HD72 and Panny 900 side-by-side - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 97 Old 06-27-2006, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I hope this comparison hasn't been done-to-death.

I am STILL preparing to upgrade my Optoma H30 and had been looking at more expensive projectors like the Samsung 710 and Optoma 7100, but I became curious about the current crop of lower end projectors.

When I bought the H30 almost 3 years ago, it was a premier product. A milestone. I still love it. But I really would like to upgrade to higher resolution and (hopefully) superior image quality. Not to mention 16x9 native.

So I dropped into a local display store that is currently remodeling and they have added a dedicated HT room. Well, lo and behold, there were the Optoma H72 and Panasonic AE900U side by side.

The environment:

Not fully light controlled as the room was still under construction, but very dark none-the-less. Dark enough to make a good evaluation.

Projectors were table mounted and shining onto Elite brand white screens at approx 90" diagonal. The screens were pretty crappy, if I'm being honest. But for the purpose of comparison it didn't make any difference. Better than a white wall. Not as good as a Stewart.

Projectors were definately not calibrated for optimum viewing. Not even really basically calibrated. A simple AVIA calibration would do wonders. ISF calibration would have been excellent. But- for an out-of-the-box comparison- it will do.

We watched some HD content via satllite. Some sports and movies and HDNet. No DVD, unfortunately.

Let me also say that my buddy and I were in 100% agreement about the qualities of the images. I have seen tons of projectors- he has only seen mine. Gives us a nice little two-person range. So here we go:

FIRST IMPRESSION:
At a glance, it is very difficult to tell these projectors apart. The Optoma was brighter- but not overwhelmingly brighter than the Panny. The picture on both projectors was very nice.

CONTRAST:
Edge goes to the Optoma. Brighter whites and slightly deeper blacks. Calibration would have helped both projectors, but the Panny cannot ultimately match the Optoma's contrast. Though the margin isn't as huge as I might have expected upon viewing.

BLACKS AND SHADOWS:
Again, a slight edge to the Optoma- though more dithering on the Optoma because of the DLP. The Optoma has a more 3D look to the picture overall, but I wouldn't necessarilly say that is better than the Panny. The Panny looked a liitle more film like to me, to be honest. I found that the DLP looked a little bit artificial in comparison- but only when looking at them side-by-side. I like the look of film- the Optoma gives more of a TV-like image quality which many may prefer. Animation would look really cool on the Optoma.

COLOR SATURATION/ACCURACY:
The Optoma had the Brilliant Color set on 3. Honestly, the saturation looked equal. Accuracy out-of-the-box definately goes to the Panny. This is a hard area to qualify since the projectors were not calibrated at all. But honestly, I think color would be pretty even based on what I saw today. Brilliant color seems to brighten the colors a bit as you crank it up.

SCREEN DOOR EFFECT:
Negligible on both projectors. VERY difficult to detect. Smoothscreen works!

SHARPNESS:
Equal without any calibration. People say the Optoma is a little sharper. They may be right, but I couldn't tell the difference in this setup.

NOISE (AUDIBLE):
It is almost impossible to hear the Panny! VERY impressive! There was no audio in the setup, just images- so we could hear the projectors perfectly. The Optoma has the usual DLP color wheel squeal. A little irritating, to be honest. But as with the H30, it probably comes and goes. Either way, the Panny is quieter.

EASE OF USE:
Boy is that lens shift a handy feature! Badda-boom. Setup is perfectly aligned to the screen. Optoma, not so much. A pain to set up. That offset is frightfully obnoxious. I really appreciate that lens shift.

Both had very nice build quality, I thought. Easy to focus and zoom.

MENUS:
Pretty easy to navigate both. Panny was a little more user-friendly.

