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I am trying to decide on a large screen system for a pub-type area in my basement. It will not be a devoted "home theater" per se, but will be used for movies, sports, etc. The screen will retract from in front of a stone fireplace and there is some ambient light that can be controlled when in use during the day. My question is whether to go with a projector setup (and which one) or a plasma television. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


DAL738B
 

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A Basement?


Sounds like you'll have light-control.


A projector by all means.


A digital projector will give a big, bright, sharp image that's better than most Plasmas, and won't have any "burn in" issues with various aspect ratios, station-logos, or video games/computer graphics.


No question.


If you need extra-bright the Hitachi 5500 is awesome. Any of the current crop of 16x9 DLPs will give you a great plug-and-play image with good blacks.


-dave
 

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If you donated enough plasma, you can afford a PJ :D


Just kidding, I second the PJ idea. Plasma is too pricey to have big screen so PJ is definitely better for the theater experience.
 

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A projector will give you the most bang for the buck. And you can support lager image sizes.


However, a plasma will stand up to higher amounts of ambient light ( a basement shouldn't be a problem) And will rank a little higher on the cool meter.
 

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The picture on a plasma does look a bit better, and it is less affected by light. But if you want a decent size picture a Projector is the only way to go.
 

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You may want to consider both a plasma AND a projector. I opted to get both. When I originally designed my HT room, plasma prices were through the roof and not much of a consideration, and certainly not on top of an already expensive projector. A year later when my room was finally ready, plasmas was much more affordable. I figured that I would not only be using the the room for DVDs and hi-def programming, but also for basic cable and VCR watching.


So I decided to buy the Panasonic 42" last August, which at that time was about $5,500, and I mounted it on my front wall. I use it mostly for watching television and recorded standard video (although I also use the Plasma for some DVDs and Hi-def, which looks great on the Panny, but clearly lacking that big screen movie theater effect). I also have a Stewart 92" 16:9 Grayhawk electriscreen, which I have set up to descend over and just a few inches in front of my plasma for watching Hi-def and DVDs. When the screen is down, it completely hides the plasma. My projector is a G-15 which is mounted behind my rear wall with a Panamorph. Altogether, it's a fantastic set-up.


I find it unsatisfying to watch tv shows on the big screen, where the graininess of a standard analog or even compressed SDTV can be distracting. This is where the plasma is perfect. I drop down the big screen to watch DVDs or hi-def programming.


Even if you go with only a projector and screen now, consider mounting the screen far enough from the wall so that you can install a plasma in the future.


Just my 2 cents FWIW.


Good luck,

Alan
 

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I don't know. I think I support going with the plasma on this one.


DAL738B says it's for a "pub-type" atmosphere. If you're watching just movies, great. Go with the pj. But if you're using it also as a sports bar where rather brighter lights play an important factor as far as ambience is concerned, a plasma is more practical. It's hard to picture the guys having drinks and "high-fiving" in a pitch dark room while watching the game simply because the pj can't handle extra lighting in the background.


Besides, if he's considering a plasma unit, that means he can afford one despite its high price tag.
 

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I don't know which projector DAL738B is considering, but by the time you add in the cost of a motorized Stewart screen to say, a Sharp 9000, your beyond the cost of a good 50 inch plasma, let alone adding a scaler to the Sharp.


Plasmas really shine with sports and they're big enough to make the presentation enjoyable on HD broadcasts. But they're not so big that the standard definition stuff (from a good station such as MSG) suffers unacceptably. You'll absolutely love it. And they're superb for day time use -- much better in this respect than an RPTV or separtate front projector and screen, and much bigger than any direct view set you can buy.


But for movies, plasmas just don't have an image large enough, even the 61 inchers (but they're getting close -- 70 inches may do the trick if and when they arrive).


So, if you'll be watching more DVDs than sports, invest in a good projector. The truly best solution, of course, is to get both a plasma and a projector as AlanMFriedman did, but I fully appreciate that that simply may not be possible for many folks.
 

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Alan,

I am considering a set-up similar to what you describe...I want a projector for DVD's and some HDTV, but not for casual TV viewing when I don't want all the lights off or the image that large. It seems like I pretty much have to spring for a plasma for the latter, since the architect and designer working on our lower level remodel have essentially nixed a 3 foot cabinet to hold a direct tube TV or an RPTV. So I guess the screen needs to come down over the plasma, the only disadvantage being the 6-8K for a 42" (of course a 50" would be nice at my viewing distance of about 15 feet, but 14K seems a bit steep for casual TV on top of the front projector/electric Stewart, etc).

