Is a front projector right for me? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 05:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys-

Thanks for taking the time to read...

I'm trying to decide which display is right for my room.

My current display is a Mitsubishi 82" DLP rear projection that is about 2 years old. Its lens or screen has warped and the image is very out of focus. The estimate for replacing the screen is $1600. I've decided not to invest in the repair. I've generally been happy with rear projection units in this "theater room" for the past 8 years or so.

A little about the room:

Its in my basement with no windows. Its about 14 feet wide and about 20 feet long. The viewing distance is 12.5 feet and the seating is 4 theater recliners in a slight arc facing the display. It is used mostly sporting events and movies.

My primary display is in the living room on the main floor (55" Samsung LCD).

My concern is while I have complete light control in the basement, there are times a moderate amount of ambient light will be present. My wife and young kids do not like a completely dark room when watching events (like football on Sunday) during the daytime. The lighting in the room is from the ceiling- only on the opposite wall of the display and directed at the wall only- at about a 45 degree angle. There are five 50 watt fixtures that are usually at about 1/2 dimmed.

My problem is that I've never actually seen a front projector in a home theater (and I don't know of any place that I can check one out). I have no idea how much less light output compared to my DLP rear projection I'd be dealing with.

I'm thinking about 2 options (budget 5k):

Sharp 80 inch LCD vs Epson 5020 with 106" high gain screen (I'm overwhelmed by all the screen choices and don't fully understand them).

I also am willing to consider any other combo the experts here suggest...

I'm leaning towards front projection which is why I'm posting in this forum, but I need a little push.

Thanks,

Paul
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post #2 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 08:55 AM
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Paul, update your profile to add your location so we know where in the world you are. Sometimes you will be right near another member and be invited to come check out their theater.

As to the lighting of the room with front projection, you can add much if you care at all about image fidelity and shadow detail. I just posted this in another thread. Hang a piece of white computer paper up where you would have your screen and set the room lighting how you would want it. Now look at the paper and you are looking a the blackest black you will see in your image.

You can add some bias lighting if you can put those lights on a dimmer and redirect them so the light does not hit the screen. Putting the screen in a shadow box with curtains or false wall can help with this.
Bias Lighting next to projection screen

Good luck, it is all a compromise..
Oh BTW, your 2 year old RP TV.. did you happen to buy it with a credit card that provides extended warranty??

Doug

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post #3 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 09:13 AM
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A little more information about the room really is necessary to give input on what you should expect, but I would think you will be fine.

Now, in my experience, the best improvement that can be made to any front projection setup comes in the form of $100 in dark paint. If your walls and ceiling are not dark, then pick a dark color with your wife, and bust out the rollers and darken the room up. Controlling the ambient light, and the significant reflections that come off a large screen will drastically improve the overall movie and sports watching experience and will allow you to have more light towards the back of the room with less impact on the projected image.

Because so many people have asked about this over the years, please look at this link.

It was my old family room setup using a Panasonic PT-L300U projector, which likely is running about 300 or 400 lumens on a .8 gain grey 106" screen. There are photos that show how lighting, away from the screen, can be added to the room and provide a ton of in-room lighting, with minimal on-screen impact. This is especially nice for sporting events.

http://www.avintegrated.com/lighting.html

I would recommend that you do not want a high gain screen, but a minimal gain white screen (1.3 or 1.4 gain). High gain screens reduce image uniformity and cause hot-spotting.

The 5020 is an excellent projector, but I would go ahead and look at the Sony and JVC LCoS models which are very impressive as well.


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post #4 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airscapes View Post

Paul, update your profile to add your location so we know where in the world you are. Sometimes you will be right near another member and be invited to come check out their theater.

As to the lighting of the room with front projection, you can add much if you care at all about image fidelity and shadow detail. I just posted this in another thread. Hang a piece of white computer paper up where you would have your screen and set the room lighting how you would want it. Now look at the paper and you are looking a the blackest black you will see in your image.

You can add some bias lighting if you can put those lights on a dimmer and redirect them so the light does not hit the screen. Putting the screen in a shadow box with curtains or false wall can help with this.
Bias Lighting next to projection screen

Good luck, it is all a compromise..
Oh BTW, your 2 year old RP TV.. did you happen to buy it with a credit card that provides extended warranty??

Thanks for the reply.

I live a little north of Boston, MA. I figure there must be some local dealers out there with a showroom, but just haven't been able to find one. I would prefer to buy from a dealer locally.

The extension of warranty through the credit card has also run out.
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV_Integrated View Post

A little more information about the room really is necessary to give input on what you should expect, but I would think you will be fine.

