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Projector vs. Plasma [Newbie Help]

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by LouieT, Jan 16, 2002.

  1. LouieT

    LouieT Extra

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    Hi Guys,

    I'm brand new to the forum and have been shy to post anything, but I think some professional help is needed here. I have been debating for the longest time on whether I should get a Plasma TV or a projection-based home theater. I recently sold a lot of my stock so I have some money for disposal and so cost is not a factor. My wife and I have been building a pretty good home theatre in the last few years and we currently have a Sony 65XBR HDTV, speakers, receivers, and the works. We recently bought a new home and we want to go to the next level in home theater.

    I guess my questions are:

    - What are the major advantages of Plasma over a projector?

    - Can a projector play regular TV channels/cable, VHS, DVD, etc.? (I know nothing about projectors).

    - If I buy a projector, what other equipment must I need on top of the ones I already have to really enjoy the use of a projector?

    Any help is truly appreciated. Thanks in advance guys and gals.

    Louie
     
  2. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Hi Louie! (Sounds like an AA meeting, eh?)
    By "projector" I assume you mean a front projection system (where the projector is in the room shining onto a big screen)...so I'll address all my comments towards that.
    I think it all depends on how big of a picture you want. If you go with a projector you can have an image as big as 12' diagonal, or even bigger. With plasma there's a limited selection on size. Plasma TVs are also so much more expensive than some high quality projectors.
    Room lighting will also be a huge factor. With plasma television you can have quite a bit of ambient light and still be able to see the picture. With projectors it has to be pretty dark in the room or the picture gets washed out. So if you plan on watching it during the day in a lit room then take that into consideration.
    If you end up going with a really big screen then regular cable broadcasts will look awful. The resolution is so low that it will become unwatchable on a huge projection screen. I say that if you plan on having a dedicated room with controllable lighting (even during the day) and will use only high quality sources (no cable, no VHS) then go projector. But keep something else around for watching TV and VHS tapes on.
    Other equipment you need with a projector...a screen. [​IMG]
     
  3. LouieT

    LouieT Extra

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    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your reply. You're right . . . this reminds me of an AA meeting. Uhm, not that I would know.

    I've checked out a few front projectors and we'll be looking at a few this weekend. I've seen it displayed at our local HT retailer, but I wanted more feedback from actual owners like yourself. You mentioned that the resolution on regular cable turns awful if the screen gets too big. I read that most front projectors have manual zooms that you can shrink your picture size for a better resolution. Does this help at all?

    I've also been reading up on the Da-lite 100-inch wall-mounted screen. What set-up do you have? And is there a big difference in using a professional made screen as opposed to just projecting it on like, say, a big black canvas? I saw a few pictures where people just used a big black or grey canvas nailed on their wall.

    Also, are the connections pretty messy? I've read somewhere on the Internet that you'll have to hire an electrical contractor to do all your hook-ups because front projectors need to be mounted on the ceiling for maximum use. Is there any truth to this? Any major differences if you put it on a stack of books or if you mount it to the ceiling?

    Thanks again for your reply, Bill. I truly appreciate it.

    Louie
     
  4. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Just for the record, I don't own a front projector...yet! [​IMG] I've played around with a few and have read many accounts and experiences here on the forum.
    If you've got your mind set on a FP system then you need to investigate the type of projector you want. The most common ones are LCD, DLP, and CRT.
    LCD projectors are the cheapest. They work just like an LCD monitor, but project the pixels onto a screen. One of the downsides to LCD is that they can't reproduce black very well. It tends to look greyish. That's why some people will use a grey screen...to help with the contrast. I have no idea how grey you would want to go. That might require some experimentation. Hopefully some members that own LCD projectors and use grey screens will be able to chime in on that one. There are some LCD projectors though that have good contrast levels and don't really require grey screens. But you'll never want to go to such a dark grey that it looks black. That will wash out the colors. Also, depending on the resolution, size of the picture, and distance you sit from the screen you can sometimes see the pixels.
    DLP projectors are similar to LCD in that they are small and lightweight. They are much more expensive than LCD and generally don't suffer from low contrast levels or visible pixels. Personally, I'm still learning about DLP so my knowledge there is pretty limited.
    CRT projectors are the ones where you see three picture "guns"...red, blue, and green...firing out of them. They get excellent resolution, very bright, and have good contrast levels. They're more difficult to install and once installed you don't want to move them...so no magazine stacks for these ones. These are usually the choice for high-end FP home theater. They produce the most film like picture. Zoom is not an option with these though. They are also susceptible to burn in.
    Most LCD and DLP projectors can zoom. Yes, decreasing the size of the image will make low resolution sources look better, but I'd never use a projector to watch TV anyway. With the amount of TV I watch compared to the number of movies I watch, I'd be burning through bulbs every couple of months. And projector bulbs are expensive. Projectors can give you that true "movie feel" better than any other display device.
    As for hookups, if you're handy in the do-it-yourself arena there's nothing wrong with trying it yourself, as long as you have it mounted properly to framing and not drywall. But if you need professional help then I wouldn't use an electrical contractor, I'd hire a home theater installer. They will do the hookup and calibration for you.
    For screens if you want a permanent wall mount then it's pretty easy to make one yourself. Just smooth drywall with the right kind of paint will do the trick. Many people here have made their own screens. Search around and I'm sure you'll find their accounts. Then you can contact them if you have any questions. But if you want to detract the screen into the ceiling then you would need to go with a screen manufacturer for that.
    Another consideration when making your purchase is fan noise. Some projectors can be pretty noisy. You can muffle the noise with a ventelated box if it's a problem though.
     
  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Well, I own a DLP projector and have had CRTs and have installed others, so I'll take a shot:
     
  6. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    Stay away from plasma. Even if cost is no object, plasma displays have a poor picture compared to other alternatives in the same price range (LCD/DLP/CRT projection).

    Every plasma screen I've seen has a "posterized" picture. They cannot reproduce a smooth gradation of color. When you look up close at the display, you will see a severe "banding" effect and poor color reproduction.

    Despite the illusion given on TV commercials, mounting a plasma screen isn't like nailing a picture on the wall. Those plasma screens actually weigh over 100 lbs. and need to be mounted with a sturdy bracket that is screwed into the studs.

    I recommend you look into a good front-projection system, using DLP, LCD, or CRT. CRTs give the best picture and have the most flexibility, but their brightness can be limited. If you want a screen bigger than about 80"-100" diagonally, look at LCD and DLP models.

    As for video sources - if you have a GOOD cable feed, NTSC cable can look OK (but not great) on a 100" screen. Don't expect the kind of pixel density (small pixels) of a
     

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