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Sorry for the totally ignorant question, but I'm a high-end audio guy and am pretty video-challenged, but: My wife and I have been thinking about putting together a modest home theater system, and have been looking seriously at getting a plasma monitor to use as the display device. Was in a local home theater retailer/custom installer today looking at Fujitsu plasmas and in-wall speakers, and got a brief demo of a front projection system that was pretty impressive. I looked around on this forum and realized that there are some decent projectors out there for around $2K. With a DIY screen, I was thinking that I could put together the video end of the system for less than a king's ransom. The question (finally!) is what are the advantages (other than image size) of a front projection system? Are they acceptable for general TV watching? Can you display HD signals? What are the general pros/cons of DLP projectors vs. LCD projectors vs. CRT projectors? Ok, had more than one question, but any help would be most appreciated .

:)
 

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please take the time to do some research and view some projectors. You will find that a properly set up projection system absolultely kills ANY plasma.


Of course size has a great deal to do with immersing yourself into the content, but frankly there's a big difference between a bright TV(plasma) and a home theater(projection).
 

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Quote:
....advantages (other than image size) of a front projection system? Are they acceptable for general TV watching? Can you display HD signals? What are the general pros/cons of DLP projectors vs. LCD projectors vs. CRT projectors?
Advantages of FPTV vs. Plasma: 1) Much bigger size, 2) Cheaper upfront cost (PJ can cost as little as $900 but PJ bulb costs can be $200-$500 per 1000-6000 hrs), 3) Aesthetics (Massive PJ screen with curtains can give your HT that cool look), 4) Burn-in (no chance with digital PJ, CRT PJs and plasmas of course can burn-in), 5) PQ (a good PJ can beat plasma at reasonable seating distances of >12 feet)


Disadvantages of FPTV include 1) Brightness (plasma will be brighter, PJ can approach this with very high gain screen like the Silverstar or curved Torus-type screens but usually requires darkened room), 2) PQ at closer distances (plasma will look better close-up), 3) Cool factor (nothing like a massive plasma on the wall to show how rich you are), 4) Noise (most plasma will be quieter), 5) Heat (many PJ can heat up your HT), 6) Cheaper long-term operating cost (5-10 year life of plasmas with no bulb to change), 7) Size (CRT PJ can be 200# and roof-rack size and digital PJ can be 6"X8" and 3#).


Equal factors for both: 1) May need external TV tuner (some plasma may have TV tuner built-in) and can be used for regular TV watching (bulb cost may limit PJ to movies or special occasions only depending on your wallet), 2) Will need HDTV tuner separately to display HDTV, 3) May need external scaler (some plasma or PJ may have decent scalers but most don't), 4) May need light control (plasma does not need it as much as PJ), 5) Works fine with Home Theater PC which can do regular TV, HDTV, TIVO, DVD, audio, and excellent scaling in one package (can add challenges to noise, heat, and aesthetics), 6) Suffer from dead pixels (LCD has 3 RGB panels so triple the chances).


DLP: Digital Light Processing, LCD: Liquid Crystal Display, CRT: Cathode Ray Tubes. DLP and LCD both are bulb-based, digital PJ. CRT has Red, Greed, and Blue tubes projecting individual colors superimposed on the screen (thus convergence is key and may require intermittent or even frequent tweaking).


Used CRT is cheaper upfront (new ones can still be very pricey) and cheaper to operate but requires more setup, tweaking, and maintenance. It is also much larger, noisier, and heavier. It is however considered to be the best PQ although newer pricey digitals can match it). CRT is not as bright so tend to need more light control. CRT needs external doubler/tripler/quadrupler/scaling where as all digitals have built-in scaling (quality varies between models and brands).


Digitals are lighter, brighter, quieter, easier to operate. Bulb costs of PJ needs to be factored in. Replacement issues of CRT parts must be considered as it is a dying breed. Most PJs (CRT or digital) can be mounted on the floor or on the ceiling with the latter preferable for seating space. Both PJ technologies can display HDTV or other video signals. Some data PJ may not support HDTV so you better check. Digitals can have dead pixels and dust blobs (LCD has triple the risks of DLP). DLP has better blacks and contrast while LCD has better colors (the 2 technologies are improving quickly and the higher models can be very close). DLP can have color separation artifacts (rainbow effects) for 10-20% of people while LCD can have banding artifacts on solid color scenes. Digitals come in 4:3 or 16:9 chips which may display black (actually dark gray) bars differently for widescreen movies vs. Pan and Scam images.


