Projector for use with ambient light - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 12-30-2003, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

long time reader, first time poster.

I've been juggling the decision to buy a plasma/rp lcd tv/projector for about a year now, and think i'm finally coming to the decision to get a projector, however the lighting situation still bothers me. I cannot deal with sitting in the dark for long periods of time (besides watching a movie). So, sitting in the dark to use a projector to watch an occasional HD tv show/footballgame/video game, is totally unacceptable for me. I know that quality will be, in general, much better in dark viewing conditions, but I've read that some projectors do much better than others in situations with ambient light (mitsubishi hc3).

was wondering if anyone can comment/suggest a projector for this situation? looking to spend approx/under $2500, but willing to listen to comments on projectors above this price range (but not too much higher).

Thanks,

Chris
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post #2 of 19 Old 12-30-2003, 11:39 PM
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How much light do you want in the room? What kind of lighting? How big is your room?

I have a 15' x 27' room with ten windows. The windows are covered with blackout pull down shades and drapes. I have four ceiling light fixtures on dimmers.

My front row seating is 13' from a 92" x 52" screen being projected on by a Sanyo Z2.

I can watch normal TV with the rear lights up 75%. With the room 100% lit, the picture is still not completely washed out. I have a 12" beam that goes across the room with the projector mounted just in front of the beam. The beam knocks down the light across the top half of the screen which helps out alot.

Football games... I can have the rear windows shades opened and undraped, plenty of light for everyone... and still a quality picture. In fact, most of my friends will hang at the bar which is 22' from the screen.

Of course, this time of year I'm not getting direct sunlight in the room, not sure how it will be when baseball season starts. ;)
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post #3 of 19 Old 12-30-2003, 11:48 PM - Thread Starter
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The room is a livingroom/kitchen, so about 15x30 maybe, with the south wall being all windows. I want to put the screen up on the north wall, not sure how big I can project onto it because of some ceiling mount constraints (ie, ceiling fan in the way).

I have blinds, but they are white, so imagine a bright day, the blinds will be bright, but no direct light. Not really an issue, don't imagine watching a ton of movies during the daytime, but a football game on a clear day? I'm not sure how to quantify the amount of light there.

Otherwise, for other purposes, I would like to have the lighting in the room at "dim" i guess. Enough that you wouldn't feel like a troll after sitting in it a few hours. So I guess i'll quanitfy dim at about 30% of full brightness. None of the lights will directly shine onto the screen either.


I feel like this is totally a subjective problem, and I'm going to have a hard time finding the answer to this question without actually being able to see the results for myself :(
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post #4 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 01:10 AM
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I love my projector and cannot figure out how the rest of the world has not discovered these wonderful Home Theater devices. So, I would never discourage you from getting a projector. You will love it for movies and sports events at night. But, if you are planning to do any daytime TV watching, I think that you will be disappointed with the results in your environment as you have described it. It is my opinion that a projector will not tolerate any uncovered windows. And based on what you have described, I doubt you can or want to cover all the windows in your Living room/kitchen in order to watch your projector during daytime.

I really thought that I might be able to use my 1200 lumens PJ with its Hi-Power screen with some daylight entering the room as long as it wasn't directly on the screen. WRONG! What I found was that I can enjoy my projector with some subdued lighting in the room. Enough to read a newspaper, but all windows must be blocked with some kind of blackout blind. So If you are hoping for a reasonably lit kitchen and this room is open to your living room, you will not get a good image on your screen. And it is true that for the best possible picture it must be dark. Any light in the room begins to deteriorate the contrast of the picture.

Tom
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post #5 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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So, I guess I should concede the fact that I won't be able to watch anything on the projector during the day, as I look at my blinds on a clear day and the room is light very well.

So I guess my questions has become, what projectors have good lumens (in practice, rather than vendor specs). Is lumens the biggest thing I should be concerned with as far as projectors with ambient light in the room?

I think the setup I'll use will mostly be at night, so the outside lighting will not be a factor, however, I would like to at least have my indoor lights on a dim setting.

