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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Projection newb here looking for some advice. I recently borrowed an office projector from work to project onto a sheet stretched between 2 bookcases that flank my fireplace for a movie night with my kids. Very budget, but I was immediately hooked and am now trying to figure out if I can make this room work for a better setup. Because this is our living room, the biggest factor with which I have to contend is going to be the wife factor, so keep that in mind.

The budget: Nothing too crazy – looking to try to keep it under $1500 for the projector and maybe under $500 for a screen. Willing to consider options here though if that range doesn't work for my needs.

The room: Dimensions are 20’ x 17’. Ceiling height is 10’. The current setup is a plasma mounted over a fireplace on one of the 20’ walls. Flanking the fireplace are some built-in bookcases that sit 12’ apart. Facing that wall is a u-shaped sectional that sits about 4’ from the back wall. The right wall is a giant picture window which will limit the projector’s use to nighttime only. Not a big deal, as that is usually the only time I would use it, but there will be some ambient light especially as we get closer to summer and the sun stays up later.

The projector: My current thinking is to put a bookcase or similar behind the couch and just place the projector on top of it. It seems a ceiling mount is really the way to go, but unless I could completely hide it somehow, this would definitely get vetoed by my wife. She already hates the surround speakers that are mounted on the wall, so I’m pretty sure a projector hanging from the ceiling would not fly. Now, from what I've seen, it seems that projectors need to be installed either high or low, as they project upwards. In my case, the projector would be maybe 6' - 7’ off the ground and would need to shoot almost straight ahead. Is this possible? Any other installation ideas? This is where I could really use some advice. Also, some potential projectors to get me started would be great.

The screen: Would have to be the pull down variety as the plasma will still get most of the use. It would also need to be ceiling mounted to clear the plasma. The pull-down projector screens I've seen all look like, well, a projector screen. Are there pull down screens that look more discreet when they are not in use – something that would blend in a bit more? Or maybe a way to hide it?

Also, in general, who offers some good general educational resources for people just getting into projectors?
 

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Projector central
 

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As far as WAF, bookcase/shelf sounds like your best option, my Epson is currently on a shelf in upright mode (as opposed to inverted for ceiling mount) at about 48" high. But yes, check Projector Central, screen size & height, as well as throw distance will be your biggest factors. Plus different projectors will have different adjustments (keystone) as to how level the projector itself has to be to give you a truly vertical picture.
 

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Projection newb here looking for some advice. I recently borrowed an office projector from work to project onto a sheet stretched between 2 bookcases that flank my fireplace for a movie night with my kids. Very budget, but I was immediately hooked and am now trying to figure out if I can make this room work for a better setup. Because this is our living room, the biggest factor with which I have to contend is going to be the wife factor, so keep that in mind.

The budget: Nothing too crazy – looking to try to keep it under $1500 for the projector and maybe under $500 for a screen. Willing to consider options here though if that range doesn't work for my needs.

The room: Dimensions are 20’ x 17’. Ceiling height is 10’. The current setup is a plasma mounted over a fireplace on one of the 20’ walls. Flanking the fireplace are some built-in bookcases that sit 12’ apart. Facing that wall is a u-shaped sectional that sits about 4’ from the back wall. The right wall is a giant picture window which will limit the projector’s use to nighttime only. Not a big deal, as that is usually the only time I would use it, but there will be some ambient light especially as we get closer to summer and the sun stays up later.

The projector: My current thinking is to put a bookcase or similar behind the couch and just place the projector on top of it. It seems a ceiling mount is really the way to go, but unless I could completely hide it somehow, this would definitely get vetoed by my wife. She already hates the surround speakers that are mounted on the wall, so I’m pretty sure a projector hanging from the ceiling would not fly. Now, from what I've seen, it seems that projectors need to be installed either high or low, as they project upwards. In my case, the projector would be maybe 6' - 7’ off the ground and would need to shoot almost straight ahead. Is this possible? Any other installation ideas? This is where I could really use some advice. Also, some potential projectors to get me started would be great.

The screen: Would have to be the pull down variety as the plasma will still get most of the use. It would also need to be ceiling mounted to clear the plasma. The pull-down projector screens I've seen all look like, well, a projector screen. Are there pull down screens that look more discreet when they are not in use – something that would blend in a bit more? Or maybe a way to hide it?

Also, in general, who offers some good general educational resources for people just getting into projectors?
First, there are some guidelines for how high a projection screen should be off the ground compared to seated viewers. Divided the HEIGHT of the image by 3 and that much of it should be below your seated eye level. For example, a 150" screen is 6' tall, so 2' of it should be below eye level. If eye level is 3' off the floor, then the bottom of the screen should be 1' off the floor. Mounting the screen to the ceiling, unless it was ordered with a lot of "drop" at the top, would hang much higher than that.

