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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently got an lt150 after owning a vt540 for about 6 months.


In my opinion the lt150 beats the 540. but the rainbows don't bother me. If they bother you, then you would be very happy with the picture produced by the 540, *if* you can live with screen door.


You'll just have to see for yourself, I think.


I use a progressive scan dvd player by the way.

 

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I got to evaluate a loaner projector of each type overnight on two days about a week apart. Firstly, there really are not that many features different between them - most of the menu functions and options are identical. The significant feature differences are the VT540 has a zoom lens with about 20% range, and the LT150 has a PC card viewer.


I have no doubt that if you ever feel the need to carry the projector around for presentation use, the LT150 is preferable - not only is it lighter, but with the PC card viewer, it doesn't require you to also carry around a laptop. It would also please you in projecting video images from DVD or HDTV sources. In fact, I can say that the black areas of the LT150 image are darker and the overall contrast higher, which turned out not to matter in my room.


For home theater use, I prefer the VT540. Let me explain how and why I made this choice. I hooked up both projectors to my HTPC and calibrated both with the Avia DVD. I then viewed a couple of DVD movies I own and am very familiar with. I also tried the S-video and composite inputs, but was not satisfied with the results of this - I did not have any component video sources, so I cannot comment on that. Let me mention that my first home projector was a CRT model in 1984, although I've not had a front projector continuously since then. My problem is my current home has a typical California "open floor plan" and has poor ambient light control, so a CRT front projector is unusable, and the typical "big black box" RPTV was rejected by the wife.


To my eyes, the VT540 is brighter and has deeper, more saturated colors, and thus produces a more convincing and realistic image than an LT150. Both projectors have individual brightness and contrast settings for Red/Green/Blue which allow you to set the white balance anywhere you want, then additional Brightness/Contrast user controls which effect the overall image. But having the same feature does not guarantee the same end result. The LT150's colors were simply not as good.


Of course, the LT150 is a DLP and the forte of DLPs is supposed to be contrast ratios. However, I don't own a dedicated home theater room, I have my projector in my living room. This room has off-white walls, a bright white ceiling, a biege carpet, and even some white furniture - it's not the decor one would choose for a home theater but the wife likes it as is. Once you get the projector light reflected twice off the screen and the furnishings, any contrast ratio superiority of the LT150 is gone. The VT540 is still however, brighter with better color. It's also significantly quieter than the LT150 which has a high speed color wheel spinning in addition to the fans.


The DLP "rainbows" that many complain of were invisible to me, as was the LCD "screen door" from my viewing position. (In my opinion, if you see the screendoor, you either have an older LCD projector or are sitting too close, the screendoor is very fine and not intrusive on a VT540.) My daughter, however, talked about "colored fringes" and "color streamers" on the LT150 image whenever there were rapidly moving objects in high contrast scenes (spaceships in space as I recall), so she could see what most call "rainbows". This gave me pause - home theater is a social thing, and if a single member of your audience turns out to be painfully sensitive to rainbows, the evening is ruined for everyone.


The final two details which cinched my preference for the VT540: 1) I wanted to locate the projector on top of a 7' tall bookcase inside a hushbox, and the LT150 lacks UL approval for inverted operation (which probably means some part of it gets too hot to touch comfortably in that position) and 2) The zoom feature allowed me to tweek the image exactly onto my 90" diagonal screen and use a narrow black frame to border the screen (which is a DIY matte white screen made with painted blackout cloth stretched over a wooden frame). The LT150 at this distance would have had a fixed size (but bigger at 120" diagonal) image - but that size screen was too large for my room and would have forced me to replace some draperies for another $2000, as my DIY screen perches on a 72" wide windowsill.


For my application and site, the VT540 had several advantages - but I made this evaluation when the VT540 was $500 cheaper than the LT150. The LT150 is about that much cheaper now, because it is being replaced with a new model - price is definately a significant factor.


Gary
 

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Ditto to what Gary said. I have an LT155(similar to the 540, but up one notch) and had the LT150 home at the same time. In my specific situation the 155 looked better than the 150. I have a Grayhawk and that could be part of it. I sit back about 15 ft. with an 80" wide screen and only see the screendoor on text(which to me is a non issue). The colors were definatly better on the LCD. If there is any way to try them both this would be your best bet, as MANY others think the 150 is the cat's meow. See if they'll let you test them at the same time. I feel this part is important. I think alot depends on your own situation.Have fun hunting though!!!


Scott
 

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If my information is correct, the VT540 is a knocked-down version of the LT155, which I saw under shootout conditions with the LT150. Scroll down this thread to see the discussion.