OVERALL:
These projectors are pretty darn even. I mean, yes- the Optoma is probably capable of a "better" picture to many viewers- especially by the numbers. Definately higher contrast. Much brighter whites. But we actually preferred the image of the Panny. Maybe it was the setup. I don't know. But the Panny definately seemed more film like. Both displayed HDTV extremely detailed and it would have been a pleasure to watch either image. I thought the Panny image would be much more "stable" than the Optoma, but it wasn't THAT much more stable on panning shots and fast motion. The Optoma impressed me in this area.

It's hard not to be stunned by the improvement in the LCD vs. DLP. The other LCD's I have seen have never matched the DLPs. Very cool.

Do I think the Optoma is worth $700 more than the Panny? No. Would I like either projector in my home? Yes. Which would I buy...? Based on the features and value, the Panny. I'd really like to see these two with a basic calibration. Maybe my thoughts would change?
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post #2 of 97 Old 06-27-2006, 04:02 PM
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That was a great review!

I am considering these two for my next upgrade as well. I currently have the Optoma H31 and I like DLP, but I have heard so many good things about the Panasonic. Plus the price of the Panasonic makes it hard to turn down...

I wish I could find a store that has both of these units on display to demo in the Cincinnati area...
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post #3 of 97 Old 06-27-2006, 06:27 PM
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"I'd really like to see these two with a basic calibration. Maybe my thoughts would change? "

Big time.

I have a 900, and the difference in pictures between its various picture modes, as well as when I switched from regular older Panasonic DVD player to a new Sony with HDMI, are very large.

Not even accounting for the possible differences of the HD72, I don't think you can really draw any conclusions, other than pj's have gotten really good.

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post #4 of 97 Old 06-27-2006, 07:44 PM
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Nice comparison Ryan! I'm an H31 owner and diehard DLP fan, but I'd love to see a fully calibrated, filtered AE900 in action.
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post #5 of 97 Old 06-27-2006, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz

Not even accounting for the possible differences of the HD72, I don't think you can really draw any conclusions, other than pj's have gotten really good.
Well put. I think that really is the ultimate conclusion here- projectors have gotten REALLY good.

And these two- the HD72 and AE900- are the low end of 720p! Amazing.

People still look at my H30 and are amazed by how clear and sharp the image is!
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post #6 of 97 Old 06-27-2006, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjolson
Nice comparison Ryan! I'm an H31 owner and diehard DLP fan, but I'd love to see a fully calibrated, filtered AE900 in action.
I was also die-hard DLP. That's what I can't get over- the AE900 really is superb. The general public would find it difficult to complain about the image it produces. I would have to say it is easily the best value in Front Projection right now.

I'm going back soon to look at the Optoma 7100. That should be interesting.

I have no doubt that the 7100 and the Sammy 710 and other higher-end fp's will produce a better image. But how good does the image really need to be? This is where it gets relative to budget and experience. My neighbors would flip over the AE900. They flip over the H30! And you know what? So do I!

I can say this- I will not purchase another projector without lens shift! I love that darn lens shift!
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post #7 of 97 Old 06-27-2006, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanJNielson
Do I think the Optoma is worth $700 more than the Panny? No. Would I like either projector in my home? Yes. Which would I buy...? Based on the features and value, the Panny. I'd really like to see these two with a basic calibration. Maybe my thoughts would change?
very nice post, i wish every reviewer would write a real conclusion like you instead of some useless mumbo jumbo that make both projector equally good and conclude by saying it depends on the user preference bla bla...

Although i think ae900 is great value, the best value to me is still the in72. We need a comparison between ae900 vs in72. That's another $700 difference and it seems the in72 can hold its own even in hd.
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post #8 of 97 Old 06-27-2006, 10:46 PM
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To broaden the value perspective even more, Alan Gouger said that most people wouldn't notice a significant difference between the Ruby and the 900.

