Tight Budget... Advice Would Be Appreciated - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 03-20-2012, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I am new to the home theater scene, so I figured I should come here and get some advice before I start my set up. First of all, I am on a very limited budget... I have maybe $900 to spend on my entire home theater. Thankfully I already have a projector screen.

Anyway, I want to watch HD movies and play a few games on my 360. No 3D or anything fancy is necessary. Here is what I am thinking the optimal setup for my tiny budget may be. Keep in mind I am completely new to this and would love suggestions on what I should change.

80" Dual Aspect Screen (owned)

Acer H5360
($510... less on Newegg at the moment)

Panasonic 5.1 System ($173)

Xbox 360 ($200ish)

My thoughts so far...

There seems to be little doubt that the H5350 is one of the best, if not THE best option for a projector in my price range.

The Panasonic system seems pretty bare-bones to me, but it might be able to get the job done.

As for the Xbox 360... well, I already own one and wanted a second anyway. The 360 works pretty well as a media center (I run TVersity and play HD movies on it through a thumb drive) and playing games on a 80" screen should be pretty amazing.

Another worry I have is how to get the items all connected together. Do you run the HDMI from the 360 to the sound system, then the sound system has an output HDMI that goes to the projector? I know that is a stupid question, but all of this is new to me.
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post #2 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 07:40 AM
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Where's the blu-ray player?
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post #3 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonyad View Post

Where's the blu-ray player?

At the moment, I am not worried about a blu-ray player. I can play high-def content through my Xbox 360 (Netflix, high-def video files on thumb drive). In the future I may look into a blu-ray player.
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post #4 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 08:16 AM
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What kind of room are you going to use this in? Are you going to ceiling mount the projector, or just set it on a table?

If you're going to ceiling mount it, how high is the ceiling?

That being said, I would look at the Viewsonic pro8200, which you can get on sale for around $700 and forego the second 360.

I've never seen the Acer, but since you aren't interested in 3D, the pro8200 offers a lot of picture for the money.
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post #5 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 08:18 AM
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I really have no other suggestions. Anyway the hdmi out of the Panasonic needs to go to the projector. The Xbox should be connected to the Panasonic, although the link doesn't give a diagram of the inputs of the receiver. Before you settle on the Panasonic 5.1 system, verify the inputs available. Make sure it has hdmi inputs, or else when you get a blu-ray player or a cable box, etc., you won't have the best interface available.
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post #6 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bse53 View Post

What kind of room are you going to use this in? Are you going to ceiling mount the projector, or just set it on a table?

If you're going to ceiling mount it, how high is the ceiling?

That being said, I would look at the Viewsonic pro8200, which you can get on sale for around $700 and forego the second 360.

I've never seen the Acer, but since you aren't interested in 3D, the pro8200 offers a lot of picture for the money.

I will be using it in a fairly small section of my basement, so I shouldn't need a huge sound system or an extremely bright projector. I am thinking I will be placing the projector on a shelf behind and above where we will be sitting. If I could find the viewsonic for $700, it would definitely be an option. However, it is looking like a $800+ projector ATM. From what I have read in the past, 720p on a 80" should look very close to as good as 1080 at a normal viewing distance. The Acer seems to be rated very highly everywhere. If I did get the more expensive Viewsonic, it would mean that I would have to put off getting a sound system until probably Christmas (for various reasons I cannot use my current 360 in my basment home theater).
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post #7 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 08:43 AM
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I didn't notice you had mentioned the screen size of 80".

Both the Viewsonic and Acer are very bright projectors, maybe too bright for such a small screen.

I've read interesting things about the new LED projectors, like the K330. Maybe you should consider that as an option. A 500 lumen projector would work for well for an 80" screen.

Newegg regularly puts the pro8200 on sale for $719.
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post #8 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 08:46 AM
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fyi there are computer speakers systems that sound much better than that panasonic system.
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post #9 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
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So, should I wait until the pro8200 goes on sale and just put off a sound system for now? 1080 makes a fair amount of difference on an 80" screen?
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post #10 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyg83 View Post

fyi there are computer speakers systems that sound much better than that panasonic system.

Are any of them under $200? I am definitely open to any suggestions
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post #11 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 09:22 AM
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The code word is basement. Which is shorthand for low ceiling. The pro8200 has a lot of offset (the distance from the projector to the top of the screen), which means if ceiling mounted the screen will be pretty low on the wall.

Why are you only going to project an 80" screen. The beauty of projectors is the immersive, theater like screen. Is that the largest image you can throw in the room (what are the room's dimensions?) or is it just because you happen to have that screen.

I'd be thinking a DIY screen (which can be made for as little as $15-20) and can give you a 100" or larger image.
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post #12 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
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I got the 80" screen at a garage sale for $35, before I ever really thought about making a home theater. I was saving up cast to upgrade my 42" LCD to a 52" screen and put the 42" in my man cave, but I thought this may be a better use of my money. Don't get me wrong, I would like a larger screen at some point (maybe a pull down 120 inch), but right now I am fine with the screen I have. I am in my mid twenties and bought my first house a couple years ago, so I'm very much just making a starter theater that I can upgrade piece by piece over the years.