Thus, there are advantages and disadvantages of each technologies. Only you can prioritize which is most important. For me, I went with a modded NEC LT150 DLP XGA FP PJ for $2000 (2 years ago) in a homemade hushbox, AVT-3750 (external scaler for $400 for routine watching), HTPC ($600--home assembled for critical watching), JVC SVHS VCR for TV tuning and VHS, Daewoo 5700 480i component, MV free, region free DVD player (one of 11 DVD players in the house :D), and Dalite Model B Video Spectra 96"X96" (pulled down and masked with black curtains and felt to 96"X54" image) in a dark basement. I chose this combo for size (96" wide), economy, convenience, decent PQ, little noise, and overall fits my needs. I only use my HT for nightly movies and special TV viewing. Regular viewing is with the 60" Sony RPTV upstairs. Good luck with your quest.
 

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...a decent plasma IS a king's ransom. The best I have seen run 10K and above and cap at 50". The cheaper ones that go for about $3000 can't even hold a candle to my CRT direct view. The 60" plasma I saw going for 20K was deplorable.

A very decent pj (X1) can be purchased for under 1K. Others not much more. Outstanding units go for well under 5K (HT1000).


Price aside, when the dust settles, it's size. One is a cinematic theater experience the other is TV.
 

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As Huey had mentioned in part of his post (excellent run-down, BTW) the main factor for me was light conditions during viewing. Unless you are going to be in a darkened room every time you watch something, image quality will suffer with a FP -- it IS a true 'theatre experience'. Do they leave the lights on in the movie theatre? No. If you are a real movie buff and shy away from the 500 channels of crap that the cable people put out nowadays and don't neccessarily watch standard broadcast material, then go for it. Having 4 or 5 friends over to watch a movie on a 96" screen is just as impressive as having them come over and watch it on a 42" plasma. Keep in mind that the technology is still evolving and not many people have either in thier homes. Any way you go, they'll be impressed -- and so will you. It's a matter of personal preference...just my .02
 

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If you use a really big screen, the front-projectors would be really bad for normal TV viewing. For one thing, if your casual viewing includes more getting up and walking around to do other stuff at the same time, you'd end up right in your own projector's light path each time, and this is more likely the bigger your screen is. Second, either the huge size of your normal TV screen will bug you, or your movies won't seem so big anymore by comparison, unless you can somehow get the projector to project a narrower image for normal TV viewing... and then that would either be up at the ceiling where it looks weird, or be down low where you again find yourself walking in front of it.


The question of which ones have the best picture quality deserves some revisiting; it's not necessarily a matter of one being just plain better than another. It can depend on what aspect of the picture you're most sensetive to. I, for example, am rather intolerant of imperfect convergence; objects having an aura of one color at one edge and another color at the other edge drive me bonkers, like trying to wear someone else's glasses that were meant to correct an astigmatism I don't have by creating an opposite one to cancel it out. And I don't think I've seen a color (not B&W) CRT-based display that doesn't have imperfect convergence, not even a single-tube direct-view, nevermind multi-tube projectors with the three separate images that are hoped to overlap correctly but practically can't. But I keep hearing about LCDs (and also DLPs) looking too pale or not having enough contrast, and I don't see what the big deal is there in my experience. They seem fine to me, and CRTs can be fine too, or sometimes can be adjusted with TOO MUCH contrast. Well, yipty-doo, a display that gives you the option of running the contrast ridiculously high. Thrilling.


As you can see, I expect to buy an LCD soon, and don't expect to ever buy another CRT-based display. Someone with other sensetivities would make different decisions.


Plasmas have lower pixel counts than projectors. In an objective, mathematical sense, that means they have less image resolution/clarity/definition/whatever. Plasma fans say it doesn't matter and they look more "alive" or "lifelike" anyway. If by that they mean that the colors seems to ooze and squish across the screen like slime-mold fungi in their migrating stage, I agree. :D But my opinion doesn't change theirs, that the plasma image quality is improved by whatever this thing is they're talking about (which I've never seen really "defined") that makes the image subjectively seem more vivid or real to them.


A note of caution about DLPs... One of the complaints about them is that some people see something called "rainbow" effects that give them headaches or eye-aches. Actual discomfort is different from mere imperfect image quality, and it's not something that I would take any chance of doing to any guest, even if I turn out to be one of those who don't notice it at all myself. So, no DLP-based systems for me until they straighten out the technology enough for that not to happen.
 

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In my opinion, a front projector really shines in instances where you can dedicate a room with all the accoutrement's including a method of controlling lighting conditions. If by indicating your intentions to put together a "modest home theater system" you are indicating a desire to provide a multipurpose room with an HT like capability using a relatively large 16:9 display device, then I think that you will be much happier with a plasma display. Especially if you intend using the display as part of a "does it all" kind of a system.


The better plasma displays are simply outstanding all around display devices especially for someone that wants the display device to reside in the den, family room or general purpose part of the home.