Noah
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post #9 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 01:49 AM
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Nice review Ryan. Good to see someone giving a completely objective point of view. When you read reviews often they give the impression that one projector is dramatically better than another but just as in your review when ever I see these projectors side by side I'm left scratching my head to see any significant differences. Often the picture just looks different not better or worse and this is probably largely due to calibration differences. I saw recently saw the Benq7700 side by side with the Hitachi pjx200 in a dark room which is another lcd vs dlp and could not spot any real difference. Also I think calbiration is overrated. It is not going to make a bad picture suddenly look good like some people suggest. Calibration will make a good picture look better and even that will be somewhat subtle.
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post #10 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 04:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz
"I'd really like to see these two with a basic calibration. Maybe my thoughts would change? "

Big time.

I have a 900, and the difference in pictures between its various picture modes, as well as when I switched from regular older Panasonic DVD player to a new Sony with HDMI, are very large.

Not even accounting for the possible differences of the HD72, I don't think you can really draw any conclusions, other than pj's have gotten really good.
Hi Noah,

Is that to say that upgrading to HDMI using a Panny 900e is much better? Or is it just that the DVD player is that much better?

I've currently wired my "soon to be projector connection" with only component (HDMI would be pretty hard to do at the moment). I'm afraid I may not end up with a good picture though. Would I benefit greatly from using HDMI?

Thanks!

-SP
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post #11 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 05:25 AM
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This just shows what an unbelievable competitor the Panasonic is.

I've just recently did a direct compare to the Samsung 710 and Optoma 7100. It was amazing how well the 900 held up to the 7100...I was actually fairly dissapointed in this unit. Despite being buggy, there were several complaints I had with the projector and image. The 710 on the other hand was undoubtedly a more refind machine and picture - but it was still amazing how well the the half cost Panny held up.
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post #12 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gagaliya
very nice post, i wish every reviewer would write a real conclusion like you instead of some useless mumbo jumbo that make both projector equally good and conclude by saying it depends on the user preference bla bla...

Although i think ae900 is great value, the best value to me is still the in72. We need a comparison between ae900 vs in72. That's another $700 difference and it seems the in72 can hold its own even in hd.
Thanks for the compliment, gagaliya- I'm glad people appreciate the little review. I believe an argument can be made for the IN76 as "the best value" as well, or even the HD72- but the Panny competes VERY well with the HD72 and I assume VERY well with the IN76 at appoximately 35% less cost. The extra $600 or $700 will be worth it for some. For me, with the onset of 1080p and the speed at which the fp technology is moving, I'd rather use that extra $600 or $700 for an Oppo DVD player, or HD-DVD player, or who knows what else! But I would not disagree if someone said the DLP produce an image with higher contrast and a little more "punch". Is that a "better" picture, though...?
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post #13 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 06:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luptong
Also I think calbiration is overrated. It is not going to make a bad picture suddenly look good like some people suggest. Calibration will make a good picture look better and even that will be somewhat subtle.
I think this is a fair assesment- calibration can be a little overrated. On the other hand, every display in my home is calibrated at it is very difficult for me to sit and watch uncalibrated images. Proper grayscale tracking and optimizing contrast/color/brightness brings out all of the details and colors of the image to their maximum potential. In a film such as Moulin Rouge- where there are so many bright reds and subtle differences between shades of color- calibration makes a pretty big difference. If you're into that sort of thing.

I guess the wife and I are into that sort of thing.

My buddy- who viewed the projectors with me- probably could care less. To him calibration is probably a little overrated.
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post #14 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vigga
This just shows what an unbelievable competitor the Panasonic is.

I've just recently did a direct compare to the Samsung 710 and Optoma 7100. It was amazing how well the 900 held up to the 7100...I was actually fairly dissapointed in this unit. Despite being buggy, there were several complaints I had with the projector and image. The 710 on the other hand was undoubtedly a more refind machine and picture - but it was still amazing how well the the half cost Panny held up.
Very cool! I almost pulled the trigger on the Sammy- and it undoubtedly puts up a fantastic image. But the Panny competes, eh? Good enough for me! $3000-$1400 = $1600 difference in price. $1600 buys a LOT of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!
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post #15 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 06:57 AM
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If you calibrated both units and viewed them separately in a completely dark room the HD72 would pull farther ahead of the AE900. Still, projector have definitely come a long way in price/performance.
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post #16 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz
To broaden the value perspective even more, Alan Gouger said that most people wouldn't notice a significant difference between the Ruby and the 900.
THIS is what I like to read.

