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I just finished wiring my home theater room and am trying to figure out which projector to get. This will be a temporary projector that I expect to have for only a couple years until prices of 4K projectors come down and more 4K content is available. I'm coming from (and still using in another room) a Pioneer Elite Pro-150FD 60" plasma, so image quality is important. However, being that this is a temporary projector, I don't want to spend a lot right now. I'm looking for the best bang for the buck solution.

The room is about 30' x 18'. I plan on having the seating about 13-14' from the screen (and farther back than 15' is not possible due to other uses of the room) and the projector in the range of 14.5'-16' depending on the projector and screen size. I can have the projector as far back as necessary, but wanted to keep the lens wider and closer to the screen for brightness reasons. I'm looking at either a 138" 2.35:1 screen, 150" 16:9 screen, or 120" 16:9 screen that has a 2.35:1 masking system built in.

I'm currently looking at 3 or 4 projector/screen options:

1) Panasonic PT-AE8000U with 138" 2.35:1 screen. Because of the lens memory and power features, this was my choice until the last couple days when I did more research and found a lot of complaints about Panasonic's service and some blooming and LCD alignment issues. I'm also concerned about the black level. The Projector Central calculator says this will work with the setup I have, but I'm think is almost no longer an option, as I don't think I'd be happy with the black levels and I can't stand poor customer service.

2) Epson 5030UB. This would be my definite choice if it had power zoom, focus, and lens shifting with lens memory, but it doesn't. It has the picture quality, black levels, and brightness I'm looking for. I'd pair it with either the 150" or 120" screens and the calculator says it will work with both screens. How would the black bars be with the 150" screen on 2.35:1 material?

3)Sony VPLHW40ES. This would be great except no lens memory or power features. It's also not as bright as the Epson and the calculator says it won't be bright enough for the 150" screen. The 120" would just barely work, but still not at 16fl though. Is this actually the case in real world use?

4) JVC DLAX35B. This projector has everything I'm looking for (picture quality, black levels, power features, and lens memory for constant height). The problem is that it doesn't seem to be bright enough as the calculator gives me the same results as the Sony where it won't work with the 138" or 150" screens, and just barely works with the 120" screen. I can get one used at a great price. Does anyone have any experience with this projector on a 138" 2.35:1 screen?

If I go with the 150" screen and the Epson or Sony (assuming the Sony would work with the 150" screen), how annoying will the black bars be?

I like how the Epson and JVC have alignment calibration features if the panels get out of whack. Epson's advance replacement program sounds like it would be great should I have any issues.

Another final option is to go with the Epson or Sony (assuming the Sony would work with the 138" 2.35:1 screen) and invest in an A-lens. I'm not looking to spend too much right now though. What's the most economical motorized anamorphic lens for the Sony or Epson? I priced out a Panamorph, but they are a lot more than I want to spend right now. Also, I'd want to make sure any A-lens I get will work with a 4K projector in the future, even if it's a different manufacturer.

Anyone with experience with these projectors and larger screen have any thoughts? Thanks for your input.
 

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IMO, you should get an A-lens if your goal is a 2.35 setup. A good A-lens would be my recommendation, as that would carry over to a UHD projector. Kind of like a good screen, a A-lens lasts far longer than the projector you end up getting.

If you have a A-lens, I would pair it with a JVC and call it a day. The JVC is the only model that comes close to Kuro level blacks and is, IMO, a fair bit better looking than the Epson or Sony projectors. It just has so much more pop with the contrast.

The Epson and Sony have similar brightness after calibration, and I have the Sony on a 134" AT screen for one of my clients. It's plenty bright enough at that size. It also has some panel color alignment options in the setup.

Not sure the hang up on the 2.35 screen. If you want to save cash now, then go with a 150" 1.3 or 1.4 gain screen and use the Sony or Epson model and call it a day. 2.35 will complicate things and increase cost a fair bit, or add a headache of a time switching between the two formats.

A 150" screen with a couple of black panels to mask it down to 2.35 is not that much of an ordeal and is a fairly solid price savings if your room can support that screen size. I use a 161" screen with 8' ceilings, and frankly, I love it.
 
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