Advice on what projector and screen to buy and the effect room lighting has... - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 4 Old 06-03-2011, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone, I'm completely new to this whole home theatre thing, so please bear with me. My wife and I are building our first home and we are interested in setting up an HD projector + quality screen in an upstairs gameroom (it's the only room upstairs) that is around 22 ft by 22 ft. We sort of shooting in the dark right now and before we iron out everything with the design center in a couple weeks (including getting wiring set up and such) I wanted to be sure we know what our options are. I had a few questions that I was hoping you guys could help me with.

Our plan is to use at least half the gameroom for theatre seating plus an HD projector along with a nice sized screen. Like I said, we're shooting in the dark right now, so we were hoping to have a 100+ inch screen, plus an HD projector that can preferably do 1080p (we watch blu-rays). Our budget right now is around $5000-6000 for the screen and projector. That money is only for the equipment, so there's no need to worry about installation costs.

My first question is if $5000 is a realistic budget for what we are looking for. Can you get a high quality HD projector that does 1080p along with a 100+ inch screen? Also, I wasn't sure if I should post this on the under $3000 or over $3000 forum, but I figured since we'll try to save some money first. If the projectors mentioned at the price range aren't what you guys think we should look at, let me know and I can post on the other board. Either way, what do you guys think $5000 can get us in regards to a projector and screen (at least 100 inches)? If we can get a good projector and screen for under that price, that would be excellent as that would allow us more money to spend on a receiver and surround sound.

My second question is related to lighting. This isn't a dedicated media room. Like I said, at least half of it will be for theatre style seating along with the screen for watching movies, TV and such. We'd also like to put a pool table and card table up there as well. The room comes with canned lighting and while sometimes we can probably just turn off all the lights while watching a movie/TV (there is a window too that we plan on putting shades in to block as much light as we can), we also want to host parties and such to watch games. If we had the lights on so people can play pool and poker while watching a game, can you still get a good quality picture from a projector, or do you need the lights off? Also, do some projectors do better with light vs others, and if so, what's the cost difference?

Third, I was curious how home theatre systems with projectors are typically hooked up. We're looking at at least an HD DVR cable/satellite box and a PS3 being hooked up to it at a minimum. In addition, we are also looking at surround sound, and have been eyeing some of the Bose systems. Can we hook all of that up into one receiver, and if so, what's the cost of that equipment?

Sorry for the long post, but like I said, I'm a complete novice, so I figured I'd check in here. I've heard great things about this forum, so I'm hopeful I can get some advice and recommendations from you guys. Let me know what you think about our plan regarding price, location (if the lighting will work with a projector) and if there is anything else I'm not thinking about.

Thanks so much!!
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post #2 of 4 Old 06-04-2011, 04:44 AM
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Acceptable achievement of Theater in the Home is as subjective as most anything else. Pool Tables are an example. We were happy with our 4ftX8ft Gandy and mid-range priced sticks illuminated by a commercial beer themed table light. I know people happy with a coin-op 3 1/2 X 7 table but others who won't play unless they have a genuine regulation 41/2 X 9 Brunswick "Crown" table and very expensive multi-shaft sticks and a tiffany table light

YOUR BUDGET
Projection prices have been driven down past few years. In your room I'd be very happy with, for example, a Panasonic 4000 PJ throwing to a gray pull down or fixed wall screen. IMO - you can easily have a bright, 120in (diagonal) or larger image easily within your posted budget.

Personally, we're still very happy with our 4 yr old Panasonic 720p HD projector. To our eyeballs, with a 120in diagonal image, it creates a genuine "at the movies" visual experience for us and our family and friends agree. We probably won't upgrade until the 3D technology evolves a bit more since 3D is, without question, is arriving.

ROOM CONFIGURATION
Again - personal preference means A LOT!! We decided we did not want a dedicated theater room only used for sitting in the dark to stare in silence at a wall with space hogging "theater" type seating.

Our room is 17ft. X 21ft. and theater is only on of the applications it supports because it is also a game room. It is also a game room/fun room and our use of the space allows for a very open feel that can host a large party even with a bar, 7 pinball machines, coin-op type dart machines, bar top vid, foosball and a 50s model arcade baseball game.

We chose large and very comfortable bar chairs instead of "theater" seating cause dedicated, large theater seats just hog too much space. When not using the PJ they are big, dead chairs. With our bar chairs they can be arranged to watch either a movie or "the BIG game" but at other times they are great for sitting at the bar or in other room areas - near a pinball or other partying activity.