The consensus of those at the shootout is that the LT150 had dramatically better contrast and color saturation than the LT155. In addition, the LT155 suffered from screendoor. The contest wasn't even close -- everyone preferred the LT150.


I am confused as to general consensus that LCD renders colors better than DLP. I have never seen this to be the case.


BTW, the LT150 was hooked up to a JVC prog. scan DVD player, and the LT155 was hooked up to a Skyworth prog. scan DVD player (which would seem to favor the LT155). However, we did the comparisons using a 2.8 gain Dalite hi-power screen and a 1.0 gain wall. The LT155 is probably better suited to a grey screen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I sit 13 feet from an 80" wide screen and with the vt540 I can see the screendoor frequently - usually in large patches of the same color, like sky scenes.


When I hooked up the lt150 and saw the fluid screendoor-free image I fell in love. I also like the colors on the lt150. They are cooler, less saturated, but I like that.


Everyone really does have to see for himself.




[This message has been edited by rickforrest (edited 08-23-2001).]
 

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I think we are talking about the differences in the light engines of the LT150/LT155/VT540.


The LT155 and VT540 both use a 130 watt UHP lamp but the LT155 has a micro-lens array (MLA) that both boosts output from 1000 to 1200 lumens, while making the screendoor less intrusive. The light output of both of these projectors is diminished somewhat by being split into three colors, passing through three LCD panels, and then being recombined, in what is called a "dichroic" optical assembly.


The DLP LT150 lamp is 160 watts (of a different lamp type), but it must pass through a color wheel before being reflected off a single DLP panel. The reflective optical assembly absorbs less of the light but the color wheel is the source of the DLP's "rainbows" and relatively low brightness. Each segment of the 4-element wheel is only illuminated 25% of the time (and in actuality somewhat less) and in a home theater application, the clear segment is turned off, so you start with only about 75% of the rated lumens (so the LT150 brightness in a HT application is probably only 600 lumens), and the colors are "strobing" at the speed of the color wheel RPM, and are recombined in your eye with the "persistance of vision" effect. There's the rub, it would seem that some percentage of the population has slightly too little of this "persistance of vision" and thus see the rainbows.


I don't know whether this is related to genetics or age or other factors, just that my wife and myself both do not see rainbows but my kid does. We wear glasses and she does not, and we're each 20-some years older than her. From what I can tell, some minority of the population sees the rainbows, some smaller percentage are painfully aware of them.


Radar, one other thing to consider is lamp cost per viewing hour. By way of comparison, for the three projectors above I checked one source ( www.lowballvideo.com ) and found these figures:


LT150 lamp @ $495. lasts 1000 hours or about $.50/hr

LT155 lamp @ $470. lasts 1000 hours or about $.47/hr

VT540 lamp @ $315. lasts 2000 hours or about $.16/hr


...although you might "shop around" and get a better deal elsewhere.


If you can, try to evaluate all the projector technologies - in addition to LCD and DLP, there are CRT and DiLAs. The DiLA's are $5000 and up used, and the CRTs about $2000 and up used. Frankly, if I had a darker room, I would now own a used CRT, but I'm a "tweeker" from way back.


Lurker #25, I read your thread, and in my opinion there were too many variables in the "shootout". In particular, a different gain screen or a very light-colored decor such as my room might have altered the outcome. I use a DIY matte white surface, I may experiment with gray paint just to see if the blacks improve - it'll be cheap in money and time. However, I can't use a high gain screen because of the 7.5' height of the projector, and some off-axis seating I have. The point is, different rooms with different layouts and different eyes may make different choices. To each his own.


Gary




[This message has been edited by Gary McCoy (edited 08-23-2001).]
 

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I have not personally seen the LT150 in action. I own a VT540K which I bought sight unseen. I went with LCD to avoid issues with rainbows. I have been very satisfied with the vt540K in my setup. I sit at about 13-14 feet back from the screen. I project a 120 inch 4:3 image, with the projector being just over 15 feet back from the screen. I actually have a ~16:9 DIY screen (54in. X 96in.)centered in the 4:3 projected image. The remaining part of the 4:3 image is masked by black drapes that are behind the screen from floor to ceiling.


Some thoughts:

1) given that I have complete ambient light control, I normally run the vt540K in economy mode, thus getting 3times the builb life of a lt150. that is serious savings considering I put several hundred hours a month on the projector. this allows me to use the projector for regular TV viewing via Dscaler and also internet surfing etc. in addition to regular DVD watching.


2) the scaler inside the VT540K SUCKS! The picture comes to life with a HTPC feeding the projector its native panel resolution. Despite the hassle of software DVD players, I sold my stand alone DVD player without reservation.


