A Projector - should I?

Posted by: PeterChenoweth

A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 11:45 AM

I'm seeking advice from other Axiomites regarding home theater projectors.

Background:
I'm sort of in the thinking/early research mode about purchasing a new TV. My plan was that probably this summer/fall I'd take the plunge into a HDTV set. We currently have a pretty decent 36" Toshiba flat-tube SDTV that's about 5 years old. It's a good, solid, standard TV. Signal source is currently standard Dish Network. We've got a couple of friends' that own larger (56"+ HDTV) sets with either DirectTV or DishHD and they look great, I'm even quite impressed at even just regular 480p DVD's.

The Deal:
So about a week ago I discovered this . $730 (after $100 rebate) for a 720p (and a few online reviews say it secretly actually does 1080i) projector that seems to get good reviews, a 92" fixed screen, 25' component cables, and a ceiling mount. Seems like a heck of a deal. I really wasn't in the market *today* to buy something like this, but that price is really grabbing me. It's literally less than 1/3rd the cost of the HDTV's that I've been looking at. I'm thinking that something like this would be a significant upgrade from what I have, but not be so expensive as to rule out a big plasma 1080p HDTV in perhaps a year or so as prices fall even further.

The Question:
So can anyone offer any advice about this projector or projectors in general? I've never owned a projector. They always seemed too expensive compared to a 'regular' TV. I realize that this model is a couple of years old and it's an LCD projector as opposed to DLP, which is why it's pretty cheap. Professional & personal reviews, however, all seem to be quite positive and that was when it was $3,000. My den has one clean wall that's about 95" wide, so that screen would fit beautifully. I would be sitting about 12' away, so it's a little tight on the seating, but seems ok based on reviews. A shelf above the seating position even is the correct size for the projector. The room does have quite a few windows but they're heavily draped and 90%+ of our tv/movie watching is done at night anyway, so ambient light should be ok too.

The only big negative I'm finding about projectors is the $200-$300 blub replacement cost after 2000ish hours. 2k hours for my wife and I would be more than 2 years of use, so that doesn't seem too bad.

So what advice can anyone offer? Save my pennies for that 'regular' HDTV set in a few months? Take the plunge and join the projector-club? Help!
Posted by: Hutzal

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 11:52 AM

Just ask yourself this question:

Do I want a 92" plasma-looking screen or do I want a 55" HDTV for 3x as much?

Projectors are totally the way to go man. If you can do it (right lighting conditions, space, etc.) it is THE way to go, I am planning on getting one very soon...waiting for funds!
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 01:44 PM

Very nice post, Peter. I am in a quite similar mindset.

I'll be interested to see what Bridgman, mdrew, sirquack and others say about this.

I've had good information gathering experiences at the AVS forum. Also liked my initial contact with ProjectorPeople.com. Finally, don't forget about the calculators and other resources at projectorcentral.

I'm gravitating towards the Mitsubishi HD1000U. The DLP's don't have the placement flexibility that LCD's do, but depending upon your room, it might not matter.

I'm pretty sold on doing a DIY screen (because I want to and I'm cheap) using the Wilsonart Designer Grey laminate. Probably about 102" diag at 12.5 feet viewing distance. Again, DIY screen forum at AVS.
Posted by: SirQuack

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 02:04 PM

That does seem like a heck of a deal. When this projector was first released, Projector Central noticed a softness to the image, no matter what input source. My guess is that has been resolved as the reviews seem positive.

Whenever someone asks me about a projector, I always say at least get 720p or better. There is nothing like watching HD over the air signals in HD, amazing.

Oh yeah, Star Wars at 130" 2.35AR is pretty cool, as is Napoleon Dynamite at 104" 1.85AR also.




Posted by: Stymie

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 02:19 PM

Not to hijack, but a related topic. Does anyone have an electric screen they can recommend or have general feedback on? I wired my room for a projector, but have yet to pull the trigger. I plan on recessing my current 36" CRT TV into the wall for normal SD viewing with a ~92" electric screen that will drop down in front of the TV for HD and movie watching. I'm hoping to get the best of both worlds.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 02:39 PM

Big, bright, high res -- choose any two

Seriously, I think your decision will depend on (a) whether you care more about size or brightness, and (b) whether you have at least some control over ambient light.

I jumped at getting a projector when the price for a 720p dropped to $1800 CDN and am *very* happy with the decision. At least two of my friends, however, went with large RPTVs because (a) they felt that brightness (and, to some extent, sharpness) was more important than the extra size, and (b) they were spending enough money that they wanted some future-proofing in the form of 1080p native resolution.

None of us have any regrets.

This is going to be a decision you really need to make based on your own priorities, and you're probably going to have to look at some systems to be sure. Remember that pretty much everything you see in the store is going to be cranked up to an insane brightness level and you probably won't want to run that at home, both for longevity and picture quality.

Finally, I'm not sure "projector now, TV later" is the ideal path... the same rationale that you use to choose a projector now will probably hold when it's time to upgrade.