It seems like most people are a "turn all the lights off", and if thats not available, just don't watch it at all =/ (i know its a generalization, so don't bite my head off).
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post #6 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 08:48 AM
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The acceptable amount of ambient lighting is really a very subjective matter. If you are willing to give up picture quality then some room lighting, so long as it is not shining directly on the screen, is possible. But the bottom line is that contrast and overall picture quality will suffer and your picture will be washed out. All digital front projectors produce their image by generating the image internally on the display panel(s) and then shining a very bright light through the image, focusing to project it onto your screen. They do not project "black" per se, just the absence (or near absence) of light. So, the black you see on your screen can never be any darker than what your screen looks like when the PJ is not turned on. Of course, brightly lit areas around the black areas fool your brain into thinking that the black area really is black. This is why light control is so important for FP. If you want to know what FP will look like in your room with your normal ambient lighting conditions, get a swatch of screen fabric or some black out cloth and place it where you expect to place your screen. How dark is it? Remember, that is what the darkest area of your projected image will really be.
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post #7 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 09:02 AM
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I have a Panny 300 in a room with mostly windows down one side wall. I definitely cannot watch football in the daytime without the blackout shades. However, I can watch TV/football in the evenings/night time with 2 or 3 lamps (60watt) on in the back of the room.

I don't like to feel like a cave dweller either. I like to watch movies in the dark, but that's all. Almost all of my HDTV watching is done with lamps on.

Where the light is makes almost as much difference as the amount of light. One lamp close to your screen will wash out your picture much more than 3 lamps at the back of the room. Sconces and fixtures that keep the light away from the screen work best.

My fear with your situation is that your windows are on the wall facing your screen. Any sunlight coming in would head right for the screen. If you're going to use it mostly at night, you'll be fine.

If you're looking to keep it under $2500, the Panny 500 or Sanyo Z2 are going to be your top choices, probably the Z2 with the ability to open the iris for more lumens would be best. If you're willing to go up, the Sony HS20 around $3500 has a higher lumen spec, but I don't know if that translates into real world ability. There's not really much in the low thousands as far as DLP goes right now. There's entry level X1 and then you have to step up into the 3's and 4's.

I had the same debate as you did and originally leaned toward a plasma because of the lighting issue. Then I realized how big of a picture I could get for such a small amount of money. So I decided I'd do both, get a drop down screen for the pj and put a plasma on the wall behind it for daytime viewing. Well, 10 months later, I still haven't gotten the plasma. I love the pj for most all situations. Saturday afternoon football is the one exception where I'd kill for a plasma. Of course, now I'd like my plasma to be 106" in diagonal to compete with my pj experience. High Def college football on a 106" screen is amazing.

Finally, have you seen any digital pjs? Do you have a local HT shop that has any? You should at least see one DLP and one LCD image before you make any decisions. Most people seem to fall into one camp or the other pretty quickly.
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post #8 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by BMAG
They do not project "black" per se, just the absence (or near absence) of light. So, the black you see on your screen can never be any darker than what your screen looks like when the PJ is not turned on. Of course, brightly lit areas around the black areas fool your brain into thinking that the black area really is black...If you want to know what FP will look like in your room with your normal ambient lighting conditions, get a swatch of screen fabric or some black out cloth and place it where you expect to place your screen. How dark is it? Remember, that is what the darkest area of your projected image will really be.
BMAG, I know that logically and scientifically you are correct. White is the combination of all colors in the spectrum displayed at once and black is the absence of light. I've been pondering this for a long time, but I am really FOOLED by the pj. I keep looking at the screen in dark scenes and asking myself "I know this pj can't project the absence of light, so why does it look darker than I think my screen is?"

My point is for lphiex13: BMAG's experiment is absolutely true, BUT even knowing that and having done it, every time I watch my pj with the lights on, it looks like the pj is projecting black. It's a great trick that your brain plays on you.
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post #9 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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BMag, thanks for that explanation of washout.. I had never really thought about it that way.

I do feel that at night, the projector might work decently with the lights on dim. Its track lighting, and they all point away from the wall with the screen on it.

In my situation, would the quality of the screen make an even larger impact?

I do need to find a good HT shop around me (in Chicago, if anyone has a good suggestion), I felt like every place I've been *cough*bestbuy*cough* or something like it, the quality of any image on their tv's or projectors is horrible. So its hard to gauge in that respect. I have a friend with a Panasonic LCD PJ(dunno what model) and it was absolutely beautiful. I have a feeling that I will like LCD more than DLP because screendoor doesn't bother me.
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post #10 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone know of a place with a pretty lenient return policy? :-/ I know that seems kinda bad, but I feel like until I can see how it will turn out in my home, I won't know how I'll feel about it.
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post #11 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 09:21 AM
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Your timing of this thread is perfect as this is exactly what I am going thru. The only difference is I won't have as much daylight coming in as you, only two windows in the living room. Thanks for all of the info.

Jerry
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post #12 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 09:29 AM
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Your screen will play a large part in rejecting ambient light. A friend of mine has a Panasonic L-300 with a 96x54 grey Stewart screen and he has a considerable amount of ambient light in his room and it still looks great.

