HOW TO SPOT "FAKE" PROJECTORS
When it comes to projectors, like with most things in life, nobody wants to pay more than they need to. And with a wide range of prices and specifications, it can be difficult to work out which product is suitable, especially if you are not a specialist in projectors.
Increasingly over the last couple of years we have been contacted by customers who have purchased new projectors on Amazon or Ebay at very low prices and who are looking for advice or spares. Unfortunately, we very often have to deliver the bad news that the projector they bought is not what was advertised.
This quick guide is to help you spot "fake" projectors. If you are in any doubt, talk to specialists like us.
THE PRICE IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
You will have heard the saying "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is", and this is the biggest red flag with projectors.
If you see a brand new projector claiming high specifications and prices below £100, there is 99.9% chances it is a Chinese product with a misleading or down right fraudulent description.
There are reasons why projectors from reputable manufacturers such as Epson, Panasonic, Sony, BenQ, Optoma, Acer etc. have prices starting from around £250 (October 2019) for even the lowest specifications, and it's not simply because they are famous brands that want to make a profit. The technology involved in making bright, high resolution, durable projectors has a cost and that is reflected in the retail price.
If you want a good projector, be prepared to pay more than £200.
This being said, a price over £200 is not a guarantee as we have seen "fake" projectors advertised on Amazon in the region of £300-400 so check the other factors below.
BEWARE MISLEADING SPECIFICATIONS
"Fake" projectors claim brightness levels of 1500 lumens, 3000 lumens, 4000 lumens or even higher yet the manufacturer recommends using the projector in the dark. Most reviews show images in pitch black and even then, the images often lack contrast.
That is because this is a false claim and the projector is more likely below 500 lumens.
"Fake" projectors claim they have Full HD 1080p resolution yet the image looks soft and they cost less than £400.
In our experience most of these projectors have VGA or WVGA resolution at best and while they can down-sample a Full HD signal, they certainly are not projecting in Full HD.
IS IT A REPUTABLE MANUFACTURER?
Reputable manufacturers will sell their products in more than one outlet and will not be found solely on Amazon or Ebay or be sold by China based trade sellers.
Before buying, check UK based specialist projector retailers' websites or shops and see which brands are often advertised. While some may be new to you, they will be easily found on other specialists' websites.
If you are still unsure, check the manufacturer's own website.
Reputable manufacturers have professional websites with details about their products, support and contact details in the UK or Europe.
See below a quick list of well-known and trustworthy projector manufacturers:
Epson, Sony, Panasonic, NEC, BenQ, Acer, Casio, Infocus, Optoma, Hitachi, Viewsonic, Vivitek, Philips, Canon, Christie, Dell, Digital Projection, JVC.
Beware of questionable brands like:
Apeman, Elephas, Dr Q., Vankyo, GooDee, Vasttron, Vamvo, XuanPad, Artlii, Topvision, Bomaker, Anker, Kuak, Abox, Yaufey, iXunGo, BeamerKing, Toumei, Jinhoo, Crosstour, QKK, WiMius, Yaber, Abdtech, Wonnie, Turewell, Poyank etc.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and the brand names are changed regularly to avoid bad publicity.
ARE SPARES AVAILABLE TO BUY?
One of the reasons customers who have bought one of these "fake" projectors contact us is because their projector has failed after 2-3 months of use, they need a replacement lamp and they cannot find one anywhere online.
If the projector is advertised as an LED projector with a lamp life of 30.000 to 50.000 hours, it means the lamp cannot be replaced and a new projector needs to be purchased when the light source fails.
While LED projectors from decent manufacturers do indeed last thousands of hours and should last many years, cheap "fake" projectors often fail after just a few months; just long enough for the trade seller and/or manufacturer to disappear.
If the projector is a lamp-based model, can you find the replacement lamp model (or any other accessories) sold anywhere?
We only sell lamps from reputable manufacturers who continue to support their products for years after the model is discontinued.
These questionable brands and their trade-sellers flood websites like Amazon with fake paid-for positive reviews to fool customers so it is difficult to ascertain if a product is genuinely good or not.
Pay close attention to the negative reviews from verified purchases that will give you a clearer idea of what the product really is like, warts and all.
The common complaints are that the projectors are dim, noisy, out of focus and that they have a fixed lens so there is no flexibility in the positioning of the projector. And of course, they stop working quite quickly.
If your budget is limited to less than £100 and you just need a disposable projector for fun in the dark at home and are not too bothered about the best quality image, the projectors mentioned throughout this quick guide may be sufficient for your needs until you can access something better. However, be careful as there may be safety issues, in particular if the manufacturer recommends turning the projector off after 2-3 hours of use to avoid overheating.
If however, you need a decent projector for a presentation or if you are looking for a serious home cinema projector, talk to a specialist projector retailer like Purple Cat for advice. Any good supplier will be able to take your budget into account and recommend the best projector model for your needs and offer after sales support if you need it.
You can contact us on 01924 278464 and we will be happy to help.