I am using the Hitachi 5500 with a 92" by 52" Firehawk (manual pull down) in a not so well light-controlled room. I had been using a Da-Lite matte white 1.1 gain screen for about two months until nearly two weeks ago.
The improvement with the Firehawk was not subtle. Watching during the day was not possible before. With the Firehawk, it is extremely watchable, though the picture can be slightly washed out during peak light hours on the side of the screen closest to the windows (only on one side of the room). During night viewing, the picture just jumps off the screen. Even with a few lights on in the room outside the main viewing angle does not affect the image very much. In fact, my wife turned on a halogen torch-light (medium level) in the corner of the room that is slightly behind the screen the other night and the I was amazed to see the image actually improved slightly, making the picture slightly more three-dimensional and improving the contrast noticeably; I will be looking into finding a 6500K bias light shortly to see if it can improve the picture even more. I now only watch with the torch-light turned on.
I checked the image when viewing from extreme angles (50Â° to 60Â° off center). It was only unwatchable during daylight viewing at those angles; night time viewing was more than satisfactory, in my opinion. Those with great light control should not have any issue with large viewing angles.
The only problems I am having with the Firehawk are
1) wrinkles on the edges of the screen near the tab-tensioners. I have left the screen down over night for at least 8 nights per Jason Turk's instructions, but the wrinkles do not seem to have diminished. I will follow up with Jason to see if there is anything else I can do.
2) the screen is somewhat difficult to retract completely into the case. This could be due to it being hung from chains (I have a vaulted ceiling and the screen must be offset from the wall about 3 feet to make room for the entertainment center). I can live with it sticking out 1-2 inches, so this isn't too big of a deal.
I really recommend using the Firehawk with the Hitachi. They are a very good match, especially for those of you with ambient light issues. I checked all around and AVS had the best prices, by the way.
I am currently using a Toshiba SD6200 DVD player in progressive mode. I am hoping to upgrade to either a HTPC or a better player. Can anybody recommend a particular player that works well with the Hitachi?