AVS Special Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: W Simsbury, CT, USA
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I, too, have an Epson 8350 (still within return period, and I'm mulling over a couple of other projectors, but there's a good chance I'll keep it), and have been thinking hard about going with a 2.35:1 (or thereabouts) screen and doing the manual zoom/shift thing. I've already experimented with it by over-projecting onto my 92" 16:9 screen to simulate a couple of different 2.35:1 screen sizes, and really liked the idea of a super wide screen. In the course of doing that, I came across both of the issues you described, as well as the light spillage issue you mentioned. That light spillage might actually be the biggest concern for me, because part of the reason I started thinking about the 2.35:1 screen approach is because my movie room is in my upstairs loft and my left wall is shorter than the right wall, with a steep slope up to my 10' ceiling. This slope forced me to go smaller on a 16:9 screen, but allows me to get wider than I could with a 16:9 screen if I go 2.35:1. The problem, though, is that light spillage then ends up spilling onto part of the sloped ceiling, which is white right now, and would ideally remain white (I don't think my wife will be happy if I paint the ceiling black). So I'm still mulling the whole idea over some more.
A couple of thoughts on the issues you highlighted:
1) I'm less concerned about menus spilling over, because my plan is to rip all of my movies and play just the main movie file.
2) Need to manually zoom and shift. I believe you can get an external scaler box for not too much money that will rescale your 16:9 content to fit within the smaller portion of your 2.35:1 screen. There are pros/cons to this, as you will not need to manually zoom/shift, but you'll lose lines of resolution. I will likely be using XBMC running on an older Acer Revo nettop PC, and I think I can configure it to do this, so I'm strongly considering that. Over the next couple of days I hope to test it out and see how noticeable the resolution loss is.
I believe that XBMC should handle the subtitle shifting as well, though I'm also considering converting all of my rips to MP4 files (still at 1080p) using Handbrake, so as to maintain backward compatibility with some jailbroken Apple TV 2's running XBMC in other rooms (where the TV's are smaller and ATV2's 720p output is good enough). If I go that route, I believe that Handbrake will allow me to shift the subtitles and burn them into the output video.
I'd much rather watch a great movie in B&W at 240 lines of resolution than a lousy movie in 1080p with lossless audio.