When is it time to get a projection?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Blake Bowden, Sep 15, 2001.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Extra

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    I'am currently building my home theater and have a few questions. First, how do you determine when a TV is TOO small for a HT? The room that I'am using is roughly 20x25-30. I plan on having 2 rows of seating. I've been looking at a 65' toshiba HDTV, but I'am concerned with not only getting it to the 3rd floor (weighs 400+PDS) but will it be too small? When is it a better choice to go for something bigger as in projection? The HDTV will run me about $3000 shipped. I'am TOTALLY new at projection so call me clueless. How is the quality using projection? I haven't seen, used, etc. a projection in probably 10 years or so and the quality back then was...well...crappy. If you don't think the 65' would be big enough, then what should I look for in a projection? Are they easy to install, focus, maintain? Do you basically buy it, hook it up, pop a screen in front and you're good to go? What kind of inputs do these things have? Can they be mounted mid level, ceiling, etc? Sorry for the amount of questions but I would hate to be ignorant when I have a place run my credit card through..take it home, and kick myself for making a mistake. I'am willing to spend $3-$4k. Educate me oh wise ones!
     
  2. Phu Vo

    Phu Vo Stunt Coordinator

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    Sounds like you are a prime candidate for front projection. Let me tell you, carrying a 40" TV up just one story is a pain in the ass. I couldn't imagine carrying a 65" tube up three. From a two dimensional perspective your theater room seems to be perfect for the larger then life screen size that front projection offers. But we have to factor in the type of ceiling you have. This is a crucial factor in front projection. Mounting a projector on a level ceiling is ideal, but if you have a vaulted or cathedral ceiling there could be problems. You would have to custom make your own mount. Some projectors don't have zoom lenses, so positioning has to be absolutely precise. Consideration #1.
    As for "plug and play", it depends on what type of unit you get. CRTs require constant tweaking, offer the best picture quality, the best black levels, but are the most expensive to maintain. Plus, there are very few CRTs in your price range that can be purchased brand new. Good LCDs barely fit into your price range. The problems with LCDs are the following. Screendoor effect (visable pixel structure) which is more evident in longer distance throws (which your room qualifies to be in), dead pixels from LCD burnout, and not so good black levels. LCDs do have good color saturation. Better then DLP, but not as good as CRT. Then there are DLPs. DLPs are definitely in your price range. But with DLPs, there is the rainbow effect which happens since DLPs can only display one color at a time during a tiny fraction of a second. Some people see them, some don't. Definitely demo a DLP first before you buy one. If you see rainbows, then DLP isn't for you. If you don't see them, then ignorance is truly bliss. Halos. A square ring of white light surrounding the projected image. All DLPs have them, but some units are more prominent (distracting) then others. Masking is a must with DLPs. Generally, colors in DLPs aren't as good as in LCDs, but there are exceptions. Blacks are a bit deeper in DLPs then LCDs, but not as good as in CRTs. D-ILA is out of your price range. All of these trade offs will factor into consideration #2.
    Projectors are noisy. Some louder then others. But they all make noise to some degree. Consideration #3.
    Bulb life. An inherent issue of all projectors. CRT bulb replacement can be as much as the entire unit itself. LCD and DLP lamps go for as much as $500 for a life span averaging 1500 hours. Condsideration #4.
    Screens. Do-it-yourself screens are great. They are completely flat and cost very little to make. But can be an inconvenience. They don't hide away. And since bulb life on projectors is a big concern, regular TV viewing normally is done on a smaller more conventional set. Pulldown screens that hide away and pulldown over regular sets or entertainment centers are great for the instant theater effect. But they cost much more then DYIs. $100-$500 more. Consideration #5.
    Lighting conditions. Colors are only as saturated as how dark your room can be. Blacks are only as dark as your room is dark. Absolute lighting control is a must. You must be able to darken your room to almost pitch black levels to get full use of projectors. Consideration #6.
    Wiring. Conventional TVs are usually located near where the rest of your equipment lay. Making connections easy. Whereas projectors can be located as far as 20' away. Hiding wires will make this length even longer. Try pricing out the length of a 40' component cable. It is not cheap. Consideration #7.
    Scalers. The bigger your image, the more likely you will see flaws. Home video really was never meant to be that big. DVD sources tend to look great on projectors. Regular TV viewing really isn't so hot. Scalers and line doublers take care of this problem to great extent. The problem is what method are you going to take. Some projectors have built in scalers helping to aleviate some of these problems. However, most internal scalers aren't really that good. External scalers sell for as much as $1000. These perform better then the next best thing which I am about to mention, but cost much much more. Then there is the HTPC (Hometheater PC) route. It offers great progressive scan DVD video with software players that rivals any standalone unit. Any DVDROM equipped PIII 450 or higher PC will be adequate for software DVD decoding. And with a $40 TV tuner and a freeware open source program called dScaler, you can scale your analog video sources through your PC. With quality rivalling that of high end Faurodja external scalers. You will also need a soundcard that has digital output for DD/DTS passthru. Consideration #8.
    Sorry, that wasn't meant to scare you off. I just wanted to leave no stones unturned for you. Projection TV is great. There is noting that even comes close to duplicating the theater experience in your home like a well setup projector. I still get oohs and ahhs from friends with my modest setup. Imagine having a image projected on your wall that is so big that you are completely absorbed into the picture. The borders begin to dissolve, and your audio equipment suddenly sounds so much better. So much more real and lifelike. All of this, without taking up any floorspace. Projectors have come a long long way. Images now are crisp, clean, and film-like. In my opinion, there are times when movies look even better at home then when I see them in theaters. They are well worth the trouble and well worth the time investigating. So have fun demoing them.
    Email me if you need more consultation. I'd be more then willing to help point you in the right direction in your FPTV quest.
     