I would be thinking either "720 projector now, 1080 projector later" or "hold off for a bit and get the 1080 TV I really want". Then again people say I think too much.
Posted by: SirQuack

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 02:59 PM

monoprice dot com has some very affordable remote/electric screens in matte white, they seem to be pretty decent.
Posted by: Stymie

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 03:01 PM

Thanks. I'll check 'em out.
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 03:03 PM

This is some great advice. I really appreciate it!

I have been in the presence of exactly one really nice projector setup at a home theater specialty shop, and it was nothing short of astounding. That was a $10k projector, however.

I would say that my primary question is really, "how flexible are projector setups?" A TV is easy. You figure out the size you want, read some online reviews, pick one out that looks good, and plop it down in your room. Done. With projectors, I'm simply inexperienced and don't know how it will look in my room. That said, I went out on a whim and bought these unheard Axiom speakers and look what happened .

My feeling is that my room is probably better suited to a HDTV, but I could be very wrong in that assumption. It's not in a basement and is where we do our 'general' TV watching. I don't (yet) have the luxury of a seperate, finished-basement type home theater room that can be kept theater-dark and employ large singular comfy chairs. So that's another question - can a projector be used as an everyday setup or is that silly? How bad will regular TV look on this thing? Unwatchable? I know, these are questions that no one here can probably answer.

I've not ever really thought about owning a projector, and that's the basis of my questions. This package deal just seems so cheap for what you get. I mean, it's barely more than half what I paid for my TV 5ish years ago.

I'm very curious to hear others opinions, and it's nice to hear that so many of you say it's the only way to go.
Posted by: SirQuack

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 03:14 PM

Here is the link.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/subdepartment.asp?c_id=108&cp_id=10829&style=
Posted by: Stymie

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 03:44 PM

I'm in a similar boat in that I originally wanted to go with a projector only for all TV/movie viewing. After researching online, I came to the conclusion that it probably wasn't the best thing to do based on bulb life expectancy/cost. My wife convinced me that a 60" RPTV was the way to go. It's bigger than what we currently have, but not as big as a nice sized screen. I was planning to go with a 96" screen. After researching the RPTV, it has similar issues with needing to replace the bulb. (My TV tends to stay on even when no one is watching...ie sleeping on couch.) This isn't a good thing when bulbs have a finite life expectancy.

After a significant amount of indecision, I finally decided (90% sure) that my best option is to keep my current CRT TV for regular viewing and to only use a projector for movies and HD shows. To accomplish this, as noted above, I plan on recessing my TV into the wall so that the front of the TV is flush with the wall. I also plan on doing the same with my audio cabinet. This will allow me to get an electric screen to drop down in front of the TV when needed.

Obviously, not everyone can do this so you have to figure out what works best for you in your environment.

I'm currently looking at the Panny AX100U and the Sanyo PLV-Z5. By the time I get all of this done and pull the trigger, those will be replaced with new models, I'm sure.
Posted by: Krich

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 04:33 PM

I agree with most here. If you can do a projection setup, by all means, do it!

I was 100% into getting the new Media Room set up with a projector. My issue is that the room was just too small to get it done. Plus there was the ever escalating cost of construction and my deep paranoia of "screwing up the install". I was going to have to reverse the double doors leading into the room, hire an electrician to put an outlet on the ceiling, pay a premium for running at least 25' of HDMI, Component, DVI, etc cables to the projector, the screen was going to have to completely block out a window, and on and on and on. I came to the realization that, as much as I wanted it, it simply wasn't the right room for a projector.

So, I consoled myself by buying, as my wife puts it, an "embarassingly large" DLP. Brought my neighborhood buddies over, drank beer, and took turns saying, "Yep, that's nice". The cost came out to roughly the same price as buying a nice and highly rated 720p projector with associated accoutrements and construction costs added in. Plus, it got my wife off the "custom cabinetry" kick, bane of all speakers.

So, yeah, I had to trade a 96" for a 73", but with a 11' viewing distance, what's the difference between a "big yoda" and a "really big yoda"? (Boy, that really sounds like I'm trying to convince myself it was a good decision. I guess I'm still in mourning about all that... )
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 05:24 PM

Ken, my Evergreen-State-Brother!

You snowed-in today? Not me.

I'd do a 73" RPTV in a heartbeat (but no smaller). I would need that much viewing area to not decrease the size of 4:3 content from my current 55" Mitsubishi. Problem is, a TV that big is mighty expensive. I don't really mind snaking cables and installing outlets, so I think I can do a projector setup for less than half of what something like that would cost.

Quote:

what's the difference between a "big yoda" and a "really big yoda"?




Where's Peter?
Posted by: jakeman

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 06:37 PM

That is a great deal for a projector of that quality. Anybody who owns a projector will say its a much more immersive experience than any Tv display.

Getting a good 720p projector at todays prices is actually pretty smart shopping.

There is alot of hype about 1080p resolution but most video experts and ISF calibrators would rank the following in order of importance when comparing image quality: high contrast ratio, greyscale linearity, colour uniformity and lastly resolution. According to my calibrator he says my 720p Sim HT300e excels in the first 3 criteria and throws a superior image to many 1080p projectors. Its also more fun to watch than my 60" Sony 1080p LCos rear projector tv. Resolution is important but not as important as a good size image with high contrast, great greyscale tracking and excellent colour.

