FP Setup just for "Movie Night"?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by MikeHerbst, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. MikeHerbst

    MikeHerbst Stunt Coordinator

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    Does anyone use a FP setup on a "temporary" basis, only setting it up occasionally?

    Been pondering my TV options for a while now. Had my eye on the 46" Samsung DLP sets, because they're the only things that will fit into my media niche.

    However I keep stumbling over the purchase because I'm worried about whether or not they're really going to fit my needs.

    Here's where we're at:

    We watch a LOT of 4:3, SD programming. We're TiVo freaks and probably 50% of our viewing is on our SA TiVo (to be swapped for our DirecTiVo this weekend). For this stuff, our existing 32" tube TV does just fine.

    About 40% of our viewing is DVDs, just my wife and I. I try to make it as much a "Home Theater" experience as is possible in the combo living/dining room/kitchen of our small house. I really enjoy movies and this is where I start to feel the pain of Letterboxed source material on a 32" TV from 10+ feet away (not really negotiable given the room layout)

    The last 10% is "Movie Night" type DVD watching. Its similar to above, but we usually squeeze in some guests I become absolutely ruthless about the lighting/audio/noise/talking part of the experience. This is the last straw that REALLY makes me want a bigger TV.


    So here's the thing, given that we watch so much SD TV, and considering that I _personally_ don't feel there's enough HD programming available for me to subscribe to the DirectTV HD package, let alone an HD TiVo, we wouldn't really watch HDTV much at this point in time. I'm also worried about how the SD stuff will look on the screen.(Which is why I haven't pulled the trigger on the Sammy TV yet.)

    But still there's the pain of the small screen for "Movie Night".

    So I'm thinking perhaps I could at least improve the last 10% (and maybe even some of the "Just the 2 of us" movie time) with a FP setup that could be setup/taken down easily.

    The current TV sits in a niche with a mantle (over the fireplace) where I could probably setup a temporary rigid screen, (or a stand-mounted screen just in front of that). The room layout (and wife) can probably accomidate a stand or coffee-table located projector, on a limited basis.

    Unfortunately, short of a hellacious wiring job to ceiling mount the PJ and a lot of cash for a drop-down screen setup, I just don't see anyway to "permanently" setup an FP system.

    So would it be worth it? Does anyone else take the time for this sort of monkeybusiness, or am I better off just committing to a HD monitor and living with the flaws it will show in our SD programming? The cost of a decent projector/screen combo is easier to swallow, certainly, but I'm worried that the effort would quickly become not "worth it" after the novelty wears off.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

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    Mike, only you can decide if the trouble is worth it. What you can do is use a rolling cart or a table for projector to sit on, and put it away when not in use. It would only take a minute to align image on screen and focus it. The only problem I see is the screen. What size screen are you thinking about? This is based on how far you sit from screen, and what resolution projector you buy. Also, what is your budget for projector? I made my own screen, 16:9, 106" diagonal, out of 1X3 pine and Blackout cloth from Joann Fabrics. Total cost about $40.00. You can hang screen from 2 hooks in ceiling joist, with chain, and remove when not in use(If you have somewhere to put it).
    I bought my Infocus X1 projector 2 months ago for $799 new, and I love it. My screen cost $40.00, and I built my ceiling mount for $15.00. So, for about $855 plus about $100 for cables/adapters I have a beautiful setup. We use it for DVD's and occasional HDTV. If you go ahead with it, YOU WILL LOVE IT.
     
  3. MikeHerbst

    MikeHerbst Stunt Coordinator

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    Screen size is limited by what I can "put away" when not in use. The location in question has the built-in niche for the tube tv and art on the wall next to it, so any sort of permanent screen is out.

    I MIGHT be able to sell the wife on a ceiling-mounted drop-down screen if the box wasn't too "ugly"... but it'd be a stretch and probably involve a lot of negotiation! :wink:

    I'd say budget would be less than like $1100 for PJ/Screen. Above that and I'm getting to where its probably not worth it for "part time" use, better to spring for the TV.

    Thanks for the input though, I'm considering it...
     
  4. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

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    Mike, have you taken your wife to any stores yet to see a projector in action? You may find out she'll love it and be willing to negotiate. You will not be happy with a pull-down screen, they always seem to develop wrinkles. You can read the Screen section at Avsforum.com.
    So,how big of a screen can you put away when not in use?
    For $1100 budget, you would have to make your own screen like I did. I'm very happy with my screen. Ask your wife for ideas where you can store screen when not in use.
     