  3. Rob Robinson

    Rob Robinson Second Unit

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    wow, what an awesome and comprehensive reply.
    people like you make this place great!
     
  4. Jon_Mx

    Jon_Mx Agent

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    When is it time to get a projector? If you have a dedicated room with light-controlled environment and primarily want to watch DVD or high-def material. Projectors don't really compete with RPTV for NTSC material, but in a light-controlled room with good source material there is no comparison. The projector is the only way to go for a real movie experience. For $3K, the best picture you can get is a from an NEC LT150 (about $2300, DLP, XGA, 800 lumens) and a Da-lite Model C (about $340, pull down) 1.3 gain screen. Some people like the high-power (2.8 gain screen) better. DaLite Model C cost a little more than a model B (about $260), but is much better constructed. The biggest drawback for the LT150 is that it has no zoom, but if you are flexible in where you can mount it, that shouldn't be a problem.
    Here is a screen shot from my setup (Sanyo XP21N ($5200), Greyhawk screen ($1100), feed from a Panasonic 91 DVD ($430). I recommend a progressive scan DVD. The LT150 does produce similar results:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Carlos_R

    Carlos_R Extra

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    Blake, I am also new to HT, well actually I have been gathering info for the last eight months and two months ago I purchased my first CRT FP (entry level 7") my room dimensions are 16'x19' with a fixed screen set-up DIY, and I have approx 90% to 95% light control (family room).
    Here is my response to your questions.
    your room is a good size for a FP. Their are several types CRT, LCD, DLP, and D-ila (expensive). I will let others discuss the digital PJ's as I have never set one up, I only went to demo them.
    _CRT's (Best image quality) requires calibration for the screen size, etc. You can have an ISF calibrate it for you $$ or you can DIY. If you DIY you will need to do some homework for the particular CRT you have. It is not difficult to set-up but it is time consuming the first time, approx. 4+ hrs. after that you will need to check convergence every six months or so (30minutes or so). Tube life is approx 10,000 hrs.+ and cost per tube is $400.00+ per tube depending on your CRT. A low hour used CRT 7" to 8" can be had for $1,000.0 to $5,000.0+, and they are HDTV ready. A NEW CRT FP 8"-9" will cost $10k+, so IMO your best bang for the buck would be used. Maintenace of these units is NOT expensive if you DIY. Projectors are noisy but then that would depend on your PJ. EX. I replaced the fans on mine with fans that are rated for < 25db and within specs. (silent)PJ now. The cost of my ECP4500 less than $1k.
    _Screens: DIY screens are excellent if you are on a budget
    I did mine for less than $65.00. But if you have the extra $$ then a Stewart Studio tech 130 would be a nice screen.
    If this is a dedicated HT room then a DIY fixed screen is not an inconvenience.
    _Scalers: You will need one for a CRT FP. I have only used an HTPC (DIY), which rivals very high end scalers for less. The cost of mine was approx. $900.00
    For more info on CRT's or DLP along with HTPC's try the following links.
    http://www.avsforum.com http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/Forum12/HTML/011087.html http://www.dtvmax.com/htpc.htm
    But whatever FP system you decide on, take the time to demo them at least several of each type and you decide which is best for you, they all have +'s and -'s and they are all excellent in their own way.
    just my $.02
    good luck
    carlos_r
    ECP4500 (7" crt fp)
    DIY screen 80x45 (16x9 1.4 gain painted fabric)
    HTPC:
    Windows/ME
    Mob. ASUS CUSL2
    Chip: Intel PIII 800EB 133mhz
    Ram: 256 PC SDRAM 133
    HD: IBM 30GB 75GXP 7200rpm
    dvd: Pioneer DVD-115
    ps.: Antec 300W
    video card: RADEON 64DDR VIVO w/ATI 4.1 DVD
    sound: Turtle Beach Santa Cruz, DD/dts
     
