HD Projector Questions

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Jeff Lund, Apr 14, 2003.

  1. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    Since this will be my first forray into HDTV, I've been debating whether to go the RPTV or projector route. Unfortunately I don't know the finer points of projectors. Budget-wise, I'm looking in the $3000 range, minus the HD tuner. I don't even know if I can get an HD projector for that price. I guess that's why I'm here [​IMG] Of course I have several questions.
    • Is a projector a viable solution for a non-tweaker? I will definitely have it ISF'd but don't want to mess with it afterwards.
    • What seating distance equation is used for front projectors? I need to figure this out and see if this is even an option as I have limited areas to arrange the display.
    • I'm confused about screen sizes. Maybe the above question effects this one as well. Is there an average screen size? What manufacturer has the best screens? How expensive are they?
    • I am very aware of the new copy protection connectors and would like to a projector that won't be obsolete in a year.
    • What other things should I know regarding projectors? Honestly, it doesn't matter to me whether the projector is DLP, CRT, or LCD, just as long as it performs like a champ. Please feel free to suggest models in each category so I can compare and contrast the different technologies.

    Besides watching DVD/LD, I plan on watching tons of HD sports. So true 720p resolution is a must.

    Thanks in advance for your help and guidance.
     
  2. PaulHeroy

    PaulHeroy Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Jeff, as someone who impulsively jumped into the FP world nearly 2 years ago (via the NEC LT150), I highly recommend it. There is a definite learning curve, though.

    As for your questions:
    • Tweaking: some folks still recommend getting a used CRT but that's out of the question if you want to "set & forget". Most digital (LCD/DLP) projectors should have no problem in this regard.
    • Seating distance, screen size: "Throw ratio" is a term you want to get familiar with here. This will vary from projector to projector, but basically it's how large an image will be displayed from a certain projection distance. Some projectors will throw a 100" diagonal image from 10-11 feet, others will require 15-17 feet. Obviously your room size and arrangement comes into play here. Seating distance is usually expressed in terms of a ratio to the screen size; 1.5 - 2 is fairly typical. IOW if your screen is 80" wide, your seating distance would be 10-13 feet. Sitting closer can bring the "screen door effect" into play for some projectors. Many screens are available from DIY items using cloth or plastic boards, to expensive specialized screens. Dalite makes a wide range of moderately priced screens.
    • Copy protection: Definitely look for a DVI w/HDCP input, which is available but not incredibly common just yet.
    • Other stuff: You won't find a DLP with native 720 resolution in 16:9 mode at your budget, the closest is around $6k for a Toshiba MT8. There are pretty good LCD models which will fit that criteria, though, such as the Sony HS10. The Panasonic L300 while not native 720, is made as "quarter HD" resolution (960 x 540, 1/2 HD in each dimension) and supposedly looks very good with 1080i material. With LCD you will get greyer blacks than DLP but with bright material like sports it won't matter as much. At your budget very few of the DLPs have the "rainbow" artifact reductions found in higher priced models, so you may want to see if that's something which bothers you.

    For more info on specs and especially throw ratio, plus some reviews and recommendations visit Projector Central.
     
  3. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the reply Paul. My current set-up has my display approximately 16' away. This is ideal for me. So when I'm researching projectors, I need to make sure it states it will throw say a 100" image 16', correct?

    One thing I failed to mention is placement. From what I've read concerning projectors, they can either be installed on the ceiling or placed on a table (for lack of a better term). I know one potential drawback to the table mount is the projector can be bumped and knocked out of alignment. Any others I should be aware of? My HT is in a dedicated basement and unfortunately has a false ceiling. Since I know most of these projectors can be heavy, is there some sort of (inexpensive) kit that may alleviate this issue? The table mount may be my only alternative. If so, is there a "professional" way to keep the projector aligned in case of bumpage?

    Please keep the suggestions flowing.
     
  4. PaulHeroy

    PaulHeroy Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually, your projection distance is not necessarily tied to your seating distance. (Unless you're insisting on holding the projector. [​IMG] ) It depends on your room and how/where you want to mount the projector. Virtually all projectors can be ceiling mounted. The digital projectors are very light (less than 20 pounds for most) so your false ceiling may not be a problem, in fact it could be an advantage in some ways such as running wiring. I highly recommend going ceiling mount if possible. There are kits available from Chief and others, though I went DIY so don't know much about this.

    Back to seating distance... the one thing that WILL depend on that is screen size. If 16' is pretty fixed, you will probably want a larger screen. This in turn can have an effect on your projector choice because the larger the screen, the more light you need to throw at it. Most FP systems don't do well with much light in the room, but it sounds like you have a good room in that respect. This is where your basement might be a big advantage.
     
  5. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    It's funny you mentioned the Sony HS10 because that is THE exact projector I've had my eye on. From the research I've done, it is highly regarded for an entry level LCD projector. I'm just wondering if it has any weaknesses that I haven't read about. Or if there is anything else similarly featured and priced that I should look at.

    Once I narrow down some models, I'll need to go and demo projectors. I've done so before and was never really impressed. But then again I didn't know what to look for.

    I used the projector calculator over at Projector Central.com and here's the results from a designated 16' distance to screen. Please decipher what I need to know from the Diagonal, Height, & Width Range and what it means to me:

    Calculated 16:9 Image Size
    • Diagonal Range: 104-131 in. (8.6-10.9 ft.)
    • Height Range: 51-65 in. (4.2-5.3 ft.)
    • Width Range: 91-114 in. (7.5-9.5 ft.)

    Thanks for all the help [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    Jeff, here's a good viewing distance calculator that may help you out.
     
  7. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Craig. I'm still confused by all the range calculations above. What do they mean? Which one do I pay attention to when looking for a screen to purchase?