Second, the top of the image in the above example would be 7' off the floor, and most projectors when mounted high need to have their lens at least a few inches above the top of the screen. So figure on a bookcase 8' tall. Also at least 3' wide shelf area. You can mount a projector directly to the underside of a shelf or the top of the bookcase without needing a mount, or you can attach a low-profile mount to the underside of the bookcase top.

Third, your room is 17' deep, and most projectors are at least 1' deep from lens to rear of the case, leaving you with 16' "throw" if your screen was flat on the wall. Because you are dropping a screen in front of a TV (and possible a fireplace mantel) you may be losing another 1 foot of throw. Assuming you end up with 15' throw and want a 150" screen, the Benq W1070 would be a good choice for projector.

Fourth, when choosing a retractable screen, you want to be sure to get a "tab-tensioned" screen. Retractable screens that are not tab-tensioned develop waviness in the surface that distort the image. Unfortunately, these are more expensive. Something like this http://www.amazon.com/Tensioned-Pro...&qid=1425959554&sr=8-5&keywords=tab-tensioned except they have the "product dimensions" incorrect -- it is actually 150" horizontal because of the longer case tab-tensioned screens require. That means it will have to hang in front of your bookcases if there is really only 12' between them. That may not be an issue depending on how deep the bookcases are compared to the TV and mantle depth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The pro calculator on Projector Central is a huge help. Thanks for that.

Regarding some of the other points:

I don’t think I’ll be able to get the screen and image that low. The setup I currently have forced me to place my tv over the fireplace with the center channel speaker just below it (maybe 3.5’ off the ground). I won’t be able to pull a screen down in front of that without going to an AT screen or the sound would be completely muffled, right? Lowering the speaker isn’t an option as it sits right above the cutout for the fireplace.

I’m struggling to understand the offset of a projector’s image. Even on the Projector Central site this info doesn’t seem readily available. This seems like a pretty important spec when it comes to installation. To find the shift of the BenQ, I had to go to their site. It’s listed as Vertical 110%-130%±5%, but I’m not sure what that means. Does that mean the bottom of the image starts at 10% higher than the projector if it’s installed right side up? Are there projectors that shoot more or less straight ahead? The bookcase I’m thinking of using is more like 6’ tall. I’d like to avoid using the keystone feature as much as I can. Using it degrades the quality of the image significantly, right?

And last, is the tab tensioning that important? Are the waves and/or wrinkles something that develop over time? That is certainly a big jump up in price. Makes it about the same price as the BenQ projector. Also I wouldn’t be able to mount it any further out into the room as there are a couple recessed lights in the ceiling, so it would have to fit in that 12’ opening.

Feeling discouraged now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sorry, double post, but I think I better understand the offset thing. I think it means that for the BenQ, the bottom of the image will always be above the projector (or below it if ceiling mounted upside down) and there is 20% adjustment available using the vertical lens shift, with a 5% margin of error. So this projector needs to be installed either very close to the ceiling or near the floor, right? It seems I may be better suited with something like the Epson Powerlite 3000 or 3500. These have 60% lens shift capability, which I read as able to project an image straight ahead. Do I have this right?
 

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Sorry, double post, but I think I better understand the offset thing. I think it means that for the BenQ, the bottom of the image will always be above the projector (or below it if ceiling mounted upside down) and there is 20% adjustment available using the vertical lens shift, with a 5% margin of error. So this projector needs to be installed either very close to the ceiling or near the floor, right? It seems I may be better suited with something like the Epson Powerlite 3000 or 3500. These have 60% lens shift capability, which I read as able to project an image straight ahead. Do I have this right?
The center channel above the fireplace is definitely an issue without an AT screen. And any retractable screen will have some space below the image area even if just for the "weighed" bar at the bottom. Likewise there is some space needed above the image for the case and "drop". So your 10' ceiling looks like barely 5' of vertical image height. That means a 120" screen, which is narrow enough to fit in your 12' width easily and the tab-tensioned version is only $400.

Personally, I'd consider getting a second center channel for use with the screen or simply detaching the existing center speaker and placing it on a stand in front of the fireplace when watching movies. That would let me get the screen lower and also allow a larger screen. A 135" tab-tensioned screen would fit within the 12' width requirement.

The W1070 image will be between 3" and 8" above the lens if it is sitting upright and the same below the lens if it is upside down. If your screen was over 3.5' off the floor, then you could set it on a shelf about that high and it would shine over your seated heads. With only a 135" screen, the W1070 would need to be within 14'6" of the screen.
 

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I was in a similar situation wanting to put a home theater in my living room but i have a gas fireplace and a tv mounted above the fireplace. I ended up buying a tab-tensioned motorized screen that drops down in front of my tv and had to put a center channel on a stand below my screen. Not sure if this is ok for you or not, we never use our fireplace (gas costs too much) and it was going to cost too much money to buy an acoustic tab-tensioned screen. Problem is always getting the wife to approve of any changes you make to the room.

