Front Projector...Room, light, and screen size questions?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by GabrielT, Aug 9, 2003.

  1. GabrielT

    GabrielT Auditioning

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    Well, I am new to the forum, but I am planning on upgrading to a home theater system. While Budget is an issue, I intend to get a L300U projector from panasonic. However, I have some questions about the viability of the room I would like to put it in.

    First, the floorplan of the house is quite open and ambient light is an issue. While closing the venetion blinds and pulling the curtains lowers the light substantially it is by no means dark. Will this be a huge cause for concern with the projector mentioned above? ie, how much will picture quality suffer. The room is 17' by 24' windows on one side and open to the back and sides to other rooms.

    Second, with the above floorplan is the sound quality going to suffer and is there any real way to fix it? This is my living room area, but I essentially only watch dvd movies.

    Third, I am not entirely familiar with projectors as a whole, about what image size does the picture quality deteriorate to unacceptable levels? I would prefer to have 100" to 120" screen. I will most likely buy the screne later after having tested it on the white wall, but some input would be nice.

    Fourth, I suppose I could scrap doing this all in the living room and put it in back room off the garage where all ambient light can be controlled. It is 9' by 23' and the 9' wall can be used as a screen. However, it is detached from the house, and currently used as my weightroom. Otherwise it would by just about perfect for a theater.

    Although I do not have a lot of money to invest in this, I will be able to add things every 3 to 4 months on the tune of about $600 with an initital start up budget of roughly $1000 for speakers, wiring, etc. I have a nice DvD player and the projector is not included in that budget. The screen will come later as either DIY or a purchase.

    I have not been able to find much regarding the differences between DIY screens and the DA-MAT cinema screens as far as comparisons and viewing quality goes. If there is a minimal difference I would prefer to go the formica and paint route and do it myself. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance,

    Gabe
     
  2. JohnN

    JohnN Agent

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    Gabe,

    First, welcome to the forum. [​IMG]

    This forum and AVScience are the 2 best sites to help the HT/front projector beginner.

    I am only slightly ahead of you moving down roughly the same path.

    I bought my Panasonic AE300U about a month ago and have about 110 hours on it watching dvds exclusively on my home made screen projecting a 120" picture.

    I would love to have your room choices as the only area to be able to handle a 100+ inch screen area at my place is a 11' window wall in the 11' x 21' living/dining area.

    My priority is dvd movies and have been working to refine the total light control environment I have created for this purpose. The screen is a silver-grey cotton bed sheet with dark blue drapery behind the "screen" and covering all the window areas and other ambiant light sources. This setup can be made totally dark, even in the middle of the day.

    A Vutec or Stewart screen will probably replace my home made setup but not until probably next year after other ht priorities are paid for.
     
  3. GabrielT

    GabrielT Auditioning

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    Glad to see someone else in the same boat as me. How does the picture look at 120" for you? There are not many/any home theater stores in my area(at least that I know about) so I have not had much chance to comparison shop.
     
  4. Steve Lucas

    Steve Lucas Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a Yamaha DXP-1000 projector. A DLP (and am assuming brighter/higher contrast) projector than the panny. The only reason I meantion this is that mine is in a dedicated HT room with no ambient light and even when I turn up my room lights even slightly, the picture quality suffers quite noticeably. The reason is really simple if you think about it. When your room is a dark as you can get it when preparing to watch a movie, and your projector is still off, look at your screen. Whatever "color" you see is as black as your blacks can possibly be during a movie, since the projector doesn't "project" black, but rather, just doesn't project any image where black is supposed to show up. Not only does this aafect your black levels, but also your contrast. Since contrast is measured from the darkest part of the image to the lightest, and you have already lightened up the dark part, you are losing contrast. I don't care if you have a $2000 panny or a $30,000 Runco CRT, light control is everything in getting the absolute best picture possible.
    Because of this, I would hightly recommend using the weight room as your HT. The added advantage is that since it would be a dedicated room, you can decorate it like a theater and not have to compromise with the wife and her living room decor. It also occurs to me that being a detacthed room, sound leakage into the rest of the house would not be an issue as it would be with the living room scenario.
    As for the screen, I have never seen a DIY set-up, but when I was researching and buying my system, the consultant I was dealing with (I trust him) told me that a "real" screen would make about a 10% difference in picture quality. I guess I thought 10% was worth the money as the picture is the most impressive part of a large format FP HT.

    Just my $.02

    Good luck and enjoy your HT.
    Steve
     
  5. GabrielT

    GabrielT Auditioning

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    One other thing I just considered for my front room is getting a screen large enough to cover the window area and then mounting some pull down black out cloth on the open areas for light control the window dimensions are roughly 120" wide by 60" tall. Let me know what you think,

    Gabe
     
  6. JohnN

    JohnN Agent

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    Gabe,

    I agree with Steve. If I had the options you have I would definitely use your weight room for the ht and have a dedicated home theater room.

    This would make the "large screen movie theater experience" a lot easier to attain, and certainly would make the setup of a theater type sound system a lot easier as well.

    I don't have that deicated ht room option available so I am having to come up with creative ways to use a less than ideal multi-use room as best I can.

    I recognize that I WILL be buying a screen in the future, but but by coming up with an acceptable home made one, it gave me the time to evaluate the room with regards to screen size preferences, light control options and general layout. Not spening the money on a screen this soon allowed me to continue the sound system upgrade path sooner.
     
  7. GabrielT

    GabrielT Auditioning

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    Incidently, I went and listened to a few speaker sets today. I really liked the paradigm line. I want to try and keep costs down, so I was thinking of buying used. Is this a good route to go, or should I stick with brand new speakers. I am upping my budget a bit for sound to maybe 1600. I also looked at the Infocus screenplay LS 110, is this a better projector than the L300U? Thoughts would be appreciated.

