Many, many display questions. (VERY LONG)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Charles J P, Dec 30, 2002.

  1. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    Hi all, this will probably end up being a whole mess of thoughts poured out and many of you may wonder where the questions are, but bare with me.
    First of all, I got into home theater coming from the car-audio world, so when I started, I was all about the whiz, bang, boom sound. Now, I probably have over $3000 invested in the audio portion of my HT and all I have is an older Toshiba interlaced DVD player and a 32" Sony Wega to represent my DVD playback devices.
    So, my wife and I live in a modest sized three bedroom house with two family rooms. The more secluded of the two family rooms is my home theater. I have pretty good control over the room except there is a doorway directly oposite the TV with no door so I dont have total light control. We have decided that by the end of 2003 we will finish the basement and move the theater down there. Part of our whole bargaining comprimise strategy (which involves finshed basements, redecorated bedrooms, moving the den into what is currently the home theater and having babies :b ) also involves the purchase of a "proper" display fitting of a dedicated HT.
    Now, my problem comes in that I have very little experiance with TVs or projectors at all. I also have my own notions of what defines a "home theater" vs a "movie room" and these notions along with budget concerns, room size etc. are causing me some decision conflicts.
    OK, so to start with, the problem with my current display is that its too small to be enveloping and provide a theater-like expreiance. Secondly, of course, it wont display HD or progressive scan.
    So, I have a few major issues that will effect my decision on the display.
    1) Over-all room size
    2) % use with each type of media (ie Cable, DVD, HDTV (probably wont get an HD tuner/receiver for a while so mostly cable and DVD)
    3) distance from screen to primary seating
    4) position of seating (ie viewing angle of non primary seating
    Pros and cons of each type of display I am considering (CRT RPTV, DLP RPTV and DLP or LCD projector)
    CRT RPTV:
    Pros: Probably the cheapest, and I have this general feeling (ie not sure its supported by facts) that this could provide the best overal picture becuase of the thought that a $3000 RPTV should be better than a $3000 Pj/screen combo. (in the sense that many people feel that a $1000 bookshelf speaker is better than a $1000 floorstander)
    Cons: Will probably be smallest in size. Size is not scaleable. Fixed frame means that masking wont be as effective for creating a theater type picture. deeper than a screen so it eats up some of the distance between screen and viewers. Worry about burn in with video games, etc.
    DLP RPTV: Basically same as above except dont have to worry about burn in.
    Projectors: Basically, since I dont know what type I would get, I will lump all types of non-crt projectors together.
    Pros: Size, scalable size, masking more easy/effective, portable (depending on installation), no burn in.
    Cons: (depending on how much I spend) I worry about having enough/propper inputs, getting the picture quality I want out of my budget, replacement cost of bulbs, overall life of product, more decisions to make (ie how to install, what screen)
    OK, so basically, I think I want a projector, because otherwise I might get buyers remorse from getting an RPTV and feeling like its still just a movie room. BUT, I worry that with my limited budget ($2000-$3000 with screen and mounting materials) that I wont get the quality/flexibility/features that I want.
    I know this was a lot to read through, but can anyone offer any suggestions or correct any of my lines of thought if they are flawed. Can you offer any advice on DLP vs LCD for PJs (I'm leaning towards DLP) and what would be good models to look at in the low end of my price range. Also consider that it may be 6-9 months before the purchase is made, so if there are any models that you know are coming out, those could be considered too.
    Thanks all
     
  2. Sean M

    Sean M Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I have a few questions of my own before I make a recommendation:
    1) How big is the room, or in this case, how big is it planned to be?
    2) How many people do you see this space seating?
    3) What is your usage percentage of DVD, Cable, Videogames going to be like?
    4) How much light control will you have? Total, near complete, partial? How much light are you willing to do without?
    Since it sounds like you will have a dedicated space with at least near complete light control, since it's going to be in a basement, FP would be my first choice, especially since it will give you the size you crave.
    The seating positions can be pretty much anywhere with regards to being able to see the picture with FP, the screens typically used have a much wider viewing angle than a RPTV.
    As for distance, that is a function of screen size and the viewing angle you want to achieve. This site: http://www.myhometheater.homestead.c...alculator.html is a great resource for planning out seating distance, which may tell you how many seats you'll be able to fit in the room and where.
    Given your limited budget, I would recommend one of the following:
    a used CRT projector (check out www.avsforum.com, CRT forum for reputable dealers, Curt Palme is one) with an inexpensive deinterlacer or scaler like the Focus Enhancements CS-1 or a HTPC if you like to tinker. This would be the best quality solution, but you'd either have to spend some time learning how to set it up properly, or hire someone to do it, as the ease of use and ownership in a CRT is all about the quality of the initial set up. Properly calibrated burn in shouldn't be an issue.
    Or you could check out any of the following digital projectors: the Sony VPL-HS10, Panasonic AE-300, both LCD, the NEC LT-240 or 260 or, in sixth months, the NEC HT1000, all DLP. The HT1000 would be my first recommendation assuming the price has fallen into your range by the time you buy. Of course, with digital projectors, in six months there will be a whole new batch of projectors to look at.
    You can make a screen for any of these projectors that will work just fine until you can fit a proper screen into your budget. White painted drywall served me well for a long time (Behr Ultra Pure White paint). $20 -$30 in paint and wood for a frame are all you need to get started.
    This should provide a decent start. My one parting piece of advice would be to view as many of your prospective displays as possible. One man's minor flaw can be your major headache (literally!) and his deal breaker can be your minor flaw.
     
