Front Projector around 10K, what are my options?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Charles Root, May 13, 2002.

  1. Charles Root

    Charles Root Auditioning

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    Hi all

    I've been reading this forum with much interest, here's my deal.

    I'm building a new home here in Vermont and I want to put in a home theater system. Total budget $25,000. Now if I can get away with less, then that's fine also.

    Can anyone recommend the best projector for around $10,000? I'm reading more and more about this DLP technology, but what's the thought on that, is it as good as say a Vidtron with a line quadrupler on it?

    Basically I want to project an image 144" wide and want the ability to show HDTV. Maybe setting the limit at $10K is to low, but I have no idea so here I am.

    Not really interested in a lot of the tech side, just want the largest brightest, clearest, cheapest deal out there? Any thoughts?

    Thanks a million!!

    Charles Root
     
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Charles,
    1) My recommendation would be this question belongs in the Display area. While you are new to the forum, and are looking for an "overview"- the whole topic of front projection is usually beyond the scope of the basics area, and the display folks can usually offer good advice here.
    I have gone ahead and move your post to the DISPLAY area and edited the title a little in hopes of getting some attention for you!
    2) I would also recommend looking into the avs forum (www.avsforum.com). This forum is much more geared towards Front Projection than the HTF. Now, AVS might very well be more than you bargained for (it can be highly technical)- however I would say you should consider contacting the forum owners who run a very large projector oriented hi-fi store in Upstate New York. These guys might be worthwhile to contact about your needs and budget-- they might be able to not only consult you on what to buy- but can usually give a pretty aggressive deal.
    Alan Gouger and David Bott are two very honest and helpful fellows who often serve customers just like you who want a good projection system without a 1 year course in projector technology.
    3) Just as an overview on projector concepts which might help in your search (and hopefully other will add some info for you)
    a) most projectors are not up to their potential alone- regardless of type- most need some sort of outboard video scaling device to process the video image (usually the goal being the native resolution or "sweet spot" of the projector).
    b) Each technology type has its advantages and disadvantages- CRT is very nice and has the best blacks and trues film image- but lacks in light ouput, tends to be large and often is difficult to setup and converge. DLP is super bright with high contrast levels- but many suffer from light spill making blacks more of a gray color... and they tend to be pretty lacking in bulb life (1000 hours average). Etc. Itr's good to get an overview of each technology- take some notes, and figure out which shortcomings you can/can't deal with.
    4) Everyone has different needs and goals with their personal system-- so it might serve you well to sit down and make some notes on what you want your system to do. What percentage will be DVD playback? Do you want HDTV reception, how about standard cable/DSS? Do you plan to include VHS or other formats like Laserdisc? Are you interested in HTPC (home theater personal computers)? Will the majority of your viewing be widescreen material? Are you okay with some required configuration- or are you looking for turnkey, one button solutions?
    You should get a good idea of your viewing habits and your personal desires before moving forward- it will help you determine which direction to look!
    -Vince
     
  3. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Welcome, to the HTF Charles.

    I would consider the Vidikron setup with a quadrupler to be better than a DLP projector although it will blow away your $10K budget.

    For your price range, I would either recommend a CRT unit or a DLP like the newly released Sharp 9000 for instance. Others here can chime in with some other specific models and their specs.
     
  4. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    With proper light control, I feel CRT has the best picture. You can get a top of the line CRT PJ from a reputable company or tech + a fully setup & customized HTPC for $10k. As Vince mentioned, check out the CRT and HTPC forums on AVS.
    Are you including theater construction in your budget? Room dimensions and construction will drastically affect the overall presentation in your HT. It's worth spending some $$$ on a qualified HT designer who can help you with the details (HVAC duct design, room treatments, proper seating distance for the given screen size, etc.). There are some designers that cater to the DIY crowd ...
     
  5. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    As much as I like CRTs (no visible picture structure from

    ludicrous close, great contrast, no light spill apart from an AKB line on some models) light output is limited, with 250 ANSI lumens an upper bound on nearly all 8 and 9" projectors apart from the G90.

    Some people have used big, low gain screens and been happy (IIRC Vern Dias over at the avs forum is running a 12' 2.35:1 screen). At the other extreme, ISF recommends screens in the 6' wide range. In the middle, there's the suggestion that screen size in feet be no more than tube size in inches. I might split the difference.