Right now my theater is planned to be in a small corner of my basement... maybe a 15' x 15' space, walls on three sides.
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post #13 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 10:14 AM
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Have you verified the screen is 16:9 (70" x 40")?

What is your ceiling height?
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post #14 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegeta13613 View Post

Are any of them under $200? I am definitely open to any suggestions

do you really need surround sound?
The Klipsch pro media 2.1 system is normally 150 at best buy sometimes 129. It sounds amazing.
They make a 5.1 version but its a little bit harder to find.
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post #15 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 11:13 AM
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How about making a screen with one of the well-known paint mixtures discussed here on AVS? You could either paint on an existing sheetrock wall and then just make a black frame (black paint, or black velvet or fleece), or build a frame and use some type of smooth board as a base for paint, or even certain fabrics. That will likely get you an image larger than 80" depending on the projector and how much space you have for throw distance.

If it were me, I'd save up a little more until you can get something better. Better that than to do it twice because you wished you had purchased something better the first time. I just purchased a Panasonic AR100U for under $1K from Projectorpeople.com. It's going in a bedroom with only a 9 foot throw distance. My old projector (6 years old with failing light tunnel, though still on original bulb) would only go up to 72" at that distance, but with this one I should be able to get nearly 100" when I rebuild/repaint my screen.
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post #16 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post

How about making a screen with one of the well-known paint mixtures discussed here on AVS? You could either paint on an existing sheetrock wall and then just make a black frame (black paint, or black velvet or fleece), or build a frame and use some type of smooth board as a base for paint, or even certain fabrics. That will likely get you an image larger than 80" depending on the projector and how much space you have for throw distance.

If it were me, I'd save up a little more until you can get something better. Better that than to do it twice because you wished you had purchased something better the first time. I just purchased a Panasonic AR100U for under $1K from Projectorpeople.com. It's going in a bedroom with only a 9 foot throw distance. My old projector (6 years old with failing light tunnel, though still on original bulb) would only go up to 72" at that distance, but with this one I should be able to get nearly 100" when I rebuild/repaint my screen.

This is not something I would ever be willing to do... at least not in the forseeable future. Spending $1,000 on a projector is not something I would want to do. Maybe in ten years.

I don't think I stated my wants as well as I should have, so let me try and explain a little better... As I said before, I already have a pretty nice 80" projector screeen, and I want to use that. That really isn't in question. Also, I am set on an Xbox 360. I am also set on a budget of right around $800 for either a projector now (and a sound system later) or, much preferably, a projector and an audio system. I am not looking to save up any more money for a better experience. I want the best I can get with my money now, then I can upgrade slowly in the years to come.
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post #17 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegeta13613 View Post

At the moment, I am not worried about a blu-ray player. I can play high-def content through my Xbox 360 (Netflix, high-def video files on thumb drive). In the future I may look into a blu-ray player.

May be get a PS3?
$249 new or less than $199 used at most Game shops.

2014
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post #18 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegeta13613 View Post

I am also set on a budget of right around $800 for either a projector now (and a sound system later) or, much preferably, a projector and an audio system. I am not looking to save up any more money for a better experience. I want the best I can get with my money now, then I can upgrade slowly in the years to come.

Then you need to educate yourself and start looking for used equipment that is higher quality and a lower price because it is used..
Or just go buy what you can find new in your budget.. I have found when shopping the low end of anything, it is all about the same...
I have a used HC3000 I bought 2500 hours or use ago, projector cost me $175 (got lucky) new lamp and remote brought the total to $500. .. Sound system is a 2 channel receiver with speakers from 1982 an a used power sub I picked up for $15.
In a hurry buy new, got time to learn, wait and watch your local craigs list.. and be fearless when haggling you can do better than new with less $$
Good luck!
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post #19 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 11:59 AM
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Airscapes makes a good point, although I wouldn't be as comfortable buying a used projector as a used stereo. I had an lcd projector blue polarizer failure after only 2200 hours and found out that isn't all that rare (though still fairly rare).

But used stereo equipment doesn't have the same aging issues and there would be the opportunity to pick up quality sound system for your $150 budget for sound.
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post #20 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bse53 View Post

I didn't notice you had mentioned the screen size of 80".

Both the Viewsonic and Acer are very bright projectors, maybe too bright for such a small screen.

I've read interesting things about the new LED projectors, like the K330. Maybe you should consider that as an option. A 500 lumen projector would work for well for an 80" screen.

Newegg regularly puts the pro8200 on sale for $719.

He's Right the acer and the Optoma LED's will work great on your 80"

The colors are amazing on those things and lamp life is a no brainer.

check out this vid on the ML500 :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDJSueI4NQs

and this one :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBDDP...eature=related
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post #21 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegeta13613 View Post

This is not something I would ever be willing to do... at least not in the forseeable future. Spending $1,000 on a projector is not something I would want to do. Maybe in ten years.

