How much picture quality difference is there between modern projectors and tvs? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 55 Old 03-30-2014, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I currently have a 2009 Panasonic Plasma. Its 42" and I want to go bigger and step into 3D. I'm looking in the $2k - $3k range and I've been trying to decided whether to go with a TV or a projector setup. I could go the easy route and grab one of the 64/65 inch Samsung plasmas and not look back -- its a bigger screen than I have now, 3D, and I'm sure better picture quality, but I don't think they make plasmas (in this price range) above 65 inches, so I have been wondering what I could achieve (and what I would have to give up) with an lcd or projector. For example the 75" LCD Samsung UN75F6400 rings in at $3k. If I went the projector route I would do CIH and a screen size of around 87 inches (diagonal) for 2.35:1 content and 70 inches for 16:9 content. I'm assuming with something as "small" as 87 inches I could get a darker screen material to help with black levels.

My watching habits are 1/3 of the content is 16:9 with the lights on (news, kids shows, casual tv), 1/3 is 16:9 with the lights dimmed ("serious" tv), and 1/3 movies with the lights off. My seating distance is ~10 feet.

I have never experienced a projector setup in the home, so I'm hoping you guys can provide some insight. For 16:9 content with a plasma at 65 inches, lcd at 70 or 75 inches, and a projector at 70inches, it seems like the projector isn't the best choice? So I think my question is really for 2.35:1 content -- how would a 61 inch (letterboxed on a 65" screen) plasma display compare to an 87 inch projector? What about an LCD, I assume it is the middle ground, but is the picture quality closer to the plasma or closer to the projector?
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post #2 of 55 Old 03-30-2014, 05:19 PM
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Front projection demands a dark room for best results. Unlike flat panel displays which can perform very well to excellent with lights on, projectors lose contrast not just with lights on, but with light colored walls. They can't project 'black', they project light, and the light that bounces off the screen and hits light colored walls, falls back on the screen and takes away from the quality. A great deal actually. When compared to a plasma, a projector can do very well, if the projector is decent and the room is good. But, in a typical family room, projectors tend to be a very bad choice.

That said, CIH introduces it's own set of demands which must be dealt with. You also have a size/brightness issues which brings up the reality that projectors are designed for about a 92"-120" diagonal size. As well, projectors often gain quality as prices rise.

So, with a 92" to 120" diagonal, and JVC RS46 projector, in a properly treated room, on a white screen you will get results that look like a plasma flat panel display. That just look awesome really! But, at lower budgets, at smaller sizes, it simply isn't what I would recommend and rarely is a 'better price choice' compared to the flat panel options.

IMO, you would be better off with a 75" Samsung display or an 80" Sharp.
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post #3 of 55 Old 03-30-2014, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
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:-/ I was hoping you would say the differences are small and the larger screen makes up for it. I wanted an excuse to go big, but I doubt I could live with a washed out screen. I've been thinking about painting the tv wall a neutral grey color and the wife approves of it as an accent wall, but the reality of this not being a dedicated space does mean the rest of the room is white.
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post #4 of 55 Old 03-30-2014, 06:26 PM
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You can do what I did. Just get a projector and motorized screen. My screen comes down I front of my 60" Sony. I use the projector for movies, 3D, and game time. Also I have a 100" from 9 ft viewing distance. It's the best decision i have made and the wife now agrees too.
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post #5 of 55 Old 03-30-2014, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveHCYJ View Post

:-/ I was hoping you would say the differences are small and the larger screen makes up for it. I wanted an excuse to go big, but I doubt I could live with a washed out screen. I've been thinking about painting the tv wall a neutral grey color and the wife approves of it as an accent wall, but the reality of this not being a dedicated space does mean the rest of the room is white.

For me the large screen (100" in my case) does make up for the other picture qualities. And I only have a budget LED projector. When I show people the projector they don't complain about contrast/brightness, rather they just go gaga over the big picture. Last weekend I was showing it to an in-law who likes Star Wars, so I popped in A New Hope and the rebels attacking the Death Star and he was psyched. It just blows away watching it on my 47" TV. I think the fun aspect of the big picture wins out. But I do have it in a light controlled basement. Mainly my wife still uses the living room TV, but that is partly due to the basement being unfinished, which she constantly complains about. That is why this weekend I began clearing all the junk out of the basement to get ready for the home theater build!
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post #6 of 55 Old 03-30-2014, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by indio22 View Post

For me the large screen (100" in my case) does make up for the other picture qualities. And I only have a budget LED projector. When I show people the projector they don't complain about contrast/brightness, rather they just go gaga over the big picture. Last weekend I was showing it to an in-law who likes Star Wars, so I popped in A New Hope and the rebels attacking the Death Star and he was psyched. It just blows away watching it on my 47" TV. I think the fun aspect of the big picture wins out. But I do have it in a light controlled basement. Mainly my wife still uses the living room TV, but that is partly due to the basement being unfinished, which she constantly complains about. That is why this weekend I began clearing all the junk out of the basement to get ready for the home theater build!