    If you're willing to accomodate curved screens or stacked CRTs you could have more brightness with a CRT. No idea how the former works in practice, although converging one projector is enough for me.

    DLP gives me headaches, the 11HT LCD has visible screen door on even relatively small screens. DILA or LCOS might work well at that size.

    Do visit avsforum.com where you'll find experts in both hollow state and crystaline entities.
     
  6. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    I might suggest you also go over to Projector Central.
    http://www.projectorcentral.com/home.cfm
    You won't get help there like you'll get here and at the AVS forum, but their is a lot of technical data, some white papers on the different technoligies, street prices on projectors, and charts showing the popularity of projectors.
    Each technology has it's advantages and disadvantags. It doesn't make sense to try to go through all of them here, and besides, I'm not qualified. But, spending some time at AVS will give you some great overview.
    I might add that one of the hot DLP projectors right now is the Sharp 9000. Great pixel structure.
    One of the front running LCD projectors is the Sanyo 21N. I saw one the other day and was suitably impressed. It lists for over $10K, but street is under $5K. 2500 ANSI lumens.
    I don't have a feel for which CRT projectors should be looked at.
    I personally have LCD and I'm delighted. I prefer the outstanding color of LCD over DLP, but others might disagree.
    Deane
     
  7. Charles Root

    Charles Root Auditioning

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    WOW! This really is the place to get the help you need.

    Thank you everyone for the help. I will be persuing all

    the leads you've given me.

    To answer a question:

    25K is for equipment only, actual room construction is taken care of in the mortgage. Building begins in July.

    (let me tell you what is DARN expensive is specialty carpet were talking like $15 a square foot for the stuff)

    I'll take snapshots of the place when it's done.

    Charles
     
  8. Dave Morton

    Dave Morton Supporting Actor

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    Since construction is not starting until July, I would wait a bit and see what is new at that time. There are basically very few units that are using the HD1 DLP chip. Those are Runco VX1000c, Marantz 12sf, Seleco HT300, and Sharp ZX9000. The prices range from $10K to $17K. At the time you are ready for the projector, there may be other machines out there. Technology moves fast in this arena. Around July, Texas Instruments is supposed to be shipping the HD2 DLP chip which is supposed to be better with black levels.

    Of course there are other options than DLP. You could go CRT, LCOS, or LCD. Just make sure you can try to demo each unit as some people are sensitive to the Rainbow effect (in DLP) or the screendoor effect(in LCD). You may not be. But at least try to view a few projectors to see if you are sensitive to those effects.

    Bottom line, get what is in your budget and which projector looks best to you and don't get caught up in the whirlwind of getting the latest and greatest, you may not see a difference. Of course it is hard to measure such subjective reviews as one person may like a projector while another person may not like it.

    Good luck!
     
  9. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    I would echo what Dave says about not buying a projector until you are ready to use it. They are changing so fast that today's hot projector will be history in 6 months. The good thing about this is that the improvement curve has been very steep.

    This amount of time will give you a chance to follow the posts over at AVS and get a feel for what you like. One thing I would caution you to do is try and see some of the top models so you know for yourself what they look like. I was led to believe the ScreenPlay 110 was very good and I totally disliked it when I saw it. Others love it. We all expect something a little different and you really need to view them for yourself.

    You'll need to think about what your video sources will be and what you want the projector to do. Myself, I use it for nothing but DVD, so a projector with progressive scan component inputs pretty much does the job. But many others want to access over-the-air HDTV and other sophisticated sources and their requirements for performance are different from mine.

    Deane
     
  10. TimG

    TimG Second Unit

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    If you are looking at a 144" wide screen, the D-ILA is about the only projector I would look at. Maybe some of the others would work, but if you want to stay with a screen that size IMHO you should go with a D-ILA.

    Tim
     
  11. Bill Lucas

    Bill Lucas Supporting Actor

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    Tim is dead on. Driving a large screen requires a VERY bright projector and D-ILA is the only current technology (short of a light cannon but they have serious shortcomings in other areas) that fits the bill. Look for a JVC G15, get it tweaked by a professional to up the contrast range and you'll have an awesome setup. I'd alos suggest that you look into having a professional do the job for you. There are many pitfalls in the design and construction of a dedicated Home Theater and if you don't do it right it can cost more to fix it than it did to construct it in the first place. Good luck in your new home.
     
