Help: Plasma, LCD, Rear or Front Projector

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Torgny Nilsson, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    I currently have a 27 inch TV in my living room but am building a home theater.

    I would keep the 27 inch TV in my living room for regular TV watching, and use the home theater for dvd movies, but my wife wants to get rid of the 27 inch and only use the TV in the home theater.

    My question is what to get for the home theater. I like the idea of a front projector, but my wife objects to having it hang from an 8 foot ceiling and to needing a large screen at the other end of the room. I could live with a plasma, LCD or other TV rather than a projector, but have no idea why one type is better or worse than another. I'd like to keep the price below $2,000 if possible, but I don't want to have to upgrade again 5 years from now.

    Anyone care to come to my rescue with some recommendations?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    If you are going to be using this primary display for movies and TV then I would not recommend a front projector but would go for a nice rptv. Plasmas are nice but overpriced for a decent sized display in my opinion and are not conducive to a $2000 budget.
     
  3. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Well, unfortunately your budget restriction pretty much rules out just about anything except rear projection. There may be inexpensive, LCD-based front projection systems out there that will come in near your budget, but I doubt they would come close to fulfilling your second critera - longevity.

    Plasma sets are rapidly coming down in price, but IMO they still don't provide as much bang for the buck as RPTV. A 36-40" plasma set will set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of 5k. Likewise for LCD sets - you're looking at somewhere in the neighborhod of 3-4k for a 40-50" display.

    You can still find plenty of RPTV options within your price range. Most will likely be in the 47-51" size range, which, depending on the seating distance in your room might work just fine. A lot of people around here like the Panasonic sets (their 47" models would fall easily within your budget), Toshibas seem to have a good reputation, as does Mitsubishi.

    For longevity, I would recommend one of the newer HD capable sets that has a DVI input, and 2 sets of "wideband" component video inputs (one for your DVD player and the second for an outboard HDTV receiver if you don't get a set with the HDTV tuner "integrated"). It's your choice if you want to go with a 4:3 set or one of the widescreen 16:9 sets, though if you're using this primarily for DVD use, 16:9 would be a logical choice.

    Finally, keep in mind that you'll want to upgrade your DVD player to progressive scan if you haven't already done that, and if you're like me, and your current set is on a stand or in an entertainment center, you'll need to find replacement furniture for all your gear (I'm making the jump from 27" to 57" and didn't realize all the 'collateral damage' that has resulted). Whatever happens, have fun and good luck in your search! Keep us posted.

    -Jason
     
  4. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    Thanks for the input. I have been looking at RPTVs and they seem like a pretty good option, though I don't care for their bulk.

    I agree about the high price on plasmas and will probably wire the room for future front projector use but buy a RPTV. Does anyone have any other suggestions on what to look for in a RPTV? And does anyone know whether it is worth waiting to buy one until 2004 when the new HGTV connection standards go into effect?
     
  5. jimmy~e

    jimmy~e Agent

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    You owe it to yourself to check out and research two lower priced front projectors. People who have purchased them swear by the Sanyo PLV-Z1 and the InFocus X1. The Infocus is selling for $999 and the Sanyo goes for $1200.
    I bought the NEC HT100 front projector for $4200 and it is one of the best av purchases that I ever made. I absolutely love the big picture, the contrast, the HDTV resolution, and the convenience of having just a small box the size of a slide projector sitting on my coffee table when I want to watch tv or view a dvd. The "wow" factor of a front projector is hard to beat, everyone I've had over to watch a movie is now thinking of getting a front projector!
    You can read about these two projectors and many more at the "Projector Central.com website. Check it out!
     
  6. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    While I like the idea of a front projector, the ones selling for under $1,500 don't seem like keepers; I have the feeling I would want to upgrade them within 5 years or so.

    I also don't like the idea of having a projector sitting on a table (I have small kids and the repeated setup and take down would be a pain), and while I could hang it from the ceiling, I have fairly low ceilings (only 8 feet high) and a fairly small room (10 by 26).

    So all in all, I am leaning toward a RPTV if I can find one that is less than 50 inches tall and does not cost an arm and a leg.

    Some of the higher priced ceiling mounted projectors are tempting though.
     
  7. Michael FF

    Michael FF Stunt Coordinator

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    I personally favor the front projector approach---as was indicated in an above reply, there is nothing that approaches projecting large, clear images to make movie/tv viewing not only enjoyable but an EXPERIENCE!! If you have not already done so, I highly suggest that you visit a home theater display with a front end projection system--after such a viewing, I very much doubt that you will want anything less.
     
  8. Rob Varto

    Rob Varto Supporting Actor

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    Would anyone recommend a DLP set over any of the aforementioned type TV's?
     
  9. Michael FF

    Michael FF Stunt Coordinator

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    I would recommend a DLP in an instant.
     
  10. JohanD

    JohanD Stunt Coordinator

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    would you reccomend front projection for standard TV watching?
     
  11. jimmy~e

    jimmy~e Agent

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    I use my front projector(NEC HT1000) for standard tv watching. I DO limit my use of it for that purpose to special programs because of the cost of replacement bulbs and I have a 36" Toshiba CRT that I also love.
    I like using my front projector especially for HDTV watching and I'm gearing up for my first football season with the big screen front projector...I can't wait!
    HBO's great programs like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire and Sex in the City and sci fi stuff like UPN's "Enterprise" are great on the front projector because it turns a "tv program" into a movie like experience.
     