I don't think I stated my wants as well as I should have, so let me try and explain a little better... As I said before, I already have a pretty nice 80" projector screeen, and I want to use that. That really isn't in question. Also, I am set on an Xbox 360. I am also set on a budget of right around $800 for either a projector now (and a sound system later) or, much preferably, a projector and an audio system. I am not looking to save up any more money for a better experience. I want the best I can get with my money now, then I can upgrade slowly in the years to come.

It is perfectly alright to stay within a budget even if the limits don't meet the aspirations of others. You have a screen, so work with it. It may be all you ever need. If not, you'll know what to look for in the future. I believe people should start small with new ventures. If you become addicted like many folks on this site are, your initial outlay will just be a drop in the bucket.
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post #22 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 01:28 PM
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you might want to look at this for your surround sound I have had it for about a year and still works great. The sound is excellent

link :http://www.walmart.com/ip/SONY-DAV-D...ystem/14047913

If you compare the 2 sony has better stats and well its a sony
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post #23 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 01:43 PM
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you might want to look at this for your surround sound I have had it for about a year and still works great. The sound is excellent

link :http://www.walmart.com/ip/SONY-DAV-D...ystem/14047913

If you compare the 2 sony has better stats and well its a sony

lol NO.
I would not recommend either of these systems. HTIB at this price is simply not worth it.
The klipsch promedia would sound wayyy better then those.
If you must go HTIB save money buy onkyo.
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post #24 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 01:51 PM
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I believe the Acer K330 has been on sale for the $500 price point. I think Tiger Direct had the Viewsonic LED for $400 for a short time before pulling it.

Once you've decided on a projector, you just need to be patient, and you'll find it on sale.
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post #25 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 01:54 PM
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h5360 on sale for 459 at newegg
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post #26 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyg83 View Post

h5360 on sale for 459 at newegg

One limitation of the 5360 will be the 3x color wheel speed, which may make it prone to the rainbow effect.

From the projector central review:
"Color Wheel Speed: The H5360 runs at a 3X color wheel speed. I noticed an occasional rainbow while testing the H5360, however they were nearly exclusive to 2D content. While I did not find the degree of rainbow reproduction objectionable, I am not extremely rainbow sensitive; the relatively slow color wheel speed may be a limitation to some viewers."

I occasionally see rainbows on the pro8200, but it's usually on the credits and it certainly isn't bothersome.

The 5360 in dark cinema mode drops the lumen output to 650 which would bring the light level down to a watchable level for movies on an 80" screen.

As to the 720p resolution, it depends on how close you'll be sitting whether you'll notice it. Go to your local box store and look at 50-60" 720 vs 1080. The 1080p is crisper and you can get a lot closer to the screen before you notice the resolution.

At that price, you can certainly afford to upgrade in a year or two if the home theater bug bites you. As one of the infected, I can say the chances are pretty good you'll get bit.

You should probably read the 5360 thread on this forum. You will certainly find out all the shortcomings of the projector, as well as the pluses, though I would think most folks buying that projector intend it for the 3D using a HTPC.
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post #27 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyg83 View Post

lol NO.
I would not recommend either of these systems. HTIB at this price is simply not worth it.
The klipsch promedia would sound wayyy better then those.
If you must go HTIB save money buy onkyo.

I have a living room home theater sound system that retailed over $4000 and still cost me over $1500 after waiting for really good deals on new components and it sounds amazing. My brother in law has a $150 Sony HTIB that he loves in his living room and it sounds fine. It's not like I'm sitting there watching the movie and noticing that his highs only peak at 13khz vs the rated 20-40khz that I mostly can't hear. Of course that's an oversimplification lol....

And I have 2 Klipsch PM 2.1 sets in my office closet, in pieces. You have to be careful as they're well known for blown caps and resistors, control pod issues,etc. I was able to use a spare AVR and the 3"/horn speakers with my own plate amp/sub setup. The PM 2.1 does sound pretty good for computer audio but in a large room, you could ruin the sub as they have limited excursion so I'd only buy a new unit for the warranty. Just food for thought...
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post #28 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 02:56 PM
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lol NO.
I would not recommend either of these systems. HTIB at this price is simply not worth it.
The klipsch promedia would sound wayyy better then those.
If you must go HTIB save money buy onkyo.


I beg to differ my Sony is excellent. for the price I think it is far better then an onkyo.
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post #29 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow... lots of good information. I am still doing lots of research based on all of your suggestions. I may just take a few weeks and look for some good sales. As for an upgradabe sound system, the Onkyo HTX-22HDX is looking good to me. A good sounding, inexpensive system that should be easily upgradable to 5.1 in a few months. Again, thanks for all of the great input everyone.
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post #30 of 32 Old 03-21-2012, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyg83 View Post

lol NO.
I would not recommend either of these systems. HTIB at this price is simply not worth it.
The klipsch promedia would sound wayyy better then those.
If you must go HTIB save money buy onkyo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tythebuilder View Post

I beg to differ my Sony is excellent. for the price I think it is far better then an onkyo.

And which of you has directly compared both?
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