Now, in my experience, the best improvement that can be made to any front projection setup comes in the form of $100 in dark paint. If your walls and ceiling are not dark, then pick a dark color with your wife, and bust out the rollers and darken the room up. Controlling the ambient light, and the significant reflections that come off a large screen will drastically improve the overall movie and sports watching experience and will allow you to have more light towards the back of the room with less impact on the projected image.

Because so many people have asked about this over the years, please look at this link.

It was my old family room setup using a Panasonic PT-L300U projector, which likely is running about 300 or 400 lumens on a .8 gain grey 106" screen. There are photos that show how lighting, away from the screen, can be added to the room and provide a ton of in-room lighting, with minimal on-screen impact. This is especially nice for sporting events.

http://www.avintegrated.com/lighting.html

I would recommend that you do not want a high gain screen, but a minimal gain white screen (1.3 or 1.4 gain). High gain screens reduce image uniformity and cause hot-spotting.

The 5020 is an excellent projector, but I would go ahead and look at the Sony and JVC LCoS models which are very impressive as well.

Thanks for the link. Those photos help illustrate the point. I will take some photos of the room tonight and post. Since all the lights we use aim away from the screen onto the far wall at a 45 degree angle, I might be ok. It it safe to say the epson would project a brighter image that your Panasonic since its lumen output is higher?

I know my family will make me watch sports alone if its totally dark smile.gif
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 11:02 AM
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Your room sounds fairly ideal for a projector. I'm new to projectors as well and just got a Sony HW-50 setup in a living room in far less ideal conditions and the image is amazing. I can have lights on in the kitchen that is completely open to the living room and the image holds up very well.


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post #7 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pellep2 View Post

Thanks for the link. Those photos help illustrate the point. I will take some photos of the room tonight and post. Since all the lights we use aim away from the screen onto the far wall at a 45 degree angle, I might be ok. It it safe to say the epson would project a brighter image that your Panasonic since its lumen output is higher?

I know my family will make me watch sports alone if its totally dark smile.gif
My Panasonic is something on the order of 12 years old and represents about 2 projectors ago for me now. You should expect a dedicated home theater projector like the Sony or JVC LCoS models to put out significantly more light, and the Epson to do even more.

It is worth saying that the LCD projectors, in my experience, don't handle motion as well as their DLP and LCoS counterparts, so you may want to try to find someone who has one, or check Magnolia at Best Buy with sports material to make sure you are really happy with how the image looks.

With a minimal gain screen (I recommend Carada Criterion screens in Brilliant White), you will have plenty of light output to have some lights on as I demonstrate.

Generally, I put 3-6 lights over seating areas on a dimmer, and then I put an additional 6+ lights in the rest of a theater for general lighting. The dark colors act like a light siphon and you really need lots of lights to get even lighting throughout the space when the projector is off. But, when it is on, you want the main lights off completely, and those rear lights directed where they are most useful. Not sure the wall is really the most useful spot, because you need the light to bounce off the wall to be useful for reading or moving about, which means you will end up with light on the screen that you don't want. But, certainly with the lights at the far end of the room, it is better than them falling right on the screen.

I find theater lighting is one of the most overlooked and most poorly implemented facets of theater design for most people. It becomes an afterthought and there is rarely enough lighting. Good to see you at least have lights away from the screen and on a dimmer, I think you will do very well with this! I would go up a bit in screen size personally.


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post #8 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's a couple pics of the room in question. The lights are on full in these pictures. They are usually dimmed about 1/2 way when the tv is on. Any thoughs appreciated...




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post #9 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 05:35 PM
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Based upon several factors of that room (which is very nice by the way) my honest opinion is that you'll likely be better served by getting a large (~80" direct view set like a Sharp LED LCD).

Some reasoning...

Size of room (current screen wall appears relatively small and height of the room)
Color of room (a white ceiling that close to the screen is going to reflect like crazy)
Speaker location (relative to size of screen width, looks limited to not much more than the current screen size ?)
Glass reflective pictures on walls
Thermostat/light switch located where screen would be (ok with drop down, not perm-wall)

That said, I am not implying you cannot do front projection, it's just that you have some considerations. wink.gif

Best of luck,
Jason

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post #10 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaGamePimp View Post

Based upon several factors of that room (which is very nice by the way) my honest opinion is that you'll likely be better served by getting a large (~80" direct view set like a Sharp LED LCD).

Some reasoning...

Size of room (current screen wall appears relatively small and height of the room)
Color of room (a white ceiling that close to the screen is going to reflect like crazy)
Speaker location (relative to size of screen width, looks limited to not much more than the current screen size ?)
Glass reflective pictures on walls
Thermostat/light switch located where screen would be (ok with drop down, not perm-wall)

That said, I am not implying you cannot do front projection, it's just that you have some considerations. wink.gif

Best of luck,
Jason


From my measurements, a 106 inch screen would not overlap the opening (although it could without an issue- a pull down screen could mount over the opening and overlap. Its a 12ft wide opening into another room, so the speakers can shift over too if needed.)

