Projector setup for multi-purpose family room - possible? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 06-23-2013, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to create a nice setup for TV/movies in a family room and It's been recommended to me by others on the forums to think about maybe doing a projector setup. I had originally vetoed this idea due to the windows, but then I stumbled upon a world of ambient-light-friendly projector screens (e.g. SI Black Diamond)




Details:
  • The room is 23' x 27' x 9.5'
  • In total, there are five windows - four average size and one large one.
  • As you can see, walls on either side are slanted and one side has a fireplace w/ bookcases that takes up most of that wall
  • As I've worked extensively on planning an over-the-fireplace setup, I keep running into hurdles, hence the recommendation to try something in front of the large window at the end
  • The Mrs. vetoed anything that would permanently block that window (e.g. 75" TV), hence the idea of attempting a motorized projector screen
  • After doing some rough calculations, I'm inclined to believe I could get a 100" (diagonal) viewing area.
  • I'm leaning towards an Epson 5020

Questions:
  • For daytime viewing (which would be infrequent but not rare), If I get blinds that are meant for blocking light on four average size windows and use a projector screen that blocks most of the light coming from the large window, could I save myself the cost of buying a Black Diamond screen?
  • If I need to get a special projector screen for the ambient light, should I stick with SI Black Diamond? Every now and then I see people mention Firehawk G3 for rooms with ambient light as well. Also, I've seen reviews that the Black Diamond might have poor viewing angles, but haven't validated that myself yet.
  • I'm inclined to believe that if the large window causes a mild amount of backlighting around the edges of the projector screen, it won't be problematic. Is that a correct assumption?
  • Ceiling fans come down around 14" - 15". Do you think it'll look weird if the projector mount needs to come down below that (with one of those extension bars)? Do you think the air displacement of ceiling fans will cause distracting vibrations in a non-fixed screen?
  • I've read about painting walls a dark color for projector rooms. Is that dark blue color (above) a bonus for this room? I don't plan on repainting the room either way, but I'm curious.
  • Are there other questions I should be asking? Any details I'm leaving out? Other options I should be considering?

A closer picture of the large window area:

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post #2 of 10 Old 06-23-2013, 08:56 PM
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if i'm not mistaken, black diamond does not make anything but fixed frame screens. sounds like you need a screen that rolls up so it's not there all the time.

the windows won't be an issue as long as you have realistic expectations. but if you want to leave them open and have direct sunlight coming into the room it will be a problem. typically darker screens are better for ambient light(hence the black diamond being a 'black' screen). high gain screens are good for dim projectors, and dealing with overhead lighting.

I think bottom line, you shouldn't expect great performance from any projector, with any screen unless you're going to control the lighting at least a bit. I can't imagine the brightest LED looking spectacular under those lighting conditions
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post #3 of 10 Old 06-24-2013, 03:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_gt View Post

if i'm not mistaken, black diamond does not make anything but fixed frame screens. sounds like you need a screen that rolls up so it's not there all the time.

Check this out: Black Diamond motorized screen. It looks fairly impressive. I like how it looks like it's floating.

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Originally Posted by fierce_gt View Post

the windows won't be an issue as long as you have realistic expectations. but if you want to leave them open and have direct sunlight coming into the room it will be a problem. typically darker screens are better for ambient light(hence the black diamond being a 'black' screen). high gain screens are good for dim projectors, and dealing with overhead lighting.

Will higher gain also help out with ambient light or just dim projectors? I've heard the Epson 5020 referred to as a "light cannon", so I'm guessing I wouldn't need a high gain, correct? I think the Black Diamond comes in 0.8, 1.4, and 2.7.

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Originally Posted by fierce_gt View Post

I think bottom line, you shouldn't expect great performance from any projector, with any screen unless you're going to control the lighting at least a bit. I can't imagine the brightest LED looking spectacular under those lighting conditions

Okay, let's assume that I control the lighting. Here are my questions again:

Questions:
  • For daytime viewing (which would be infrequent but not rare), If I get blinds that are meant for blocking light on four average size windows and use a projector screen that blocks most of the light coming from the large window, could I save myself the cost of buying a Black Diamond screen?
  • If I need to get a special projector screen for the ambient light, should I stick with SI Black Diamond? Every now and then I see people mention Firehawk G3 for rooms with ambient light as well. Also, I've seen reviews that the Black Diamond might have poor viewing angles, but haven't validated that myself yet.
  • I'm inclined to believe that if the large window causes a mild amount of backlighting around the edges of the projector screen, it won't be problematic. Is that a correct assumption?
  • Ceiling fans come down around 14" - 15". Do you think it'll look weird if the projector mount needs to come down below that (with one of those extension bars)? Do you think the air displacement of ceiling fans will cause distracting vibrations in a non-fixed screen?
  • I've read about painting walls a dark color for projector rooms. Is that dark blue color (above) a bonus for this room? I don't plan on repainting the room either way, but I'm curious.
  • Are there other questions I should be asking? Any details I'm leaving out? Other options I should be considering?

