Just a little background:
I am new to the projector world. I don't have any loyalties yet. I started to post this in LumensLover's review thread but didn't want to hijack it. And then my post turned into a novel...
Last fall our house was struck by lightning and caught on fire. Thankfully we were home, no one got hurt, the fireman arrived very quickly and limited the damage. We didn't have a total loss, however it was a large loss. The basement was finished by the original owner with a Pioneer plasma and Pioneer Elite 5.1 surround circa 2008. Needless to say the insurance company is paying to have everything replaced, USAA for the win! The good news is I get to decide how that money is spent, which of the destroyed items in our house are replaced directly, differently, or not at all.
After all my research my first plan was to do a Sony VW-285ES with the SI Black Diamond 2.35:1. I ended up deciding I wanted to go with the VW-385ES to get the dynamic iris and position memory as I really want to do CIH. However after buying all the audio gear first (almost exclusively through Black Friday and Christmas specials): Denon AVR-X6300H, fronts 2 x Klipsch RF7-II, center Klipsch RC64-II, rear 2 x K R-5800-W II, sub K R-115SW, (surround 2 x K RP-250S, and 4 x in ceiling hadn't even been purchased yet) my better half realized I was beginning to stretch the budget we had set
, and suggested I needed to get "creative" if I wanted to get the projector I had envisioned. That's when I decided maybe I could compromise on the screen, if I could get close to the same performance at a reduced cost. And "resigned" myself to the 285, I say resigned because I can only imagine that the 285 would have still BLOWN me away.
So I went back into research mode. I found several people comparing DES to SI Black Diamond. I also found Montucky in the unfortunate position of trying to relinquish much of his inventory. He is a wealth of knowledge, patient, fair, and really took the time to hold this rookies hand and help reassure me on some of the decisions I was wavering on. Thanks Montucky! We discussed the SI Black Diamons and how it has been an industry leader for years, good company, great customer service, and easy to work with. BUT I was nearing my ceiling and needed to explore options. I ended up buying the VW-665ES that Montucky need to unload at a fantastic value! 4 RBH in ceiling speakers, Kaleidoscape Encore 4k (Pretty STOKED about the KScape!), a sub amp (to go with my planned expansion of low tones after we are back in the house) and one of his shelving sets. This really ended up saving my plans, and put an AMAZING projector in my hands.
My next call was to DES to find out if what they had, would meets my needs, at the budget I was trying to meet. I no longer had the 4.5K left that I was originally planning to spend on the SI BD. My first call went to an answering service, I left my msg, anxiously awaiting the call back. Interestingly 15 mins later I received a text, saying it was Stephen at DES, he was sorry to miss my call, but was now a good time to talk? I really thought this was pretty cool, just for the fact that if I had missed his call back we would have been playing tag, vs, he texts me from his direct mobile, now I have the option to communicate with him via text or call and we can coordinate much better.
So I call and tell him about my plan, he asks me what projector I was planning to use, mounting distance from the screen, viewing distance for the audience, how much control of the light I would have (which honestly is pretty good, only two windows in the basement neither directly facing the screen). I told Stephen I was really interested in the Solid Surface option, something that will never change with time, heat, cold, or humidity. But I was worried about getting it into the basement. And was thinking I may need to go the Fixed Frame route. We discussed the layout of the stairway and making it around they corner, and that at the dimensions we discussed (130" diagonal 2.35:1 (51" x 120")) I should be able to make it. Also he told me about a customer that ended up doing a curved setup, and I can get some flex out of the screen to round the corner without causing damage to the screen and still mount it flat. His final reassurance to me was that if I couldn't get it down there, he would cover the cost to have it sent back and we could go to the fixed frame or he would reimburse me if I decided and could go another route entirely. That was all I needed to hear.
Stephen quoted my the price with shipping included, which was significant because the thing is a solid 10 foot piece of metal 51 inches tall. So I asked him if I drove down there from Indianapolis with my trailer (7ish hours driving) if he would cut out the cost of shipping. He said absolutely, didn't even blink an eye, I asked him the price without shipping and was even happier! In the end my boss decided with trying to move back into the house, possibly taking off or work, and getting there and back it was worth the piece of mind to just have it shipped to our door. Happy wife, happy life. However I was pretty excited about the idea of driving down there, meeting Stephen, and checking out his facility.
The purpose of this post is to not only hopefully show the quality of the product (I'm assuming the quality will be there), but to share the great customer service I've had with the company so far.
I don't know how many employee's he has working for him, how long he's been in business, Stephen has never asked for a review (positive or otherwise), I did not let him know I would be posting any of my thoughts on the screen online. I honestly didn't know that the prices weren't widely available until after I ordered my screen, and read about all the hoopla on these forums. I registered with the forum, hopefully to be a worthwhile contributor at best, and an apt student at least.
When I first visited the website I agree it could use some work. BUT it got me to call in and ask for more information. Stephen provided that information, answered all my questions, and offered what i feel was a great price for essentially a custom screen (as it isn't one of his normal sizes).
Please feel Free to ask questions. If you want to know prices, PM i have no problem telling you. I may even post them. I haven't talked to Stephen about any of that at all. I do respect him, appreciate that he's trying to offer a competitive product, and don't want to throw a wrench in it for him. So I'll leave that open for now.
Attaching a few pics to get started.
Look forward to learning from you all!