DLP VS. LCD? Also best screen size for my room?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Curt Luther, Sep 21, 2003.

  1. Curt Luther

    Curt Luther Stunt Coordinator

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    I really appreciate all the info from this forum. I am currently building a dedicated home theater room in my basement and I am almost to the drywall stage. My questions are, should I be looking for a DLP or LCD projector? I will have a budget of about $3500 for a projector and a fixed mount screen. I would like to know opinions on screen size as well. My room specs are as follows:

    The room is 13' wide and 15' deep. Once drop ceiling is in it will be about 7.5' high.

    I built a three tier sub floor that I will be mounting some movie theater seats on (I got for a bargain at $10 each.I just have to refinish the wood arm rests)and I will be making 3 rows or 4 seats. The back row will be 14' from the screen, the second row is 11' from the screen and the first row will be approx. 8' from the screen. The room will be dark for the most part and I am in the insulation stage now.
    Any info on recommended screen size and type and projector would be great. I am not sure of the advantages of the DLP or LCD. I will be using a progressive scan DVD, standard satellite, and vcr, not sure about xbox yet. Any info would be appreciated. I would like to have a 96" or 100" screen if possible.

    Curt
     
  2. David Giles

    David Giles Stunt Coordinator

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    Curt,

    If you want your front row seats to have at least a "decent" picture, I wouldn't go any larger than about 6' wide on your screen. With a 6' wide screen, your front row seats would be at a distance of 1.33 times the image width, which is kind of pushing it for just about any current projector (in terms of image quality). But if you put kids up there, or very un-critical adults, they may not care. The second row seats would then be at a distance of 1.83 times the image width, which is really nice with the current digital projectors. Finally your back row would be at a distance of 2.33 times the image width. That's a little far back by most HT enthusiast's standards, but would still be fairly immersive.

    A 6' wide 1.78:1 aspect ratio screen (same as 16:9) would be about 82.5 diagonal. I know you say you want a 96" or 100" (I assume you mean wide?) screen, but if you go that large, the image from the front seats is going to be pretty bad. Screen door will be really noticeable and artifacts from DVD, VHS, and standard TV signals are going to be VERY noticeable.

    So if you want the best compromise for all three rows, go about 6' wide.

    David Giles
     
  3. Thomas Willard

    Thomas Willard Stunt Coordinator

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    I would agree that a six foot wide screen would provide about the largest picture your front row viewers could view without excessive screen door effect. I have a Panasonic PT-L300U and sit about 100 inches from a 68 inch wide screen. Great picture from my projector at that distance. DVD movies look great and 1080i HDTV looks even better.
     
  4. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Hmmm, 3 rows of seating with a room depth of 15 feet!
    8'...11'...14'

    There are projectors that have a decent picture from 8 feet. There are also people that like to be up close to the picture and others that need to be further back. With the 3 rows, you could accomodate all types of viewers.

    The general easy rule is for a 1.5xScreenwidth rule as far as seating placement. For a room your depth, width and height, it could accomodate a 100" 16x9 screen (49"x87") but the 8' row would be 1.1xScreenwidth which would be a fairly large field of view. The second row would be 1.51xScreenwidth (perfect) and the third row would be 1.93xScreenwidth.

    You would want a projector with a decent resolution and pixel fill ratio.

    Ones that come to immediate mind are...

    - Sony HS20 (with MLA @ 1366x768 resolution)
    - Sanyo PLV70
    - Sony HS10 (predecessor to HS20 with no MLA)
    - Epson TW100
    - Sharp 9000

    MLA (micro lens array) allows for less pixel structure

    I should add that in my setup, the normal seating distance is 12' from a 96" screen but I have viewers sit up closer, then I have a ... "balcony" on the second floor for those that want to sit further away.
     
  5. Curt Luther

    Curt Luther Stunt Coordinator

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    Hmmm, 3 rows of seating with a room depth of 15 feet!
    8'...11'...14'

    I know that 3 rows may sound like it won't work, but I staggered the row height....back row is 18" off the floor, second row is 11" off the floor and the first row will be 4" off the floor. And the depth of each tier is 3' which leaves plenty of leg room between rows. I agree that the second row will be the best seats. The first row and the back row is where the kids will want to sit. Neil, you said you have a 96" screen and you sit 12' away with a good picture, what projector do you have? Is it a DLP or LCD? Do you get much screen door effect with your set up? Thanks for the info.

    Curt
     
  6. Steve_L_B

    Steve_L_B Stunt Coordinator

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    One thing to consider is that all of the DLP projectors in this price range are single chip designs. Some people are are susceptible to seeing color breakup (often referred to as the rainbow effect) with these types of projectors. I would make sure that you and your family members do not have a problem with this before you buy.

    -Steve
     
  7. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

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    I'm not a projector expert, but don't LCOS projectors typically have the best fill ratios of the digital projectors (better than 90%?)?

    Doug
     
  8. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Curt, I am using the Sony VPL-VW11HT projector which is LCD @ 1366x768 with no screendoor at all from 12'. Actually, I can go considerably closer than that before it becomes visible.

    For your room, I would not go below WXGA (1280x720 or 1366x768).
     
  9. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Neil has some great advice.