  12. Mark Larson

    Mark Larson Supporting Actor

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    Holy sweet Jesus! $ 15 a sq foot? That comes to $ 4 290 in my own room!!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Are you sure it isn't silk carpet? [​IMG]
     
  13. KrisA

    KrisA Auditioning

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    Your question: Is a DLP as good as a Videkron with a quadrupler?
    Answer: No. Videkron sells 8" and 9" projectors ($35,000 to $50,000 range). Add scaler at about $4000. Those projectors would be clearly superior to the DLP but are obviously not in the same price range. By the way, the Videkron Vision One (at $49,500 list) is virtually identical to my Christie 9500lc ($35,000 list) - actually now they are all made by a company called VDC.
    I own a DILA (G10) and a 9"CRT (christie 9500lc). That is why I am quite familiar with a direct comparision. On the same screen, I also use a Sony 1041 (small CRT projector - new $4,000) which for about $1000 used would be an excellent projector for a screen width of 70". Curtis Palme of Canada sells such used projectors.
    I have a 154" wide Stewart 1.3 gain perforated screen but mask it down to 95" width for the 9" CRT.
    1. Best picture would be from a 9" CRT but it may not be suitable for you because:
    (a) It would not have light output for 144" width screen. My personal preference is 85" to 95" width for an ideal 12 ft lambert range picture with 1.3 gain screen. Some go for as wide as 110" or even 120" but I disagree with such widths.
    (b) New 9" CRTs would not be in your price range. New @ $27,000. Refurbished with new tubes @ $16,000 or decent quality used at about $10,000.
    (c) If you buy used, you will have to be familar with electronics because these projectors may occasionally need repair. They are very complicated and expensive. I can give you names of two or three good sources for used projectors.
    (d) a 9" projector is extremely difficult to set up and calibrate. Heavy too, at about 175 to 225 lbs. Expect to pay $1500 for a good calibrator or even $750 for your local ISF tech.
    If you can work around all of the above, the best choice in a CRT would be a Sony g90 and 2nd best would be the Chrisitie 9500lc.
    If you are able to accept a 95" or even an 85" wide screen and want a lower budget, you may be able to get used NEC CRT projectors in the $5000 range, which will still have an excellent picture. XG series seem to be popular but I am not familiar with those.
    You will need a scaler for the CRTs - perhaps a focus enhancements refurbished unit at about $750. There are a few new ones in the $1000 to $2000 range which I am not familiar with. The best scaler for the CRT would be the Faroudja NR DILA version at about $4000 - which is what I use. I have tried the focus unit and it would do quite well for you for about a year or so. You can save the money now and buy a DVI input scaler at a later time (they are just coming out and a lot of changes would occur). Perhaps Focus sells a new scaler with DVI already. You can check.
    If you buy a digital projector, you will not need a scaler (even though some die hard videophiles prefer to use scalers). For starters you can rest assured that you will do fine using the internal scaler of the DILA or DLP projectors.
    If you want the 144" wide picture, the JVC DILA G15 ($8 to $9000) or a used G11 ($4000) would be the most suitable. The bulb costs $1/hr. They offer the brightest picture. I would not suggest the G20 (long story).
    Among the DLP, others have made knowledgeable comments in the preceding posts. I am not an expert in DLPs but I would consider the Sharp 9000 (you can buy direct from japan for about $5300 or locally with warranty for about $7500 (I think). The dwin may be a more expensive but good option. A few seem to like the hitachi 5500 lcos projector (about $5000). I have my own doubts that these would be able to display a good picture for 144" width. They are more suitable for about 80" width.
    Please keep in mind that the light output of 1000 or 1500 lumenens claimed by the DLP makers and the light output of the DILA (at 1000 lumens for G11 and 1500 lumens for g15) are not really the same (based on what I was told). The DILA unit will show a brighter picture. With personal experience I know that the DILA is certainly bright enough for 144" width. Its contrast is not great but that is another story.
    I have discussed with some "experts" who say that the DLPs are pretty good but currently, that the DILA is still superior.
    In my personal opinion, the digital projectors like the DILA or DLP are not very good for satellite TV viewing. They would be quite bad for cable TV viewing. They are quite suitable for DVD. You need not bother with a HTPC. For starters, a $200 DVD player, even without progressive scan would do just fine.
    Recently, I played a DVHS HDTV 1080i demo tape on my DILA. I must say that the picture was absolutely stunning. Therefore, I would say that the inherent disadvantages of the digital projectors are more pronounced with broadcast pictures (or poor quality signals) rather than the higher quality DVD. The DILA needs HDTV to show its true capability.
    Bottom line: If you want 144" wide picture and watch mostly DVD, look for a used DILA g11 or a new DILA G15.
    If you watch a lot of broadcast TV, you should consider a CRT projector but you will also have to limit your screen width to 85" or 95" max. Others would advice you to go 100" and I would not object too much. At about 120", I would be very skeptical. Although, I know one person who is using an 8" at 130" and is now replacing it with a g90 (he is quite a knoledgeable guy too). The screen width issue itself would be a very long discussion.
    Equally important is your room color. Please keep in mind that room reflections have significant effect on contrast of displayed picture. More on that on request.
    If you would like, please feel free to email me at [email protected]
     