3) at my image size and viewing distance, I can see screen door. Is it _really_ noticable? No, not really. But it is most definitely there. I can forgive it. Others may not be as forgiving.


don't know if this will help or hinder your choice, but it is my personal experience. I have been very happy thus far with my VT540K....


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Shane
 

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Well said, Shane
 

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Having started with an XGA LCD (Sharp 3k?) projector then going to a LT150 and now finally a CRT all driven by HTPC I have this to say... My XGA LCD projector was by far the easiest to live with, it had both zoom and tilt so if you want your projector to be in a cerain location the LT150 is pretty much out. I felt screen door was actually about the same for both projectors because I sit about 13' away from an 80" wide screen. What killed the LT150 for me was rainbow, this is obviously not an issue with either the CRT projector or the LCD. The only area I thought the LT150 was better than the the LCD projector was black level. The colors were definitely better on the LCD projector and I found it hard do accept the orange reds and not so green greens on the LT150. If I was upgrading from a SVGA DLP machine I probably would have been delighted though. I feel like I am rambling but I'll hit submit anyway http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif


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David R. Smith


System info: NEC 9PG in progress, Dalite 60X80 Matte (I know), ATI Radeon 64mb VIVO, ATI 7.1 player w/DC's O IRE patch , WinME.
 

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Radar


What were the price quotes in $Can that you got for the 150 and 540? The only prices that I have seen in Canada are ridiculous compared to US prices. When our pals south of the border were in a feeding frenzy over the Dell LT 150 at US$2000 or less, I saw a Canadian add for a Demo LT 150 at CAN$6100(=US$3965).
 

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I originally had planned to set up my home theater with a RPTV but since I've started to read the postings on AVSforum and had the opportunity to play with my companies' NEC LT85 with a DVD player, then I'm seriously considering a projector.


I contacted our local sales rep at Duocom (Ottawa, Canada) and she provided me with a quotation for both the LT150 and VT540. She mentioned that she had just sold the VT540 to someone for a home theater and tried to lean me in that direction.


I will have the opportunity to test each unit in the coming weeks. Before I do, I would like to know if anyone has compared these units side by side? Comments please.


Next is the issue of HTPC vs. Proscan DVD. I would prefer the DVD option for user-friendless (my wife has to use this). I was considering the JVC 723 DVD player (based on friend's testing experience). Anyone out there have a recommendation based on testing experience. At some point I may go the HTPC route, and still use the DVD for the 'user friendly' option.


How about screens? My home theater is downstairs with little light. Will sit about 12 ft back and plan to use a 16:9 screen with 80" viewing width. Am considering a DIY screen, but will like some recommendations for something 16:9 permanent under $500CAN.


Sorry for so many questions, but I'm really excited about this. At first my wife was strongly opposed to the projector idea (because I had a custom console constructed in my Home Theater to fit the RPTV). But since she saw the LT85 in action on a bedsheet in the Theater and the look on our 5 y/o daughter's face, then I believe she's starting to warm up. Besides I can still use the space that I had planned for the RPTV for a beer cooler.


Radar


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It's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.
 

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Thanks so far for the feedback. It appears that I may have to go the HTPC route with either solution to get the most from these projectors.


Regarding Canadian costs. Here is a recent quote from a reputable Canadian supplier:


NEC LT150 4895CAN

NEC LT155 6295CAN

NEC VT540 5495CAN

Sony VW10HT $7995CAN

Toshiba TLPMT7 $7815CAN


Compared with many Internet projector dealers in the US I don't think these are bad prices (however in Ontario, Canada you have to add 15% sales taxes).


I suspect prices will continue to fall as new models are introduced and more competion comes from 16:9 units from Sanyo and Sharp.


Ray (aka Radar)


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It's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The other thing to keep in mind about the vt540 is dead pixels - much more likely on an lcd than a dlp. If you read some of the other threads you'll see a lot of vt540 owners with stuck/dead pixels. I have 15 (!) on my vt540, though you can't see any of them from the viewing position.

 

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Radar,


I would never advocate doing anything illegal or immoral. But getting around the sales tax and getting a cheaper price is not all that difficult. As long as you have a US mailing address, you could order one cheaply down here, have it delivered to that address, then come and pick it up. It's almost worth it to book a plane ticket and conveniently return with a projector that you took with you from Canada for a "business presentation" in the US, all the while having your empty projector box being mailed to you via ground mail. You just need a US mailing address. That should get you around any warranty issues as well, claiming that you moved back to canada, etc. Being a fellow Canuck and being extremely frustrated with the hassle (and large amounts of duty and taxes) I had to go through to *GIVE* my old 2000 model year car to my parents, I am all for shafting the government whenever possible. I had a hard time swallowing the fact that I had to pay several thousand dollars to GIVE something away to them!!


