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Is Ambient Light a showstopper?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My old cheap plasma is having some issues so I was thinking of getting something new. I'd like to go with a significantly larger screen but don't really have room for aa large TV (my "viewing wall" has racks full of equipment, DVDs, etc., with just enough room to squeeze my 42" TV in the middle. It occurred to me though that I could hang a pulldown screen in front of all that stuff and go with a much larger picture since I don't need access to anything there while I am watching. I've never had a projector before, however, and don't know that much about them. I understand that ambient light is a problem, but how much of a problem? And how much light?

My viewing room is a lower-level (raised ranch) family room, though it's just me here normally. I don't do much viewing during daylight hours, but even if I did, the only two windows have blinds which are always closed and admit very little light (none of which would shine directly on the screen). Though I could make the room pretty much theater-dark for viewing in the evening, in most cases I would not want to. I do most of my viewing as a secondary task while working on my computer, surfing the net, paying bills, reading, etc. I will occasionally take time out to just sit and watch a good movie (and for that, I usually darken the room even with the plasma) but I seldom have time for that. Under the best circumstances, I would like a great picture, but I can deal with some compromise to allow for lighting so long as the compromise isn't too extreme. Under my usual viewing conditions, I have one, shaded reading lamp on and the area with the television has no direct light and looks fairly dark. I've looked at a lot of screen shots around the forum but most were taken in darkened rooms. I did find a couple of an Epson 8700UB in a room with quite a bit of light (more than I would be dealing with) and they looked quite good to me, but they were viewing an animated movie so I had no appreciation for what the light might have done to fine detail or complex shadows.

Could some of you with experience in these matters generate some discussion on my basic concerns. Are there specific projectors you would recommend.

Some more info which would probably help with any recommendations:
My room has low ceilings (I would guess around 8'), is 15 to 18 feet wide and 35 to 40 feet long. The television is on the short wall and I sit a little less than midway in the long dimension. I'd guess that my seating position is about 12 feet from my TV screen and a projector screen would have to be about a foot closer. Mounting a projector behind me would not likely be possible for a ceiling mount (unless it hung very low below the ceiling -- which would cause its own problems) as there is a beam that runs just above and a little behind my head. Mounting it anywhere but the ceiling is probably difficult -- I could probably do a shelf all the way in the back of the room but it would likely be difficult to get an unobstructed path to the screen. A tabletop mount next to my chair might work, but would probably have some drawbacks. Though bigger is better, I think I would be happy with an 80-90 inch diagonal picture. I'd like to keep the price, including screen, under $2500, but would consider a small extension if it bought considerable advantage.

Thanks for any advice you have to offer.

- Les
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by lnoland View Post

My room has low ceilings (I would guess around 8'), is 15 to 18 feet wide and 35 to 40 feet long... Mounting it anywhere but the ceiling is probably difficult -- I could probably do a shelf all the way in the back of the room but it would likely be difficult to get an unobstructed path to the screen.

Actually Les that is the least of your worries--there's no way an HTPJ is gonna throw light that far, or focus it.

Your best bet might be to consider breaking-up that too-long room with a divider/wall/rack that you can shelf-mount your pj on, at a Just Above Seated Heads height.

If you can figure that out such that your seating position is 9-11 feet then you are golden.
post #3 of 9
Hi, you will probably need to mount the projector on the ceiling closer to the screen, you can work out the screen size/distance using projector centrals calculator
http://www.projectorcentral.com/proj...ulator-pro.cfm

I use my projector with ambient light most of the time, if you have enough lumens you can get get a pretty decent picture. Of course, don't expect miracles when watching with lights on, the image will look somewhat washed out.

The main consideration is whether there is light shining in the direction of the screen area or whether you have lights near the screen. Both of these will seriously affect quality. We tend to have enough light to read in or surf etc. which sounds like what you are after. Here is a link to our setup, a 100" screen (ESPN displays smaller on standard def, about 85" odd) there is actually enough light to read in, the camera self adjusted lighting levels so it looks darker:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...postcount=1399

We have the Sharp Z15000 which we run in Natural mode with a new bulb (around 800-900 lumens calibrated) which after 400-500 hours we switch to dynamic mode (a brighter mode). We wanted something brighter though so have just bought a used IN83 which should give us between 1200-1900 lumens to play with.

I used to have a JVC HD1 that was OK with a brand new bulb but became unwatchable shortly after, we have had much better resiluts with DLP projectors

If you are looking for high lumens you may want to look at a used Infocus, I'm not entirely sure but I don't think there are too many 1080p projectors that will be do around 1500 lumens without seriously compromising colour accuracy. You could also try to get a used 720p 3 chip DLP, some can be found cheap and can produce 1500-2000 lumens but are pretty old.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laserfan View Post

Actually Les that is the least of your worries--there's no way an HTPJ is gonna throw light that far, or focus.

Yeah, I didn't think about that -- If I could project it that far I'm guessing the picture would be bigger than the wall.

Quote:


Your best bet might be to consider breaking-up that too-long room with a divider/wall/rack that you can shelf-mount your pj on, at a Just Above Seated Heads height.