Yep, the big screen makes up for some short comings. Every time we watch a movie it's better than the theaters. It puts a big grin on our faces.
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post #7 of 55 Old 03-31-2014, 10:27 AM
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I like big screens just as much as the next guy, but this doesn't sound like the best application for it. What with the overall size and lighting situation smile.gif
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post #8 of 55 Old 03-31-2014, 10:31 AM
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There are many options and the people in this forum are more than willing to champion how great front projection is, myself included. But, I've also used a projector once in a terrible room. Lots of windows, and even with curtains, there was light levels that were just tough to control and not something we wanted to control every time we watched TV. So, we got a 50" flat panel display, and I put up a screen which could drop down in front of the TV. At night, we could enjoy the big screen experience, but for day-to-day viewing it was the flat panel which got the majority of the workout.

This is really your decision, but based upon what you have specifically stated as your viewing, the flat panel is the priority display.

If you add a projector, then you should be looking in the 92"-100" diagonal size, and you should be looking at a 16:9 screen, not 2.35 unless your walls are exceptionally short (unlikely). There are 'cheap' ways to get good quality with a projector and screen that can be setup for around $1,000. Which would leave you some decent money for a 60" or so flat panel, and you would still need audio taken care of and a decent remote control.

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post #9 of 55 Old 04-02-2014, 10:47 AM
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87 inches is not worth it. 

 

But if we saw a phone pic of your viewing space there may be workarounds. 

 

You can fairly easily buy a huge manual 135" pull-down screen for a couple hundred delivered to your house off Amazon and install it in front of everything you have including TV. 

 

Couple that with a BenQ short throw projector like the BenQ W1080ST ceiling mounted to give you around a 135" picture despite how limited your room is. 

 

Its very do-able and would blow any TV out of the water with sheer orgasmic screen size and would look just as good too. Even day time would be reasonable with some simple light control/curtains.  

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post #10 of 55 Old 04-02-2014, 12:46 PM
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I have a 78" screen because its the biggest I can fit in the space available and I sit about 7 feet away from it and its well worth it. Its viewing distance against screen size that counts.
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post #11 of 55 Old 04-02-2014, 01:17 PM
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Bright room family TV watching does not usually equate to a projector being a good idea. Dedicated man cave/media/theater room - most definitely the projector will blow away a $3k LCD. Turn on the lights and things start to go from great to meh... to bad in a hurry. If I want to watch something with the lights on, I use my 58" plasma. If I want to really enjoy something, I watch it on my 110" screen in pure darkness and with really high quality material it sometimes seems more like looking through a huge window into another world. 110" from 9' away is amazing compared to a much smaller screen.


But that said, sounds like the OP would be better suited to a 70-80" LCD.
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post #12 of 55 Old 04-04-2014, 04:14 PM
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I've used projectors for about 12 years now -- but the newer, even midline tvs, look so good it's pretty tough to advocate a front projection system in anything but a dedicated dark theater space.

The 70" Sony midrange TV with passive 3d for $1699 has a phenomenal picture compared to any projector I've seen. I almost am considering one myself. It's been on sale at Amazon, FRYs, and Best buy for $1700 to 1800. When it's not on sale it's $2300.

A movie on a 120" screen is worth the performance dedregation - but I can't deny that even a current tech midline TV looks better than the best projectors I've seen. That said -- for the last say 5 years home projector technology has rivaled or bested your typical theater/cinema quality experience. So it depends on what you want at home. A bigger than life cinema experience at home, or a best video quality route in a smaller screen HDTV.

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post #13 of 55 Old 04-05-2014, 05:28 PM
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I'm with everybody else here. I'm a true projector devotee, and I can't get enough of watching movies on my Epson 5010 with a 133" 2.35:1 screen. But if I couldn't go above 85", I would probably just get a really large TV in the 65" - 75" range.

It's just so much simpler, and you don't have to worry about light control and reflections, or wasting the lamp life on kids shows or evening news, etc. So no, I don't think it would be practical (ie "worth it") for the size you're talking about.