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post #4 of 10 Old 06-24-2013, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

Check this out: Black Diamond motorized screen. It looks fairly impressive. I like how it looks like it's floating.
glad they finally figured that out. last I checked(which I didn't think was THAT long ago) they hadn't figured out a way to roll their material. to be honest, i'm not at all a fan of how that looks, but that's a personal choice for sure. i'd be scared to hear pricing on that though. when I looked into a BD screen last year I came to the conclusion it was still cheaper to buy the highest quality plasma on the market in the largest screen size available for bright room viewing. still, can't say I don't want one.
Quote:
Will higher gain also help out with ambient light or just dim projectors? I've heard the Epson 5020 referred to as a "light cannon", so I'm guessing I wouldn't need a high gain, correct? I think the Black Diamond comes in 0.8, 1.4, and 2.7.
I don't have much personal experience with high gain screens as I've never thought I needed one. but generally speaking, the higher gain screens focus the light. it's retro reflective, meaning whatever light hits the screen from your eye level will be shown the most. ideally that means your projector is mounted near eye level(something that makes me cringe personally) and no other light source is. if all your lighting is overhead, then yeah, the screen will do a good job of not reflecting that light to your eyes. but all that sunlight coming in through the windows would likely be around eye level and would still wash out the picture.
I believe there's two ways to combat ambient light and improve bright room images. one is the use of a darker screen material, and the other is a high gain screen. the black diamond really addresses both of those, and that's likely why it works so well in that situation.
Quote:
[*] For daytime viewing (which would be infrequent but not rare), If I get blinds that are meant for blocking light on four average size windows and use a projector screen that blocks most of the light coming from the large window, could I save myself the cost of buying a Black Diamond screen?
probably, but it's still up to you to decide what is 'good enough'. the BD will still be better, if it's worth the added cost is impossible for me to say. it also depends on what you want to watch. sports, cartoons, anything 'bright' should be fine with a HCHG screen. dark movies would not be so enjoyable though.
Quote:
[*] If I need to get a special projector screen for the ambient light, should I stick with SI Black Diamond? Every now and then I see people mention Firehawk G3 for rooms with ambient light as well. Also, I've seen reviews that the Black Diamond might have poor viewing angles, but haven't validated that myself yet.
best bet is to get screen samples and see for yourself. there's typically more problems with high gain screens. more chance of seeing screen texture, sparklies, hotspotting. and there's a direct relationship between viewing angle and gain. the screens can not create more light, then only focus it. when light is more focused, the viewing angle decreases.
Quote:
[*] I'm inclined to believe that if the large window causes a mild amount of backlighting around the edges of the projector screen, it won't be problematic. Is that a correct assumption?
light hitting the front of the screen is the biggest issue. if that light comes in, bounces off the ceiling/walls/furniture and reflects back to the screen it will be an issue. otherwise it should be a minor concern.
Quote:
[*] Ceiling fans come down around 14" - 15". Do you think it'll look weird if the projector mount needs to come down below that (with one of those extension bars)? Do you think the air displacement of ceiling fans will cause distracting vibrations in a non-fixed screen?
look weird, maybe, maybe not. I think it's more a matter of how high from the floor it ends up, than how far from the ceiling it is. as long as it's out of reach it's fine. if you're really concerned just browse around the web for pictures. I can't possibly answer the second question as I have no idea what fans you have, how far they are from the screen, etc. hang a bedsheet where you want the screen, find out for yourself. just keep in mind a screen will be a bit heavier and quite a bit stiffer. but hey, if the sheet barely movies, then you know you'll be fine.
Quote:
[*] I've read about painting walls a dark color for projector rooms. Is that dark blue color (above) a bonus for this room? I don't plan on repainting the room either way, but I'm curious.
not sure what you mean by 'bonus', but yes darker is better, especially if you're concerned about ambient light bouncing around.
Quote:
[*] Are there other questions I should be asking? Any details I'm leaving out? Other options I should be considering?
there are plenty of options. I think you'd be best off making a list of 'needs', a list of 'wants' and a list of 'dealbreakers'. only when you know exactly what you need can the mess of possibilities get narrowed down.
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-24-2013, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for all your answers. I recognize the amount of time it must've taken you to compose a response and I greatly appreciate it.

I found this on the price of the motorized black diamond: "Prices for the Black Diamond Motorized Screen line range from $5000 - $8000 depending on size and options." Update: I just called their sales department and they said a 100" screen that goes in the ceiling would go for $6900. That's a bit pricey. We'll have to see what the Mrs. thinks - she's my CAO (Chief Aesthetics Officer).

It seems to me the simpler, more cost-effective solution is probably to just buy some "blackout" shades/blinds. Using this method, I don't see why I couldn't get the room to nearly complete darkness, thus opening me up to other screen options. Assuming this is the case and I'm able to achieve near-ideal lighting conditions, what might be a good screen to pair the Epson 5020 with? Should I be considering other brands besides Screen Innovations?

