Newbie with $3500 burning hole in pocket...

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Graham Martin, May 20, 2002.

  1. Graham Martin

    Graham Martin Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been reading this forum and all of the useful info in it for over a month now and I feel ready to make my first "I am a newbie and I am looking for a new set" post. I hope I have supplied enough info below to warrant some help. If not, please let me know what I have omitted and I will get the info ASAP. Thanks for any tips you see fit to supply!
    System: Everything pretty old and low-end except for Panasonic DVD player that was top of the line three - four years ago. Sony receiver and speakers that are about seven - ten years old, but top of the line at their release. While DVD is most used source, other video sources at this time are PS2, $150 hi fi VCR and regular cable TV. (Will go to dish sooner rather than later.)
    Room: Just finished expanding the basement for a theater. The depth of the room is limited to about 15 feet. See diagram:
    [​IMG]
    ( http://mywebpages.comcast.net/graham...s/Theater1.jpg )
    I have gray carpet and dark-cranberry red walls. The ceiling is about 10 feet high with it shortening to just about 6'6" to the right of the pillar, all along the right-hand wall.
    Preferences:
    I like to watch a variety of DVDs currently. Anything from huge SCI FI Blockbusters to small-budget films like Memento. I am also a fan of the older Film Noir genre which is almost entirely black and white and infinite shades of gray. Occasionally, I play console games such as my Play Station 2 on my system. The only TV I watch currently is Law and Order and West Wing. I plan to increase that to English Premier League once I get a dish. While I am more picky about picture than my fiance or friends, I am not one who is willing to pay 100% more for 1% improvement. I guess I am looking for an all around performer.
    Worries:
    1. The size of the space is rather 'intimate." (Read "cramped if I want to try to get two rows of seats in.")
    2. I have budgeted $3500, but since I am more of a sound guy than a picture guy, it may pay to spend less on the display device and put money into new sound.
    3. If I change the location of the set to a diagonal to facilitate a larger audience, I may have sound issues. I have not tested yet.
    Questions:
    1. If I limit myself to $3500.00, what would be the best display device to use?
    2. How about $2000?
    3. In looking at the diagram of the room, any ideas about how to create two rows of seats with a RP set? I would be willing to move the location of the set to a diagonal, but I have sound concerns I need to test.
    4. Any recommended dealers in the Columbia, MD area? (Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC an all spots between are close.)
    5. Anything else that I may find useful.
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Even though I come from an audio background, I think newcomers to home theater should place an emphasis on attaining the best picture possible. The audio can "catch up" to the rest of the system as time and money allow. That's my philosophy, though.

    So, Graham, $3,500 gives you a lot of options.

    Are you entirely committed to RPTVs? If not, I would suggest you take a look at the much-lauded Sony KV-40XBR700 direct-view HD-ready set. When properly calibrated, the WEGA offers some of the most compelling line-doubled DVD images around--and even better images when displaying 1080i.
     
  3. Graham Martin

    Graham Martin Stunt Coordinator

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    Jack,
    Thanks for taking your time to respond. Your point of the audio vs. video is well taken. I didn't mean to sound as if I was writing off the video aspect!
    Per your tip, I went to the Sony site and looked at the KV-40XBR700. It appears to have all of the features that people write about so often. Even though my room is on the small side, I had assumed that I should get something bigger than 40 inches and that it should be of a 16:9 design, not 4:3, since I will be watching mostly DVDs in some version of cinema aspect ratios. Are the assumptions incorrect?
    I also assume that in the area of front projection, I will get less bang for the same buck and had ruled it out. Is this also correct?
    Finally, I am noticing that my diagram from my original post is coming up as a broken image link when I view it. If anyone needs to view the image, it is at the following URL:
    http://mywebpages.comcast.net/graha...es/Theater1.jpg
    Thanks again for your time!
     
  4. Mark Hayenga

    Mark Hayenga Supporting Actor

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    GO FPTV!
    Sounds like you have a small room, good light control (dark walls/carpet, and I didn't see any windows on the diagram), and want a big image. I too was looking at RPTVs for a while, but once I borrowed a projector from work I couldn't go back to those 'little' RPTV screens. You make some sacrifices in black level and resolution, but for me the sheer impact of a 100" screen more than makes up for whatever minor resolution advantages an RPTV might have over a projector. Even something as simple as an NEC LT-150z and a budget Da-Lite screen will provide a huge "Wow!" effect, and will run you right at $3500 ($3300 for the proj and $200 for the screen). Another plus is no burn-in worries with console games.
    Check out www.avsforum.com for more info, they have a forum dedicated for sub-$5000 projectors. Also, projectorcentral.com is a great place for info.
     