  3. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    OK, Sean. Thank you so much for wading through that first monster post. First things first, I have ruled out RPTV since my first post, and am really looking at FP only at this point.
    1) How big is the room, or in this case, how big is it planned to be? The room will be about 13 wide by 16 deep which is actually smaller than my current room, but I will be regaining the space from my component rack as that space does not include the gear closet I will be building. Primary seating (ie, my spot) will be about 11 feet from the screen.
    2) How many people do you see this space seating?
    There will be one long 3 seater couch and a 2 seater love seat behind that on a riser, so all seats should be pretty well centered to the viewing screen. There will be room left for temporary seating when large crowds come over.
    3) What is your usage percentage of DVD, Cable, Videogames going to be like?
    probably 70% DVD, 29% Cable/VHS/TiVo, 1% video games (I dont own a console, but my brother brings his X-box over every now and then.
    4) How much light control will you have? Total, near complete, partial? How much light are you willing to do without?
    Total. This room can be pitch black if need be.
    Also, thanks for the specific model suggestions. I went to my local HT store over lunch and viewed a DLP (forget the model but it was $9,995.99 MSRP and the Yamaha LPX-500 ($5,500 MSRP) LCD. The DLP was on a 120" screen and the LCD was on a 96". I didnt see any rainbows on the DLP, but it made me queasy. Is this normal? I watched the LCD setup second and it did not have this effect, so it was not the cumulative effect of watching motion (Star Wars Ep. II) on the two big screens. I could recognize the screen door on the LCD, but I cant say that it bothered me.
    Your suggestion about using a painted wall as a screen is a good idea, but will I be disapointed? I would hate to spend my whole budget on just projector (although, I probably wouldnt, I would probably just take advantage of the savings of not buying the screen right away) and then not be able to live with the results.
     
  4. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

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    Charles,

    I think you're heading in the right direction by going FP. It really is more engaging for movies, assuming you have the audio setup to match it. I just purchased one myself. To me, the only negative is that there's an ongoing cost for bulbs (DLP), but I never planned on using the proj for very much TV (other than sports). If you are into critical music listening, FP provides another advantage in that there is no big box between your mains to reflect sound in all sorts of nasty ways. It also frees up the center channel speaker, as most folks would place it on top of a TV (although that's not a requirement), and this can adversely effect the sound of movies in a similar fashion.

    It does sound like you've already started planning the new HT room. Do note, though, that if your main reason for going this route is to deal with the existing room opening, maybe you can address that room opening instead. In my media room, I had two such openings. I got myself two sets of bifold doors plus drapes, and now no more openings (unless I want them open).

    Doug
     
  5. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    As an update, after mulling over my noon-time experience, I decided that I think sometihng like the LPX-500 would suit my needs pretty nicely. Only problem, I might be expecting too much out of projectors at my price point. For example, this is the type of performance I would expect to get for $1500 to $2500. I would never (even if I could afford to) pay the $5500 retail price of that PJ. I have been looking at www.hometheaterpeople.com and it seems that I could get a projector with similar (or slightly better) specs online so I dont feel that I'm being completely unreasonable, but I'm wondering if the specs tell the whole story or is there something about the Yamaha that makes it worth $2500 to $3500 more than what I am looking at online?
    Here is what I'm considering:
    Hitachi CP-X275W ($2150) - Havent really seen anything about this one. But good specs and low end of my price range. It seem like Hitachi TVs are becoming more popular so hey...
    InFocus LP290 ($2199) - InFocus is a good brand and it looks like a few people at AVS own this one. Lower end of my price range.
    Mitsubishi XL1U ($2495) - Again, havent really seen anyone who owns this one.
    NEC LT150z ($2795) - Seems like the price is a bit high for how old this model is now. If it was closer to $2300 it would look a lot more attractive.
    Sanyo PLC-XW15 or Boxlight clone ($1999) - Have heard mixed reviews and some people have had banding and dead pixels.
    Sanyo PLV-60HT ($3099) - This one probably has the best options for me, with good brightness, contrast, and native 16:9, but it is at the very top of my price range which means I probably would not be able to afford a screen for a VERY long time. Mabe if the price comes down in the next 6 months.
    Sharp Notevision PG-M20X ($2749) - Dont know much about it but the specs are pretty good. I think its the brightest projector of the lot.
     
