Is a projector for me?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Tim Holyoke, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. Tim Holyoke

    Tim Holyoke Second Unit

    Nov 6, 2002
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    For the last 10 years, I've had a plain 32" RCA TV. It's actually worked fine for me, and even today I have no gripes with it. I also have a 27" RCA in my bedroom, works fine as well. 80% of my viewing is DTV, so I'm not missing out on a lot of HD fees anyways, I guess. I play some video games too. Also, none of my friends really have HDTVs, so it may be a case of "I don't know what I'm missing."

    However, I've been starting to watch a lot more DVDs lately, and kind of getting the "itch" to watch shows in HD (and widescreen) where available, as well as just wanting a bigger display.

    Thing is, I don't want to break the bank (or get anywhere near [​IMG] ), so initially I looked into 42" RPTVs, like the Samsung model that's around $1,000. I never got too serious about getting one though.

    Now, after seeing that projectors won't necessarily cost an arm and a leg (like I had always assumed), they have my interest. I thought it would be possible to keep my 32" TV and just use a projector at night when watching. Thing is, I know nothing about them [​IMG] .

    I understand that they definitely don't have to be ceiling mounted, which is good in my case. For those that just use them at night, and have a TV in the room, do you have the projector permanently setup, or do you just set it in place when you want it? How do you conceal your cables? How important is a screen? What color should the wall be w/o a screen? And of course, how's PQ compared to a cheap 42" HDTV?

    Can you set the picture to be pretty much any size you want? Is it generally the smaller the picture, the better the quality?

    FYI, living room dimensions - 12.5' x 15', with the TV located on a 12.5' wall. If it matters, ceiling is 7'.

    OK, enough rambling for now...what do you think? If in my situation, with a limited budget (probably $1600 or so max, including all cables, screen, whatever), and my viewing habits, what would you do? HDTV in the 42" area, or projector and keep my old TV?

    Thanks a lot for any help.

  2. John Brill

    John Brill Supporting Actor

    Nov 3, 2003
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    Assuming you have a decent surround sound system for which to listen to the audio portion of your DVD's, games, etc..., I would recommend a FP 100%.

    42" HDTV, though nice, is nothing compared to a 70"-100" screen that you can achieve with a projector. You really need a screen though if you have lighting issues, they certainly do add to picture quality. Personally, I'm projecting onto an off-yellowish wall and the picture is amazing!

  3. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

    Feb 11, 2004
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    Oconomowoc, WI.
    Real Name:
    Tim, I sent you a PM.
  4. MikeHerbst

    MikeHerbst Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 15, 2001
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    To answer some of your other questions:

    We have a 32" TV and surround system in our living room. For "movie nights" we use an Epson Home 10+ projector with an 80" Da-Lite pop-UP screen.

    The screen pops up from its tube sitting on the floor. This makes it easy to put away, and most importantly, keeps the wife happy with the look of the room. (0% chance she'd go for a screen mounted on a wall, even a roll-up). In our case, the screen pops up in front of the in-wall niches for the TV and media hardware, so the same speaker arrangement works for TV and screen.

    The projector sits on a homemade (flexi-rack style) stand, but could also sit on the coffee table. If I had a longer throw projector, I'd put it on the half-wall behind the couch (or a sofaback table, if the room allowed for it.)

    We don't "hide" the cables. I keep the s-vid and component cables coiled up in the AV rack when the projector is not in use. When setting up the projector I just pull them out and plug them in. Projector power comes from the rear wall. The cables are "nice and heavy" so they lay flat. So far no problems with anyone tripping on them, etc. I suppose if I wanted to spring for some LONG cables ($$$) I could wind them around the room and stash them behind the sofa when not in use.

    Image size is a function of two things: Projector zoom, and distance from the screen. Some projectors have a wider zoom range than others, but all are contrained into some range over which you can vary the image size, perhaps as much as 50%. After that, its distance from the screen. People usually refer to projectors as "long throw" or "short throw" which roughly categorizes the distance needed to get the projector to throw a certain size image.

    Short throw projectors (generally) are optimized for throwing a larger overall image for a shorter distance. (Coffee table in front of you?).

    Long throw projectors (generally) would throw the same size image from a greater distance (behind you, over your head, etc.)

    Which is "correct" depends on how you will use it. One may be more or less convenient than the other to setup for a particular room. I have a short throw, and it needs to be "in front" of the viewer. Some situations might REQUIRE a long throw (you want the projector behind the couch, etc.).

    Image quality is not 100% directly related to image size. Usually its expressed as a ratio of image size versus how far you sit from the screen. For any given size image, if you sit close enough, you can see the flaws. Likewize, for any given seating arrangement, you can blow the image up big enough to cause problems. In my case, I have to sit a little less than 2-times the screen width away (70" wide screen, I sit ~120" away) to avoid any problems. At that distance, making the image any SMALLER does not IMPROVE the quality, but making it bigger would hurt the quality. Its important to understand this when choosing a screen size and long/short throw projector.

    I highly recommend for reviews and basics on choosing a projector. In particular, they have a calculator for each model of projector that tells you what size (or range of sizes) image you can project versus distance.
  5. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

    Nov 22, 1999
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  6. Evan M.

    Evan M. Supporting Actor

    Feb 26, 2002
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    You and I have similar "set ups". I have a "formal" living room. I have a nice audio system for surround but only a 27" tv. I personaly have no interest in HD.....I do not watch tv so I won't have HD until I have no choice. I do watch a lot of DVD's. So I jumped on the 4805 Costco deal. Best thing I ever did. I have NO light control but watch movies at night anyway. I set up a couple of ceiling hooks and hang the screen on them with a chain. I put the projector on an end table when I watch movies and pull down the screen. When I am done I roll up the screen and put the projector on a shelf under the end table. If company comes over I just unhook the screen and put it in a closet. So I achieve wife approval and a great bigscreen experience at the same time!! I would HIGHLY recommend this. After having a FP I can't ever see me spending a small fortune on a RP set for a "tiny" screen. Eventually I will have light control in my room but I really don't watch movies or TV during the day at all TV tends to get boring for me.

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