Weekend with a FP: I'm in love!!

Discussion in 'Displays' started by David_Jr, Feb 23, 2004.

  1. David_Jr

    David_Jr Supporting Actor

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    Is it wrong to start a thread like this? I can't help it. I had a four day weekend coming up this past weekend so I asked nicely at work if I could borrow the office projector for the weekend. Permission granted. We have an Infocus LP350 DLP projector and a regular portable white screen. What happened next may have changed my life. I am writing this from the point of view of someone who has never experienced a front projector outside of a movie theater, except for a few times in sports bars. The few I’ve seen looked dreadful. My normal viewing is done on a 36” standard def Toshiba, so that is my reference point.

    I have read many of the posts that have been posted here over the last few years about front projectors. I was anticipating a lack of black level, up-conversion artifacts, dot crawl and a washed out screen. Maybe it is my complete lack of knowledge on FPs, but I was really impressed with what I experienced.

    The LP350 is a DLP projector designed as a presentation projector, but also marketed as a home theater projector as well from what I could tell from the little bit of research I did on it. The projector is a 4X3 design with a native resolution of 1024 X 768. The office bought the projector four years ago for $5K and it had a total of 5 hours on the 2000 hr bulb when I got it home. I got it home and set it up in my family room where my home theater resides. After reading the manual I realized that the projector had to be 12 feet from the 6 foot diagonal screen. I set the screen up in front of in front of my TV, as close as I could get it. Not easy because of the tripod stand it sits on. That meant I had to put the projector behind the sofa, which meant the seating position was about 11 feet from the screen. I borrowed a rolling cart from the kid’s playroom next to the family room and a toy bin placed on top made the perfect table to set the projector on. This raised the projector above the back of the couch, but meant that I had to put the screen up on blocks to keep the picture from going off the top of the screen. I had no cables that would reach from my DVD player to the projector so I hooked up my Toshiba Satellite laptop, which has a DVD player and a native resolution that matches the projector’s. The kids wanted to watch the Wizard of Oz so I popped it in.

    I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. The screen was filled with a great big image. It felt like being in a movie theater. Between the noise of the projector, which was there but not really objectionable and the black and white grainy picture I was looking at and the sound playing through my laptops speakers, I hearkened back to my teens when we would watch 16 mm films on an old projector and a white sheet on the wall. Then the house landed and the world became color. I couldn’t believe it. The image was beautiful with bright rich colors. At least they were to me, like I said I haven’t experienced anything like this before. It didn’t take me long to figure out what motion artifacts were though. Still images were stunning. On a close up of Judy Garland’s face I could literally see every blemish and pore on her skin. But when Dorothy moved I could detect subtle softening of the image that almost looked like it was going slightly out of focus. This was very easy to take though. I was having a hard time being critical of the show because I was enjoying the image so much. I was trying to watch for the black level. I hadn’t calibrated the projector yet mind you. When the Wicked Witch came on screen I was pleasantly surprised to see that her outfit was black. I was afraid I was going to be seeing a dark gray not black, but I was seeing black. Actually I would find out later that it was really dark dark gray, but it looked black to me at that point. Very satisfying. The other thing was that there was no bad seat in the house. There was no hot spotting. The picture was just as beautiful no matter where you were sitting. Also I didn’t notice the dreaded “rainbow effect” that I had heard so much about. At least not yet. The projector did leak a lot of light out through the vent holes though, so I put a piece of cardboard in front of it to block some of the light from hitting the screen.

    The next day I was able to get a 25 foot S-Video cable so I could hook my DVD player and play through my system. I set my DVD player for 16X9 and set the projector for enhanced widescreen. I popped in Toy Story and was amazed at the image. I couldn’t believe the detail. I was looking at a 64” widescreen image and could see no scan lines. It was just a big beautiful picture. I was really blown away. After the movie was over I decided it was time to do the Avia calibration on this bad boy. This thing was so easy to calibrate I was amazed. My ten year old son was telling me when the settings were right. I have never had this easy of a time setting black level or contrast. I was in love. Literally. After calibration which literally took no time at all I decided to run a few of my reference discs through it. Lost in Space is still a reference for me for picture and sound and I demo it a lot for people that come to visit. Anyone who doesn’t have their own home theater is usually blown away when they hear the first explosion as it rumbles through the room. Usually grins all around. Picture though doesn’t usually delight as much coming from the Tosh. The FP was stunning with Lost in Space, but then I popped in Dinosaur and was amazed at the detail in the dinosaur’s skin and the monkey’s eyes. I was in heaven. Again, no black level issue.

