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  • Projector advice needed

    Hi All,

    I am just beginning to research home theater front projectors and am trying to get a feel for relevant points. I have seen only a handfull of projectors in operation first hand at local high-end audio-video stores, but none of the ones that seem to be more highly rated on some of the review sites (projector central, etc.). I have a relatively large (22'x35') over-the-garage bonus room that I'd like to install a projector in. The logistics are such that it would have to aim across the shorter dimension (18'-19' throw), and there is a LOT of ambient light. Most of what I have read suggests I should be looking for a fairly high light output projector for this reason, unless I can control ambient light better. I have been looking at the Sanyo PLV-70, and have read through the recent thread on this model. One of it's drawbacks is the lack of HDCP compliant DVI input. How important is HDCP compatibility going forward? Is component level input distinguishably different from DVI in most cases? Another high-output Sanyo model, the PLV-WF10 is HDCP compliant, but appears to be to big (and loud?) - is it a viable choice for home theater? I'd like to do things as right as posible for < $10K including screen if possible, as this will have to last several years (unless I get divorced). Are ther other models I should be looking at?

    I'm hoping to cure a serious case of ignorance here, any info/suggestions are greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    Bill -

    Welcome to the HT Guide Forums and thanks for posting your questions.

    You've already hit The Main Point and that is: "Control the ambient light". Regardless of how powerful the projector is, the picture is going to look better and you and other viewers will be less distracted from viewing it if you have control over the ambient light. "Control" does not mean that you have to have the place totally dark all the time -- it implies that you can adjust the light level to your comfort level and taste.

    But a good starting point is total blackout and then add light from there, rather than always wishing you had less light to deal with. It doesn't have to be expensive either. Home Depot, Lowe's and Bed Bath and Beyond all sell some rather inexpensive shades that can be mounted stand-alone or under your more decorative drapes or blinds -- the "Redi-Shade", about $5 USD for a 3 foot by 6 foot panel (that's about .9 by 1.8 meters).

    Also dimmer controls for the lights are a good idea, but you need to be careful to get models that will not inject hum into the electrical circuit (although preferably the lights would be on a circuit isolated from the one the HT components are powered from, in which case it is basically a moot point.)

    Also, from my experience, you want to get as quiet a projector as you can find. I have a fairly noisy one and it drives me nuts to hear the fan whirring above the dialog during quiet passages. It si worth a few more bucks to get this feature (quiet operation) in the projector than to have to try to get it with after-the-fact measures such as "hush boxes" or having to build a separate projection room.

    As for the questions about HDCP and DVI vs. component, I’ll defer to others to explain in more detail. But unless you already have other components that already make use of these connections or plan to upgrade those components very soon, it may not be worth worrying about if you are getting a relatively inexpensive projector since you will probably be upgrading to a better projector in a couple or three years anyway and who knows what the real standards will be then? If you are planning to buy a really expensive projector (which my expert friends advise against in this environment of rapidly changing technology and continual price drops for performance gains) then you will want it to be as future proof as possible, but again, what features will assure that?

    Also I have read about at least one otherwise highly-regarded DVD player where the component output was actually better than that model's DVI output, which runs counter to intuition, but that's what users were reporting. Spending more for a projector with that connection would be wasted money if you were going to use that particular DVD player. So the answer comes down to a "definite maybe". :>)

    IMO, a better strategy than throwing a lot of money at the projector is to buy a reasonably priced projector with reasonable performance by today's standards that connects with the equipment you have now or will have soon and bank the rest of the cash for future upgrades (or other needs besides HT). And meanwhile, control that ambient light! :>)

    Good luck, and enjoy!


    What you DON'T say may be held against you...


    • #3
      Where are you (in the geographic sense)? I have a PLV-70 and can certainly attest to its strengths and weaknesses. Can show it to you under varying ambient light conditions if you are anywhere near. But Burke is right, better to address the problem than try to brute force overcome it. That said, with a room that size, you might think about building the setup as rear projection. Then you have the option of a lit environment for viewing with far less susceptibility to washout (for things like superbowl parties), and the PJ would be isolated from you so noise and/or PJ heat would be less of an issue.

      For the 70 the HDCP issue is surmountable as far as present generation DVD goes, but you would be SOL as far as HDTV where applied, without a fairly complicated HTPC workaround, and when HD-DVD arrives there would likely be no way to circumvent it.

      The DVI input on the 70 (and most likely the WF10) does definitely get you a superior picture. But you should also be looking at the InFocus 7205 (unless DLP artifacts are unacceptable to you) as it will best the Sanyo (either of them) in almost every way except brightness, that is contrast, smoothness, black level (and the aforementioned DLP artifacts, if those are worse than LCD artifacts for you - they are for me).

      If you really need the higher light level, there is another longshot option. A Norwegian company, ProjectionDesign, has released a very good DLP that is 3000 lumens and streets for around your max price, the Action Mk II. It is, unfortunately, not readily available in the USA, but you might research it and see if you can find a way to purchase one. This is also an exceedingly quiet unit and would probably be the best solution for all your requirements if it were available. Has lens options as well.

      Let us know whether you think some degree of light control is the option you will pursue, and whether RP is an option, and we can make further suggestions. If you go the light controlled route, the options in your price range open up greatly.



      • #4
        Hitchhiking on Brandon's excellent points, perhaps we should clarify that "rear projection" does not necessarily mean purchase of a boxy, bulky RPTV (Rear Projection Television) with a small screen compared to front projection.

        Rather, "rear projection" can also mean configuration of a front projector in a rear-projection mode where the projector is at the front of the room but typically behind a "false wall" firing toward the audience onto a transparent screen built into the "false wall" instead of from behind onto the front wall.

        Actually, the "false wall" may be a very solid "real wall", but the idea is you are creating a small space separate from the main HT area and isolating the projection mechanism from the viewing area. The "front projector" is usually set up to fire onto the screen via a mirror (to shorten the distance) behind that "false wall".

        With such a setup, as Brandon pointed out, the image is much less subject to washout since the area behind the "false wall" would be totally dark regardless of the light level of the viewing area. (It helps to paint the entire area behind the "false wall" flat black, but that isn't an absolute requirement.)

        Having the projector in the isolated projection area also makes it much less likely that any noise the projector is making would be audible to people in the viewing area.

        With a large room to work with like you have, depending on how you can arrange things, you might have the space to do something like that, so you would have a lot of workable options.


        What you DON'T say may be held against you...


        • #5
          This will be no help now, but it is interesting for the future.

          At the recent SID and InfoComm conventions Sony showed a new screen that they have developed which could help in the future erase a lot of the ambient light concerns.

          The screen is made out of a special layering of materials that reflects only specific wavelengths of red, blue and green light with the other wavelengths (in other words the ambient light) being absorbed. They had a normal Sony LCD home theater projector on the show floor projecting onto a screen that was 1/2 normal and 1/2 "new".

          The difference was very impressive. The normal side was washed out as we are all familiar with, but the other side was bright and clear even with all the light in the display hall. It looked like an RPTV or even one of the large LCD or Plasma panels. I really think that it would be possible to have a FP in my living room and use it as a TV.

          I dont know how quick they can bring it out to the market. They have one large hurdle, the screen as it is right now, is not flexible. In other words it can`t be rolled up, so it would have to be sold in its final form like big plate glass. The guys at the booth had no idea of any introductory schedule


          • #6
            Second hurdle, continuous size. The one at SID was sewn together of 6 pieces.



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