My primary need/want is to get as close as I can to the quality of an LED/plasma TV. The point where I stop is most likely where I start to encounter significant diminishing returns on my money. A great example of this might be the aforementioned motorized version of the Black Diamond screen.

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post #6 of 10 Old 06-24-2013, 04:35 PM
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I would definitely go another route than the SI screen. I mean seriously, you could buy an 80" LED for daytime use and a good screen for night time use and still pocket a grand. those screens do not seem to be for the value oriented shopper.

I think you're limiting factor will be how dark you can get blacks on the screen. remembering that black is the absence of light, any light bouncing around in the room will have a significant affect on the black level. this could mean near plasma quality at night, and cheap LCD quality during the day.

i'd still recommend looking at a high contrast high gain screen to give yourself a bit of leeway. whether or not you CAN turn the space into a black hole, you may not want to. it's still nice having some ambient lighting for casual tv watching.

I unfortunately have very little hands on experience with screens and wouldn't feel right about recommending one I've never even seen in person. what I would do in your position is ask for samples from a few different manufacturers and try them out in your room with the projector. look for how bright they look, if you can see screen texture, viewing angles, and of course try them in both dark room and ambient light. the only caution I can give you from personal experience is when comparing darker screens to white ones, the 'white' on grey screens will always look pretty terrible. but when you remove that white screen as a reference, your eyes adjust very quickly. I was testing a grey material, and when held up beside my white screen it looked terrible. when I removed the white screen it looked fine. for me, the deeper blacks were very noticeable, and darker whites were not.
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post #7 of 10 Old 06-24-2013, 05:49 PM
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I guess it would depend on the content you're trying to watch. If it's sports, sure, it'll work just fine as you're throwing a ton of colors at the screen. If it's a movie, which relies on having good blacks.... only at night with the lights out. Here, check out the pictures on my post here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1435626/benq-w1070-dlp-full-hd-3d-ready-with-lens-shift-for-1000/5190#post_23451313 Note: all pictures besides the last one are with the lights on and this is on a 100" CineWhite screen.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the ANSI rating of a PJ doesn't mean a whole lot... you really need to look at reviews and see what they measure in various picture/lamp modes. According to ProjectorReviews, the 5020 will have the same lumen output as the BenQ in my pictures only in Dynamic mode (potentially very loud, even compared to the BenQ, if the sound is anything like the 3020, anyway). I only run my PJ in Eco mode, so compare accordingly..

BenQ (Source)
Code:
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):

Dynamic= 1786 @ 7754          
Standard= 1730 @ 6912
Cinema= 1711 @ 6913, 1109 @ 7359 with Eco lamp, 1335 @ 6566 with Normal lamp and Brilliant Color off.
User 1= 1730 @ 6897
User 2= 1730 @ 6904

5020 (Source)
Code:
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE:

Dynamic= 1890 @ 6702
Living Room= 1473 @ 8088
Natural= 804 @ 7132, 572 in Eco lamp mode (default)
Cinema= 804 @ 7041, 572 in Eco lamp mode (default)
THX= 804 @ 7012, 572 in Eco lamp mode (default)

It's a tough decision and you're talking about spending a whole lot of money. You may want to consider buying a BenQ W1070 locally along with a 100" screen (Walmart has a few cheap ones for testing, or rent one from Taylor Rental) and determine whether this is for you.

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post #8 of 10 Old 06-24-2013, 09:21 PM
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An "ambient light" setup in the diy screen section, Mississippiman did an excellent job with it. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1470680/theater-bar-game-room-design-considerations-ambient-light-and-projector-specs#post_23262624
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post #9 of 10 Old 06-26-2013, 02:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ///3oris View Post

Here, check out the pictures on my post here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1435626/benq-w1070-dlp-full-hd-3d-ready-with-lens-shift-for-1000/5190#post_23451313 Note: all pictures besides the last one are with the lights on and this is on a 100" CineWhite screen.

This is a good example because I think my expectations are properly calibrated. For the "lights on" scene in the Lord of the Rings, if you were to dim the lights by 50%, I would think the picture quality would be what I consider respectable. With complete light control, it looks great - as expected. It looks like you have windows too and they're successfully managed.

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Originally Posted by jnabq View Post

An "ambient light" setup in the diy screen section, Mississippiman did an excellent job with it. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1470680/theater-bar-game-room-design-considerations-ambient-light-and-projector-specs#post_23262624

This is another good example because my setup would be very similar (screen in front of window).

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Originally Posted by ///3oris View Post

It's a tough decision and you're talking about spending a whole lot of money. You may want to consider buying a BenQ W1070 locally along with a 100" screen (Walmart has a few cheap ones for testing, or rent one from Taylor Rental) and determine whether this is for you.

You mean to see if a projector setup is for me?

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post #10 of 10 Old 06-26-2013, 03:46 PM
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You mean to see if a projector setup is for me?

Correct

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