  5. MarkusP

    MarkusP Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike - I was in a similar situation to yours. Someday I will build a proper home theater room in our basement but since we are starting a family, the funds and the time just aren't there right now. Since we watch a lot of movies at home in our combined family room, a make shift solution was to buy a projector with a short throw lens and make a screen. When we want to watch a movie, I simply setup the projector on our coffee table, break out the screen and we are ready to go in under 5 minutes. When not in use, the projector sits on a shelf of our side table, the cables tuck under the couch and the screen hangs in our laundry room on the wall. If you have wall space for a pull down screen, thats even better (we don't as our wall unit prohibits this) as you can just install some discreet hooks and then remove the screen when you are finished watching the movie. Just tuck the "tube" under the couch for quick access or in a storage closet or even hang it up in the garage. The metal case protects the screen so you can pretty much store it anywhere.

    The main problem I had with finding a projector was placement. Since we only sit 10.5' away from our screen and the projector would sit approx. 8' away from the screen on our coffee table, precious few projectors offered us the throw distance we needed to create a large sized screen. Fortunately we found the Epson Home 10 which allowed us to create an 80" screen from such a short distance. I was so pleased with this projector that I actually traded it in for the next model up which was 3 times the price because I watch a lot of HD programming. While I love my new Epson, I miss the Home 10 at times. A great place to find a throw distance calculator is Projectorcentral.com. By plugging in a few simple numbers, it can list all the projectors that meet your seating and budget needs.

    One last thing - I think Epson is now offering a free pull down screen with the purchase of their Home 10+. I think it should be in and around your price range.

    Good luck.
     
  6. MikeHerbst

    MikeHerbst Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks folks. We visited our local Goodguys last night and spent a lot of time really watching the two Sammy RPTVs I was considering (the HD3 and HD2+ 46" models), and especially viewed a lot of SD content to simulate our "real" usage.

    As I'd feared, it was a little underwhelming. The HD stuff looked fabulous, but SD was either too "soft" (HD3) or too grainy (HD2+). So four our high-percentage SDTV watching, I think a directview is still the way to go.

    So I raised the notion of a FP system over dinner, and met with some success, but I'll have to nail down some details before I can really get the wife to commit.

    We did visit a high-end theater store at one point, and the wife really liked the projectors shown there, but she was scared off by the salesman's cautions about light control for the room.

    I think if we keep the tube TV for "regular" stuff, I can take a phased approach to the projector. At first it'd be a "night time only" thing, but after some other minor remodeling we'll be able to fit better blinds, etc. and light control will become less of an issue.

    Thanks guys, you've convinced me to start down this path!
     
  7. Paul-D

    Paul-D Stunt Coordinator

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    Might I also suggest the InFocus ScreenPlay 4805? You can get it right now from PlasmaDoc.com for just $1299 with free shipping! If you ask them to they will send you a rebate form from InFocus. You can fill out the form, send it in to InFocus and they will send you a free 76" screen with a 30' SVideo cable! I'm sure they'll charge you some sort of shipping, but it's much less than purchasing the whole screen.
    Check out the this thread for more information. You can also check out this link to spend an extra $100 and get a 106" screen. This is the deal I would do if I had the room for a 106" screen.

    I know it will up your budget a little bit, but I think it will be well worth it in the end.
    Good luck
     
  8. MikeHerbst

    MikeHerbst Stunt Coordinator

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    OK, I feel like I just negotiated peace in the Middle East, but I've convinced the wife!

    We'll start with a projector and temporary screen which I can set on the mantle, and store behind the china-hutch. The projector will be setup on a little "half wall" that sits behind one of the couches.

    If we find that we use it often, a drop-down electric will come next, to eliminate having to "setup" the screen.

    Still can't get agreement on ceiling mounting the projector, but I'm hoping that after spending some time with the projector, she'll agree that the convenience of ceiling mounting (not having to setup everytime) outweighs the aesthetic penalty of a plastic box in plain view.

    So, anyone have any experience with the BenQ PE5120? I just read a positive review of it over at projectorreviews.com, but not a lot of info on it elsewhere yet. I was hoping to get a "corroborating" review from ProjectorCentral.com or similar...

    It sounds like a good choice for us since we'll have less-than-ideal light control for the immediate future (until some redecorating changes the curtains, etc.) and the primare use will be 90% DVD watching.

    Thanks for the encouragement all, I'm getting over my disappointment at a failed HDTV purchase!
     

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