I am considering the new JVC G150cl (I get eye-strain from DLP's) and figure that I will need a hushbox since it will be only a few feet overhead against my relatively low 92" ceiling (I know the 150cl is supposed to be much quieter, but I do not want to hear any fan noise).

Now that I have described my situation, I have 2 questions:

1. What does the Panamorph lens do?? Do I need it? What does it add...PQ? Aspect issues? Brightness (which I thought is not an issue with the D-ILA's). Does it need to be moved away at times? How do you do that when your projector is in a hushbox behind optical glass?

2. Since your setup is similar to what I am envisioning, do you have masking??I have looked a little into Stewart electric masking for an electric screen, and 4 way masking (Stewart Triple Aspect Ratio) is very expensive. I really would prefer not to see black bars. Would masking at top and bottom (? horizontal...or is that vertical?) be all that I would need (much less expensive) if I was willing to live with side bars on the seldom viewed 4:3 material? In other words, in your set-up with the JVC, do the other wide screen aspect ratios fill out the screen width and masking would only be required top and bottom? or is 4-way masking required in all aspects other than 16:9? I hope i am making some sense....

Thank you very much for your advice,

Robert
 

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Hi Robert,


You have asked a lot of good questions, many of which have been the topic of lively discussion in these forums. I'm happy to impart what information I have, which is by no means exhaustive but I hope it gives you some place to start. Searching the forums will yield a treasure trove of additional information. Much more than you can digest in one sitting, believe me.


There are a few hushbox solutions for fan noise. The original G15 definitely needs a hushbox if it is anywhere near the listeners. There are many threads on hushboxes that you can search. There is long thread discussing Mark Foster's recently built (and beautiful) hushbox for his G15. There is also a company called whisperflow run by Dave Beatty here in NYC that builds hushboxes for these projectors. Aside from the fan noise, the hushbox must be able to dissipate the excessive heat given off by these projectors.


I cannot speak to the fan noise level of the G150CL since I have not heard it, but someone posted a review recently that might give some helpful info. I have not seen any relative technical decibel level info anywhere.


As for the Panamorph, it is one of two anamorphic lenses that are discussed heavily on this forum. They are differently designed but both lenses take the 4:3 picture from a 4:3 projector and convert it to a 16:9 format. Their benefit is many fold. They enhance resolution by allowing the use of the entire D-ila panel. Without the Panamorph, in order to view a widescreen source, you would have to decrease the resolution of the panels (turn part of the panels off to make a 16:9 from the native 4:3 image). They also enhance brightness by allowing the use of the full panels. For more info on the Panamorph go to www.visr.com. Whether you need the Panamorph or not is a personal decision. It enhances the theater experience in the ways I've just discussed, but it is not essential.


If you have a good scaler, you can leave the Panamorph in place full time. I do. And once the projector is in place, you do not have to move it.


The range of prices you quote for the plasmas are retail and don't reflect the street prices now. The 42" panny can now be had for under 5K. A 50" plasma can be acquired for under 9K. I bought my panny from Paul at Projectorone (he's now with visualapex.com). He happens to be located in Seattle and was terrific to work with. He gave me great advice, a great price and excellent follow-up customer service. Many people on the forum have purchased plasmas from him with very positive experiences.


As far a masking is concerned, I did not bother. My electriscreen is a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is native for high def and most DVD movies. There are very few high resolution sources that are recorded in 4:3. Some movies are recorded and shown in 2.35:1 widescreen, which when shown on a 16:9 screen do have black bars above and below the picture. It does not bother me.


I am using optical glass from Edmunds optics for my G15, which is mounted behind my back wall. It works very well as both a sound insulator and allowing the light to pass through it without any noticeable effect.


I hope you find the above useful. If you would like any more info, let me know. You can post or send a PM. If you are lucky, others with much more knowledge than I will jump in here.


Good luck.

Alan
 

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Alan,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. So, regarding the Panamorph, you make room for it in front of the projector behind the optical glass, whether behind the wall in your case, or in a "deeper" hushbox in may case, and if I buy a scaler (like the Leeza or the NRS, for example?) then I will not have to move the Panamorph out of the way, right? What other benefits does the scaler/processor lend to the JVC projector, and is this more important for some sources than others?

Also, am I correct that all aspect ratios wider than 16:9 will, with the JVC, fill out the width of the 16:9 screen, even without the Panamorph? or is this only with the use of the Panamorph? I ask this because if I decide to mask to block out the top and bottom letterbox bars on aspects wider than 16:9 (if they bother me), then horizontal masking alone is a lot less costly than Horizontal and vertical, and I might be able to live with the side bars when I rarely watch 4:3.

Thank you again, in advance.

Robert
 
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