Maybe we can start a trend of pointing out how close projectors are to each other rather than exaggerate the subtle differences!

As a side note- EVERY dealer or HT Installer I talk to says exactly what Alan said- it is difficult to tell the differences between all these fantastic projectors.

Choosing one in the $2000 price range is mind-boggling.

But I think I've made my choice!

Panny at $1800 - $400 rebate. Sell H30 for $500. Final cost of 720p Panny? $900! Is this a no-brainer??
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post #17 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTyson
If you calibrated both units and viewed them separately in a completely dark room the HD72 would pull farther ahead of the AE900. Still, projector have definitely come a long way in price/performance.
Indeed, it would pull farther ahead- but how far ahead...? It's up to the buyer to determine whether it is worth the extra $.
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post #18 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 07:44 AM
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I was leaning towards the HD72 to replace my H31, but since my ceilings are too low at 7 feet. I am strongly looking at getting the Panasonic AE900 as well, eventhough I enjoy a DLP picture..

I am still looking for somebody in the Cincinnati area with these on display in a showroom or somebody that has one of these in their home...

Let me know if you can help!

COACH
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post #19 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanJNielson
THIS is what I like to read.

Maybe we can start a trend of pointing out how close projectors are to each other rather than exaggerate the subtle differences!

As a side note- EVERY dealer or HT Installer I talk to says exactly what Alan said- it is difficult to tell the differences between all these fantastic projectors.

Choosing one in the $2000 price range is mind-boggling.

But I think I've made my choice!

Panny at $1700 - $400 rebate. Sell H30 for $500. Final cost of 720p Panny? $800! Is this a no-brainer??
Well, the difference would be more than subtle if they weren't viewed side-by-side in a room with any ambient light. In the dark, properly calibrated and viewed seperately the difference becomes quite a bit bigger. To some it may still be subtle, but not to others. Viewing two projector side by side in a room with a little ambient light will remove how big of a black level, shadow detail and contrast improvement that one projector has over another.

BTW, can you really get $500 for an H30?
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post #20 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 08:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTyson
Well, the difference would be more than subtle if they weren't viewed side-by-side in a room with any ambient light. In the dark, properly calibrated and viewed seperately the difference becomes quite a bit bigger. To some it may still be subtle, but not to others. Viewing two projector side by side in a room with a little ambient light will remove how big of a black level, shadow detail and contrast improvement that one projector has over another.
Absolutely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MTyson
BTW, can you really get $500 for an H30?
Ha! Yes. Neighbor. Loves the H30. Some people really dig the 4:3 aspect ratio! And it does produce an exceptional 480p image. Some people still think HD isn't available in Montrose, MN!
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post #21 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 08:36 AM
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Agreed Ryan. The ae900 has got to be the best bang for the buck when it comes to 720p projectors. Nice comparo.