  5. Graham Martin

    Graham Martin Stunt Coordinator

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    Ah.... the debate begins! :) (These are they decisions I was having a hard time making myself.)

    Thanks for the info, Mark. You are right in that I have set up a window-less room with dark fixtures and paint everywhere. I will look into the FPTV options in my range. You mention the blackness and resolution issues in your post. How severe are they? Are there any other major issues in a FP solution when I compare it to something like the WEGA that Jack suggested?

    I really appreciate everyone's input! If anyone else has ideas, please let me know!
     
  6. Graham Martin

    Graham Martin Stunt Coordinator

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    Two more questions on the FPTV since I know less than nothing about them:

    1. How is noise from the fan handled and what do people think about the solutions? Sicne I am big on audio, I would find any notice of the fan on the inrritating side.

    2. With the space I have, as shown in the diagram from my original post, I would be interested in mounting the projector on the ceiling. How is the angle of projection not being close to centered in height handled? (I assume that you can manualy distort the image that is projected so that is appears normal on the screen even though the projector is many degrees above level?) Also noting that I just expanded my finsihed basement on my own, I would still have concerns doign this myself. How is this best handled?

    Thanks!
     
  7. Craig

    Craig Second Unit

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    I know the Sony KV-40XBR700 has gotten good reviews, however I'd try to go with a larger screen, especially since you have a dedicated room and are going to be watching mostly DVDs. I think the Sony is good compromise for those who watch a lot regular TV and want to watch some DVDs also, but I'm not sure it's the best choice for the use you're looking at.

    You might consider a widescreen RPTV in the 55"-65" range. I have a Toshiba 56" widescreen in a 15'x15' room and it is by no means too big. In fact a 65" would have worked also, I just couldn't afford it at the time (over a 2 1/2 years ago).
     
  8. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    For just over $3500, I'd suggest going with something like the HP XB31 projector (though there are a few other good choices in that price range as well) and a grey painted screen. With this projector you get:

    XGA native resolution

    Single chip DLP (12 degree mirrors)

    1800:1 on/off contrast (this is currently the best for digital)

    1500 ANSI lumens (bright enough for a large grey screen)

    DVI input

    3.5lbs

    Ideally, if you want to ceiling mount it, you want it flush with the top edge of the screen. However, you can use the keystone correction to fix a few degrees of elevation.
     
  9. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    You want a front projection setup with a 16:9 screen in the 6-8' wide range depending on where you put your seats (people seem to like their front rows 1.5-2X screen width back - I like 1.7X). The 16:9 shape will result in smaller 4:3 images, although given the quality of most television sources this is good. The resolution can beat a good (Wega) direct-view set, you won't match the cinematic scale using a consumer one-piece set, and you won't have a big box between your speakers to muck up the sound.

    1. There are loud projectors (45-60dB) and quiet projectors (20dB) regardless of technogy. If you end up with one that's too loud, you can build a nearly air-tight box arround it which gets vented elsewhere.

    2. Projectors are designed to be placed within some distance above the screen in ceiling-mounted installations

    Apart from being unable to project a black that's darker than the room, various shortcomings depend entirely on the technology (DLP, LCD, CRT) used and specific projector in question.
     
  10. Graham Martin

    Graham Martin Stunt Coordinator

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    WOW! Thanks all for the great help and information. Still looks like I have a tough decision on my hands. I like all of the options that everyone has laid out and I will do more research on each of them and let you know how it goes!

    One last question:

    Anyone have any tips on building risers for an elevated second row of seats? I am decent in carpentry, but I have not seen and riser plans floating around. I am eager to see if I can do two rows or just one with the space I have.

    Thanks again!
     
  11. Tony Meconiates

    Tony Meconiates Stunt Coordinator

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    My recommendation is to go with either a 53 or 58 inch Pionner RPTV.... then pay to have it ISF'd.

    That is my recom.