Here is my theater room, have to take another photo, you can definitely build a theater room in a living room, but you will need to at least put up some kind of blackout curtain or windows shades as its best to have a dark room to get the best possible picture.

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/15-ge...896873-dmans-living-room-projector-setup.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sounds like the best plan is to go for the 135" and drop the center channel down when I need to. Should be easy enough to do. It just sits on a couple arms right now.

I'm still a little stuck on how to make the screen blend in better when it's not in use. Obviously, a white casing will help. In-ceiling wold be perfect, but those seem to get pretty pricey. Definitely out of my league. It seems there isn't such thing as a manual tab tensioned screen. Do these exist? I like the idea of electric, but I'm not sure how I would actually get power to it. A cord running down the wall or an outlet in the ceiling aren't great options. This is where the wife factor comes into play. The projector will be somewhat camouflaged, but that screen... It may even need to be taken down if we have company. She really is not into making our living room a media room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

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Sounds like the best plan is to go for the 135" and drop the center channel down when I need to. Should be easy enough to do. It just sits on a couple arms right now.

I'm still a little stuck on how to make the screen blend in better when it's not in use. Obviously, a white casing will help. In-ceiling wold be perfect, but those seem to get pretty pricey. Definitely out of my league. It seems there isn't such thing as a manual tab tensioned screen. Do these exist? I like the idea of electric, but I'm not sure how I would actually get power to it. A cord running down the wall or an outlet in the ceiling aren't great options. This is where the wife factor comes into play. The projector will be somewhat camouflaged, but that screen... It may even need to be taken down if we have company. She really is not into making our living room a media room.
Have you considered a "box" shelf like a window valance ? If it was 12' wide by 12" deep and 8" tall, I think the screen casing would fit up inside it. Then have curtain panels running all the way down to the floor on each end -- not open/close curtains just the fixed decorative panels you see on window treatments. Kind of like this, but appropriately sized and opaque fabric, essentially framing the fireplace wall between the bookcases rather than a window.


Where the screen case is hidden behind the top valance. The side benefit is that when the screen is in use, the drapery panels will make for straight sides to the screen rather than the curved tensioning cables being visible.

Oh, and the power cord for the electric screen will be hidden behind the drapery panel as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The box shelf is something to think about. I don't think I could do the curtains. The whole idea is to make it not look like a home theater. The curtains wouldn't help with that I don't think. But a plain box is not a bad idea. Here is a picture of the space.
 

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Not to be negative, but....


Wouldn't it be better just to get a portable screen and a inexpensive BenQ W1070 or Epson HC2000 for the occasional movie night? Use a stand for the projector and store them in a closet when not in use = "happy wife, happy life".


Or, just use the $2000 to get a 70 inch plus TV for the wall which you could use both day and night.


Or move the TV, patch the wall and use it as your screen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
So, I think I'm getting closer here. I'm currently leaning toward the Elite Starling tab tensioned screen. The Starling has a pretty decent looking white case which should hep with passing the wife test. Maybe at some point I'll look at boxing it in somehow. I don't think I'll be able to get the screen low enough for ideal viewing, but I'll just have to deal with it. I'm not too concerned. Now just have to figure out if I want 120" or 135".

For the projector, my front runner is the Epson Home Cinema 3000. It has plenty of vertical lens shift to allow me to put it on a shelf behind the couch. Plenty bright enough for living room use, and decent enough for dark room viewing (at least in the sub $2000 category). The need for lens shift really narrowed it to a handful of options. At first, I was thinking the 3500, but I don't really need the extra lumens and the 3D glasses would go to waste. Another consideration was the Panasonic PT-AE8000U, but it's a couple years old now and I'm not convinced that the extra bucks are justified over the Epson. If there are others I should consider, let me know.

My next question is how are you all getting signal to your projectors? I have the ability to run cable, but at maybe a 40' - 50' run, will I be looking at signal degradation with standard HDMI? I have done some searching on this issue, but can't find consensus. Do I need active HDMI? I'm a little skeptical of using active cable for in-wall runs as it won't be the easiest to replace it if it fails. Also, I'd like to terminate it with a plate on the wall and hook the projector to the wall jack for a cleaner install. Is this a problem with active cable?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I will definitely be doing some gaming on it, but from what I've read,while the lag is definitely higher with the epson, it still really isn't noticeable, especially when it's set to fast. I do wish there was a way to see this for myself though. Is there a way to simulate lag? I don't want to bog this thread down with projector reviews, but if this is a deal breaker, it's worth considering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Has anyone used the Projector Screen Store in Fairfield, NJ? They have a 135" Starling Tab screen for a pretty good price and offer free shipping.
 
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