But to answer the other part of your question in regards to image quality: My Epson 5010 is in a basement room with no windows and with very good control of light reflections by using black velvet around the screen. Watching a movie with the lights off, it's the best picture I've ever seen. That includes movie theaters and any TV's I've ever seen in people's homes. Here's a gallery of my setup:

http://www.blu-ray.com/community/gallery.php?member=Edgar_in_Indy

Are there TV's that look better? I'm sure there are, but I haven't had the chance to view a really high-end, properly calibrated TV in an ideal viewing environment. So I'm sure the picture could be beaten, but I doubt it would be by any kind of large margin. But even so, the huge size and immersion factor of the projected image would probably trump any minor advantages in picture quality on the smaller TV.

Now turn some lights on, and suddenly my five-year-old 52" Samsung A650 LCD TV looks better. The projector is still watchable, but the picture quality is no longer great. If the lights aren't too bright (no sunlight) then it's still good enough for sports, American Idol, etc, but no longer cinema quality.

My home theater gallery Epson 5010 Projector, 133" Cinemascope Screen, Klipsch RF-7
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post #14 of 55 Old 04-06-2014, 07:37 AM
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I've got a 60" Samsung Plasma (F5500) with a 106" drop down screen in front of it and a Mitsubishi HC7900. On a pure technical level, the plasma has "better PQ" (better blacks, sharper, brighter). On a purely subjective level, the projector is so much better that I'm contemplating putting the plasma in the kids room so I can go with a fixed frame screen.
The sheer size and the "Theater-like" quality by far trumps the (slight) technical edge that the flat panel has.
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post #15 of 55 Old 04-06-2014, 08:05 AM
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Zoom a projector down to a tiny 60" and your PQ will be the same.. Now take your 60" TV and make it 110".. oh wait, you can't do that.. wink.gif So yes, a 110" projection image is way better than a TV .. Cause there ain't no affordable 110" TVs yet.. And even if there was, you couldn't roll them up into the case when not in use..
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post #16 of 55 Old 04-06-2014, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the input so far. I think the only idea I'm against is a drop down projector screen. It could just be my inexperience, but I feel like if I'm going to the projector route I would prefer the look of a wall mounted screen. Plus my current 42" screen would just feel inadequate so I don't think it would really see much use if I had a drop down projector.

Here is my current setup to see if it spurs any ideas. Whether I get a larger TV or a projector, I'm going to get a new TV stand -- something shorter so that I don't have to look up at the screen. The distance between the speakers is 95 inches. Eyeballing it with the wife, it feels like 80 inches is as wide of a screen as we could do without it looking awkwardly close to the speakers, this is the constraint that drives the 87" 2.35:1 screen size.
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post #17 of 55 Old 04-06-2014, 06:31 PM
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I think a view from the side would also be very useful, so that people could see the depth of the room, and what your placement options are for a projector and screen.

My home theater gallery Epson 5010 Projector, 133" Cinemascope Screen, Klipsch RF-7
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post #18 of 55 Old 04-07-2014, 05:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrillho View Post

I've got a 60" Samsung Plasma (F5500) with a 106" drop down screen in front of it and a Mitsubishi HC7900. On a pure technical level, the plasma has "better PQ" (better blacks, sharper, brighter). On a purely subjective level, the projector is so much better that I'm contemplating putting the plasma in the kids room so I can go with a fixed frame screen.
The sheer size and the "Theater-like" quality by far trumps the (slight) technical edge that the flat panel has.
I agree with this. I own a 65VT60 and just bought the cheapest 1080p projector that Viewsonic makes the other day. The sheer size just dominates the better blacks and contrast of the VT60. I can only imagine how much better it gets with better model projectors.
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post #19 of 55 Old 04-07-2014, 06:36 AM
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Better is subjective, the newer JVC's can beat Plasmas in most contrast types, especially black levels. Projectors produce a smoother more film-like look, TV's are more digital looking. If you like the glossy digital look, then a TV will probably look slightly better. The Sub-$2000 projectors aren't as good as the best TV's, but the JVC's are better IMHO.


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post #20 of 55 Old 04-08-2014, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airscapes View Post

Zoom a projector down to a tiny 60" and your PQ will be the same.. Now take your 60" TV and make it 110".. oh wait, you can't do that.. wink.gif So yes, a 110" projection image is way better than a TV .. Cause there ain't no affordable 110" TVs yet.. And even if there was, you couldn't roll them up into the case when not in use..


I tried this tonight on my Epson 8350. I made a 70" image 16x9 on my projector screen to compare to what I saw at best buy recently with the Sony 70" hdtv on sale for 1800$. It isn't even a contest. A modern hdtv is clearly superior in every single possible way when equivalent sizes are compared. I usually use a 106" screen, but the quality is not notably better by shrinking my projector image 36". I definitely appreciate the larger cinema size of my projector, but quality wise there is no contest.