When reseaching your projector purchase try to find one with the highest on/off ansi ratio and highest lumens. Reviewers should give some insight on how linear it tracks greyscale. $200-$300 for a new bulb after 2000hrs is pretty good pricing.
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 07:19 PM

I'd appreciate it if you left my really big yoda out of this.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 07:22 PM

Money.
Posted by: Ray3

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 07:53 PM

I just went through the same decision-making process. After having finished my basement last winter, I wanted to replace my Sony LCD.

I saw some well set up/calibrated projectors in completely light controlled rooms and even had my wife (AKA, my opinion) with me.

We tried REALLY hard to like the projectors, but we both reached the same conclusions. Really big picture, but we were disappointed with the overall brightness, "pop" for color and the softness of the image in relation to a TV. Also, the idea of bulb replacement on top of the projector and a screen didn't raise my lumens.

Finally bought a 58" Panasonic plasma and we are thrilled with it. A lot of real estate and the clarity, definition and pop (without bulbs and screens) we were looking for.

It really boils down to budget and personal preference.

BTW - you may want to go to Projector Central and look at some reviews. That unit you mentioned on ecost doesn't usually show up in the top recommendations.

Good luck with it!

Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 09:02 PM

Still enjoying all the posts....

http://www.projectorcentral.com/Hitachi-PJTX100_UltraVision.htm

This is the projector, and it has 4.5 stars out of 5 from 75 reviews, so people do seem to like it. No, I wouldn't pay MSRP for a 2 year old projector design, but we're talking $700 bucks with screen, cables, & ceiling mount!

So now I've even put together 3D models using Google Sketchup to see what it will look like....

Now


After Projector


View from outside


'Tis awfully tempting!
Posted by: snakeyes

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 09:23 PM

Quote:

I'd appreciate it if you left my really big yoda out of this.



I hate to tell you this Peter but a really big Yoda is still a small.
Posted by: PaulM

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/01/07 10:20 PM

Peter
Whether you should go the projector route, as Ray and others have said, really depends on what you are most looking for in a video display.

I've got a projector and love it. Like you, I found a great deal and went for it. I watch 80% DVD movies with the odd audio DVD and VHS movie thrown in. I watch very little TV and it is set up in the basement with maximum light control so it was an easy decision (no brainer) for me. When I do watch TV (mostly news and the odd hockey game) I usually use my old 21" CRT. That's because I have what my co-workers call "peasant TV", an antenna. Reception isn't very good and when I use the projector the large image just enhances all the imperfections of the poor quality signal. If I watched a lot of TV I'd want to use the projector and then I think I'd invest in HDTV service. For a while I had cable TV and it was ok through the projector, but I had to be happy with a fairly soft focus image.

Something else to consider is you have a lot of windows in that room. At 1200 lumens, it will be important for you to control lighting or the picture will wash out (particularly the blacks). This calculator at Projector Central will give you an idea of what levels of ambient light the picture starts to degrade significantly for various throw distances.

Before I purchased I borrowed a projector from work and brought it home a couple weekends in a row to see if it was what I was looking for. If you've got similar access to one you might consider test driving one at home.

I'm cheap and always looking for the best bang for the buck (like the Axioms for sound). You've found a great deal, especially if you aren't inclined to go the DIY route for a screen. If I were purchasing all over again I'd also go the 720P route (till the 1080P's come down in price and the Blue-Ray/HDDVD war resolves itself - could be a few years) and, like Tom, give the Mitsubishi HD1000U a hard look. It is an Editors choice at Projector Central and sells for $1000. The Sanyo Z5 and Panny PT-AX100U get awesome ratings and are more versatile in terms of rooms they will project beautifully in. But of course they are about double the $$.

Good luck in your decision.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 12:55 AM

If the room really has as much window area as your sketches indicate (and if the view outside is nice) I would stay with the TV despite everything I have said so far
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 09:31 AM

That is a very accurate representation of my room. The view isn't all that great out thet back - just my neighbor's back yard. We have fairly heavy (but somewhat translucent) curtains over all of the windows right now.

Thanks to everyone for suggesting those websites. The tools and reviews are quite useful. I'm finding that with my room size and that projector, the calculators suggest a room with 2-4 footcandles of illumination, which is pretty dark. During the morning and early afternoon that room is in direct sunlight - and I suspect that this projector would be pretty washed out. Bad for early NFL games.

Right now I'm leaning more and more against the projector route. Though if eCost drops the price another $100 I might not be able to resist....
Posted by: dennisdxl32

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 10:18 AM

Slightly off-topic, but I'd go to resellerratings.com and read a little bit about eCost. 'Tis not pretty. I was looking into buying something from them recently, but the reviews scared me away.
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 10:23 AM

Well, I've not ever had any problems with eCost. I've purchased more than a dozen things from them over the past couple of years and have never had any problems.