BTW - after a few years we sold the pool table and VERY glad to have it gone. It is a space hog requiring more space to allow play and we learned that very few people are "real" pool players, many don't play or are intimitated to play and only four at most can play at any time. EVERYONE of all ages can play pinball and you can trade the space of a pool table for a number of really fun game room options - like pins or foos or stand up multi-cade.

LIGHT - Again - personal preference re how much light is too much light. Movie/genuine "theater" or "at the movies" means a darkened room and at least a 100in diagonal image - probably 120in or larger preferred - size really does matter. The more ambient light in the room - specially light that shines on the screen - the more the light/image from the PJ is diluted and as the light increases the degradation becomes more visible/annoying/detracting.

I suggest you find sports bars in your area that use front projection. One near us, Gator Landing in Gainesville, uses multiple PJs. All outdoor daylight is blocked but since patrons must see to eat, socialize and play the few games there the venue has a lot of ambient light. The multiple games on the large wall screens are a bit affected by the light but can be seen and enjoyed. So, in our experience, let there be some ambient light during a party or sports watching event and while not "movie" acceptable darkness it will be great for partying. We've found that we have to keep most of our wall neon signs off - too bright for projecting but we can have the pins all lit up and some other indirect lights on and still watch a concert or sports event on the wall screen with acceptable image performance. A LOT of trial and error will tell you what will work in your own room.

SOUND
We are content with a mid range Onkyo 5:1 when decoding movie soundtracks. However, since our room is a "heavy party" room we also have an older 2 channel stereo with two BIG, old Cerwin-Vega floor speakers (15in Woofs in each) on one side of the room and two old PA "tower" type speakers on the other side of the room for crankin' rock&roll. I mix both systems when watching a DVD music concert to create (to our old ears) a "just like being at the concert" audio experience (our poor, poor neighgors

Now that we're in out 60s we don't crank it up quite as much as we used to.

Hope I haven't wasted the space or your time by trying to share our game/movie/bar room experience. Some people that post here will have STRONG opinions that will disagree a little or a lot with our experience. You will have to decide what will be perfect for YOUR eyeballs, ears and taste in fun.
Best of Luck
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post #3 of 4 Old 06-04-2011, 03:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback! I'm looking for more of that gameroom type of experience with the ability to use it as a home theatre at night for watching blurays and such. It seems like your experience is pretty similar.

I guess some of my main concerns are getting a setup that is somehow tolerable to some lighting. We definitely can't have people upstairs playing pool or poker or watching a game in a pitch black room. I understand that some quality is lost with light, but I'm hopeful there are options out there that will still produce a good picture in those settings. We also would like to use it for video games.

I also had a question regarding technology. I know a lot of this is personal preference, but is there a clear winner between LCD and DLP if you are planning to use your projector sometimes with some lighting in the room? What I've read so far seems to say that LCD tends to be better in a more lighted environment. Apparently there is an issue with dust though. How serious is that problem with LCD's and what is the effect, and the steps we'd have to take to fix it?

Thanks again everyone!
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post #4 of 4 Old 06-04-2011, 11:43 PM
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The differences you are stating between DLP and LCD apply to TV's, not projectors.
All that matters with a front projector is the lumens, on average DLP's tend to be brighter than LCD's, meaning DLP's usually work better to fight ambient light than an LCD projector.

You basically have two paths you can take.

1) Projector + TV Combo
I would favor just an 82" Mits DLP TV or a 60" LCD TV for daytime viewing. You have a large budget and you don't need to spend it all on just the projector. You can get the installer to make a recessed installation for the TV with an electric motorized projector screen that goes in front of the TV, or just put the TV somewhere else in the room.

2) Really BRIGHT Projector with a Da-Lite 2.4 gain High Power screen
Projectors will never look as good as TV's do in ambient light no matter what you do, keep that in mind.

The Infocus sp8602 is one super bright and awesome projector for around $3k to consider. If you want 3D, consider the Sharp xv-z17000 paired with an HP screen.

If you are really set on the projector being the ONLY display in the room even when light is present, look at the Infocus sp8602, or a cheaper option the Mits hc4000 or a Benq w1100 (the Benq and Mits aren't as good for movies because of worse black levels).

See my signature for some projector comparisons.

**Updated Projector Calculator Released NOV 2017**
-- www.webprojectorcalculator.com --
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