    One projector he mentions...the Sony HS20, is going to be "retail" priced around $3500 USD and will likely street for less. It is rumored to have performance that should be on par if not better-than the Sharp 9000 HD1 DLP though it won't have black-level or contrast ratio competitive with HD2 DLP (but it's a lot cheaper!).

    Regarding seating,

    Neil is right about that magic 1.5 screen-widths away number (for a 16x9 screen). Only LCOS projectors looks smooth IMO any closer and they are generally more $$ and no affordable LCOS options are 16x9 yet.

    You get a bigger "WOOSH" factor from a larger screen...even one that you sit farther away from to keep that 1.5 distance constant. Don't believe me? Sit about 1.5-2 feet back from your PC monitor. Getting any "WOOSH"? Nope. But even that windows desk-top will give you goose-bumps on a decent-sized screen from 10 feet away!

    Problem (IMO):

    The problem...you either get a large screen that looks good from the back row of seating but doesn't look so good from the front row or you get a screen size that looks good from the front but isn't really as large as is could be to give that "theater feel magic" to back-row viewers.

    Solution process:

    Question: Normally, how many folks will be watching movies? Usually just you and your wife? Maybe the kids? Occasionally inviting friends over for NFL or the Matrix reloaded?

    If you most often will have just a few folks watching...then optimize your HT for the back row and sit there when you watch movies. You'll get a bigger "kick" out of your image by sitting in the back-row watching a larger picture than sitting in the front row watching a smaller picture...even if you keep that 1.5 screen-width's away thing constant. When your kids have movie-night parties they *won't care* about critical picture quality so if they sit closer they won't be bothered by a little screen door. Also, generally your guest will be in awe of a big-screen and won't care too much either. If they do, you can always give the rear seats to your videophile viewers and let the troops more interested in rooting for their winning team sit up front.

    When you've got tons of room, it's nice to make the front seats the "best seats in the house" with guest-spill-over going backwards away from the screen.

    But no reason why it has to be like that...you could make the back-row the "best seat" with a 1.5 viewing distance with spectacular screen size and no pixel problems...and then let less critical viewers sit foward when there are large crowds.

    I've got a similar situation in my HT that I'm working on. I want a 100" screen but that won't leave much room for guests behind the sofa.

    So my plan is to place the sofa at about 1.6-1.7 screen widths away. That way if we have a large group we can pull out cushions and slide up a side-chair or two that can be placed in front of the couch for less critical viewers who "just want to watch the movie" and would only see the "screen door" if you stopped the movie and pointed it out to them.

    IMO, even without any screen door issues at all, 1.6-1.7 screen widths is really ideal for DVD source material...it helps mask some of the MPEG uglies and lack of resolution in the 720 x 480 DVD format. HDTV looks *very good* at 1.5 screen widths (and so do better DVDs) and if screen-door wasn't an issue, the best HD signals look good even at 1-1.2 screen widths.

    -dave
     
  11. Curt Luther

    Curt Luther Stunt Coordinator

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    Question: Normally, how many folks will be watching movies? Usually just you and your wife? Maybe the kids? Occasionally inviting friends over for NFL or the Matrix reloaded?

    Thanks Dave..you bring up some valid points. When I told my kids that I may have to scale down to a 82" screen, they were not happy either. My family does only have four in it and we could sit in either the second row 11' from screen or the last row. In your opinion, do you think I could get away with a 96" screen? I agree that we will be the ones that will watch it the most, there is no reason why we can't sit farther back so we can enjoy a larger screen.

    Curt
     
  12. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Hey Curt,

    11' from a 96" diag screen in your 2nd row will just make it without obvious distraction from "screen door" from HD2 DLP for casual viewers. Keep in mind that picky videophiles can still "see" pixels even at 1.5 screen widths away (and I'm one of them) so don't expect it to completely vanish if you're staring at the screen scrutinizing the picture, but IMO you have to *try* to see it and it in no way distracts from normal viewing.

    I haven't seen the picture from the Sony HS20 LCD with MLA so I can't comment with confidence about the visibility of the screen-door and the optimal viewing-distance ratio but folks who have seen it attest that the MLA apparently reduces pixel structure to HD2 levels.

    For certain, your back-row will produce outstanding results with a 96" screen with HD2 screen-door levels (that's my reference point).

    The real trick is to find some demos of the PJs you're considering and at the showroom recreate the same viewing distance/screen-size ratio and see what the pixels structure looks like.

    Your kids won't care nearly as much as you do (if at all) so I'd only worry about getting the PJ "tuned in" for that last row...go as big as you can keeping a smooth image for back-row critical viewers. It will matter much more to your kids and their friends that the image is "big" than if they can detect any visible "screen door".

    Naturally this is my own personal advice based in my personal opinion. But testing out some screen-size/distance results by demoing a PJ in action will help you be certain you're making the best decision.

    BTW...there is a solution if you happen to, for whatever reason, want to temporarily reduce screen-door for front/mid-row viewers. You can always defocus the image slightly to blur that pixel structure together if you feel it makes sense for a given sitatuion. Then when the guests leave you can tighten the focus back in for some critical back-row viewing.

    BTW, be prepared for the kids to play endless hours of PlayStation games on the PJ!
     
  13. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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  14. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Same here Neil, same here. My PJ only plays DVD's [​IMG]


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  15. Micheal

    Micheal Screenwriter

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    I play games on my LT240K! But for the most part it's strictly for movies.[​IMG]
     

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