  14. TimG

    TimG Second Unit

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    Dang Kris, a D-ILA and a 9500? Need a roommate? [​IMG] Excellent reply, and a good primer for the different types of displays in relation to screen size.
    Tim
     
  15. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Yeah, that 144 inch screen requirement pretty much means that CRT is out, DLP's are iffy, LCD light cannons would work but give questionable picture and I guess that leaves D-ILA.

    That leaves you building a hush-box too or even false wall behind which you place it. Never seen one myself yet but from what I hear, they sound like a Boeing 747 taking off for a transoceanic flight due to the fans needed for cooling...
     
  16. KrisA

    KrisA Auditioning

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    TimG: Re "Need a roommate? ", Yes, if you are a gorgeous girl but were only using Tim as a psuedo name.

    Kimmo: You are partially correct about the noise. Yes, the projector is quite noisy. Not as bad as a plane take off but quite noisy. It is certainly bearable and not annoying but it should be avoided if possible. It is situated 3 feet behind my chair at about the chair height. I find the light from behind, reflecting on my glasses more annoying than the fan noise.

    I have not seen a hush box and am not particularly favorable to the idea. I prefer your suggestion of locating it behind a wall with a glass hole (the glass being at 45 degree tilt of course). This would be the absolute best choice.

    Jvc has a new unit called the 150... with is similar to G15 but gamma corrected with a pure d65 (6500) color temp and with low noise fan. It is the new craze, listing at about $17000. If money were not an issue, I suppose it would be a good choice - especially if it has DVI input (I am not sure if it does).
     
  17. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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  18. Dean McManis

    Dean McManis Agent

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    Outside of the lumens measurement (interesting info),my perspective is having owned a couple CRT projectors, lastly a 9" Sony 1292Q.

    Then I got a G1000, and now I have a G15 with an ISCO anamorphic lens, combined with a 180" diagional (156" wide) 16:9 Grayhawk perforated screen.

    The 9" CRT looked great with full room light control on a 138" diag 2.3 gain screen, but you would be better off at 120" or less with a standard 1.3 gain screen.

    The G15 looks great even with indirect room light, and you can even get a decent picture with all of the room lights on even with the large, perforated, low gain screen.

    The CRT FPTV was a fully professional unit and it required a great effort to set it up optimally, but had a stunning picture. But it was over 200lbs and huge, hanging overhead. And I always worried a bit that it was going to have CRT burn-in problems (even though I took precautions and didn't).

    I got a manufactured Whisperflow hushbox for my D-ILA and you can barely hear the fans in a silent room. The CRT FPTV and D-ILA fan noise was about the same(before I got the hushbox), but the CRT was louder because it was overhead and the D-ILA was mounted on the back wall.

    It is best to look at both CRT FPTVs and DLP and D-ILA models to get a sense of what you like the best.

    I personally prefer the larger, more immersive image that the D-ILA can provide without worry of light control, or possible future CRT repairs, and the downsides would be bulb costs on the digital projectors if you watch a lot of TV.

    Remember the screen and scaler/HTPC costs in the equipment price, as with larger screens both are vital.

    -Dean.
     

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