The walls and ceiling are a matte light brown/dark beige. It doesn't show well in the photos.

The ceiling is lower than I'd like - 81 inches. The bottom of the viewable screen on a pull down would be about 19 inches above the floor extending to the ceiling. Is this too low? My plan is to lose the tv stand and have the center channel on a short stand.

Thermostat is easy to move to the other side of the wall.

Do you think this is workable?
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post #11 of 15 Old 05-16-2013, 07:41 PM
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It certainly is workable. You want to review the information I already posted, and consider that front projection is most adversely affected by ambient light. Whether that is light that naturally occurs, is direct lighting from lamps in the room, is reflected light from lamps bouncing off walls, ceiling, and floors, or is from light reflected off the projector screen which bounces off walls, you will get the best performance by adding a coat of paint.

Fortunately, you can truly add a coat of paint whenever you would like to. Carpets, obviously, are a bit more difficult.

The photos from my prior link were in my family room, where my wife let me go with medium grey carpet, medium grey walls and ceiling, and a dark green screen wall. When I built my rec-room in the basement, I was able to do dark grey carpet, burgundy walls, and a dark grey ceiling. There was a significant step up when I moved to the basement setup. So, in a space which calls for darkness, that will be of primary concern for image quality.

The rest is up to you, because the space will certainly work. You will have to figure out wiring to the projector, power, etc. You will also really need to think about the screen wall which, IMO, is the biggest headache you have in there. A motorized, tab-tensioned screen might work really well in there, but it'll run about $2,000 or more for a decent 106" or so model. No manual roll up or non-tensioned screen with that projector makes any sense whatsoever.


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post #12 of 15 Old 05-17-2013, 05:00 AM - Thread Starter
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[/quote]A motorized, tab-tensioned screen might work really well in there, but it'll run about $2,000 or more for a decent 106" or so model. No manual roll up or non-tensioned screen with that projector makes any sense whatsoever.[/quote]

Can you help me understand why a non tensioned screen doesn't make sense? Is it something inherently related to this projector, or your opinion or projectors in general?
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post #13 of 15 Old 05-18-2013, 10:30 AM
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Non tab-tensioned screens inevitably develop 'waves' which are visible when watching movies. The exception to this rule is high-gain retro reflective screens. Although they too develop waves, the waves aren't visible when watching an image.

While AV_Inegrated is correct that retro screens have the potential to cause hotspotting and brightness uniformity issues, I find in practice that this defect is overstated. I've used 3 different types of retro screens in my livingroom theatre and have never had issues with hotspots or uniformity. Retro screens offer the additional advantage of rejecting ambient light that is off axis, and light that reflected off walls. DaGamePimp is right about those glass covered pictures. Those would be a killer for a retro screen, as reflections from them back to the screen would wash out the image. Since you already have a low ceiling, you could drop the projector to close to eye level to maximize the gain characteristics of the screen. This also helps with watching sports with some indirect lighting. The downside is that the extra gain also elevates the black level. This won't be noticeable in high contrast scenes, but will be evident in very dark scenes. Another downside is that the 'sweet spot' for gain is basically for seating that is within the boundaries of the screen. Outside the boundaries there is a noticeable drop off in brightness. However, the gain only drops to about 1.0, so the screen will still be plenty bright. We have some of our livingroom seating outside the sweet spot and it's fine in lower ambient light conditions.

In short, a good quality tab tensioned medium gain screen would probably be best, but retro screens also offer advantages and can be much more cost effective.

Jonathan
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post #14 of 15 Old 05-18-2013, 11:06 AM
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You can still see waves on a retro-gain screen, they just are not as prominent looking, but it depends how big the waves are.



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post #15 of 15 Old 05-18-2013, 06:40 PM
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In 15 years of A/V, I have yet to see ANY screen which is not tab-tensioned and doesn't develop waves which are visible and detrimental to the movie viewing experience. I would love to see one which doesn't have this issue, but I haven't come across it yet. While it may not be 'obvious', during smooth pans is when it really becomes apparent on most screens, and is just a waste. At least in an electric model. Certainly a far cheaper manual pull down screen can be done and that saves a lot of cash in the short term and may allow for a better projector to be used, or even just allow the projection setup to happen at all.

I've personally had 3 manual screens before I went tab-tensioned and they all developed waves which detracted from the experience. The stuff I saw on client sites was far more apparent and distracting over the years.

Really depends on budget, and at 106" there is no obvious reason to go with a high gain screen.

Heck, with my 161" screen I have no reason to go with higher gain than 1.3 using the w1070.


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