If you can figure that out such that your seating position is 9-11 feet then you are golden.

I'd thought about something like that but a ceiling mount seems like it would be easier. So long as I mount it in front of the beam, it should be fine. Since that would put it only 10 feet or so from the screen, depending on the zoom capabilities of the projector it would limit the size of the picture somewhat, but given that I'm looking to use the projector with lights on having the projector closer to the screen will probably help.

Thanks for the reply.

- Les
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by danieledmunds View Post

Hi, you will probably need to mount the projector on the ceiling closer to the screen, you can work out the screen size/distance using projector centrals calculator
http://www.projectorcentral.com/proj...ulator-pro.cfm

I use my projector with ambient light most of the time, if you have enough lumens you can get get a pretty decent picture. Of course, don't expect miracles when watching with lights on, the image will look somewhat washed out.

The main consideration is whether there is light shining in the direction of the screen area or whether you have lights near the screen. Both of these will seriously affect quality. We tend to have enough light to read in or surf etc. which sounds like what you are after. Here is a link to our setup, a 100" screen (ESPN displays smaller on standard def, about 85" odd) there is actually enough light to read in, the camera self adjusted lighting levels so it looks darker:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...postcount=1399

We have the Sharp Z15000 which we run in Natural mode with a new bulb (around 800-900 lumens calibrated) which after 400-500 hours we switch to dynamic mode (a brighter mode). We wanted something brighter though so have just bought a used IN83 which should give us between 1200-1900 lumens to play with.

I used to have a JVC HD1 that was OK with a brand new bulb but became unwatchable shortly after, we have had much better resiluts with DLP projectors

If you are looking for high lumens you may want to look at a used Infocus, I'm not entirely sure but I don't think there are too many 1080p projectors that will be do around 1500 lumens without seriously compromising colour accuracy. You could also try to get a used 720p 3 chip DLP, some can be found cheap and can produce 1500-2000 lumens but are pretty old.

Thanks for the reply. And thanks for the pictures -- those are very encouraging, particularly if that is only 900 lumens.

You may be right about the limited selection of high-output 1080p projectors but if I can't get something that supports 1080p, I may not bother at all. Usually, these types of decisions take a long time -- I tend to drag them out going back and forth a lot. Unless my plasma just goes completely belly up in the meantime, by the time I decide, there might be a lot more choices.

Thanks again.

- Les
post #6 of 9
May I suggest you think a bit more creative with your space?
1. Could you use PJ across the width instead of the length of room?

Our first projector set up was a multi-purpose family room. The TV viewing was across the length of the room and across the width - about 14ft nearly same as yours - we used the projector. The 14ft distance allowed for a simple shelf mount of the PJ with a net lens-to-screen throw of about 12 1/2 feet which was perfect.

With a little creativity re seating it worked fine - since it's usually just you/one person watching this could be something for you to consider.

2. Don't get hung up on furniture

Think of ways to change your racks full of stuff. You can eliminate DVDs as space hogs by simply tossing (or storing) the cases and putting the discs into binders. I have 600 movies in just three zip up disc binders - all in alphabetical order - this could clear a LOT of shelf space. I also got rid of a few older and seldom used components - like 5 disc CD changer.

A new, wide and low set of shelves can hold a LOT of components.

It gets down to individual preferences. I simply don't want to dim the lights to watch television stuff. I will have some ambient lights and use the PJ for a special sports event but otherwise we reserve it for when we want a genuine "theater in the home" experience which televisions simply can't deliver.

When we want our brains numbed by television content (mostly crap) then we keep the lights up and the TV running in the background.

Have you looked at the lower, wider TV stands that have two or three shelves for components that will allow a larger TV to sit on top?

A dual mode room could be perfect - rearrange and economize space for your "stuff" so that a larger TV can be used with a pull down screen with a ceiling mount PJ for "theater" OR go PJ across the width and TV across the length.
GoodLuck
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by imjay View Post

May I suggest you think a bit more creative with your space?
1. Could you use PJ across the width instead of the length of room?

Our first projector set up was a multi-purpose family room. The TV viewing was across the length of the room and across the width - about 14ft nearly same as yours - we used the projector. The 14ft distance allowed for a simple shelf mount of the PJ with a net lens-to-screen throw of about 12 1/2 feet which was perfect.

With a little creativity re seating it worked fine - since it's usually just you/one person watching this could be something for you to consider.

2. Don't get hung up on furniture

Think of ways to change your racks full of stuff. You can eliminate DVDs as space hogs by simply tossing (or storing) the cases and putting the discs into binders. I have 600 movies in just three zip up disc binders - all in alphabetical order - this could clear a LOT of shelf space. I also got rid of a few older and seldom used components - like 5 disc CD changer.

A new, wide and low set of shelves can hold a LOT of components.

It gets down to individual preferences. I simply don't want to dim the lights to watch television stuff. I will have some ambient lights and use the PJ for a special sports event but otherwise we reserve it for when we want a genuine "theater in the home" experience which televisions simply can't deliver.

When we want our brains numbed by television content (mostly crap) then we keep the lights up and the TV running in the background.

Have you looked at the lower, wider TV stands that have two or three shelves for components that will allow a larger TV to sit on top?

