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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,


I am new to this forum. Can anyone explain to me what the Barco Retrographics 800 / 808 are?


I have seen pictures of them, and they look like rear projection TVs, but I believe they use a glass screen and are able to project 1600x1200 resolution computer images.


How good quality are the images from this projector system?


Are they a viable choice for a home theater system?


Do they require a lot of maintenance?


Are they very old design or fairly new? Will they be obsoleted by newer equipment?


How realistic is owning one of these for a home system?


Does anyone own one of these units? Would you recommend buying one? Why or why not?


Finally, how much should you expect to pay for one of these units??


Thanks in advance.
 

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Well, I beleive your right. I think that they are a RPTV that use a BARCO 800 / 808 CRT projector set for rear projection for use as a stand alone projection system.


I suppose you can use it as a fixed screen size TV but I think it might be possible to remove the projector and use it in a front projection system which I personally think would be better for a home theater enviorment.


You may need to change the lenses for longer throw, as I am not ig on the BARCO products and even know the whole story with the retrographics units. I just thought I would put in my 2 cents and see if any one else could add to the post.
 

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I picked up a Retrodata 800 about a year ago because it was a good deal --after already owning 3 other front CRT projectors :)


The lenes are indeed a special short throw variety. The unit itself is shaped a bit like an 'L' (as opposed to the more traditional box's) and thusly would not condone itself to hanging from a ceiling very discretely. In fact it would look downright odd actually :)


They are also a special breed of liquid coupled and cooled lens. They have tubes full of coolant actually running on the outside of the setup. Quite strange compared to the FP setups.


While the Retrographics may indeed be rated up to that resolution, most likely the sweet spot is more in the 1024x768 range. They are also only electrostatically focused rather than electromagnetically focused. I would be quite surprised if it could fully resolve 1280x1024. (BTW - This projector would have no problem fully resolving 1080i... 720P would should also look fine if you take the time to really set it up.)


All in all, if you're looking for a good RPTV setup, they do output an image just a nice as the regular 800 or 808. As far as being obsolete? They are around the same electronic technology that we see the majority of the 'modern' CRT's we discuss here. They would be right on par with a Sony 127X series or an Electrohome ECP series. A lot of bulb projector owners believe that the CRT was obsolete with the advent of LCD projectors :p Most of use here in the CRT forum believe that for true videophile quality, these CRT's are still yet to be bested by even the latest bulb based projectors.


BTW - The screens on these RPTV's are the really dated part of the setup. They are not glass, but rather a plastic made up of a bunch of tiny horizontal ridges. This is to help diffuse and create a wider viewing angle. I'm not sure what the possibility of putting a more 'modern' screen on it would be, but it would be a bit of work.


Since you're kinda new here, the basic benefits to any CRT is the ability to reproduce deep rich blacks. The CRT also reproduces excellent detail in the dark gray colors. With bulb projectors, their main weakness (which is getting better with each generation) is the black level (or lack thereof) and the detail in the dark gray colors. CRT's weakness is the relatively low light output (which usually isn't an issue on a properly sized screen in a light controlled room), their size, and the maintenance they will occassionally require.
 

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Quote:


I am new to this forum. Can anyone explain to me what the Barco Retrographics 800 / 808 are?



I currently own 5 Barco RetroGraphics 801s, a model that is basically between the 800 and the 808....and can answer these for you.

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I have seen pictures of them, and they look like rear projection TVs, but I believe they use a glass screen and are able to project 1600x1200 resolution computer images.
They are rear projection display units (or monitors). "TV" typically implies at least one built-in TV tuner, which they do not have. They can recognize a signal with a resolution of 1600X1200, and can display it, but as another poster pointed out, cannot truly resolve it. It can do 1080i in its sleep, and the sweet spot is closer to around 864P, at least it is with the 801s version.

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How good quality are the images from this projector system?
Pretty darn good! These puppies didn't cost $30,000 as recently as a few years ago for nothing. They are exceptionally bright since they're projecting only a 67" diagonal image, and the lenticular/fresnel screen actually makes the light a little brighter. The screen is a 2-piece affair: the backside is a fresnel lense made of carefully carved tiny concentric grooves that actually re-directs the "cone" of light that is getting wider as it leaves the CRT's and straightens it so that it hits the viewer more directly. The front is made of fine vertical lenticular "ribs" that greatly increase off-axis viewing. In between these ribs are black stripes that serve to absorb some of the ambient light in the room....increasing the contrast of the image. You can enjoy viewing with all the lights on, or even with the sun shining into the room. Such as screen is not outdated either, and the replacement cost is in the $4k - $5k range (and I don't mean from Barco....who would likely want a bit more, but rather from a place like StewartFilm. We have a Opta90....a 90" diagonal rear L/F screen of similar quality that StewartFilm still wants $6995 for).