Quote:

Slightly off-topic, but I'd go to resellerratings.com and read a little bit about eCost. 'Tis not pretty. I was looking into buying something from them recently, but the reviews scared me away.



Posted by: Krich

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 11:46 AM

Quote:

Ken, my Evergreen-State-Brother!

You snowed-in today? Not me.





Nope. I'm in Denver on business. The wife and kids had the day off though.
Posted by: michael_d

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 01:33 PM

I’m having trouble opening the link, so I have no idea what projector you’re looking at Peter.

Regardless of the “deal”, I can share some thoughts about this choice you’re contemplating.

Projectors are not as simple as TV’s. No way and if anyone tries to tell you differently, they are full of crap. But they are not an onerously troublesome device that will give you hours of grief either. With projectors you have to contend with ambient light, mounting locations, screen size, zoom, contrast, brightness, type of screen, bulbs, fans, user interface, etc. All of these things can be easily learned and dealt with, just don’t walk into this blind.

The ideal situation is a completely light controlled room because you are sending a beam of light threw the air to a reflective surface (screen) that you get the pleasure of looking at. But, with the right projector and screen, you can get away with using a projector in an area WITH ambient light. You will have to spec out a projector with good lumens and also get yourself a good screen with a + gain. Now depending on the contrast ratio of the projector, you may be able to get away with a standard white screen with a + gain, but typically, you will want to go with a silver or grey screen to bring out the colors. These high contrast + gain screens get expensive. You can also try your hand at a DIY screen, and good luck with that. I did and wasn’t happy with the results.

One thing you need to be aware of is advertised ratings and real world test results. Do not believe what your read. If the projector you are looking at is rated at 10,000/1 contrast ratio, it’s probably more like 4,000/1. If it has a lumens rating of 1000, it’s probably more like 300. Do not, really – do not believe these ratings. Try to find a review where they reviewer tests this to a recognized standard. The reason this is so important is that you need to know real contrast and lumens so that you can decide which screen you can get away with. The two work hand in hand.

There are other things to consider as well, like where you will mount the projector. If it’s 8’ away, you need to find a short throw projector. Not all projectors can be mounted that close to the screen without throwing up huge image. Or, if you mount it 20’ away, you need to find a long throw projector that won’t put up a huge image with that long of a throw. But there is a trade off with this as well. The longer the throw, the lower your lumens will be. The more you zoom the lower the lumens. So you need to figure this out and then look for the right projector for your application. Not just the cheapest.

The debate over 720p and 1080p is a good one. When I view a really good HD movie in my room with my “old” Panny 900 in 720P, I have a very difficult time believing how a 1080P projector could throw up a better image. It is so realistic, so vivid, so much color and depth, I just can’t believe that it can get any better. But, I have not ever seen anything with a higher resolution, so maybe it can be better. I just don’t know for sure. I am however currious enough to find out and will be buying a 1080P projector as soon as I make up my mind which one to get. But for your room/application, I believe you are better off sticking with 720P. Not so much for image quality, but lumens. The current crop of 1080P projectors do not have sufficient lumen output for an application where there is much ambient light. You have to spend well over ten grand to get one that will work for your intended location.

So is it worth it??? Yes, I think it is. Should you think seriously about it?? Absolutely. Just do your homework and don’t go too cheap. Put up a “to not exceed” budget and give it a try. But be realistic too. You can’t expect miracles for pennies. Just because you find a good deal, does not mean that that good deal is the best option for your intended application.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 02:03 PM

Geex, I think Mike has Post Projector Stress Syndrome.

Where's JP?

Mike, Peter is looking at the Hitachi PJ-TX100, I think.

I have a couple more stupid questions.

As I mentioned, I am considering the Mitsubishi HD1000U.

My current target implementation has the projector mounted above and barely behind the listening position (which is at about 12.5 feet). I have a little flexibility, but not much. And there is NO WAY for me to get the projector in front of the seating. Don't ask.

First, screen height. My understanding is that the eyeballs of the primary viewing position should be about midway "up" the screen. Does that seem right? So, for example, if my eyeballs are 40 inches from the floor and I have a 50 inch tall screen (for 4:3 or 16:9), then the bottom of my screen should only be about 15" off the floor?

Second, aspect ratio adjustment. These are probably projector specific, but I can't seem find or understand the answers at AVS. I can't draw ascii pictures and I don't have the time to rival Peter's sketchup skills, so try to stay with me. Start with a 16:9 screen. Will a 4:3 image necessarily fall in the middle of the screen with equal, corresponding "black bars" on each side and the same image height?

Third, same question for projecting a 2.35:1 image on a 16:9 screen. I know Randy and Mike have those groovy constant-height lenses, but I'm not ready to go there. So, I understand I will have a constant width image and black bars at the top and/or the bottom. Again, my question is does that image necessarily fall smack in the middle of the screen height-wise, or what?

Finally, are you guys at all comfortable with cable runs longer than 25 feet? And it seems like I'd want to run both HDMI and Component video, right?

Thanks very much for sharing your experiences.
Posted by: michael_d

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 04:55 PM

Geex, I think Mike has Post Projector Stress Syndrome.