I ultimately chose DLP this go around for design reason's (sealed optical path, solid state micromirror array instead of organic LCD for reliability), but I'm very interested in the 1080p version of the ae900 forthcoming - especially if it has inorganic LCD panels and the black levels keep improving.
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post #22 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanJNielson
Thanks for the compliment, gagaliya- I'm glad people appreciate the little review. I believe an argument can be made for the IN76 as "the best value" as well, or even the HD72- but the Panny competes VERY well with the HD72 and I assume VERY well with the IN76 at appoximately 35% less cost. The extra $600 or $700 will be worth it for some. For me, with the onset of 1080p and the speed at which the fp technology is moving, I'd rather use that extra $600 or $700 for an Oppo DVD player, or HD-DVD player, or who knows what else! But I would not disagree if someone said the DLP produce an image with higher contrast and a little more "punch". Is that a "better" picture, though...?
oo there is no doubt in my mind ae900 beats the in76 in term of best bang for the buck. I was talking about the in72, that's another $700 LESS than ae900 with the rebate, not more :) i know it's a 480p projector but from reading feedbacks it seems the in72 can display hd quite well too, and almost toe to toe with the 720p projs in term of dvd + 4:3 pictures.
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post #23 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Ahhhhh... yes, I believe that! For DVD content a 480p can do a sweet job- I can attest to that. More visible screen door, though- only real drawback!
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post #24 of 97 Old 06-28-2006, 01:42 PM
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"Is that to say that upgrading to HDMI using a Panny 900e is much better? Or is it just that the DVD player is that much better?"

I don't think so; I'm pretty sure most of the difference was because the black level and color settings on the Sony were a better match for the unadjusted picture preset I was using.

I was using Natural, which gave the brightness I wanted on my big screen, but it was washed out.

Noah
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post #25 of 97 Old 06-30-2006, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTyson
If you calibrated both units and viewed them separately in a completely dark room the HD72 would pull farther ahead of the AE900. Still, projector have definitely come a long way in price/performance.
If I want to compare projectors, I would think a side by side comparison would be ideal. Would you explain why you think the projectors should be viewed separately? Would turning them on at different times at the same place satisfy your requirement that they should be viewed separately?
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post #26 of 97 Old 06-30-2006, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz
To broaden the value perspective even more, Alan Gouger said that most people wouldn't notice a significant difference between the Ruby and the 900.

This does not say much for the Ruby then. It's priced at 6X the 900.

k
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post #27 of 97 Old 06-30-2006, 09:33 AM
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I would love it if someone would perform a "blind taste test" kind of study where all kinds of people were asked to view projectors and to guess which were the expensive ones and which were the cheap ones.

I wonder how many people could tell the difference?

Affable Nitwit
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post #28 of 97 Old 06-30-2006, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wae5
If I want to compare projectors, I would think a side by side comparison would be ideal. Would you explain why you think the projectors should be viewed separately? Would turning them on at different times at the same place satisfy your requirement that they should be viewed separately?
Actually it's the worst way. You're eyes will adjust to the brightest images whites. Not only that, but if one has a significant black level, contrast or shadow detail advantage those advantage will diminish due to the light washout caused by the other projector. The test would be fine with them in the same room and on at the same time as long as you put the lens cap on one of the units while you test the other one.

The same goes for screen comparisons. It took me awhile, but I learned it doesn't work right to test them at the same time. If you test on both a white and light grey screen the white screen's whites will make the grey screen's whites look poor, yet if you viewed the light grey screen by itself the whites will most likely look great This because your eyes are adjusted only for its whites, therefor your perception of everything is not changed with the introduction of a brighter white.

This can be proven even futher by stacking my silver torus against a 1.3 gain white screen. What happens when viewed at the same time? Well, the white piece looks about 10x darker and the whites look dark grey in comparison. By itself though the 1.3 gain white doesn't look like that though.
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post #29 of 97 Old 06-30-2006, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COACH2369
I was leaning towards the HD72 to replace my H31, but since my ceilings are too low at 7 feet. I am strongly looking at getting the Panasonic AE900 as well, eventhough I enjoy a DLP picture..
Dont get it...if you can put up with the offset of the H31, whats different about it with the HD72.....I have the same low ceilings, and have to tilt my H31 up and use a few notches of keystone to square everything up.

Is the offset even WORSE on the 72!?!?!?!

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post #30 of 97 Old 06-30-2006, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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I think people are trying to avoid keystoning all together.

I would not use an HD72 with 7' ceiling when there are other great competitors out there.

Like the AE900.
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