Originally Posted by R Harkness
In a black pit (like mine) yes it really does challenge the black levels of a display - they are competing against true pitch black in the room. Most people don't watch their plasma that way so the black levels don't get tested like that. At one point I was thinking our LCD downstairs seemed to have better black levels than my JVC RS55 projector. But then I turned off the lights in the room and viewed that way, dark scenes on the LCD showed the black levels were lighter than the projector black levels. Had I placed the LCD TV against a perfectly pitch black backdrop like my projected image, it would have fared even worse. But the issue of black levels in a bat cave type environment is one reason I want even deeper black levels from a projector.
The trade offs are worth it though, for me. First, in most scenes the black levels look terrific. But the floating image in black effect gives a vividness, dimensionality and immersiveness that doesn't quite happen in a non-blacked out environment. Second, the way a bat cave truly cuts down on room reflections maintains the ANSI-type contrast and the over all contrast in a consistent way. The picture just looks more rock solid and believable when the intra-scene contrast isn't rising and falling, washing out, as brighter areas of the image increase room reflections. When I try to watch my image without the black curtains around the room that's the first thing I miss: the dynamics of the image contrast and it's rock solid stability. It's much more satisfying.
i hate watching anything with lights on. with my CRT RPTV i NEVER had a light on in the room. down to the point i put tape over anything that had the little red 'power lights' on.
from plasmas and lcd, i got into the habit of using bias lighting as it was the only way anything close to black was simulated. this year i upgraded my tv with the samsung f8500. after doing that, there was no way my old projector was getting used again, so i upgraded that to the jvc x35. i've had them both on playing the same content in the same room at the same time and the x35 is definitely darker(on both ends) and contrast seems to be pretty close between the two. the f8500 is probably much higher ansi, but it's so bright i find i actually need to keep the contrast down to see details in the shadows(not because of the display either, if i cover the bright area with my hand and give my eyes a little time to adjust, the details are there).
anyway, i would absolutely agree there's still a lot of benefits to the blacked out room. probably the greatest of which is that 'floating screen' effect. i'm sure ansi contrast also increases, but i feel like for me and my eyes, the displays are already capable of 'perfect' ansi contrast. meaning my eyes see less than the displays are capable of(see f8500 example above). and of course you can still use bias lighting to gain back the apparently darker black floor if necessary. so really, any negative effect can be easily fixed. i'm just saying don't expect a black room to magically make the picture looked perfect. there are some trade offs(like an increased sensitivity to light), and it might take two or three more tweaks and adjustments after going black to get the most out of your projector.
i feel like i've just started down a slippery slope. the darker i make the room, the more i notice issues with light. the little stuff(av gear displays, digital clocks, etc) now have a noticeable affect on my screen. when i turn all of those off, i still see some light being reflected and refracted giving me a faint line down my screen that i need to track down now too. the super faint, but 'above black' level of ambient light used to hide all this completely. and the bright image and brighter room used to keep my eyes adjusted more for a bright room making the slightly brighter blacks look about as dark anyway. so i still have a catch-22 happening. the darker i make my room, the better my eyes are at seeing in the dark. basically, if you don't have a washed out image, and problems with your ansi contrast, it may not be worth the arguments with the wife, the time and effort to paint/cover everything, and fact your room becomes pretty useless for anything other than watching movies. imo, it's a major upgrade for a dedicated theatre, but an unnecessary one for a great media room