  6. Sean M

    Sean M Stunt Coordinator

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    Okay, let's tackle these one at time:
    With your planned setup and seating distance from the primary seating position to th front wall, I would probably go with at most an 80" wide screen, 84" if you like to sit close at the movie theater or don't want to lose impact in the second row.
    About the screen: a well prepared piece of drywall, be it the actual wall or a piece that you mount to your wall can provide a surprisingly pleasing picture if you need don't want or need a screen surface with special properties (like a high gain screen or a grey screen with gain). You can get quality screens in the size range that you'll be looking in for around $500 for a fixed mount, and as little as $200 - $300 for a manual pull down. Of course a Stewart screen could run upwards of a $1000.
    This is where I reiterate that a used CRT will provide the best possible picture in your situation. You'll probably have to get someone who owns one to demo it for you to see just how much of a difference there can be between it and digitals in the same price range. They are more of a hassle to own, however.
    If the other projector was a Yamaha, then it was probably one with a single speed color wheel, which gives people the most problems. You should find out what model it was and how fast the wheel spins to give you an idea of whether or not DLP will be for you. DLP does some funny things to some people due to the spinning color wheel. If it was one of the new HD2 models, then I'd worry about getting DLP at all if the feeling persists.
    I'm not familiar with all of the models you listed, but I do recognize most of them as being business projectors. The PLV-60HT is a good projector, but the Sony HS-10 has similar specs, lists for $100 less (it can be found in the mid $2k range) and has better on board processing. The 60HT at the least needs a decent outboard deinterlacer or progressive scan DVD player to look decent.
    The LT-150z and PG-M20X are both presentation DLP's with slower color wheels, so you will want to view them first. Here's a couple of more models for you to check out: The Sanyo PLV-Z1 and the Infocus X1, both of which are in the 2k range, and the Sharp XV-Z90 which should be available under $3k shortly after it's introduction.
    Another good site to go to to research projectors, particularly to get an idea of dealer pricing is www.projectorcentral.com. They have, or should have shortly, reviews on all of these projectors to help you narrow the field. Again, things change fast in the digital projector world, so if you go that route, there'll be an entirely new crop of contenders in six months, including projectors that are out of your price range now dropping in price as new product is introduced.
    When looking at a digital, be sure to take into account the quality of its internal processing and scaling (its performance with a progressive scan dvd) as it will save you money in the long term if you don't have to add outboard processing.
    Good luck in your search. I hope all of this helps.
    P.S. The Yamaha LPX-500 is based on another projector by Epson, the TW100, which can be found for much less. I haven't compared both of them side by side, but I would think the differences would be minimal, if any, if other OEM rebranded projectors are any indication. The TW100 has new models with better contrast trickling in now (no change to the model number here, but designated with TW100H elsewhere in the world), now 800:1 rather then 600:1. In the time frame you're look at, the ones available should all be the newer model with better contrast.
     
  7. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Try to audition the Sony HS10 and the Panasonic AE300. These two projectors are getting very high marks and are within your price range.

    I wouldn't plan on watching anything except DVDs on the projector. Cable/Satellite reception is bad enough on a smaller RPTV. Blown up even bigger, you'll really notice how bad the signal is. And at $200-300 each, bulbs would get expensive if the pending kids are sitting there watching PBS all morning.

    Jan
     
  8. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    By all means go front projection. 16x9 screen. Wait and see how the HD2 DLP machines stack up over the next few months. Don't go with a 4x3 "presentation" unit unless it's the NEC HT1000. And don't go (in my opinion) with any LCD unit. The DLPs have come so far, offer such good black level and color saturation, that even the best LCD designs can't quite match them. If rainbows are a *real* problem for you after some viewing (find someone with a PJ to test), then LCD is a nice 2nd option.
    Also, as far as screen size goes you want to be 1.5-2 screen *widths* away in your primary viewing distance for screen-door and the relatively poor resolution of DVDs not to be a problem.
    Here is *the* place to get informed about digital projection:
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forum...?s=&forumid=24
    -dave
     

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