Rick does make a good point RE: the VT540 dead and stuck pixel problem. I got lucky. I originally had a perfect panel with no stuck pixels at all. I have since developed a stuck on blue pixel at the extreme top left of the panel. Along with the one dust particle in the bottom right of the screen, I can't notice either from my sitting position. But there are lots of reports of stuck pixel problems with the VT540 and it appears I am one of the lucky ones.




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Shane
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by rickforrest:
The other thing to keep in mind about the vt540 is dead pixels - much more likely on an lcd than a dlp. If you read some of the other threads you'll see a lot of vt540 owners with stuck/dead pixels. I have 15 (!) on my vt540, though you can't see any of them from the viewing position.
Are you sure it is not just dust you are seeing?

VT540's seem to have some dust on panels usually and it looks just like dead pixel but it is not pixel shape.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Lurker #25:


The consensus of those at the shootout is that the LT150 had dramatically better contrast and color saturation than the LT155. In addition, the LT155 suffered from screendoor. The contest wasn't even close -- everyone preferred the LT150.
Hi Lurker. I understand what you are saying here. However, I looked briefly at this information you are talking about and there are a couple of things that stick out as problems with this shootout in my mind. I don't really think a shootout is entirely fair if you don't couple each projector with how it intends to be used. Personally, I think the vt540 is greatly enhanced by a grey screen. Mating the vt540 especially with a high gain screen is going to give you less than optimal results.


I'm not saying that the lt150 still wouldn't outperform the vt540 but I don't think the difference would be quite so night and day. Also, employing a htpc would help if you wanted to take the scaler out of the mix in both situations.


Personally, I think it boils down to one thing between these two projectors, rainbow effect. If I didn't suffer from seeing the rainbow effect I would have an lt150. The rainbow effect drives me crazy and thus why I have a vt540.

Quote:


I am confused as to general consensus that LCD renders colors better than DLP. I have never seen this to be the case.
I can't speak for the lt150 because I haven't seen it. However, I have seen the lp340 and a vt540 next to each other and it was no contest. The vt540 blew away the lp340 in colors in every respect. With all the positive remarks though I can only imagine the colors with the lt150 must be very good.

 

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It really is very simple - the LCD has three seperate and distinct panels all illuminated all the time. The light from the bulb is split into three colors, passed through the panels, and recombined. Once you get past the minimum threshold for good contrast ratio (about 300:1) the color saturation and overall brightness becomes the dominant consideration in perceived image quality. Older LCD designs could never get "enough" contrast or "black enough" blacks. Most modern LCD projectors today meet the minimum contrast spec and have good black levels and most people are happy with them.


The DLP has a four segment color wheel, and with the clear segment turned off, the R/G/B segments each are illuminated less than 25% of the time. The colors are strobing the image sequentially at the rate corresponding to the RPM of the color wheel, and said another way they simply are illuminating the screen with a very low duty cycle. The DLP has better blacks and even higher contrast ratios - but these only matter in a really dark room with predominately dark colored furnishings, and in this atypical environment the DLP would and should have a superior image.


In a real world room with some ambient light and light-colored walls and furnishings, a good quality LCD image will be preferred by most people, as it will be brighter and with richer colors. The reason being, the LCD in that price range will be brighter and not have the color wheel disadvantage.


I'm not really generalizing - when I tested both these projectors with the same source material in the same room, the LCD VT540 was better to my eyes. The LT150 has a "real world" brightness of less than 600 lumens with the clear segment off. This in a "real world" room with imperfect ambient light control and light colored furnishings will be perceived as dimmer with more washed out colors than the VT540's 1000 lumens and fully saturated, 100% duty cycle colors.


It's an apples/oranges comparison, I know. You should not expect a $2400 projector to be as good as a $3000 projector. The LT150 at $1700 was an exceptional value, and even at $2400 it's a good buy. At $3500 it was not a good choice for me compared to the VT540.


I think, in the end, generalizations like "DLPs are better than LCDs" should be avoided. The ideal scenario is to try out both projectors with the same source material in the same room you'll use them in, and choose. Second best is to see both in a demo showroom, and mentally compensate for the differences between that room and yours. But for some, the only available alternative is to read forums like this and order whatever projector you guess will satisfy you after considering all the factors - which include the room you will be using them in.


Gary
 
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