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Which one? FP or RPTV for best Picture


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#1 of 21 OFFLINE   Domonic A

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Posted October 26 2003 - 02:53 AM

This may be a little long so I apolagize. I need help selecting a video source for my HT. The room is 13.5' wide by 33' long with a split 7 & 8' ceiling with the viewing distance being 16-19'. I am not sure on some of the techinal terms so bear with me.

I currently have DirecTv without the HD reciever. I would like to say it will be mainly for movies, but I know I will end up watching tv on it also.

1.) Should I look for a video source that up-convert the signal or purchase the DirecTv with HD that would convert the signal?

2.) What sort of picture will I get from a FP from an anolog signal? Will it stretch the picture to a 16:9 fromat with out making the people look twice as fat?

3.) The guy at the store told me that the Infocus and a few others where meant for still pictures and not movies. I thought that was a load of crap, correct?

I was looking at a 2003 Mitsubishi 73411 that looked pretty good and it would convert the signals from my regular DirecTv. The new model 73513 would not so I would have to upgrad to a HD reciever and the 73513 is about $5500 versus the $3700 discounted 73411. This looked good but I would still like to see what it would take to get a FP to give me a good pircture from DirecTv and OTR signals.

4.) What would you all do if it was you? I am wide open to sugestions. I would prefer a 65" or larger picture and under $4000. I have always wanted a FP and a drop screen, not a permanent wall mount.

#2 of 21 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 26 2003 - 03:31 AM

Lots of questions and I'm sure you'll get a lot of opinions here.

Let me address the first issue which you approached in the title of this thread. As far as "best picture" is concerned, this is a judgement call. Generally as you make a picture larger it becomes more difficult for the picture to retain quality without spending big bucks.

So, from a purely "best picture" standpoint (assuming that cost is an object) you will generally get a better looking picture from a RP rather than a FP.

However...

and this is a big however, if you are talking about watching movies and going for the "theatrical" experience then there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that FP blows away RP in this area.

The old GIGO ("Garbage In, Garbage Out") theory applies to big pictures as well. One thing a good FP will demonstrate is how gosh awful a lot of source material is, especially non-HD broadcast material. On the other hand, HDTV looks astounding on a good FP set.

So "Best Picture" is a term that is hard to pin down when addressing your concerns. BTW, I took a compromise approach - I have an excellent FP for watching movies and HDTV but still use a RP for "normal" TV viewing. I also find that I prefer to use the RP when watching DVDs from TV sources (like M*A*S*H, etc.) since it approximates the original experience. However, some TV material that has come out in anamorphic (The Sopranos, Alias, etc.) looks stunning on the BIG screen via FP.

That should get the ball rolling and, hopefully, others will chime in with answers to your more specific questions here.

Good luck.
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#3 of 21 OFFLINE   Domonic A

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Posted October 27 2003 - 04:38 AM

Ok, what features do I need to look for in a FR or RPTV to watch regular brodcast tv. The more I read the more I am confused. If you say I need to upgrade my DircTv to HD then let me know why please.

Can anybody unravel my brain and shead some light for me.

Thanks in advance for all your help,

Domonic

#4 of 21 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted October 27 2003 - 09:49 AM

It's not any particular feature of a monitor, be it FP or RP (other than its ability to handle a HD signal), that you need to look for. What you have to consider is the source material itself. And in that regard standard definition (SD) television just doesn't have that much detail. Just because a unit is HD capable won't make SD look any better.

The fact is that the larger your screen is, the more it will show any flaws in the source material. Quite frankly, SD doesn't look very good on a huge screen. While it looks fine on my 46" RPTV (A Pioneer Elite Pro-75) it looks pretty bad on my 110" screen when projected from my FP. And it's not the FP's fault (a Runco CL-710 DLP projector), it's the source. On the other hand, HDTV looks spectacular on a 110" screen.

What I was trying to say is that if you plan on watching television on a FP prepare not to be satisfied by a standard television signal for this. You'll choose to watch "regular" TV on a smaller set. Once HDTV becomes the norm rather than the exception then this will all change.

That's my opinion on "television" viewing. Movies on DVD and other good sources (D-VHS tapes and HDTV for example) are another story entirely. Watching them on the "Big Screen" is what HT is all about if you have the space, the set-up and the resources for it.

And to address you immediate question, the bigger a screen you decide to go with, the more you will want to take advantage of the HD picture that DirecTV HD offers. But don't expect any miracles from SD.
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#5 of 21 OFFLINE   VinnieR

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Posted October 28 2003 - 06:42 AM

Dominic, for duplicating the theater experience in the home, the choice is clear: Front Projection. No rear projection system can achieve the screen sizes necessary to achieve the "theater" experience, not even Mitsubishi's new $21,000 82 inch beauty. When you have friends and family over to see your system and they see a rear projection system, they will think "TV". If they walk in and see a big projection screen taking up most of one wall, they will immediately think "movie theater". Recently I had a group of friends over to see my front projection system. After running a DVD movie for them I decided to show them what HD looked like on the big screen. Two of them were actually shocked that I could watch TV on the system because they had thought they had been watching a "movie". Now I won't say that these two were the brightest candles on the cake, but you get the idea.