    Also, are there any more suggestions on models to look at? Other than the Sony HS10.
     
  8. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    digital projectors use a zoom lens that allows you to place the projector anywhere in a range of distances and then zoom the picture larger or smaller to fit the desired screen size.
    you need to select a screen size based on seating distance, light output and personal preference, then use that screen size to determine the placement range and then see if you can physically mount the projector in you room in that range.
     
  9. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    Upon further reading, I guess I'm looking for diagonal range, correct? I guess what I like about a projector is that it is customizable. You can have variable viewing distances for different home theater set-ups. But I haven't yet closed the door on HD RPTV's.

    Any other awesome entry level projectors I should look at?
     
  10. JasonGarrett

    JasonGarrett Agent

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    Panasonic PT-L300u
     
  11. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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  12. mark alan

    mark alan Supporting Actor

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    Jeff, I would second Paul's recommendation on ceiling mounting. A drop ceiling is perfect for a front projector. You can attach the mount to the joists above the ceiling, then run the mount through the drop ceiling to the projector. You end up with a very clean, out of the way unit, that looks very cool. Plus it makes running wires a breeze.

    It's sounds like the HS10 is best for you. However, if you want to save 500-1000 dollars, the panny 300u or the sanyo Z1 are both very nice. I am perfectly happy with the HD image on my Z1, even though the panel can't display the full resolution. With dvd's, the picture looks incredible.

    Of course, once you decide on the projector, you get the fun of determining what type of screen you want.
     
  13. RandyMathis

    RandyMathis Stunt Coordinator

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    Remember that the Panny isn't HDCP compatible! Nice projector but he said that he is doing this for HDTV.
     
  14. Jeff Lund

    Jeff Lund Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the suggestions guys. Randy is correct, the main reason for going with an HD projector is for HDTV, especially HD sports programming. Having 720p capabilities is extremely important. It's looking like the HS10 is my best bet within my budget. Now I'll have to go and demo the projector. Unfortunately, the nearest HT shop is 70 miles away.

    I just thought of another issue. Do I have to do anything special when switching between 4:3 material and 16:9 with a projector? Are there 4:3 & 16:9 screens? If so, which is best to get since at least half of my viewing will still be 4:3, non-anamorphic, standard-def programs? Any and all info regarding this is greatly appreciated.

    I'm afraid that I won't like the projector route. Maybe it's more accurate to say that it'll be so different from RPTV that it won't be familiar or comfortable. Or that it may be too complicated to install and leave. And I'll shy away from a projector eventhough it may be the best solution for improved HT & HD viewing. I don't know why I feel this way but I do. Maybe it's that I never seriously considered buying anything than a RPTV the past decade and I'm apprehensive about making the right decision in the midst of spending $1000's of dollars. Did anyone else have these reservations when getting into FPTV? Or am I just crazy?
     
  15. mark alan

    mark alan Supporting Actor

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  16. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Basement theatre? Do yourself a favour and seriously investigate the FPTV route. Regarding the screen, I would get a 16x9 screen to match up with your projectors 16x9 aspect ratio (assuming you got the HS10 or something similar). There are screens that have auto masking ($$$) to cater for the different aspect ratios of certain films.
     
  17. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Well, Jeff. I've jumped in head first and am just past the NEWB stage myself, but nowhere near ready for the deep end. Let me tell you what I've learned so far:

    1) It is not ever going to be 'fiddle free'. For a few thats bad, but for most, it is a good thing.

    2) Your budget is $3000.00 - have you thought about your screen? You can spends lots there too, depending on the size, retractable, etc.

    3) What about the DVD? They do not give you an output that is anything near HDTV, so you may see some defects or get some artifacts that you wouldnt get or notice on a smaller sreen. (I notice, my wife does not)

    I am presently dealing with #3. I have recently been turned onto Home Theater PC (HTPC), which you may also want to consider.

    It will play DVD with a signal output that matches your projector (acting as a scaler), you gan get a HDTV card to receive HDTV, you can set it to RECORD HDTV programming in HDTV quality, (not even possible w TIVO), and a multitude of other features. All for a cost that is not much more than you'll pay for a quality HDTV decoder.

    Click here:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...44#post1155144

    and scroll down until you get to Vince Maskeerers lengthy report "HTPC: Home Theater Personal Computer-An introduction to HTPC" He is the GURU of HTPC and his efforts to educate us are commendable.

    I am going to get a HTPC - though it is presently my wifes turn to buy a toy and she wants a Hot Tub. (I just got a projector and a car)

    When all is said and done, here are my specs:

    1 NEC LT260 projector (not 16:9 native, but I am gameing on it also plus I do not get HDTV in my rural area) Satalite looks GREAT on it. Cost $3000 using Projectorsuperstore through Projectorcentral.com bidding.

    2) Dalite 8X6 retractable screen - High Rez. $800-$1000.00 I forget. If I could do it again I'd get tensioned or a fixed screen. Fixed around $500 tensioned areound $2000 (in a dedicated room go fixed!)

    3) HTPC - depending if I chose to upgrade or buy: $250-$1000

    4) Sound system: 15" Velo sub, Infinity Entraone fronts, embarrasing-blah rears, Sherwood receiver and 100' of decent wire: $1,700.00

    5) Watching and FEELING a 6'X8' planet explode during MIB2 and hearing your children squeal with glee? - priceless!

    From what I've read of your posts I believe you'll be happy with a FPTV, but just remember that a $3000 projector is the core of the system, but not a stand-alone item.
     
  18. Mark Nguyen

    Mark Nguyen Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeff,

    Definitely go with the HS10. You won't regret, especially with HDTV programs. No worries about availability, you can pick one up right now at ABT in Glenview...it's not far from you.


    Mark
     

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