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post #21 of 55 Old 04-09-2014, 08:51 AM
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^I have no familiarity with LCD projectors per se, but from everything I've read, I'm surprised to hear the Epson would look so inferior at the smaller size, assuming you didn't forget to refocus. Environmental considerations accounted for, and assuming your comparison isn't limited by a poorly matched screen, a dim lamp or something, even of the relatively few 4K flat panels I've seen, not one bested a decent 1080p DLP or SXRD front projector in overall clarity, at least not based on their store calibrations. Each had less visible pixel structure obviously, but their fundamental clarity wasn't all that different from the 1080p flat panels all around them.

Of course shrinking the image to flat panel sizes defeats the major purpose of FP, as it takes larger screen sizes even to be able to distinguish a certain degree of perceptual detail. But I've always found flat panel tech to be innately limited in it's ability to fully resolve images compared to projection, even when compared with LCD derivatives, like SXRD projection, which loose something compared to DLP in the inherent nature of their design - which, as I understand it, is compensating for the broader pixel structure of LCD.

If one were arguing that the flat panel had greater color depth (depth only, not resolved chromatic clarity, which seems to be especially lacking in flat panel tech), or even greater overall punch, I can see that being the case, though it's one that can likely be addressed with the use of a different projector and/or different screen. Maybe LCD projectors are lacking in resolve more than online reviews let on, as, again, I've never seen one in use. I am however intimately familiar with SXRD and DLP projectors, and with those, even at the smaller projected size, I would expect resolved clarity to be at least a little more pronounced despite the size constraint.
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post #22 of 55 Old 04-09-2014, 06:50 PM
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A LCD or plasma has a much better ANSI contrast ratio than any front projector as well as perfect convergence, so his finding doesn't really surprise me.
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post #23 of 55 Old 04-09-2014, 08:18 PM
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You must have missed the part where I said I've had various projectors in my home theaters for about 12 years. I've also visited multiple dozens of avsforum members enthusiasts' theaters all over the country. Five years ago I would have agreed that the quality difference between projectors and hdtvs was minimal. I don't believe that is currently true. A $2-3k 70-80" hdtv is far superior to the best jvc or mitshubishi, epson or panasonic projector I've seen. If we disagree and you've been to sams club or best buy in the last year or so and seen any HDTVs hooked up directly to a bluray player (and not spitting a signal) then there is no convincing I can do. (Nor do I care to try) The modern HDTV picture says it all.

I've seen $15,000 jvc projectors with anamorphic lenses and such. Size for size I'll take the projector, but I think our beloved display choice is losing ground to upgrading TV tech fast in the last 3 or 4 years in every arena except size and resulting immersion factor. My jaw pretty much dropped watching avengers at best buy on a 70" sony and how to train your dragon at sams club.

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post #24 of 55 Old 04-09-2014, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post

You must have missed the part where I said I've had various projectors in my home theaters for about 12 years. I've also seen dozens of avsforum members enthusdiasts all over the country. Five years ago I would have agreed that the quality difference between projectors and hdtvs was minimal. I don't believe that is currently true. A $2-3k 70-80" tv is far superior to the best jvc or mitshubishi, epson or panasonic at identical screensizes. If we disagree and you've been to sams club or best buy in the last year or so and seen any HDTVs hooked up directly to a bluray player (and not spitting a signal) then there is no convincing I can do. The modern HDTV picture says it all.

I've seen 15000 jvc projectors with anamorphic lenses and such. Size for size ill take the projector, but I think our beloved display choice is losing ground to upgrading TV tech fast in the last 3 or 4 years.

I agree. what keeps our tech alive is that I don't forsee a 120+ inch LED to come under the $3k mark for JUST a bit longer lol
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post #25 of 55 Old 04-09-2014, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post

You must have missed the part where I said I've had various projectors in my home theaters for about 12 years. I've also visited multiple dozens of avsforum members enthusiasts' theaters all over the country. Five years ago I would have agreed that the quality difference between projectors and hdtvs was minimal. I don't believe that is currently true. A $2-3k 70-80" hdtv is far superior to the best jvc or mitshubishi, epson or panasonic projector I've seen. If we disagree and you've been to sams club or best buy in the last year or so and seen any HDTVs hooked up directly to a bluray player (and not spitting a signal) then there is no convincing I can do. (Nor do I care to try) The modern HDTV picture says it all.

I've seen $15,000 jvc projectors with anamorphic lenses and such. Size for size I'll take the projector, but I think our beloved display choice is losing ground to upgrading TV tech fast in the last 3 or 4 years in every arena except size and resulting immersion factor. My jaw pretty much dropped watching avengers at best buy on a 70" sony and how to train your dragon at sams club.