Why? Did I come across as a jerk or something?? If so, sorry. Remember I don’t talk a whole lot. I’ve never been called a social butterfly, so I tend to keep things brief and to the point.

My current target implementation has the projector mounted above and barely behind the listening position (which is at about 12.5 feet). I have a little flexibility, but not much. And there is NO WAY for me to get the projector in front of the seating. Don't ask.

That’s actually preferable and less distracting.

First, screen height. My understanding is that the eyeballs of the primary viewing position should be about midway "up" the screen. Does that seem right? So, for example, if my eyeballs are 40 inches from the floor and I have a 50 inch tall screen (for 4:3 or 16:9), then the bottom of my screen should only be about 15" off the floor?

Rule of thumb is the bottom 1/3 of the screen should be eye level and below. My screen’s center is 45” from the floor and believe me, when it was 55”, I hated it. I am not a front row in the theater kind of guy, so if you are this may not even be a consideration. But it is a good idea to play with this height for a while and move it later to where you are comfortable with it. Just don’t hang it permanently until you have it “just right”. A couple inches can make a big difference.

Second, aspect ratio adjustment. These are probably projector specific, but I can't seem find or understand the answers at AVS. I can't draw ascii pictures and I don't have the time to rival Peter's sketchup skills, so try to stay with me. Start with a 16:9 screen. Will a 4:3 image necessarily fall in the middle of the screen with equal, corresponding "black bars" on each side and the same image height?

I scale all 4.3 stuff to 16.9 with the projector. I never have a 4.3 image on the screen and it looks just fine. Remember, 95% of the stuff you will watch is 16.9 or wider (including TV). But at any rate, the image will be centered in the screen horizontally. When you go from one AR to another, the bands at the top and bottom will be equal once you do the initial image centering when you throw up your first test pattern to set up the projector.

Third, same question for projecting a 2.35:1 image on a 16:9 screen. I know Randy and Mike have those groovy constant-height lenses, but I'm not ready to go there. So, I understand I will have a constant width image and black bars at the top and/or the bottom. Again, my question is does that image necessarily fall smack in the middle of the screen height-wise, or what?

Yes.

Finally, are you guys at all comfortable with cable runs longer than 25 feet? And it seems like I'd want to run both HDMI and Component video, right?

Yes. Just use a good cable. Monoprice or Blue Jeans 24 gauge would be more than adequate. You want one that will carry the 1.3 data bandwidth and I’m pretty sure 24 gauge will support that, but it’s worth checking into so you don’t have to pull new cables in again a year later. Pulling a component cable is really optional. I ran them, but don’t ever use them because I use the VP-50 and don’t need to. You should run at least one analogue cable for your receiver menu in case it can’t be carried over HDMI. I’d also recommend running a single, 1/8” mono cable in case you decide to use a RF/IR remote system like the MX-series. The flashers need to be routed from the devise controlled to the RF receiver. It’s a bitch pulling this when cables are already in the pipe (yep, I know).

Thanks very much for sharing your experiences.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 05:25 PM

Don't worry, you didn't say anything wrong and your post was very informative.

I think the comment was related to the sheer number of issues that you said needed to be considered -- sounded very much like someone who had "just been there", had learned a *lot* in the process, and was still a bit bruised

EDIT -- Tom, I second everything mdrew said. Given your seating height and screen height, the bottom of your screen should probably be 23-24" off the ground. That would put the "1/3 of the way up the screen from the bottom" point at eye level.

SECOND EDIT -- Make that "I second everything except stretching a 4:3 image to 16:9 and watching it that way".

I *hate* watching stretched images
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 05:40 PM

Quote:

Did I come across as a jerk or something?




Not at all! Like John said, it sounds like you have put yourself through a lot during this process, so I am extremely appreciative of you helping me not duplicate your frustrations.

Thanks, Mike. I'm grateful for you taking the time to help out. And perhaps I should apologize to PeterC for usurping his thread. Sorry. Just got excited about the bigscreen.
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 05:57 PM

You absolutely should not appologize. This is a forum for all!! I'm enjoying the discussion, even if it strays a bit off topic.

Spent half the day reading reviews on projectors & setup techniques. So much for work productivity!

Still trying to make up my mind.
Posted by: chesseroo

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 06:01 PM

Quote:

Don't worry, you didn't say anything wrong and your post was very informative.

I think the comment was related to the sheer number of issues that you said needed to be considered -- sounded very much like someone who had "just been there", had learned a *lot* in the process, and was still a bit bruised




mdrew, i have to agree with bridgman. Your post is informative of the dark side of the projector world in a moderate manner. I very much enjoy reading the negative aspects of personal reviews as long as they remain objective rather than degrade to simple insults of a product or company.