That having been said, however, there are number of things to consider in making your decision.. First is cost. It will be tough/impossible to do a decent front projection system for your $4k budget. The very popular Sony VPL-HS10 LCD projector runs about $3K. A good screen will run you about $2K. Already we're over your budget. The demonstrations I have seen on the Sony have looked pretty decent on an 84 inch diagonal screen. However, given the size of your room and the viewing distance you are talking, you need to be looking at a 110 inch diagonal screen. Now we are talking DLP instead of LCD and we're talking about perhaps $5K more for a Mustang 2 chip (720p) based projector. (I wouldn't consider any of the smaller resolution chips based on the size of the screen you'll need.)

Assumming you can get around the money issue, the next thing to consider is whether you can achieve absolute light control in the theater. Front projectors, like movie theaters, need dark rooms. If you plan to use the theater room for anything else such as visiting with friends or playing pool while a TV or movie is playing, you don't want front projection. The light necessary to do anything else will wash out a front projector's image. Some screen manufacturers are offering "grey" screens with little or no "gain". These are designed to address the problem that early DLP chips had of not doing black very well and the problem of ambient light in an other than very dark viewing room. However, the current crop of DLP chips have vastly improved blacks and like CRT projectors, benefit from white screens with gain. But you have to have a dark room.

As for the issue of standard definition (SD) images on a front projector, the unfortunate answer is that you will probably not be satisfied with the quality. As was said, its not the fault of the projector. Its a function of the source. To simulate this, get really close to your current television screen. You will see scan lines and a certain "fuzziness" that you may not have noticed from the normal viewing distance. Another illustration of this is the published charts you see on recommended viewing distances for various screen sizes. These distances are much farther away for a given screen size for SD than they are for HD. Its a function of the "coarseness" of the SD image. (Reminds me of an old joke: She looks pretty good from a distance but I can't seem to get far enough away.) SD sources are certainly watchable on a big screen, but that's about all you can say for them. However, I wouldn't make a buying decision based on SD anyway. HD is finally taking off and more and more programming is available everyday.. Analog SD, analog videotape, and even digitally delivered SD (whether from satellite or cable) are technologies of the past. HD is the future.You will probably keep your setup for some time. I'd say in two years you will be watching very little SD programming with the possible exception of tapes of your kids made on a camcorder. Given the size of your room, perhaps the solution is to have a set of chairs at 16 to 19 feet for HD and DVDs, and a set of chairs for SD in the back of the room at 33 feet.

Robert, you and I are doubtless twins separated at birth. We see things pretty much the same. I too have a Runco CL710LT projecting onto a 110 inch screen. (Austin Filmscreen 1.25 gain, white). Theater room is dedicated and can be made tomb dark. Viewing distance is 16 to 18 feet depending on the recline of the seats. Image quality for DVDs is terrific. Image quality in HD is breathtaking. Chose the Runco after months of exhaustive research. Even chose it over the Runco 1000ci in a side by side comparison. Couldn't see any difference in image quality and decided to put the money saved into pork belly futures. Final decision was between the CL710 and the Yamaha 1000. Chose the Runco because it seemed to have a better image (although I couldn't compare them side by side), Runco's vast experience with projection video, and my thought that I could get more of my money out of the Runco when I inevitably trade up in a couple of years to the new Runco 99999ci (1920 x 1080p 3-chip DLP with 25 degree mirror tilt) Mustang 5 chip.

I'm looking forward to sharing experiences with this projector. I have a few questions for you. Have you had an ISF guy calibrate the color/temp settings and save them as Temp 4 and, if so, are you glad you did? Have you been able to learn the code/password for the setup menu? I am not interested in messing with the color adjustments since I don't have the equipment to do it correctly. However, I would like to be able to reset the lamp hours. A Runco dealer in Dallas told me that the CL710s lamp would last 2000 hours but that Runco was overly conservative because they were afraid that a lamp run that long might explode and damage the projector. He said they routinely ran their bulbs beyond the stated life. I'd also like to change my own lamps and save the service call charges. But to do so you have to be able to reset the lamp hours. At the time I didn't own the Runco, so I failed to ask him the code. Now I wish I had, but I don't live in Dallas. Finally, have you been able to find an inexpensive source for the lamp and, if so, at what cost?

I'm thinking of setting up a topic on Runco projectors to get other's experience. Think we might all learn from one another

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#6 of 21 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted October 28 2003 - 08:38 AM

I also concur that front projection is the way to go and believe me, a properly set up system will astound you, especially with hdef.