A dual mode room could be perfect - rearrange and economize space for your "stuff" so that a larger TV can be used with a pull down screen with a ceiling mount PJ for "theater" OR go PJ across the width and TV across the length.
GoodLuck

Thanks for the note. I have thought about rearranging my space, and I have ideas for a lot of possibilities if I could solve one fundamental problem. I have a rather extreme clutter problem at the moment making moving anything something on the order of playing one of those games where one slides the tiles around to try to arrange the letters or numbers. I want to get rid of a lot of the stuff but working up the energy (and finding time) to do it has been a problem. I wouldn't really think of dealing with the TV issue at this time at all except that the plasma has been exhibiting random problems lately (like the screen suddenly changing to something like a 80X45 resolution so that the picture just appears as clusters of blocks - kind of interesting, really, but it makes it harder to follow the plot). Power-cycling seems to fix things for now but I'm anticipating the possibility that it is just the herald of problems to come. I could always just replace the plasma with an interim purchase of another TV the same size and quality (actually, it would be hard to find anything which wasn't a lot better in quality given that there are $500-$600 TVs which are better than my current set which I paid $3500 for several years ago). I just hate to go to the trouble and expense of replacing the set with something which really isn't what I want.

I kind of like the idea of keeping a TV in the current position and using a projector and screen on the long wall, except for the need then, to buy both a projector and a TV (of course, if I have the projector, the TV can be a budget affair). If I did change the viewing space to put a screen along the long wall, I could kill two birds with one stone. One of the two windows is in that wall. Instead of a pulldown screen, I would probably just cover the window with a thin board, eliminating any light entry from it, and then wall mount a projection screen in front of it. Of course, I would first have to get rid of the racks of videotapes (which I never watch anymore) which line that wall.

Like you, I decided that the key to dealing with DVD space issue was to remove them from the cases. I started moving my collection to these DiscGear storage units, which I really like: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...pf_rd_i=507846 but it's pretty slow going as I'm also catalogueing them as I transfer them so that I will be able to find what I am looking for.

Ultimately, I just have too many irons in the fire at the moment -- like I said, I wouldn't have been considering a new TV/projector, etc., if the current TV hadn't started acting up. Once I entertained the idea of getting a projector, though, I got kind of hooked on it -- what research I've done has impressed upon me that there are some significant advantages there (so long as one doesn't mind laying out a few hundred for bulbs periodically).

Thanks again.

- Les
post #8 of 9
We use a projection setup in our livingroom as a tv. There are 40' of floor to ceiling windows on the left (east) side of the screen wall with no blinds at all, and a large window on the right (west) side wall.

Since the strong ambient light sources are directly to the left and right of the screen, and there are none from behind, we chose to go with a high gain retro-reflective screen, and a bright table mounted projector. Retro screen work by reflecting most of the light back at the source .. so they reject light from the side, and yield higher gain from the projector.

This works for us because we have no ambient light from directly behind, and the projector is table mounted within about 15" of seated eye level.

We can comfortably watch most TV and Sports during the daylight hours. This is because this type of material is usually quite bright with a lot of contrast. Movies, however, are best viewed after dark.

Here are some snaps from a few years ago. They were shot at mid-day on a sunny summer day. A CRT TV is in the shot as a reference. The first is shot at the seating position, and gives a good indication of the relative brightness of the image. The second is shot off-axis, and shows the amount of ambient light, and the effect of the retro-reflective screen. The projector at that time was an Epson HC400, and the screen a 92" DaLite HiPower. The projector and seating are about 12' from the screen. We now use an Epson 8350, which is significantly brighter than the HC400.





Jonathan
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrwhite View Post

We use a projection setup in our livingroom as a tv. There are 40' of floor to ceiling windows on the left (east) side of the screen wall with no blinds at all, and a large window on the right (west) side wall.

Since the strong ambient light sources are directly to the left and right of the screen, and there are none from behind, we chose to go with a high gain retro-reflective screen, and a bright table mounted projector. Retro screen work by reflecting most of the light back at the source .. so they reject light from the side, and yield higher gain from the projector.

This works for us because we have no ambient light from directly behind, and the projector is table mounted within about 15" of seated eye level.

We can comfortably watch most TV and Sports during the daylight hours. This is because this type of material is usually quite bright with a lot of contrast. Movies, however, are best viewed after dark.

Here are some snaps from a few years ago. They were shot at mid-day on a sunny summer day. A CRT TV is in the shot as a reference. The first is shot at the seating position, and gives a good indication of the relative brightness of the image. The second is shot off-axis, and shows the amount of ambient light, and the effect of the retro-reflective screen. The projector at that time was an Epson HC400, and the screen a 92" DaLite HiPower. The projector and seating are about 12' from the screen. We now use an Epson 8350, which is significantly brighter than the HC400.

Jonathan

Wow. That's pretty impressive. That's definitely a lot more light than I would ever be dealing with. Of course, in my case the one light source would be opposite the screen, not at the side, but it is a shaded lamp and I keep it fairly dim so I am still inclined to think that wouldn't be that much of an issue.

Thanks for the post.

- Les
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