Many things that have been posted in this thread also apply to our media room. Originally i designed it for a projection system at one end of the room. Before the room was really complete, we realized that seating might work better in a 90 degree shifted arrangement so we had the room wired in 2 directions for 7.1 sound. However, i ran only one access tube in the original orientation for projector wires. They would come down from the ceiling in behind a screen and then connect immediately to the left or right hand side where we would locate the equipment.
After the room was complete, we felt that the 'second' orientation layout was better for viewing and are still using the Toshiba 52" RPTV (1080i capable which has been great) instead of a projector. I've been mulling over the idea much like Peter has and i have come to similar conclusions.
  • I like the idea of the projector and the big screen it can produce.
  • I would want a very sharp screen so the projector brand would likely cost 3-5k. Much research required.
  • No home made screens here so add to the cost probably about 1k.
  • Add the cost of running the long cables, however the ceiling plug was put up in advance planning.
  • Concerns about fan noise due to the close location to seating. Much research needed.
  • Seating distance only 11' in one direction, about 12' in the other. Again, considerations for the projector style and how big a screen is needed at such a distance (calculators say no more than about 80" if i recall).
  • We watch regular tv, sometimes HD, in this room so we need to consider bulb life, or the option of having both a tv and projector (really not feasible unless you have a larger room and the $ to have both).
  • Prices of large size HD tvs (plasma, lcd and new formats coming out) are dropping like mad, especially lcd.
  • Ease of installation and use vs. a plop down tv.

At this point, i think we have decided against buying a projector simply to get a screen of 80-85" max in our media room. I think we are now leaning towards a 70"-80" hdtv, just not anytime soon. Maybe in a few years at best and once more HD programming comes to our area.
Posted by: michael_d

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 07:33 PM

Whew……I was worried there. I've been trying to behave.

John/Tom,

When I said I scale 4.3 to 16.9, the image is not stretched, and I agree, stretched images look like crap. I suspect the projector simply re-scales the image and whacks the top and bottom a wee bit. This would lead me to think that heads and feet would get whacked, but they don’t. It MAY be, that all the content on Satellite is 16.9 now??? At any rate, it is not a concern to me, and I’m pretty darn fussy.

One other point I overlooked was how SD images look on a big screen. Well, they look like crap. Horrible. But, they don’t look any better to me on the 27” TV in my rec room then the 50” hdtv upstairs or the 96” screen. The point being, is crap is crap and it stinks no matter how much of you got on the bottom of your shoes. I wouldn’t even worry about this. If you can stand SD now on whatever sized TV you have now, you’ll be able to stand it on a 120” screen.

The real problem with SD, is when you get to see an HD / BR movie in all its glory, EVERYTHING else looks like crap. If I didn’t have a $3000 video processor to do its magic with SD dvd’s, I’d have a collection of 800 sd/dvds ready for the dumpster. The only SD tv I watch are the very, very few shows I enjoy….and that’s only if I can’t get them on dvd.

Too bad SutterCane doesn’t visit here that much, he’s got a wealth of knowledge to share on this topic. I think he’s had several projectors in his house the past few months doing back to back tests trying to figure out which one to keep….including 1080P projectors. You should shoot him a PM and get his thoughts. If I recall, he’s leaning towards an Epson 720P unit.
Posted by: SirQuack

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/02/07 08:53 PM

1/3rd eye line of sight from the bottom is a good rule of thumb, but not set in stone. Many people use 1/6th from the bottom. A lot depends on if you have 2 rows of viewing seating and how high you build your platforms.
Posted by: Sutter Cane

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/03/07 03:56 AM

Hi Peter,

I don't have any first hand experience with the projector in question, but perhaps I can shed some light on the subject in general.

When a person is considering a projector for the very fist time, it more offten then not comes across as a royal pain in the a$$. Don't let that stop you or scare you off, for it's not as complicated as it all sounds, or comes across. There's just simply many, many questions that one needs to ask themselves, for there are many things that need to be considered.

For example...

1. What kind of projector do I want, 720p or 1080p?
2. What kind of screen do I want and or need (ie. high gain, low gain, white, silver, grey)?
3. What size of screen do I want?
4. What kind of setup do I want, do I want a 16.9 setup, or a Constant Imagine Height 2.35 setup?
5. How far from the screen will my seating be?
6. Is my room dark or light in color?
7. Do I have total light control, or are there windows?
8. Is your room fully enclosed, or does it open up into other rooms?
9. How much can I afford to spend?

These are all things that will play a roll in which type of projector you should go with, as well as which type of screen would be best.

Once you have answered those questions for yourself, you then move on to the second series of questions.

1. What am I after? What it is you're wanting to do.

2. Which projector will give me all or most of what I'm looking for, for the least amount of money? This is very important, because most of us are not rolling in the dough, with cash flowing out of our rear ends. It's not like we have money trees growing out in the backyard that we can just pull as much cash off of whenever we want/need to. Despite what anybody says, cost is always an issue to "some" extent.

3. Will, and or could, my decision effect other things that I'm going to want and need to pull off the setup that I want to do? Example: If I purchase the most expensive projector, would it or could it effect getting that new screen I want, or that new lens I've been eyeballing ect...ect...?

4. Do I really want to jump up to a 1080p projector now, knowing that they will only get better and cheaper as time goes on?

And......

