Projectors - suitable for budget HT?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by _Alan Preston_, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. _Alan Preston_

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    Hi all,

    This is my first post.

    First, my current setup:

    Yamaha home theater system:
    Yamaha Amp/tuner RX V393.
    Yamaha CDC-575 5-disk CD player
    Yamaha NS-45 front speakers
    center and rear speakers are fairly lame ones that came with the Yamaha package - they work.

    Pioneer DV-535 DVD player
    Panasonic 6 head VHS - not that I ever use this since I got my DVD player [​IMG]

    Sony Xplod sub (in box) driven from a Technics 100 watt amp, connected to sub out from Yamaha amp.
    (this is a pretty ugly solution for a sub I know, but has a couple of advantages - the sub was given to me, and the Technics amp is one I have had sitting around. When I get the funds, I will definitely be springing for something designed for the job)

    TV: Panasonic 29" - this TV is about 5 years old, got it secondhand off a friend. Don't know the exact model sorry, it is pretty high spec, has S-Video in, surround speaker outs (don't use them of course), and the speakers on the TV are surprisingly good. I love this TV, btw.


    Anyway, down to my question:

    I have recently seen a projector advertised for a very good price - NZ$2000 (which equates to about US$1000). The projector is an Epson EMP-S1. This has 1200ANSI lumins, contrast ratio of 400:1, a maximum image size of 300", and a resolution of 800x600.

    I am looking at getting one, primarily for watching DVDs, although I can see it getting used pretty extensively for sport, movies on TV, and playstation.

    What I want to know is, for a person on a budget like me, who can only afford to spend big on one item, is the projector a good idea?
    Or would I be better holding out until I can afford something like NZ$6000 - $10000 for a decent sized RP TV?

    Is a projector practical for the average home?
    Are there any pitfalls?
    If it is used primarily for DVDs, and some sport and TV viewing, but not constantly used for nightly TV viewing, will the bulb life be acceptable, bearing in mind that I am not rich?
    I am happy enough with the image I have seen on most rear projection TVs, although they often don't look as good as my conventional TV. Would a projector image be as good, or near as good as an RP Tv?

    For $2000, I can see a lot of upsides, things like portability, the ability to adjust the screen size, the fact that when the screen is put away, I don't have a behemoth of a TV dominating the room.
    And lets not forget, size, size, and more size!

    Also, does anyone know if Epson projectors are good? I would be interested to hear peoples experiences of the EMP-S1 or similar, and of using projectors for home theater in general.

    TIA, Alan
     
  2. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Welcome to the HTF Alan. You have come to the right place. I am going to move your thread to the displays area and add my 2 cents in a few minutes.
     
  3. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    This is the projector of which you speak, yes?
    [​IMG]
    I have not seen this specific model in action yet (there are thousands [​IMG]). To answer some of your initial questions to front projection, let me direct you here first... Front Projection - How do I select one for my needs? Take a read through it.

    One of the things you will need to do, no matter what projector you end up with is control the amount of ambient light in your room. If you are using a living room, then this may involve installing shades, blackout fabric over the windows or some other form of window covering. Then, you need to examine all the sources you will be using, VCR, DVD, game console, HDTV etc etc to determine if you should get a 4x3 or a 16x9 setup. If you are going to be watching a lot of wide screen material then the 16x9 nsetup will be very beneficial.

    As far as the budget goes, the more popular digital projectors in that pricerange over here include the Sanyo Z1, Infocus X1, and Panasonic L200U. The L300U is a little more money.

    Whatever you do, see if you get a demo of the actual projector you are prospecting. A properly set up projector would blow your socks off.
     
  4. ChadLB

    ChadLB Screenwriter

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    Here are some things to consider:

    Installation Parameters:
    1)How far is your seating area from your screen?
    2)How big is your screen?
    3)What is the throw range of each projector you are considering for that screen size? 4)Does this fit with your architecture?

    Feature Parameters:
    1)What connection types are important to you? (DVI, VGA, etc.)
    2)Do you have adequate light control? (will you need a high lumens pj?)
    3)Do you watch more 16:9 or 4:3 material?
    4)Are you susceptible to rainbows? Do they bug you? (do you need a 2x, 3x or 5x color wheel?)

    Miscellaneous:
    1)Are you a videophile? (do poor reds irk you?)
    2)Is the warranty/replacement program adequate if you encounter problems?
    How long is the laundry list for users who already own said pj?
     
  5. ChadLB

    ChadLB Screenwriter

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    Oh yeah If you go to my web link I have a comparison chart of the 4 projectors mentioned by neil.
    Also if you are interested you can get a demo of the X1 thru an online source....
     
  6. _Alan Preston_

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    Excellent, thanks Neil and ChadLB, that gives me a lot more to go on.

    I'm at work right now, and busy, so I can't give this my full attention, but I will have a good read a bit later on, and reply properly then.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help, much better than speaking to shop staff, who probably have an agenda...
     
  7. Bob Maged

    Bob Maged Stunt Coordinator

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    Here is a link to the Epson S1 review at projectorcentral.com. I am leery of the 400:1 contrast ratio, which is very low for a HT PJ. You would have to see one in action to make your own decision. Brightness and contrast ratio specs can be misleading. The Panasonic PT-L200U is rated at 700 lumens and 700:1 CR and the InFocus X1 claims 1100 lumens and 2000:1 CR, but according to Hometheaterforum member Ron-P's experience (click here) the difference in contrast between the two is negligible.
     
  8. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    What Bob says. I have said repeatedly that sometimes, a pj with "lower" brightness and c.r. specs can outperform a pj with better specs partly because it is calibrated almost to proper specs right out of the box while the "better" projector's specs and absolute best scenario and takes a lot of tweaking to get right.

