Originally Posted by DavidHir
If the ambient light is slight as he says, another option *might be* to have a modest flat panel for day time viewing and a drop down screen that comes in front of the flat panel for night. The combo may push the $5000 budget limit, but something to consider.
The question is, how much is "slight". I'm personally guessing us projector owners have a very different idea of "slight" than what the average, non-projector owner thinks is "slight". Roxy is a good example of a projector owner, he noticed something wrong, that he had some ambient light and it turned out to be from a pale LED 15 feet away. Where as when I envision the OP's situation, with street lights lighting his room, I image something most of us projector owners would consider "significant".
Originally Posted by MDJAK
So after reading every post in this thread, I'm more confused than ever. Some say they'd never do away with their projector even with some ambient light, others that they'd never bother with a projector unless in an unlit cave.
Maybe it's a terminology difference, but I don't think
we're really disagreeing here. There are really two light related issues when it comes to projection, ambient light and reflected light. When I say ambient light, and what the OP describes is having "active" light coming from sources other than the projector. In the OP's case it's streetlights, through untreated windows. Then there's the issue of reflections.
The way you deal with ambient light is to make sure that your sources are blocked from shining on the screen, and so is light from other rooms and outside. Usually this means curtains or doors or something similar. The issue here is that the absolute black floor of your image is raised by the external light sources, and it doesn't take much light to significantly raise the black floor.
The way you deal with reflections is to make a bat cave, cover every surface you can find with as dark, and non-reflective material as possible. The issue here is that the room will reflect light back onto the screen, which will reduce the intrascene contrast, but only relative to how bright the scene is. In other words the room has more effect in scenes where it's less important (because there's more bright objects) but things like fades to black and starfields can still look good.
The important distinction is that I don't think anyone here would forego, or not recommend a projector for a non-ideal room as far as reflections go. Even if you've got a white cube for a room, you can still have a great projection experience because in the most demanding, dark scenes, the room has the least effect since there's the least light bouncing around. However if you've got light coming in from another room, or outside that you can't block, that's effectively the opposite, affecting the darkest, most demanding scenes the most.
The new room we are building will be open to a new kitchen, 23'x22' with a 15 foot cathedral ceiling. I want a projector and screen. It will not be a super dark cave. The walls will not be black, but I will probably paint them Sherman Williams Peacock Blue (I think is the color name) which I've read has little to no reflectance.
That looks like a pretty dark color, and should work very well. The important question for you is, will you be able to turn all the lights off in the kitchen for critical viewing
. Perhaps that is where your confusion comes. When I read the OP, it sounds like there will always be potentially significant light coming in all the time, which IMO is a problem. Like I said above, I use my HT with the lights on at times, for non-critical viewing it works great. But when Rogue One comes to my HT, you can be sure I'll have every light off or blocked and all the curtains pulled.
You don't have to have a black pit all the time, you can use projectors with some ambient light, but to get the most out of a projection setup, you really need to be able to control all your lighting for critical viewing/main feature type occasions.
Now to those who say ambient light is a killer, a buddy of mine, with much more money than me, set up a theater in his basement. Professionally installed. 130" screen, Epson projector. I've never seen it look good or impress me. I can't say I've turned every light off however. Always looks a bit washed out.
It sounds like a JVC is more up your alley. Though if he had lights on when he showed you, that will kill the picture.