5. Am I really going to benefit from a 1080p projector? The fact of the matter is, many people, despite what they "want" to think, will not. It all boils down to various factors, such as how far from the screen they're going to sit, how big of screen they're projecting on, is the room light controled or is it not, ect... ect...

These are all things that I feel everybody should ask themselves and take under serious consideration. Unfortunately, alot of people fail to do so.

Once you've answered these questions for yourself, you'll be better prepared to make a logical and sound decision based upon what is best for you, your setup, and of course, your wallet.

The reason that I recommend these steps, is because in this hobby it's simply far to easy to get sucked into what I call the bandwagon game. There's constantly new products that are always coming out. With these new products comes a lot of hype, some justifed, some not. We all hear this hype and by nature we get excited. These feelings of excitement often causes us to make irrational decisions, without throughly thinking things through. So ask yourself these questions, and buy what's right for you, your needs, your system/setup, and ultimately your budget. By doing so, I think you'll find greater peace of mind and a system that you'll not only love, but one in which you can enjoy for years to come.

Now with all that said, before one can ask themselves questions regarding projectors and screens, they've got to know what's out there and have a basic understanding of the differenct technologies. More then likely you'll be considering either an LCD or DLP projector.

Those who have read my posts and or reviews over at AVS, would probably tell you that I favor LCD projectors; And they'd be correct.

It's not that I do not like DLP projectors. I've owned a few in the past, and they were all great projectors. I just don't favor them, for I don't find most of them to be worth their cost, if for no other reason then their lack of flexability.

Now they're fine if you don't have any setup restrictions, but a lot of guys have their theaters in basements, which usually means low ceilings. This creates a big problem with most DLP's because a good majority of them have very huge offsets, and very few of them have lens shift or a good zoom/throw range.

It's mostly do to these reason as to why I do not favor DLP projectors. That and unfortunately for me, I am sensitive to RBE (rainbows).

Moving on..... You've also got, in terms of HD projectors, 720p and 1080p. Which do you want to go with, which is better?

There's a lot of debate as to how much better a 1080p unit is, and some of the points made are valid ones at that. However, I've been in the game long enough to know that resolution isn't everything. Important, yes, but in my opinion it's the sum of the parts that equals the whole. I feel brightness, contrast, and lumen output is just as important. Some will agree, some will disagree, but it's a debatable issue though, and a debate I usually stay out of. Everybody has their own opinions regarding the matter, and everybody is entitled to their own opinion, so it's all good.

As for screens, If you don't mind putting in a little work and effort, the DIY route is a good way to go. You can make a really great screen for far less then what an equivalent one would/can cost you.

Should you decide to buy one, then I'd take a look at Carada BW, it's hard to beat for money and everyone that I know who has the Carada BW loves it.

Stepping up further, Stewart screens are excellent, and the High Power by Dalite is great, but I personally don't like it. It's a pain in a$$, but if you can set up your projector correctly in respect to the screen, the results are breath taking. Personally, I'd opt for the Vutec SilverStar if I had to choose between the Dalite High Power and Vutec SilverStar. I found the PQ a little better and it doesn't have the restrictions that comes with Dalite High Power. In other words, you can pretty much mount your projector anywhere you want, ceiling, shelf, table, ect.. ect...

Now I could go on and on, but I'll stop here for now. If you have any other questions, or I can be of further help/assistance to you or anybody else here, please feel free to ask, or fire me a PM.

I wish you the best of luck and sincerely hope that I've been of some help.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/03/07 08:58 AM

>>The real problem with SD, is when you get to see an HD / BR movie in all its glory, EVERYTHING else looks like crap.

I am working very hard to avoid seeing a good HD/BR setup. I'm currently very happy with my system and would like to keep it that way. (covers eyes) La la la la.... !!!
Posted by: chesseroo

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/03/07 09:17 AM

Quote:

One other point I overlooked was how SD images look on a big screen. Well, they look like crap. Horrible. But, they don’t look any better to me on the 27” TV in my rec room then the 50” hdtv upstairs or the 96” screen. The point being, is crap is crap and it stinks no matter how much of you got on the bottom of your shoes. I wouldn’t even worry about this. If you can stand SD now on whatever sized TV you have now, you’ll be able to stand it on a 120” screen



Which is exactly why i'm leaning away from buying a projector for which i know we would be watching some SD content.
Crappy signal on a 50" eleven feet away already looks bad. I do not want to see the same thing in a 80" version!

With more and higher resolution HD, one can sit closer to a larger screen without seeing the pixels in their eyes, and unfortunately, we just are not there yet.
Posted by: michael_d

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/03/07 10:39 AM

Sutter,

So you are still alive …….Hope you’re feeling better.

Did you ever get around to summarizing your thoughts on the different projectors you’ve been looking at?

And what exactly is this Rainbow effect I see mentioned all the time?? What’s it look like?


Chess/John,

My advise to you is to stay far away from HD/BR then…….Stay away from Lowery Digital films too because they do such a good job of cleaning up movies that they look damn near HD.