    Saturday night we started with Jonah. A delight of a film that looked beautiful on this setup. After that the kids begged for Attack of the Clones. I gave in. For some reason I was able to be a little more critical while watching AOC. Maybe it was the dreadful writing or the acting by the young Anakin Skywalker. I don’t know. I started noticing the rainbow effect. I could see it especially when there was more than one character on screen and my eyes would go back and forth between them. I also noticed it if my eyes diverted away from the screen for whatever. This only seemed to be noticeable on bright scenes. I also noticed some of the black level limitations on this film. I did notice a slight loss of detail in the darkest parts of the picture in some scenes. Nothing I couldn’t live with though. Once it got to the battle scenes though we were back in business. Also brightly lit outdoor scenes between Padme and Anakin were amazing in there detail. I guess I was just never used to seeing so much detail.

    Finally Sunday night my wife and I watched a movie for us. We watched Moulin Rouge and what a treat. This movie is beautiful. Again I found myself getting lost in this movie. I found it very hard to be critical of the projector. I was simply blown away by the detail in some of the close ups, particularly those of Satine and Zidler. I could see every pore on his face, I could see every drop of sweat on Satine’s face along with her pores and even some little tiny blonde hairs above her lips. I was shocked at the detail. I could go on all day about my experience. I just can’t get over it. Bottom line is I think I could really live with a projector like this even with its shortcomings. I did notice fan noise occasionally especially on quieter scenes. I did notice motion artifacts occasionally and I did notice the rainbow effect. But hardly ever. Mostly I was just enjoying the heck out of this projector.

    Sadly I had to take it back to work today and leave it there. I’m hoping that in a few more months I will get the courage to ask to borrow it again, you know, going to the well one too many times and all. I was seriously considering buying a rear projection TV next year or so, but now I don’t think I could settle for anything less than a front projector. I’m smitten. Does it show?
     
  2. Chris PC

    Chris PC Producer

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    I believe my first projector experience in home was also an Infocus LP350. I had it for a workshop presentation, borrowed from the Mayors office. Couldn't return it by 5:00 pm because I didn't get there in time, aw shucks, LOL, guess I'll keep it over the weekend [​IMG] So yeah, I grabbed my PC and brought it in my room and plugged it into the projector and used a slide projector screen. It wasn't perfect, but it further deepened my obsession with front projectors. My first experience was viewing an Panasonic AE100 in action only a couple months earlier. A year later I bought a used AE100 and enjoy it all the time.
     
  3. Guy Kuo

    Guy Kuo Supporting Actor

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    Another enlightened one! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  4. Jeff_M

    Jeff_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Enthusiasm like this reminds me of how overcritical I can be of my home theater. Over at the AVS forum, we nitpick about this and that, and are quick to tear down the performance of the latest projector. In actuality, the performance level that are now available to the masses is stunning. Nothing (Not even an SVS subwoofer!) can match the wow factor of front projection. I think I'm going to go watch a movie...
     
  5. sam_canavo

    sam_canavo Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeff M

    Agreed things can get a little picky over at AVS.

    I just need to remember, pull the screen down, turn on the
    x1 and enjoy the movie.

    It is nice to see people enjoying FP at an affordable cost.

    Enjoy the show.
     
  6. David_Jr

    David_Jr Supporting Actor

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    I was seriously considering an RPTV for next year, but after this experience I don't see how I could settle for less than FP.
     
  7. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    I have said for years that what multiple speakers brought to the audio side front projection brings to the video side. I had my first experience with a Kloss Novabeam projector and have wanted a front projection system for years. I used to have two different Zenith CRT projectors and sold them both over the years. I have been waiting for years to get back into front projection and the problem now is more logistics. If you have the room to set up a front projection system then this is the only way to go. There is nothing like a huge picture to go with your large sound field.

    David I see a FPTV in your future soon.

    Enjoy!

    Parker
     
  8. Chester II

    Chester II Stunt Coordinator

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    Dudes,

    My first experience I was pretty drunk so I don't remember much.

    Dudes,

    Chester
     
  9. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]
    well said Jeff.
    i love to read posts like David_Jrs.
     
  10. Ralph B

    Ralph B Supporting Actor

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    RP and FP you cant compare them. different leagues.

    nothing can beat the feel of a true big screen FP image.
     
  11. David_Jr

    David_Jr Supporting Actor

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    Parker, the only thing standing between me and my FP is a roof that must be replaced this year. My biggest hurdle is taken care of though, my wife was also smitten. I would say 2004 tax return will be headed to a FP dealer somewhere. I'll be counting down the days!!
     
  12. Michael Mathius

    Michael Mathius Supporting Actor

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    I was blind but now I see[​IMG]
     

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