To give you an idea what you can do with a small budget, you can get something like the recently announced Sony HS20 for us$2700 (the HS10 is discontinued but still available for $2000). Pair this up with a diy screen and you are already in business.
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#7 of 21 OFFLINE   VinnieR

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Posted October 28 2003 - 09:28 AM

Neil, my experience with LCD projectors on very large (100 inch or more) screens has not been very positive. See a lot of the "screen door" effect because of the spacing between the LCD cells on the chip. Think that Domonic will need the larger screen in his huge room or have to sit closer to smaller screen and use the back half of the room for a bowling alley.

I checked out your DIY screen and seems you have done a great job. My guess would be that you are closer to no gain or slightly below that. A screen with significant gain will pick up ambient room light like crazy, just as its supposed to. Your screen is acting like a Grayhawk which is .95 gain.

Nice DVD collection. See you have the "Sound of Music". If you like musicals, you need to add "Chicago" to your collection. Great transfer and great sound. What did you think of the picture quality on the Indiana Jones set? I've been holding off buying it until I read a review on the transfer.

One thing we can sure agree on: front projection is the way to go.

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#8 of 21 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted October 28 2003 - 10:17 AM

The WXGA projectors have so many pixels on the screen that screendoor is not an effect and, the HS20 for example also has micro lens array that even further reduces screendoor placing it on equal footing with the WXGA dlp's at considerably less money. From where I am sitting, I cannot see screendoor from 8ft away and am projecting at 96".

BTW, that Mustang 5 1920x1080 would be pretty sweet.
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#9 of 21 OFFLINE   jimmy~e

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Posted October 28 2003 - 02:37 PM

Allow me to put in a vote for my setup. The NEC HT1000 projector(3:4 native DLP) coupled with a Da-lite Highpower screen. There is no need to spend $2000 on a screen. I have not yet read a post or heard a comment from anyone who didn't have a jaw droppingly positive experience with this reasonably priced combination.

#10 of 21 OFFLINE   Domonic A

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Posted October 29 2003 - 01:45 AM

Thanks for all of your thoughts and inputs. It sounds like the FP is the way to go or I will regret it later. I realize that the HD satelite is a much better picture than SD or anaolog, any recomendations on a HD satelite receiver.

I am thinking of doing about a 100" screen on a motorized drop screen, that is my wifes input. I know the cost runs from $1500 and up and up. Is Da-Lite the only manufacture of drop screens?


Thanks for your help. Now the search is on for the FP.

Domonic A.

#11 of 21 OFFLINE   Ralph P.

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Posted October 29 2003 - 02:07 AM

Greetings,

Da-lite, Stewart filmscreen, Draper filmscreen, and Carada filmscreen are some of the major players in screens for your home theater.

I have a Sony HS10 and I use a Da-lite High Contrast Cinema Vision screen. I can tell you that screen door is a non issue with my setup. My screen is 80x45 ( 92 " diagonal ) and my first row of seating is 12 feet from the screen. With your setup you will not have any problems with seeing the oixel structure.


Good luck!!
Regards,

Ralph

#12 of 21 OFFLINE   VinnieR

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Posted October 29 2003 - 02:19 AM

Looks like projectors based on the new HD2+ DLP chip are going to be available in November. Improved brightness, contrast, and color fidelity are claimed. Also reduced prices. You might want to take look at one of these.
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#13 of 21 OFFLINE   Domonic A

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Posted October 29 2003 - 05:02 AM

Thanks again for the info.

Vinnie, how do you know if the projector is using the new "HD2+ DLP chip"? I am assuming it will say somewhere in the discription.

Does it matter if I look at a short or long throw projector, as I have the room to do either.

Thank You,
Domonic

#14 of 21 OFFLINE   Karlf

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Posted October 29 2003 - 07:07 AM

VinnieR-
You seem to say that the 82" Mitsubishi doesn't give a theater experience, but a 84" screen does. Please explain.

#15 of 21 OFFLINE   VinnieR

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Posted October 29 2003 - 07:08 AM

Domonic, manufacturers will clearly indicate that they are using the new chip. It will help sales. We are already seeing projectors with the current HD2 chip in the $5K range. We might see these prices on projectors with the new HD2+ chip. Competition is doing what it always does: improving the product and lowering the price. When the new chip comes out, look for bargains on projectors based on the current chip. These projectors look darned good and you may be able to find a real steal somewhere.

Some projectors offer different throw lens and some don't. Most of those who don't, usually have a lens with a wide zoom range. This simplifies the manufacturing process and sales process, but may result in somewhat degraded image quality. Generally, the more the zoom range on the lens, the worse the projected image. The degradation is fairly small, however.