When I first got the VP-50 I was pretty awed by how good SD/DVD’s looked, and it does a pretty good job at cleaning up SD/TV too, but the disparity between the two stayed the same. Then I bought the HD/DVD player and was pretty much screwed at that point. Now I’ve got it and BR and am totally screwed. And it’s not just the image. The sound is so much better……all SD is pathetic in comparison. So really, don’t go down the HD road unless you go all out.
Posted by: jakeman

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/03/07 11:10 AM

That was a great post SutterCane. I thought I would comment on one aspect of your post dealing with DLP vs. LCD which I thought needed more balance. You state:

"It's not that I do not like DLP projectors. I've owned a few in the past, and they were all great projectors. I just don't favor them, for I don't find most of them to be worth their cost, if for no other reason then their lack of flexability.

Now they're fine if you don't have any setup restrictions, but a lot of guys have their theaters in basements, which usually means low ceilings. This creates a big problem with most DLP's because a good majority of them have very huge offsets, and very few of them have lens shift or a good zoom/throw range.

It's mostly do to these reason as to why I do not favor DLP projectors. That and unfortunately for me, I am sensitive to RBE (rainbows)."

Like a majority of people I can't see DLP rainbows so it wasn't a factor for me and I understand with advances in recent DLP projectors very few people can see this artifact. I regret that you are one of the few because on balance DLP has several advantages over LCD especially for dedicated HTs. To be fair both technologies have their strengths and weaknesses which are well documented and researched.

A concern I have with my LCD and LCos displays is that they are more subject to color shift and loss of contrast over time because of their greater sensitivy to degradation of the panels from heat. I don't have the link handy but research on the two technologies showed that at 2000hrs LCD displays showed deteriorating contrast compared to DLP units. The reason for this has to do with the compounds in the panels being more subject to organic chemical breakdown from heat stress particularly the blue polarizer. That's why many LCD displays including several I have owned show a shift to yellow and blue after one or two years. I recently purchased a sony LCos display hoping to avoid this longer term problem but my ISF calibrator tells me it will be just a susceptible.

Where I prefer LCD over DLP is in its greater lumens, sharpness, and heat efficiency. However in categories such as smoothness of image, contrast, and pixilation I would favour DLP. Colour rendition is pretty well a tossup between the two. If size of projector is a factor which it can be in some setups and for convenience DLP projectors are usually smaller and weigh less than the LCD projectors.

In considering these factors I have opted to use LCD/LCos displays in areas of high ambient light or for TV viewing. LCD dislays are generally brighter and work well in rooms where ambient light cannot be easily controlled. Conversely in my dedicated HT where I can control light easily DLP projectors work well, assuming like most people you cannot see rainbows.

With regards to setup flexibility that's the first time I have seen such a concern. Virtually all projectors I have viewed, DLP and LCD, or researched have varying offsets and zoom/throw ranges. In my HT I require a long throw of 20ft and there are numerous alternatives available. I have my projector installed near the ceiling without any noticeable image problems. All projectors have certain optimal working ranges and ProjectorCentral has several tools which one should check.

If going with DLPs a high gain screen is important to consider. Though for any projector, I believe the advantages of a high gain screen far outweigh any potential negatives and you have listed my favourites. Currently I'm using a 110" diagonal Vutec Silverstar which I like for its large viewing cone as well as the high gain. Most viewers remark the screen looks like a big plasma TV, which reminds me of the dangers of pigeonholing any of these technologies.

Price considerations aside, it really comes down to how you choose to implement them to take advantage of their strenghts and weaknesses.
Posted by: SirQuack

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/03/07 11:22 AM

mdrew,

The rainbow effect is basically a flutter of colored light that exists on DLP based projectors, especially in darker scenes. It is most apparent in the 2-3x speed DLP wheels. I've heard that when you get into the more expensive DLP's with faster wheels, it may not be a problem.

If you place both of your hands in front of your face about 8-10 inches, with your fingers spread apart, and then move your hands side to side real fast crossing each other, that is what it looks like.
Posted by: real80sman

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/03/07 11:36 AM

Quote:

If you place both of your hands in front of your face about 8-10 inches, with your fingers spread apart, and then move your hands side to side real fast crossing each other, that is what it looks like.




Ha. Ha. Very funny. My wife just walked by - stopped - shook her head - then walked away. Thanks Randy. I didn't need your help.
Posted by: michael_d

Re: A Projector - should I? - 03/03/07 01:12 PM

Quote:

Quote:

If you place both of your hands in front of your face about 8-10 inches, with your fingers spread apart, and then move your hands side to side real fast crossing each other, that is what it looks like.




Ha. Ha. Very funny. My wife just walked by - stopped - shook her head - then walked away. Thanks Randy. I didn't need your help.





I'll try that “test” when I'm sure of privacy....my girlfriend is already convinced I'm nuts. No need to confirm her convictions in that regards.

It doesn't sound like a pleasant experience nonetheless. And definitely one that I want to make sure I’m not sensitive to.

I’ve narrowed down my choice of 1080P projectors to three. I haven’t even bothered to see if they are DLP, LCD or other. I suppose I oughta do that….

Panasonic 1000
Sony Pearl
JVC RS1