    SD533 or SD582
     
  12. David Broome

    David Broome Stunt Coordinator

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    Risers aren't hard at all. You can basically just get a few 2x4's or 2x6's and lay them out parallel to each other (evenly spaced) with another couple going perpendicular at the top and bottom of the row. Then just slap on a piece of plywood and put down your carpet. Like this:

    ---------

    | | | | |

    | | | | |

    | | | | |

    ---------

    You can get much fancier, but that should be sufficient.

    Oh, and my opinion is go FP all the way. You won't notice the blacks 'not being as black' unless you have another better source right next to it. Or at least I don't.

    And you should definately check out the Panasonic 75U LCD projector (I have it's big brother the 711XU). It is in the $2500 range or cheaper. When my projector is in econo mode (which it is all the time), I can't hear it and I sit about 6 feet from the PJ...
     
  13. Graham Martin

    Graham Martin Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the great riser tip and the wonderful ASCII art! ;-) I measures steps in a "real" theater with stadium seating and they seem to be 16 inches high. Should I build risers this high? If so, I don't think they are quite as simple as the platform from above. Correct?

    Also, I am now leaning towards FP TVs. I think I will start a new thread with a list of the models I am considering and my budget to get specific feedback on the models.

    Quick question on FP terms:

    Two areas I hear concerns about are the "screendoor" effect and the "rainbow" effect. I assume that screendoor is some sort of distinct pixilization that makes it look like you are looking through a screen door. I am also assuming that rainbow is some sort of coloring effect like color ghosting or something.

    Any tips on where I can read up on this? Thanks all!
     
  14. David Broome

    David Broome Stunt Coordinator

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    I would definately not go with 16 inch risers. That may work for a theater but in a normal room that would be (seem to me to be) too high. Remember that in your room you can quite easily smack the person in front of you who is wearing a 10 gallon hat without fear of a lawsuit :)

    If you do need more than 7 inch rise (6 + 1 inch for the plywood), then you can always stack two of the risers I mentioned above.

    I would recommend checking out avsforum in addition to this one in the construction forum for more specific info (such as filling your risers with sand and all sorts of interesting ideas).

    As far as screen door, I think you have a pretty good grasp on it. With a good LCD projector it shouldn't be noticeable from more than a few feet, but up close you will see the individual square pixels in color with a clear demarcation between them that is not colored. Just like looking at a screen door.

    Rainbows are only seen by some people, and are evidenced by a 'rainbow' of colors on images that have contrasting colors. I remember seeing a screen shot of a rainbow over at AVS (can't remember if it was simulated or not), so do a search over there to see if you can find it...
     
  15. Graham Martin

    Graham Martin Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all of the info, David!
     
  16. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    If you're going to get a single chip DLP projector, try to see if you can watch at least 1 movie on one before committing. This will help you determine if you're susceptible to rainbows. Some people are very sensitive to them, and others not so much.
     
  17. Mark Larson

    Mark Larson Supporting Actor

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    Are you interested in learning more about CRT projectors? Since you have a very well light-insulated room, you should look into going that route. If you're not too much of a brightness-fanatic, a 7" CRT PJ will run you around $ 1 500, plus an iScan Pro for $ 650, and a screen for i don't know how much.
    In the end, you'll find testimonials all over the web about the superior quality of CRT's.
    The reasons more people don't go that route are:
    1. Not plug and play like LCD/DLP projectors. You aren't using a HTiB, are you? [​IMG]
    2. Heavy. A Sony VPH 1272 will weigh around 150 lbs.
    3. Uhh.... Phosphor burn? [​IMG]
    Make the decision, but not without looking at all your options.
    Oh, and a CRT's natural habitat is the ceiling - they are usually made to be ceiling mounted.
     
  18. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    Build a GREAT (cause their uber-heavy) ceiling enclosure (because most, though not all, are very loud too) if you plan to go ceiling mounted CRT. [​IMG]
     
  19. Graham Martin

    Graham Martin Stunt Coordinator

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    OK. I am officialy overwhelmed! I am going to have to find some time to sort through all of this information. I think I will go and find some good primer info on front projectors, their issues, their technologies and how the stack up against rear projectors.

    Any other tips woud be appreciated!
     
  20. Scott Falkler

    Scott Falkler Second Unit

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    Just popping in to say hello! [​IMG]
     

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