    Keep in mind too that the brightness and contrast ratio specs almost always cannot be achieved together. To get maximum c.r. means a sacrifice to the brightness level and vise versa.
     
  9. Scott.T

    Scott.T Agent

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    Hi Alan, this is my first post too.

    Where abouts in NZ are you?

    I'm in the same position. Really want a projector, but available funds are not huge. I think I will end up buying the S1. Originally I was keen on the Infocus X1, but my wife and I both found the rainbows distracting. I also had a demo of the S1, and found the picture quite satisfactory (for the price). In some respects I thought it was better than the X1. I prefered the colour and brightness of the S1, and screendoor was minimal. The X1 had better contrast and virtually no screendoor. I have also looked at the Epson TW10, and Sanyo Z1, but they are both NZ$1000+ more than the S1, which I can't justify (read my other half won't let me!) To counter the lower contrast ratio of the S1 I will spend a bit more on a higher contrast screen. My main concern is that the S1 does not have an optical zoom, so if you can't setup the throw distance just right you have to use digital zoom which throws resolution away.
     
  10. _Alan Preston_

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    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for your comments. I am in Auckland. (go the Warriors, by the way) Can you tell me where you went to view the projector/s you looked at?

    After reading your experiences, and reading some of the other links posted here by HTF members, I am even more convinced that a projector is for me.

    Ambient light is a concern in the room I have, but most of my serious viewing will be at night anyway, so I think I can put up with that.

    Thanks Neil for the link to "Projection - How do I select one for my needs?", that answered a lot of questions I had. Also thanks to Bob for the link to the Epson review. I had seen a short review from "Tone" magazine, but although reasonably informative, that read like a sponsored spot as much as anything, so I wasn't too keen to take their word for it. The Projector Central review was a lot more informative, and balanced.

    I guess my next step will be to go audition some projectors and see what I think. Unfortunately, I won't actually be able to buy until sometime in October, but even now I am quite excited at the prospect.

    I will definitely post again when I have some more info. I have a feeling a lot more questions are going to come up [​IMG]
     
  11. Scott.T

    Scott.T Agent

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    Alan,

    I was able to view the S1, and the Infocus at Eastern HiFi here in Napier. They have stores in Newmarket, and Howick in Auckland. They are not the cheapest, but have excellent service.
    Epson have got a usefull projection calculator on their site to help work out throw distances and screen sizes.
    I agree with Dean. If you are not bothered by rainbows, the Infocus is probably a better pj. But it is about NZ$500 more.

    I can't wait to watch The Two Towers Extended Edition on my 120" screen!

    Scott
     
  12. _Alan Preston_

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    Scott,

    Thanks for that, I will go and check out Eastern HiFi. I think there is one near me, at Wairau Park (Aucland's North Shore).

    Napier? That's a great town, I've only been there once though. I have relatives in Gisborne, which I really like also. You're lucky - I'd move out of Auckland if I could get work in my line in a smaller city like that.

    I don't know if I am bothered by "rainbows" yet, as I havent' seen them.
     
  13. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Epson has a new projector coming out soon called the PowerLite Home 10 that should be about the same price as the S1. Its a 16:9 native LCD PJ that has a 700:1 contrast ratio but lacks the resolution the Z1 and panasonics offer. Still given the price it might really do well for people looking to get into projection on the cheap.

    PowerLite 10
     
  14. Scott.T

    Scott.T Agent

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    I looked into the home 10. It is sold in NZ as the EMP TW10. It retails in here for NZ$3299, so is about NZ$800 more than the S1. I haven't been able to view one yet so can't comment on the picture.

    Alan,

    Yeah Napier is a great place, we moved down from Auckland in December last year, I was lucky to get offered a job, and we have always liked Napier. It is a bit slow at times, and I haven't found anywhere with a really good selection of DVDs....so the dvd web sites are getting used more than they used too.
     
  15. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    A little higher in price (probably around $3K street) is the new Sony HS20. It's native 16x9 and HD res and should have a real-world contrast close to 1000:1. Also has MLA so the pixel structure should look similar to DLP (ie, not the normal *bad* screen-door we think of when we think LCD).

    That X1 is a great bang-for-the-buck for @$1K.

    for around $4K there's the awesome NEC HT1000 and for about $5K you've got 16x9 HD DLP PJs like the BenQ.

    Whatever money you spend, you can *always* get a better image going front-projection vs rear-projection. The only reason why anyone IMO should go RP is if they have too much light that they cannot control when critically viewing or if they have other contraints like no place to mount/place the projector.

    But if you *can* use a front PJ, you *should*. It's a whole new experience of home-theater [​IMG]

    -dave
     
  16. _Alan Preston_

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    One other question, that no one hs addressed yet: what sort of "real world" bulb life can I expect from a PJ with a bulb rated for 2000 hours.

    I realise this is highly subjective, but can anyone tell me what sort of life they get from theirs, and how much usage their PJ gets in a typical week?

    Would I expect a bulb to last a year? 2 years? more?
     
  17. ChadLB

    ChadLB Screenwriter

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    It can very I have read some reports that they went after 600 hours......Yes the higher the bulb hours the better but it may not always make it that far....
     
  18. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    My previous projector achieved the 2000 hour bulb life. My current projector is almost at half life with no problems. Just remember to keep the environment projector friendly (not too much dust, good heat circulation etc, avoid too many constant power up, power downs back to back.

    I watch about 15 hours a week on mine and it has been going for about a year now on the original bulb.
     
  19. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    You mean 2000, right?

    p.s. what's your current PJ?

    dave [​IMG]
     
  20. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Yes 2000.

    Current pj is Sony 11HT and old pj was Sharpvision XVZ1U
     

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