    Gabe
     
  8. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Having a similar set of design issues with my HT, I see you having two choices. Either you have to have adequate light control for all of the windows creating ambient light in your larger HT room, or you have to use the smaller option that has total light control. The audio portion is less of a problem once your speakers are set up right in the larger room, should you decide to go that route.

    In my house, the HT has its own dedicated room that is a split level from the rest of the house but were it not for the shutters that were installed on all of the windows, ambient light would be an issue.

    Now if you decided to go with the smaller HT room, the first limiting factor would be the 9' width (I don't believe you provided us with a ceiling height). There is more than enough length in the room but you must have enough space for a screen and speakers to the sides (unless you decide to go with a perf screen option that would basically allow you to use the entire 9' width for the screen. At any rate, you can sqeeze a 7' wide 16x9 screen (100" diagonal) and have just enough space on each side for the speakers, just to give you an idea.
     
  9. GabrielT

    GabrielT Auditioning

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    The ceiling is vaulted in the living room, and the ceiling in the separate room is about 9'. I am leaning toward the living room more and more just because I really dislike how narrow the room is. If I had an extra 2 or 3 ft it would be ideal, but as it is the feel is somewhat cramped. I think I can achieve light control in the living room area without an unsightly bunch of curtains draped everywhere. I will have to check it out a bit more to be certain though. Incidently, is the price of the l300u likely to drop in sept. or oct. with the release of new technology?

    Gabe
     
  10. GabrielT

    GabrielT Auditioning

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    Well, I just went and ordered a PT-L300U from protek. They currently have it offered for $1,599 which is the lowest price I have found in case anyone is interested. I figured why not. I hope I will be happy with this projector!
     
  11. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Gabe,

    sounds like a fun projector for the price. If you were to be spending closer to $5K I'd be telling you to wait until Cedia to see what changes...but in your $2K pricepoint it probably won't affect much to wait so have fun.

    BTW, allow me to promote the living-room option. Nine feet wide just ain't wide enough to get good sound, and it will make a very cramped movie environment that your guests won't feel as comfortable enjoying.

    On the other hand...as long as you're really watching critically at night when it's dark outside anyway...the den makes much more sense and people will enjoy being there.

    A white wall will work great while you decide what you want to do for a screen. If the white wall satisfies you you might even just skip the screen altogether...go with what your eyes tell you!

    dave [​IMG]
     
  12. Karl Englebright

    Karl Englebright Stunt Coordinator

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    Having just finished upgrading my family room home theater with a PT-L300U I think I have few thoughts to share.

    My family room is also part of a "open floorplan" as it opens to one side to an eating nook and kitchen. The family room itself is about 13'by 14'.

    One of my main concerns when I was thinking about going to a front projector was ambient light. I was really concerned that watching regular TV (or HDTV) during the day would be a frustrating experience given the amount of light in the room. I can control the light during the day but I can never get it totally dark. Here is where the Stewart Firehawk came into the picture. I went and saw a Panny projector paired with a Firehawk and I was very surprised at how much side ambient light rejection this thing offered.

    I went ahead and ordered the Panny and Firehawk with great trepidation, still thinking I was going to be disapointed.

    Well, as it turns out, this screen and projector are a very, very good match in my room! I can watch anything with my kitchen lights (4, 75 watt recessed can lights off to the side of the theater) on and not have it wash out the picture. Naturally, night, totally dark watching is best but I can honestly say that ambient light washout is not a problem in my theater. I am fairly anal about picture quality and I am here to tell you that I cannot go back to RPTV, even with the slightly better blacks.

    Total cost for my Firehawk/PT-L300U combo = $3,200
    Total cost for my Mitsubishi 55805 (three years ago) = $3,300

    The panny is not perfect, but it's a pretty impressive little machine!



    Oops, forgot to say that my Firehawk is 96" diagonal permanently mounted on the wall.

    When AVS is back up I will post a link to pictures of my theater.

    Hope that helps...
     
  13. GabrielT

    GabrielT Auditioning

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    Karl, thanks for the input. I was wondering where you got a chance to see the pannny projector. I live in the Salem area and there are no good home theater stores here that I have been able to find. I am up in Portland and the Vancouver area quite a bit so I would really like to find a place to take a look at a couple options.

    David, I have heard references to CEDIA in several forums, but I really don't have a clue what that stands for or means. Could someone illuminate me here [​IMG]
     
  14. Karl Englebright

    Karl Englebright Stunt Coordinator

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    Gabe,

    I just PM'd you. I would be glad to show you my setup. I can't do it for a couple of weeks since my wife just got out of the hospital and I'll be rather busy for the next week or so. But anytime after that should be fine.

    I saw the screen at a guy's house in Beaverton that I met through the AVS forum. He also sells Stewart screens and gave me a pretty good deal. I can give you his email if you want.
     
  15. Rick Guynn

    Rick Guynn Second Unit

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    CEDIA

    They have a get-together once a year, wherein alot of new equipment is announced and/or displayed. Rumours abound that there will be some interesting developments (relating to projectors) of some sort this year.

    RG
     
  16. Michael FF

    Michael FF Stunt Coordinator

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    When you install a screen, might I suggest the following factor that is almost always overlooked---it is my belief that the screen should be installed no higher than one or two feet from the floor. You will be amazed at the "presence-of-actually-being-a-part-of-the scene" when you do not have to LOOK UP at the image. In IMAX theaters you are actually looking down at part of the screen image.
     
  17. GabrielT

    GabrielT Auditioning

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    Thanks for the input Michael, I am most likely going to get a screen large enough to cover my window area and the bottom edge is about 15" from the floor or so. It should look pretty sweet when I manage to get the screen depending on how the image looks at a larger size, I will have to see.
     

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