I don't agree that TV's have gotten better around the $3000 mark, if anything the BENCHMARK TV is still a Pioneer Kuro. The bigger TV's seem to also have much worse contrast than the smaller TV's (hence going above 50" to 60" seems to cause issues with TV's and they lose contrast compared to the same model of a smaller size, at least I saw this in a few tests - not sure how correct it was).

Projectors on the other hand have really come a long ways in the sharpness department and contrast (not so much ANSI, but native). This years JVC's can do into the hundreds of thousands to one for black level with the IRIS, the TV's I've seen aren't even close. That said, I don't follow TV's much anymore, but I don't think there have really been break-throughs.

I've seen Plasmas and from a close distance they don't appear any sharper really than a JVC, well they have a more digital sharpness to them from the pixel fill. To me TV's do have some advantage in punchiness at times, but I don't think they are better overall unless you just prefer that look.

Part of the advantage to TV's is that because the light comes from the back the ANSI can be preserved as the screen can reject light by reflecting it away, whereas a projector has to directly reflect the light off the screen back to the viewer.
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post #26 of 55 Old 04-10-2014, 06:43 AM
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Projectors on the other hand have really come a long ways in the sharpness department and contrast (not so much ANSI, but native). This years JVC's can do into the hundreds of thousands to one for black level with the IRIS, the TV's I've seen aren't even close. That said, I don't follow TV's much anymore, but I don't think there have really been break-throughs.
Lots of LCDs claim contrast ratios well in excess of 1,000,000:1 and they can deliver it on sequential white and black fields. Whether it's really usable in real footage is another issue, but we'll leave that discussion for elsewhere. In most content ANSI contrast is what gives an image it's pop and projectors don't come close to touching good flat panels. Your focusing on low APL performance with your comments above, the top tier Plasma's do very well here as do LCDs with local dimming. In anything but a bat cave I don't see how a projector, even a latest JVC with the dynamic iris and a sky high sequential contrast ratio, is going to best a top tier flat panel at the same size in low APL scenes. Both in a bat cave, I don't know but I'd still be skeptical of the projector besting the flat panel...
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post #27 of 55 Old 04-10-2014, 09:08 AM
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...I don't see how a projector, even a latest JVC with the dynamic iris and a sky high sequential contrast ratio, is going to best a top tier flat panel at the same size...
Because the projection screen won't be the same size, it will be four times larger than the 60" flat panel, so it gets bonus points. biggrin.gif

Seriously, this is a ridiculous conversation. Current projectors range from good entry level units to excellent mid-level models. Flat panels still have a lot of junk out there. For the money, you get a lot more size from a projector, but you still have to have a good room. That's never changed. So, in a 'typical' room a 'typical' flat panel will look better in overall image quality than an 'average' projector.

But, in a good room, the added size of the front projection setup truly immerses a viewer and adds an intangible factor which increases the overall experience.

So, as is always the case, 'it depends' is the answer to which produces the better overall image.

I have a good plasma and a 161" screen... I will say that they tend to be a tie IMO. The plasma is appropriate for the room it is in, and the projector is appropriate for where it is. Both are fun, both have a solid image, both provide me and my family with great entertainment.

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post #28 of 55 Old 04-10-2014, 09:44 AM
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Because the projection screen won't be the same size, it will be four times larger than the 60" flat panel, so it gets bonus points. biggrin.gif

Seriously, this is a ridiculous conversation...
I agree. I was following the, "if the image size was the same" hypothetical discussion.
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post #29 of 55 Old 04-10-2014, 11:19 AM
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With how good projectors have gotten, especially once you get beyond entry level, I think that it is probably a situation where you would have to be viewing them side by side to notice any short-comings. I was going to insert an analogy between two stunning actresses who are approximately, but not quite, equals in the visual aesthetics department...but I didn't want to start a war. biggrin.gif

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post #30 of 55 Old 04-11-2014, 09:51 AM
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I think everyone here is looking at the wrong TV's to compare the best TV's to the best projectors. LED tv's definitely do not represent the best. If you want to see the best blacks and contrast ratios you need to be looking at the Panasonic VT60/ZT60 or the Samsung F8500. These are the best and offer much better pq then any of these edge lit LEDs you are seeing in the store.

The best thing to do is get a good flat panel TV for daily viewing and get a projector for nighttime viewing. Sheer size that the projector offers will make you forget about the hit in pq. It is just so much more immersive then what a flat panel TV can offer. It really can replace going to a movie theater.

If people knew how easy and cheap it can be to setup a basic projector and screen I think a lot more people would own one in addition to their TV's.
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