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High Definition Projector - Best Bang for Buck

853 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  drapp1952
I've just been recently looking into projectors so I apologize if some of what I say doesn't make much sense. Please correct me if you understand what I'm getting at.

I've been checking the specs on several different projectors (HD72, HD81...etc) and I've read a few articles on projectorcentral(dot)com. I think I've grasped a few concepts, but I still have a few remaining questions.

1. I imagine it may be 2-3 years before it's necessary, but what is the average cost to replace a lamp? Or does it vary significantly between projectors?

2. From what I've gathered the new 1080p projectors are less expensive, but are truely only beneficial when your source is that high of a resolution. Which is where HD-DVD and Blu-Ray comes in. And I guess there is the potential that the networks will begin broadcasting in 1080p, but from what I understand it's still only 720p at the most. However, I would like to put together a MEDIA CENTER PC (not necessarily Windows), and my source may be in all different sorts of resolutions. So if I want the best performance for the money, is 1080p worth it? Are PC TV Out cards capable of sending a 1080p signal?

3. I've seen some DIY articles on putting together a projection screen for $100 or less. Are these screens going to give me crisp clear pictures, or do I really need to invest in a good screen?

4. I'd like to use a projector for DVD movies, Digital TV & PC Gaming. Am I talking about different projectors for different purposes, or is there a projector out there that can fulfill my needs?

5. I see projectors listed with a native resolution of XGA (1024x768), but yet it says it has a 16:9 capability and HDTV capability of up to 1080i. Does this mean it is compressing the source into it's native resolution? So that you're not truely getting the full HD resolution?

6. Finally, what is going to be the best performing projector, for my needs, at the best price? Is there any simple way to determine this?
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Your biggest misconception is that 1080 projectors are only good at 1080 material. Other resolutions will be upscaled to the higher resolution which will have very tangible benefits depending on the scaler used by the projector (or the source).

The Optoma and upcoming Mitsubishi 1080 PJs have supposedly excellent scalers that should have your games and DVD's looking better than you've ever seen them. That said, the biggest wow factor will be when you're taking full advantage of the capabilities of the projector with a clean 1080 source.
1- $300.00 to several thousands. Usually the more expensive the projector the more expensive the lamp.

2- You probably would not be able to tell the difference for most applications.

3- In my opinion, yes, a DIY screen researched through this forum will give you a crisp clear picture. However, nowadays you can purchase a professional screen inexpensively... Carada, etc... There was a time a few years ago when you had to part away with top dollar to get any professional screen.

4- You only need one projector.

5- No, it means that it will accept an HDTV signal up to 1080i and convert it to 1024 horizontal and 768 vertical pixels. No fixed panel projector is able to reproduce an interlaced signal at it's native rate, be it 480i or 1080i, as they are all progressive.

6- Probably any working projector made after 2001. The best price would be the one you can afford, that is, establish a budget and buy anything after the HS50, AE100, Z2, etc... and place it in a light controlled room, preferably dedicated. There is no simple way to determine this, I would start at reading anything I could find over in Projector Central. Most of your questions are addressed there as well.
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Correction to 5:

Technically (or semantically?) a 1080i signal converted to 768P (or 720P) is still considered high definition. You convert it to 540P (if your fixed panel display has this resolution) and it would be called Enhanced Definition which still looks amazing, usually considerably better than a DVD up-converted to 540P.
Originally Posted by orificium
6. Finally, what is going to be the best performing projector, for my needs, at the best price? Is there any simple way to determine this?
It really depends on your needs.

the Sony VPL-VW50 is a new 1080p 3 chip projector that simple sets a new standard for price/performance at the higher end

there are tons of 720p projectors that are much cheaper than this that could also meet your needs

If HD DVD, or any high def, is in your future I would definately consider 1080p
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1. As per LMCid

2. A big factor is how close you sit to the screen. With a 720p projector, your probability of seeing pixel effects (subtle texture, "dirty" look, granularity) or pixels per se (screen door) is fair at 1.5 screen widths away and then increases. I saw pixel effects with the 1080p Mitsubishi HC5000 LCD projector at 1.3 or so on bright images. Overall, it's been established that 1080p will help lower res sources look better after they've been upconverted because if nothing else there's less aliasing (e.g., stair-stepping or jagged quality to diagonal lines) visible. As HTCrazy points out, the scaling is better with some of the newer pjs.

3. As per LMCid

4. As per LMCid, but if you're putting in lots of hours doing all those things think about the price of more frequent bulb replacement.

5, As per LMCid. You lose information if a digital pj scales down to its native resolution that is of course defined by the number of pixels it has.

6. There's no simple way to answer this as Tryg notes. If 720p will do, you have many and more affordable choices. With 1080p the choices start at about $3500. This is where I believe the LCDs will be. (On a personal note, I have a Sony VPL-VW50 en route for use with a High Power screen in a dark room environment.)

You don't list concerns about such things as rainbows with DLP, on-off or ANSI CR, but one big issue is brightness. Your multi-use you describe could imply a multi-purpose room with, possibly, less light control. If so, you need to research pj lumen output and a higher gain screen. Bright(er) 1080p pjs generally start in the upper teens (x $K).

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