If you decide on a projector with choices of long or short throw lens, you choose based on your screen size and where you want to place the projector. For example, my setup uses a long throw lens with a zoom range of 1.85 to 2.40. This means that I can place the projector from 14.8 to 19.2 feet away from my 8 ft wide (110 inch diagonal) screen and fill the screen. (Formula is zoom range X screen width.) My viewing position is 16 feet from the screen and I have mounted the projector behind at about 18.5 feet.

If I had gone with the short throw lens (with a zoom range of 1.4 to 1.6) I would have needed to mount the projector from 11.2 to 12.8 feet from the screen. This would have put the projector in front of the viewers. Many installations do it this way, particulary those where a large screen is used in a smaller room. Since the projector is mounted at a height roughly even with the top of the screen (if ceiling mounted), it would not be in the way even if it were in front of the viewing position. One DLP projector, the Yamaha DPX1000 for example, offers only has a single lens. Its 1.0 to 1.6 zoom range would force you to mount the projector from 8 to 12.8 feet from an 8 foot screen. You could not mount it behind viewers at 16 feet from the screen.

Each manufacturer does it slightly differently. My advice would be to first use the Internet to determine which projectors meet your installation requirements. Next, take that list and go view as many as you can. This won't be easy because unless you live near a really large city, it is tough to find these projectors set up in showrooms. Even dealers of a particular brand might have only one or two of that brands models' set up for viewing. Despite all the great things about front projectors, the volume business is in RPTV and plazma right now and that's where the dealers put their emphasis and their showroom space.

Also, pay attention to reviews in home theater magazines. These guys really do try to give an honest evaluation and between them you will get opinions on many more brands and models than you could ever hope to see in person.

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#16 of 21 OFFLINE   VinnieR

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Posted October 29 2003 - 07:46 AM

Karlf, I'm not saying that an 84 inch (or for that matter an 82 inch screen) can't give the theater experience. An 84 inch screen is about 6.1 feet wide. A viewer sitting 12 feet away from such a screen would experience about the same impact as a viewer sitting 16 feet away from an 8 foot wide screen. Either case would give you a tremendous feeling of watching a large display, as you do in a movie theater.

What I am saying is that a screen on the wall (front projector) is more like a theater than a big box rear projection TV. With the front projector, particularly if the projector is behind the viewers, all you see is a thin screen. Short of building a RPTV into a wall so that the screen is flush with the surrounding wall, you see quite a bit more than the screen. The 82 inch Mitsu, for example, has over 6 inches of box on either side of the screen and is about 6 feet tall, only 3.4 feet of which is screen. It looks like a great big television, which is exactly what it is. Kind of spoils the theater illusion, in my mind. And at 29 inches deep, if you build it into a wall, you're going to lose a lot of floor space in the viewing room.

My comment on 84 inches was reference to my experience with LCD projectors. I think that they start to look pixilated at sizes larger than 84 inches. Neil Joseph, who owns an LCD projector and who certainly has more experience with them than I do, respecfully disagrees. Domonic gets to decide who's right, I guess.

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#17 of 21 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted October 29 2003 - 09:27 AM

Resolution plays a key too when it comes to screendoor. I recently saw a setup in a high end HT store. They have 3 rooms and at least 4 projectors setup. The one I was looking at was an 800x600 SVGA and the room was about 12'x14' with the seating at around 11'. I saw obvious screendoor. A projector with a greater resolution, XGA for example @ 1024x768, would obviously have a positive impact on this and WXGA is another step beyond that.
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#18 of 21 OFFLINE   VinnieR

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Posted October 29 2003 - 09:58 AM

Neil, you're absolutely right. Resolution is absolutely vital to a good theater experience and makes a big difference in the amount of pixelization seen on the screen.

That's why at night I dream about the 1920 x 1080p (notice the "p"Posted Image ) digital front projector that Santa will bring me in 2005. Of course the signal is coming from a BluRay High Def DVD that, while only offering 720p and 1080i native resolution, has the latest and greatest in progressive conversion circuity. Santa brought me the DVD in 2004.

Then my wife wakes me up.Posted Image

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#19 of 21 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted October 29 2003 - 11:43 AM

CRT FP is the way to go for sure, and for a few grand, it'll easily beat the new digitals. Not for the technically faint of heart though...

#20 of 21 OFFLINE   Domonic A

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Posted October 30 2003 - 03:04 AM

I have been doing some searching for front projectors at the following web site, http://www.projector.../projectors.cfm

I was looking at the Infocus X-1 that everyone is talking about. The QUESTION IS, "What noise level is acceptable?"

The X-1 has a noise level of 37db. That seems high compared to lowest I have seen of 28db. I would prefer not to build an enclosure around the unit. It will be mounted on an 8' ceiling. As of now I do not believe the X-1 is for me, I am interested in noise levels for now.

What are the opinions on this?

Thank You,
Domonic A.