Further increase in the contrast is realized through the use of liquid-coupled CRT's, a feature typically found on high-end CRT projection units. Simply stated, you cannot buy, and will not find a rear projection unit with the build quality or level of performance like this in Circuit City, Best Buy, or any similar retail venue.....not even the snotty super high-end places have units of this caliber.


The 800 and 801s are electrostatically focused, and the 808s is electromagnetic.....which might make the sweet spot a little higher. Of course, they typically cost more too.

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Are they a viable choice for a home theater system?
Depends on what you want to be your home theater. Some consider front projection to be the only true home theater experience, and to a certain extent I lean a bit that way myself (at the moment there is a Sony D50 in a large spare bedroom projecting a 120" diagonal image). But, I know some who consider their 32" Sony Wega with a surround sound system to be a home theater:rolleyes: A Corvette is a sports car.....but some guys consider their Mazda Miata to also be sports car.

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Do they require a lot of maintenance?
No more than their front projection counterparts. Just don't let the kids have sabre fights near the screen. But even really bad scratches disappear when viewing an image.


Like their FP counterparts, the are built to military specifications (milspec), and the electronics are of modular construction which makes troubleshooting and repair much simpler. One of my chassis' shows over 27,000 hours and operates just fine. Curt Palme has seen FP versions of these with around 50,000 hours that also work.

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Are they very old design or fairly new? Will they be obsoleted by newer equipment?
RG800 built 5/91 - 9/93

RG801s built 7/94 - ?

RG808s 96(?) - ?


My RG801's were all built in 95 & 96. So generally, they're not too old and they're not that new. I'm not sure if they still make the RG808s. I don't see these as being obsolete in the near future. Build one flush into a wall and some will probably think you have the latest generation plasma screen. Uhhhh, with a different aspect ratio anyway.

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How realistic is owning one of these for a home system?
Just as realistic as a typical FP unit. Yeah, these are commercial projectors and most of us here understand what that entails. For example, forget calling the Service Dept. at Sears or Circuit City to have a tech come out to service it. If you have a problem, the first place to look is right here at the CRT forum. Chances are someone else has had the same experience and you can read how he solved it. If your search doesn't reveal a similar problem, or its repair, then post it and one of the many generous and knowledgeable techs here will help you out. Many are also willing to even come to your house if need be, and won't be looking to empty your bank account. Some are happy with a couple of beers and maybe dinner if it's minor work.


Used parts are generally available too, and at reasonable prices.

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Does anyone own one of these units? Would you recommend buying one? Why or why not?
Ooooh yeah, and you're welcome to come down to our home in Washington, DC to see one in all its glory. A fantastic example is set up and being used in our living room. I know of others who have these too. Even our GRAND TECH of all things CRT, Curt Palme has a RG808s in his house for personal use.

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Finally, how much should you expect to pay for one of these units??
These are fairly under-valued, and I've personally seen perfect examples for less than $500. But the price can vary greatly as I noticed one recently on you-know-where-BAY go for over $3000 that a forum member, Eric Lang (Quaturbo) sold. And that was a DATA version.

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Thanks in advance.
No problem. Probably more than you wanted to know though.


-Chris
 

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Oh, and forget trying to easily convert one to front projection use. These were designed and built to be used as rear projection. For example, you cannot change the mechanical convergence of the red and blue tubes (turning them inward or outward for either a smaller or larger image). The lens/CRT assembly is 'fixed' and you'd have to drill slots to move them within their mountings, like all FP units have. Also, there are no Scheimpflug adjustments, which the FP Graphics have, but the Data does not.


And the lenses are indeed short throw. However, they will focus a balanced image out to about 90 inches diagonal. And you cannot simply toss the longer throw lenses from a FP 800 series on to them since the mounts of the liquid-couplings are different.


- Chris


ps - But I did say, "easily..." Not like it would be totally impossible, but not really worth the time and effort.....for most;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow!


Thanks for all the detailed and well thought out replies!


While I agree that a full ceiling mounted projection setup would be nicer for a home theater, the self-contained rear projection would probably be a nicer fit for my den. I currently have a 36" princeton arcadia monitor in a nice beige entertainment center set up around 12 feet from my couch. I would love to replace this with one of these 67" barco displays, preferably an 808s.


I already take one of the outputs from my computer with an nvidia gforce video card with twin-view into the vga input on my princeton monitor and use it to watch dvds. I also have a big library of online divx movies. I've been really happy with the picture quality, and I love being able to surf the web from the couch in high resolution (1024 x 768) with my cordless keyboard/mouse.


I see the barco display as being able to provide similar functionality except on a much grander scale with higher resolution. I would probably buy a new HTPC computer to drive the barco display, probably with a nice hdtv card.


Ok, so where would be a good place for me to look for buying one of these projection units? Does anyone know a place in the Philadelphia, PA area which may have one of these on display?
 
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