  6. Carlos_R

    Carlos_R Extra

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    Blake,
    you might find this of interest, this person is using an NEC lt-150 w/HTPC
    http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/Forum12/HTML/013584.html
    Nice image JON_MX, what type of camera did you use,
    35mm/digital, film, f-stop, etc.
    thanx,
    carlos_r
    ECP4500
    HTPC(Radeon vivo/ATI4.1 dvd)
    1280x720 @72Hz
     
  7. GaryM

    GaryM Agent

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    If you can make a scale floor plan of your room, you can determine the ideal screen size and shape for true "movie experience" emotional involvement. The Society Of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) has determined from long experience and study what the apparent screen size should be. There is a concept called "subtended angle" involved, and the guideline is that the screen width should subtend 30 degrees or more of the viewer's vision, and the screen height should subtend 15 degrees or more. Any less than this, and you are just watching TV, not at all the same as immersing yourself in a movie. Here is a reference that will help you: http://www.dolby.com/movies/m.in.0009.screensize.html
    The subtended angle will give you the maximum distance (i.e. the distance to the last row of seating) after you apply the formula. Then the first row of seating needs to be slightly beyond the minimum distance at which you can see the picture structure (scan lines on a CRT or the pixel structure of a digital display). Closer viewing will require a higher resolution digital projector or a line doubler or tripler for a CRT projector. Of course, the aspect ratio of the screen enters into the calculation, which is why there are seperate subtended angle reccomendations for width and height. Finally, your personal viewing preferences matter if you will be the primary user.
    As an example, in a much smaller room with but a single row of seating, with an XGA projector and a 4:3 screen I sit back at 1.7 screen widths. The pixels are on the hairy edge of visibility but I am definately immersed in the movie. In a commercial theater I typically like to sit 1/3 of the way back, about the 6th row in a small theater and the 12th row in a larger one.
    Finally, there is a financial crossover point beyond which front projection is more economical than rear projection. This point moves around a lot as both front and rear projector pricing changes constantly, but was recently about 65" diagonal meaurement on a 16:9 screen. I priced a good 65" diagonal widescreen RPTV at $3500. However, it was a big black plastic box and the wife had kittens about the Early American decor. (Note that although the screen was only 65" diagonal, I would have been sitting 30" closer because the box was 30" deep - I did the subtended angle calculation with this in mind.) The XGA LCD projector (NEC VT540) cost $3000 and by the time it was installed in a hushbox and cabled was also $3500 total. The projector aspect ratio is 4:3 and I use a 90" diagonal screen, which works out to 82" diagonal in 16:9 widescreen, and is still about 78" diagonal in the common 2.35:1 aspect ratio (CinemaScope) movie format. Thus in my room I have a picture equivalent to a much more expensive larger-than-65" RPTV, for $3500. The screen stashes in the garage and the "home theater" is then virtually invisible.
    Gary
     
  8. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Extra

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    Thanks a million for all the responses. I've broked down a couple of different options I'am going for, and if you wouldn't mind commenting, critizing, or telling me hey..something is missing...feel free [​IMG]
    VCR: Panasonic PV-VS4820
    DVD: Pioneer DV37 Elite
    Receiver: Pioneer VSX-37TX ELITE
    Speakers: Not decided yet
    Projector: Sony VPL-VW10HT
    Screen: 87" x 116" (150" Diagonal) Ceiling/Wall mount Motorized
    Here's the URL to the screen: http://www.nationalprojector.com/scr...c-screens.html
    This only bad thing about about this setup is it's pretty expensive. Here's the other alternative:
    VCR: Panasonic PV-VS4820
    DVD: Pioneer DV37 Elite
    Receiver: Pioneer VSX-37TX ELITE
    Speakers: Not decided yet
    Projector: NEC LT150
    Screen: 87" x 116" (150" Diagonal) Ceiling/Wall mount Motorized
    The main difference would be going with a $2000+ cheaper NEC LT150. What would be the problem with using this projector? Is it HDTV compatible? Component jacks for my progressive DVD player? 16x9 Aspect ratio? Thanks for your extremely informative replies fellas!
     
  9. Jon_Mx

    Jon_Mx Agent

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    Blake,
    The LT150 does HDTV. It also accepts a commpoent input but it shares it through its VGA connector. You need a VGA breakout cable between the DVD and LT150.
    Carlos
    I used a Nikon 990 Coolpix (digital). I just turned the flash off and let the camera adjust for the exposure.
     

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