  12. Michael FF

    Michael FF Stunt Coordinator

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    I use my SharpVision front projector for standard tv viewing as well as dvd's. Of course the standard tv image will not be nearly as sharp as the dvd image (I do not have hdtv yet) but, nonetheless, it is very watchable. I have an external scaler that I run the tv input thru prior to projection and it makes a big difference in image quality.
     
  13. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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  14. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    I have seen front projectors in use, and they are great for image size and even picture when run off a good dvd player. But given constraints posed by the room I am putting it in, constraints imposed by my wife, and all the additional costs involved in FP (such as bulbs, screens, matting, set up, etc.), I am still finding myself leaning toward a RPTV (much to my surprise).

    That being said, does anyone have any input on the regular RPTVs versus the current low end plasma screens? The pricing on the new RPTVs such as the Samsungs and plasma tvs seems to be the same (about $3,500), but I don't know what the benefits/detriments to each system are over the other.
     
  15. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Do you have any specific plasma models that you have found for about $3500? The least expensive model I found after just a realy quick search is the Samsung SPN4235 42" model. My only concern about this set is that since it's resolution is 852x480, it is considered "Enhanced Definition" and not true HD (someone correct me if I'm wrong). I re-read your original post, and you didn't mention specifically if you wanted an HD set or not, but I would think if you're considering plunking down that much cash, it would be a real shame if you didn't get HD, too.

    Plasmas definitely have the "wow" factor going for them, and from what I've heard and read on this forum, they are much better in bright rooms than a lot of RPTV's. They also are a lot easier to move, and if space is tight, will probably increase your viewing distance by almost 2 feet. Despite all that, I still think RPTV is a much better overall value. For 2-3k you can easily get a nearly top-of-the-line RPTV set in the 50-60" range (the only thing likely missing will be an integrated HD tuner). I just ordered the Sony KP57WV600 for about $2600 and am very pleased with the overall performance and features that it provides. Yes, with RPTV's they are heavier and bulkier (though still lighter than a 36 or 40" direct-view set). Also, the paranoia regarding burn-in is a bit overblown, IMO, providing you take the time to properly calibrate the set and use common sense in how you use the set (i.e. don't pause the Tivo while you go off and spend a weekend at Disney World).

    Also, for $3500, the 42" Samsung DLP set is a possibility, and seeing them in the stores I'll admit that the display is stunning. I have been amazed by the clarity of the picture and the vividness of the color. Again, the question of value comes into play - if you're OK spending $3500 for a 42" screen, then certainly give it a try. Actually, I don't think you've mentioned much about the size you're considering - 42" might be just the right size for your room.

    Finally, I would say that (in general) I feel more comfortable with a mid- to high-end display, than a bare-bones display. Longevity in your investment is important, too, and many times a notch or two up the ladder will provide features that will pay for themselves in the long run (I remember getting the cheaper model 27" TV years back that didn't have an S-Video connection. I was regretting that a year later when I got my DVD player!)

    Of course, all this is just one guy's opinion. I WOULD be interested to learn which plasma models you were considering, however - if for nothing else than for me to see how much the "value gap" has closed in recent months.

    Good luck!

    -Jason
     
  16. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    I have not researched many plasma screens and have not concentrated on any particular brands. But I have noticed on the TV Authority site advertised on this site, and on other sites, that you can get a 37-42 inch or so plasma for about $3,500, though often in a brand I have never heard of.

    I agree that a RPTV (that is at least HDTV ready) will give me the most bang. But size is a big issue. I am looking for a TV that is less than 50 inches tall so that it will work in my entertainment center. That leaves me with the new Samsung RPTVs (which are at least $1,000 more than any other similar RPTVs) or a plasma screen. If height was not an issue, I'd probably go with a 50 inch Panasonic or Toshiba RPTV.

    And yes, I could make a taller floor standing model work, but I hate the look and it would make me reconfigure one whole end of my home theater and all the rest of my home theater equipment. I wish they made RPTVs without a built in stand, speakers, etc., none of which I need or want. The only company that does that now is Samsung.
     
  17. jimmy~e

    jimmy~e Agent

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    Another reason I went the front projector route is that I can vary screen size between 40 and 200 inches depending on the room I'm using the projector in. I currently project a 60 inches wide by 45 inches high image in my living room. That works well for me.
    I live in southern California, I also like being able to move my projector outside onto my patio to watch DVDs outdoors on a warm summer's evening. My living room and patio are ajoining so the connects stretch outdoors.
     
  18. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    I don't have a plasma (yet), but I will toss in the results of my plasma research here: Your best value for cheaper plasmas is the 42" Panasonic Enhanced-Def set, which can be found for about $3500 from some reputable online e-tailers. It will downconvert HD to the plasma's native resolution (as all sources are, down or upconverted). There are many satisfied Enhanced-def Panny plasma owners. The set is indeed not true HD, but, how far away are you sitting? From all from avsforum members that decided on an ED Plasma, if you are more than 6-7 feet away, you can't tell the difference between the HD and the ED plasma. The ED Panny Plasma also is generally regarded as superior for DVD and standard TV signals, as less upconversion is being done.

    Also, for quite a bit more, the Pioneer 43" 433cmx can be found for about $4-5k. If you are looking for more research info on the plasmas, I would some reading at www.avsforum.com - there are quite a few plasma owners in their LCD & Plasma forum. Their plasma FAQ is here : http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=167397
     

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