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Discussion Starter #1
Backlighting


I had written in another post that there is always bigger and better when it comes to Home Theater. I have been part of this forum for the past 1 ½ years and have always come across threads with questions concerning bias lighting. Not having it installed on my plasma I refrained from forming an opinion one way or the other. I can remain silent no longer.


Due to our family adding on a sunroom to the main living area we were forced to relocate the plasma/ht equipment to the other side of the room for a number of reasons which are beyond what this thread is about. Anyway, I come to think of myself as a pretty handy guy. I had installed the wall mount and ran the cables for the original placement so didn't think it would be much different than before. So as I have to move the plasma anyway might as well try the bias lighting.


For a little history, we had purchased in April of 2003 a 42 5uya consumer ED Panasonic plasma. The unit at that time cost ~$3,500 and was a very tough nut to swallow. I mean that was/is a lot of money for a 42 set. We had prior to that a 50 Mitsubishi Diamond Screen 4:3 RPTV. Didn't even want to consider a 50 plasma due to the cost at that time of ~$7,000. Just didn't seem economical given that HD from 8+ feet looked, to us, just as good as the HD units. I had performed a calibration with Avia and varied our viewing habits for the first few hundred hours and had re-calibrated with Avia. But it still wasn't looking quite right. There was pixilation/blotchiness what have you that was causing me to seriously consider if we had done the smart thing.


So I came back to AVS and found the Steaming Rat and Polishing Turd threads and have admitted before that I just don't have the eye for getting excellent results. A professional calibrator with all the toys was needed to calibrate the unit. That, IMHO, was a very good $400 spent. The pixilation went away to a significant degree although at times I can still see it, it's not nearly as annoying.


So now we have had this pro-calibrated unit for the past 15 months or soenjoying the heck out of it whether we watch a DVD like Master and Commander, HD like MNF or NTSC via Dish like Sponge Bob Square Pants (BTW, FWIW Rug Rats cracks me up). But things change, circumstances present themselves and people get bored.


So now I am presented with a perfect opportunity to test the merit of bias lighting. I am not into spending a lot of money on something that I'm not really sure about so after taking the plasma off the wall and thinking that I would want a complete halo around the unit (floating in space as it were) I went to Home Depot and purchased for ~$18 a 12 foot piece of rope light, some small plastic white zip ties and some white sticky back cable hangers. Got home and proceeded to try a dry run and get the rope light around the unit. After closer inspection, not a good idea to completely surround the unit as that will in effect cause the connectors on the bottom to become blocked. Back to Home Depot trade in the 12' and get a 6' piece instead. Trudge back home and what do you know, the rope light covers ¾'s of the unit. Looking good. Put four of the sticky back tape wire doodads on top and three on each side. Mount the rope light and mounted the plasma on the wall.


Now for the critical viewing, or as critical as I can do anyway. Turned off the lights popped in Pirates of the Caribbean, no bias light. It looks very goodas it should and from what I am used to. I specifically chose this movie due to its aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Typically, when watching a movie in this ratio with the lights off there will be a slight difference in perceived black levels. That is the top and bottom bars that will be clearly seen will look a lighter shade of black than what the unit is displaying in the pictureif that makes any sense.


Then I turned on the rope light and must say it is a significant difference. The black bars look black. The blacks on the unit turned inky dark black. There is still very good contrast in the blacks when watching anything. For the amount of money spent, ~$10.00, I can not honestly think of another DIY tweak that can be done that will have a greater impact on your viewing environment.


Should have done it much sooner.


I welcome all comments/questions.


YMMV.


Just my .02
 

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You attached the rope light to the display or around the mount? How do you switch on and off the rope light? Posting some pics would also be most useful and appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Posting pics is a whole lot more difficult than taking them.


Anyway, the rope light is attached to the plasma (see following pic...I hope) and I have it connected to one of my switched receptacles on the 7200. When it comes on the light rope comes on.


Excuse the pics...they are most crappy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
And with the bias lighting on.
 

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Very excellent post. While it is true that the application of nearly any light source will help in this regard, it would certainly be best to attempt using a neutral color luminary for this purpose. If you like these benefits, I would consider at some point to try get a fixture designed for this purpose, with an actual calibrated bulb putting out the right spectrum of light. This would especially be important for those that have had a professional calibration done on their sets, but as mentioned, all will benefit.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
And one of my honies
 

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FWIW, the back lighting is not actually redish but more neutral, the wall is cream colored which gives a nice warm/non-glossy look.


