We set up a home theatre for under R3,000

MyBroadband set out to build a theatre experience at home for as little money as possible and found a projector, screen, and sound system for R2,714.67.

The project started with a budget 1080p LED projector from Amazon that exceeded all our expectations.

After looking at independent reviews and verifying the specifications of several low-cost options, we settled on a Videochars 1080p Native projector.

Although initially disappointed by its late-afternoon performance in a room with open blinds, tests after dark were much better.

Projector: Videochars 1080p Native — R1323.84 ($83.79)

The Videochars 1080p LED projector’s specifications are as follows:

  • 1080p native resolution
  • 100 ANSI Brightness
  • 15deg vertical keystone adjustment
  • Type-C, Micro SD, HDMI, USB and AV inputs
  • Aux Output
  • 12V Power
The projector — we bought a videochars 1080p native for R1,323.84

This projector, and most others in the price range, are not bright enough for daylight use. However, that is not their main purpose.

After dark, we found that it performed well. The experience was satisfactory even when projecting on a light beige wall, which is not optimal.

The courier delivered the projector in less than two weeks. Amazon handled the customs duties, which were already included in the price at checkout.

Including shipping and taxes, the projector was R1323.84.

Its sound quality was acceptable for watching shows in a small room, but we felt it was lacking when it came to blockbuster movies.

We easily improved the audio quality with a second-hand 5.1-channel sound bar for R999.

Sound System: Sinotec SBS-511HS 5.1CH Soundbar System — R999 second-hand

  • 3 Channel Soundbar
  • 2 Satellite speakers
  • Active subwoofer/receiver combination
  • 630W RMS Output
  • Bluetooth, Aux, Optical and HDMI inputs
Speakers — Sinotec SBS-511HS 5.1CH Soundbar System

While searching for an upgraded sound system, we discovered that reviews for lower-end sound systems were rare.

This makes comparing them difficult unless you go to a physical store to hear them for yourself. However, the best deals for new soundbars were available from online stores.

The second-hand market also has great deals available — from soundbars to free-standing 7.1 speaker systems with separate receivers.

These items can usually be tested before buying, allowing you to compare systems and find something that will fit your budget and use case if you are willing to spend the time to shop around.

The Sinotec system we bought had good reviews on Takealot, but buying it new would have pushed us over our low budget.

The second-hand price made it a sweet deal, and it works well to provide a more immersive experience while watching movies.

Screen: 120″ Reflective Cloth Screen — R391.83

We also tried finding ways to improve the image by projecting onto different surfaces and ultimately bought a cheap ambient light rejecting screen from Banggood.

The screen was inexpensive enough to take the risk, but we would not recommend it for a home theatre setup.

While it does a great job of reducing the effect of ambient light around the screen, the viewing angles were horrible.

There was an area of around 1m around the projector where the image looked great, but that dropped off rapidly in all directions.

In the end, we were happier simply projecting onto a light wall. A simple white projector screen would also work.

The overall experience using the projector and sound system to watch movies has been surprisingly good.

The screen can be made big enough on a wall to make for an immersive experience while remaining bright enough to view in the evening if all the lights in the room are switched off.

The sound quality is solid, with the subwoofer providing enough bass that you can feel explosions on-screen like in a real cinema.

Having control over the entire setup offers many benefits over going to the cinema, as you can pause to get a snack and adjust the volume to whatever level works for you.

Considering the prices of movie tickets, cinema snacks, and the cost of driving to a mall with the current fuel prices, a home cinema can quickly pay for itself.

The projector is also quite portable, allowing for different scenarios, such as watching a movie against a bedroom wall.

Now read: We tested a R223 metal detector with surprisingly good results

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We set up a home theatre for under R3,000