Am I a good candidate for making the switch to projection?
I've decided it's time to move up my display's screen size, since my family has started to enjoy watching movies together, and viewing a 60" LCD from 15ft away is not cutting it.
I'm leaning towards and hoping that I can make the switch to a projector and 120" screen, because no TV that costs less than a car will give me the size for an immersive experience. However, I am fearful that a projector will have limited usability since my family room has several large windows plus a skylight (which cannot be darkened) about 20 feet to the left of the seating area. I have light blocking shades on the windows, so the room can be significantly dimmed during daytime. Attached are pics of the living room with curtains open and closed.
I am hoping that an ambient light reflecting screen (e.g. Elite Cinegrey 3D) with a bright projector (e.g. Epson 5030, Sony VPL-HW40ES) will allow me to have the flexibility to watch casual TV shows (news, kids cartoons, sports) during the day with a "usable image" without having to completely draw my shades every time. For movies where high quality video performance is desired, we generally watch at night.
I'd very much appreciate any feedback that can help me feel good about pulling the trigger, or confirm that my environment is not projector-compatible. I'm avoiding the TV + pull down screen approach as it's a bit more complex, less reliable, and aesthetically less pleasing to have a screen housing hanging from the ceiling (there's a wife approval factor that I need to meet, and don't want to spend huge dollars on a recessed screen install).
If I'm a candidate, here are some follow up questions I'm hoping to get answered:
Screen type: Is an ambient light rejecting screen the right choice? I assume it is since flexible usage in a room with significant ambient light is a priority, so long as this doesn't mean blatant hotspots or a very limited angle viewing cone.
Projector location: I have to mount on my 8ft ceiling, and can place it anywhere from 9-22 ft from the screen. I understand closer will be brighter, but also results in stronger hotspotting. Elite Screens recommends at least 1.5 screen widths away for the Cinegrey 5D, which would be a little more than 13 ft for a 120" screen. Given the viewing position is 15 ft from screen, what's the ideal distance to mount the projector without giving up adequate brightness to watch during daytime?
Screen height: I have my AV components in a 2 ft high cabinet below the screen area, and a 3" crown molding at the ceiling. As such, the screen must be mounted at least 2 ft off the ground, and can be raised only 5.5 inches above the cabinet before it hits the crown molding. Could this be problematic for the viewing location to be in the best viewing cone of an ALR screen?
Brightness: I'm hoping I can use different projector modes to handle different lighting conditions. Put it the absolute brightest/inaccurate color mode when kids want to watch cartoons in the afternoon, use a less bright/modestly calibrated mode when watching movies during daytime with shades drawn, and the dimmer/best calibrated mode when watching at night. I'm not expecting incredible display quality when I have much ambient light- just a reasonable image that my wife and kids will never complain about. Could this work? Would it be easy to toggle the modes with a single remote button (vs. digging into menus)? I'm thinking the Epson 5030 would be the best candidate here since it can go into a super bright albiet inaccurate color mode, while the Sony's brightest mode is supposedly a bit dimmer to maintain some color dignity.
I'm planning to wait to see what type of new products get announced at CEDIA, then hopefully pull the trigger on the hardware if my situation is projector compatible. Many thanks for any feedback or guidance!