The "bias on" post is closest to actual..although not nearly as "glossy".


One thing I have learned via this while mess is that:


A) My camera stinks

B) No need to worry about changing careers to be a photographer

C) I should have done this much, much earlier.


Eye strain/fatigue has been greatly reduced.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the kind words Seth...and yes I do agree with you that bias lighting adds several dimensions to the viewing environment....but you already know what those additions are, don't you?
 

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The Philips 42" LCD has an automatic, adaptive bias lighting that they call "Ambilight".


The nice feature of the Philips is that the TV changes the bias lighting, depending on what image is showing on the screen.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by rmcgirr83
Bias Lighting...For a little history, we had purchased in April of 2004 a 42 5uya consumer ED Panasonic plasma....

Added to my list of "Letters I never finished reading"....

AMc
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, a. macree now you can take it off of your list.



Link is here .


Now if your dissin my display we can talk PM if you like.



EDIT: Oooops, we actually purchased it in 2003.
 

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wait, i'm confused, you taped the rope lights to the black plasma frame or on the back of the pdp? like the bare black metal parts?


while i'm happy that you're getting a great picture, arent you afraid of the extra heat generated right next to an already substantial heat source? did you or do you plan on doing anything about that?
 

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Discussion Starter #17

Quote:
Originally posted by Ou8thisSN
wait, i'm confused, you taped the rope lights to the black plasma frame or on the back of the pdp? like the bare black metal parts?


while i'm happy that you're getting a great picture, arent you afraid of the extra heat generated right next to an already substantial heat source? did you or do you plan on doing anything about that?

The rope lights are actually suspended a tad (they don't actually sit on the PDP) by the sticky back cable hangers that are attached on the PDP itself. On the top it is suspend over the vent holes, then just run around the outside edges ultil it is even on both sides. I did feel around when they were on for ~1 hour and it wasn't burning. More warm...like a hot tub.



The heat from the back of the unit was never a problem prior to the rope lights.

Quote:
Originally posted by JuiceRocket
Rich, you've convinced me, I'm on my way to Home Depot this weekend to give that lights you've hooked up a shot.

Juice,


I find it to be a very beneficial thing...and it looks pretty cool also.



Let us know how you like it.

Quote:
Originally posted by agogley
I am wonderng what the difference would like between ideal lume and the rope light.

Although the ideal lume is more $$$ for any of their models, I am sure that there are benefits to be had at that end as well. For instance the ability to change the color filter(s) for one.


I kind of look at it this way. This is not a dedicated Home Theater. It sits in a ~60'x16' room that is only divided by furniture. I get ambiant light already during the day as the sunroom floods the area. At night the only light on is the fish tank which is easy enough to turn off. I have/will have noise out the kazoo from the pumps/filters running on the fish tank and shortly from the hot tub we will be installing that is ~16' from the HT. It's more of a family room area than a dedicated HT.


Does the rope light produce 6500K light? Not likely, then again not sure either. It does a fair job for what I am looking for it to do. Home theater has it's pro and consumer stuff (very similar to the difference between autmotive and marine stuff) yet the consumer stuff generally costs significantly more (again similar to auto vs marine).


We can get into semantics as far as the "benefits" of one over the other, however, I am still strongly biased for an inexpensive solution to a problem. Generally, just throwing money at a situation is not necessarily going to correct that situation.


I'm happy with the results and as Seth said [paraphrase] "Any bias lighting is better than none".


YMMV.


PS the ideal lume's vary from ~$50 upto ~$400 with the plasma one running ~$100 before shipping.
 

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i got an 18" fluorescent fixture at the hardware store for $7. it originally had a uv (blacklite) bulb which i replaced with a 6500k full spectrum bulb for $9 (at the same store).

the fixture slides right between the articulating mount and the plasma.

it puts out very little heat. it's turned on when i power up the pre/pro.

as a finishing touch, i painted the wall flat black. the plasma seems to float in space and the colors are so vibrant, they jump off the screen.

it's the best $20 tweek you can make for a plasma. my $.02.

best,

eric
 

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Bias Lighting is a must


Currently I use the IdeaLume plasma one: it is under $100.00


Prior to that I used the Home Depot rope light: that worked well because I was able to control it with a dimmer: downside is it may not be 6500k


Bottom line is to use some kind of proper backlight: makes a big difference
 
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