall needs to remain empty and white as opposed to the screen, which can roll up when not in use.

There are two main advantages that front projection televisions have over other types: size and cost. The projection system will have an optimum distance for television viewing, but small modifications will allow for a much larger projected area. This means that the projector can mimic the size of a very large TV, but use much less space. This also translates into a much lower cost-by-size than standard TVs. Even when the cost of the special screen is included in the total, a front projection television is much more cost-efficient that other TV types.