You measure your TV in INCHES? How cute! 9.16 Ft Diagonally, Yeah, Baby!
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post #13 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 09:42 AM
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I have a 19 x 19 room with 4 windows with white venetian blinds. During the day, my HS20 does not fly because even when closed, the ambient light still s*cks - well, until my Firehawk gets here (we'll see). However, I think I will have to concede to getting some pulldown blackout shades as per one of the earlier posters and perhaps some curtains with black lining to drown the light.

Having said that, I would never go back to a RP or delve in the plasmas. I use to own a Pioneer RP but the image quality and sheer cinema-like size of the HS20 (coupled with a 5900 DVI input), is just totally *awesome* & mind blowing.

It's definitely great bang-for-your-bucks. The 70" XBR-950 is $7K while a HS20 & Stewart 100" is btwn $4 to $4.8K (say), thats a nice chunk for change for light control or other HT goodies.

Light can be controlled, its a matter of shades/curtains...have fun and happy new year all...alby
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post #14 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by lphiex13
Anyone know of a place with a pretty lenient return policy? :-/ I know that seems kinda bad, but I feel like until I can see how it will turn out in my home, I won't know how I'll feel about it.
You may want to take advantage of InFocus' free demo on the X1. Buy a few yards of blackout cloth, tack it to the wall, and you have an instant hometheater. Even if you decide FP is not for you, you're only out ~$15 for the fabric. Actually, once you see the big picture in your own home you will probably do whatever it takes to reduce that ambient light because you will want to keep it. Another thing to consider is that the projected image will light up your room a lot, particularly in brightly lit scenes. This light, reflecting off your walls and ceiling will also cause the image to wash out somewhat. Many HT fanatics will paint their ceilings and walls dark non-reflective colors to reduce this washout.

I hope you did not misinterpret my other response to be a put-down of digital projectors. Search for my other posts and you will see how much I love my entry-level Panasonic PT-L200U. I continue to be amazed how good DVDs and HDTV (even though it is projected at lower-than-true-HDTV resolution) look using this ~$1K machine.
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post #15 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by lphiex13
Is lumens the biggest thing I should be concerned with as far as projectors with ambient light in the room?
Screen gain is another factor. If you have a 1.4x screen, it will improves brightness by 40% over a 1.0 screen.

Here is my viewing environment. My entire living room is dominated with windows.

http://www.goosystems.com/goosystems...tomer/goo3.jpg

As a result, viewing in daylight is a huge problem particularly in the summer with the long daylight hours. My new Z2 has a variable iris which lets you play with the brightness setting more than other projectors. I do watch non-movies on a 32" tube.

Look at the HS20 which has a 1400Lumen + variable iris.

What you are looking to do may or may not be possible. Projectors like darkness. Perhaps a Plasma might be an option.

- JP in TOronto
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post #16 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 10:31 AM
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You may want to try a Panasonic PT-LC80U. It is an XGA projector with 2000 lumens and it also has Micro Lens Array (MLA). I have seen it for less than $1900.00 online. I spoke with a rep in regards to this projector and he was very impressed with it's brightness. He said it was a significant difference over my PY-LC75U which is 1200 lumens.

NE Ohio HT Nutt
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post #17 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 11:10 AM
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O'Doush, definitely check out some blackout shades. We ordered ours from something like shades4less or some catchy named online place. They're nice honeycomb pleated shades with the blackout material between the layers, so they're white on the back side. You can see them in my pics in the gallery if you'd like. In the daylight, they let enough light through that you don't need lamps but can still watch the pj without much loss in quality.
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post #18 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 11:18 AM
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How about the NEC LT240K? 2000 Lunens, 2000:1 contrast ratio, Native Res is 1024X768 4:3, and i've seen it for $2100

HTPC: Intel e6300 2.8ghz, Intel DG45ID, 2gb DDR2, Radeon 5570, MCE IR receiver, Yamaha RX-V663 receiver via HDMI, panasonic ax100u, 145" S-I-L-V-E-R painted screen, 2x Roku 3's, chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Vizio M602i-B3
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post #19 of 19 Old 12-31-2003, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jacksonian
O'Doush, definitely check out some blackout shades. We ordered ours from something like shades4less or some catchy named online place. They're nice honeycomb pleated shades with the blackout material between the layers, so they're white on the back side. You can see them in my pics in the gallery if you'd like. In the daylight, they let enough light through that you don't need lamps but can still watch the pj without much loss in quality.
Thanks ! Great tip..! Funny enough, before this thread, this morning I was looking at some other smith&noble (think) shades.

Happy New Year everyone !
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