Non Tech human seeks Roku Projector for Netflix and Amazon adventures
January 11, 2017 7:35 PM   Subscribe

40" Roku- can it be duplicated with a projector?

I live in a very very small free standing...home (154 sq. feet total includes my kitchen bath and closet) and have been considering getting a TV. I do have a place I could put it, but I'll be mad, I think, more than I am happy about the wall space it will consume, and I'm only talking a 40" or so. I have heard LED Projectors are getting much cheaper, and research agrees, but I'm not tech capable. I own an Iphone 5, and have, after 6 years here, finally purchased service from ATT for wireless. No computer (I have a limping pc my brother built from scraps 5 years ago, no wireless, bought a little plug in which seems to work).
I'd prefer a bad projection to a physical object, all things considered.
I'm assuming that if i buy a TV I'll have a remote and I can watch Netflix or Amazon on it because I have wireless in my shack. Easy peasy.

So, is there a projector for dummies? Roku enabled? Somehow remote capable?

(Pony and a jetpack would be great! Thanks!)

It's a babbling question, but stop me from buying a 40" Vizio Roku whatever if I can get the same from a projector. Thank you.
posted by metasav to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pretty much every LED projector will connect to a Roku box via HDMI. Turn on the projector, use the Roku remote to stream your shows. Easy. We do it often for special movie nights with the kids.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:58 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Two projector caveats to keep in mind:

1) Speakers built into a projector won't be as loud and clear as those in a TV
2) Projector picture won't look as good when the room is bright

Regarding the Roku, you'll probably want to plug in a Roku stick rather than a box.
posted by actionstations at 8:23 PM on January 11, 2017

Some Rokus come with a headphone jack in the remote. Might solve the audio issue.
posted by artdrectr at 10:18 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

This should indeed be easy-peasy, if you check for a couple things.
I'll overexplain since you're expressing self-doubt on getting it right.

The projector you get should have in its listings
1) an 'HDMI input ' (you'll plug a Roku into this)
2) an 'audio out' output (optional, but recommended - you'll plug a set of simple computer speakers, the kind that use a standard headphone jack connector, into this)

HDMI is the current standard combined video+audio cable/connector; the Roku uses it, and so will an Amazon FireTV, or a Chromecast, and your next computer will probably use it too. So just make sure the projector you get has a connector for an HDMI source and your source options will be covered. Most LED projectors will have it, but check.

It is true that most projectors' built in speakers won't be very good. You can get around this by getting a projector that has an audio output, which should look like the standard headphone jack you see in everything else that has sound. Into this output you'll plug some speakers that have that same headphone connection as their input (aka 'computer/PC speakers'). Most LED projectors will have this, but check.

So wireless Internet--> Roku --> Roku's HDMI Output --> projector's HDMI Input will get you picture and (maybe) wimpy sound out of the projector. Add 'PC speakers' to boost the sound. Add wall to aim projector at. Done!

You will control what you're watching with the Roku's remote. The projector's remote can be used to turn the projector light on and off, and to control the volume.
posted by bartleby at 1:47 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just to clarify the issue.

From what you said... I think that you consider "roku" to be a service that comes with a Vizio TV (for example).

Roku is actually available as a standalone box and even a smaller "stick" model. And yes, some manufacturers like Vizio have started bundling them inside the TV directly, but the standalone versions can be connected to pretty much any device with an HDMI input.

So get yourself a roku box or stick (see, you probably won't need 4K so something like the $50 "streaming stick", or even the $30 "roku express" will be enough) and whichever projector you can afford and that should be enough.

A couple of additional things to consider to make your experience better: a real screen, or screen paint in the wall... and speakers, although this might require a receiver, or a soundbar system.
posted by sd at 4:43 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have a projector. I bought a Roku stick for $50 and just plugged it right into the back of the projector, followed the setup instructions, and that was that. Works great. To plug mine into a speaker requires a separate little connector with two different input thingies in red and white, which I'm sure someone will be along to explain the name of shortly, as I'm not all that tech savvy either.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:10 AM on January 12, 2017

showbiz_liz, that sounds like Analog RCA Audio connectors.
posted by mmascolino at 7:01 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some Rokus come with a headphone jack in the remote. Might solve the audio issue.

Just a warning that the Roku stick doesn't support this, only the higher end boxes.
posted by bluecore at 8:30 AM on January 12, 2017

A couple things no one has brought up yet:

First, for the size space you're looking at you're almost certainly going to need a short-throw projector. Be sure to plug whatever model you're interested in into a throw distance calculator to make sure you can get your 40" at the distance you plan to place the projector and be sure to look up the specs for a given projector to make sure it'd be in focus. For instance, the wirecutter's recommendation for a "cheap" projector projector has a minimum projected size of 60" which would require a throw distance of 7' which is likely more space than you have. In contrast, their recommendation for a 720p short-throw projector has a minimum throw distance of 1.3' and is 40" across at 1'6".

The other thing no one has mentioned is fan noise. I am the very happy owner of a projector system but I paid a fair bit for one that was consistently quiet because fan noise on low end models can be extremely loud and distracting.

Good luck.
posted by lucasks at 11:28 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Re getting sound out of the setup, my projector has an eighth-inch headphone jack, and I plug external speakers into that rather than the streaming device. Since HDMI can carry video and audio, if you get a projector with such a jack (appears to be a pretty common feature) then you can get away with a pretty cheap streaming device (the roku stick or a chromecast).
posted by aspersioncast at 1:36 PM on January 12, 2017

@ showbiz_liz, [and others] those are indeed RCA connectors (old style, red is Right speaker and white is Left speaker). You can connect those to a big-ass stereo amplifier with RCA cables, or just spend $5 on an adapter like this and plug in headphones or computer speakers.

@ metasav, if it's just you watching - or you're stealthy - and you don't want to bother with the speakers or irksome-projector-fan-noise part, make your Roku purchase the Premiere Plus model. It has a feature that lets you plug your own headphones right into the Roku's remote, negating the need for any other sound device.

P.S. you know what works pretty well as a projection screen in a small living space? a dry-erase 'whiteboard'.
posted by bartleby at 3:01 PM on January 12, 2017

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