If in fact you are willing to dedicate a room to this "modest home theater" and are willing to equip it properly, then the front projector becomes a much more attractive alternative. In my opinion, in order to really be happy with FP, you will have to control lighting conditions in the room, have enough head room so that you don't stand up and block the screen from the projector, enough space between you and the projector so that you are not distracted by the noise or the heat. Noise and heat are not excessive with the contemporary FP but if it is right on top of you, you will likely notice both. If you can equip the room properly, then the ability to appreciate the image quality and size of FP becomes hard to ignore.
 

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There is some great input here. I'd like to throw out MHO. I own a Front Projector, a HD LCD TV and an ED Plasma. There isn't a one size fits all answer to your question. For watching Movies or Sports, the FP wins hands down. For more casual viewing, the Plasma wins hands down. You need to decide what you plan to watch from both a content and frequency perspective. As far as the cool factor is concerned, I get a lot more oooos and aaaas from the Theater than the Plasma. They're cool, they have a great picture but at the end of the day they're just a TV. Size matters!


Bomber
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Tryg
please take the time to do some research and view some projectors. You will find that a properly set up projection system absolultely kills ANY plasma.
Tryg,

I looked at your screen shots in your review of various screens. I am assuming that those pics are from your properly set up PJ. I wanted to see some evidence supporting your statement that PJs kill plasma. Frankly, I am disappointed. All pics look very soft, washed out and do not give me this realistic "window-like" effect that I expect from a decent display these days. To kill any plasma they must look much better in reality. But do they?


Andrzej
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Huey
3) Cool factor (nothing like a massive plasma on the wall to show how rich you are)
Huey,

I like your list of advantages and disadvantages of various display technologies. But the one that I quote above is both ridiculous and offensive to most plasma owners. You are implying that "showing how rich you are" is important for people who buy plasma displays. What makes you think so?


Andrzej
 

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There is "picture quality" and there is "viewing experience."


A 32" tube set/ 42" plasma/ 50" DLP/53" CRT RPTV/ and a Front Projector can all give excellent picture quality, but obviously the viewing experience will be different. That would seem to be obvious, but I'm amazed how many comparisons between Front Projectors and Plasmas have people asking "which gives better picture quality?" When they really need to know what kind of viewing experience they are trying to create.


If you want to recreate the feeling of seeing projected film, and the whole "my house feels like a movie theater" vibe, nothing would do it like a Front Projector set-up. I also find a good Front Projector offers some of the smoothest, least artifacty images you can get (not to mention the amazing detail and immersiveness of the image).


I myself ended up going with a plasma, after looking at everything out there (including some modest Front Projectors). I just found myself smitten by the look of films on plasma. I found that, for me, bigger wasn't always better, with many projectors giving me a looking-at-blown-up-video vibe, sort of like being at one of those shoe-box cineplex's...aping the film experience but falling short of it. Whereas plasma just took a different direction in the sense of imparting a realism and vibrancy to my favorite films that I'd never seen before. One pal of mine has an LCD front projector. It's a big image, detailed, but I sure wouldn't take it over my plasma. I go over to his house for a movie and appreciate the size of the image; he comes to mine and appreciates the realism of the image. Of course, I'd LOVE to have one of the newer DLP projectors coming out, or a great CRT projector.


Delvo wrote: "Plasma fans say it doesn't matter and they look more "alive" or "lifelike" anyway. If by that they mean that the colors seems to ooze and squish across the screen like slime-mold fungi in their migrating stage, I agree. "


Colors "oozing and squishing across the screen" is not some sort of effect tied to plasma technology, and does not occur in a good plasma properly calibrated. It certainly does not appear in my plasma. I'd say this "oozing and squishing" is less a matter of opinion, and more likely

an indication you have not seen a good plasma properly displayed.

"that the plasma image quality is improved by whatever this thing is they're talking about (which I've never seen really "defined") that makes the image subjectively seem more vivid or real to them."


Delvo I'll try and help you out :) When you go to a movie in the theater, do you have a feeling that the images in front of you look perfectly solid, like you can reach out and touch them? Or does not the image have a somewhat "see through" or "light passing through a film strip" or "image projected on a screen" quality?" Of course they do: that's what projected film looks like.


In contrast, as opposed to projected or reflected images, displays that emit light directly ("emissive" displays like plasmas/tube sets), appear more intense, more vivid. There is no feeling of a reflected quality to the image because, of course, it isn't being reflected - it's a direct light source. This gives the emissive technologies the density and strength of light to more closely replicate the solid nature of real objects. Recently I watched HD images on a very nice Sony CRT RPTV. They looked GREAT, in a big, smooth film-like way. But those same images on a nearby Fujitsu 50" plasma looked more "there," like images placed behind the glass. Metal objects looked like I could reach in and polish them. In comparison, the Sony looked like images being projected on film: smooth, but relatively lifeless and less solid.


Hope that helps.
 

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So this is a great thread.


I own a projector and will eventually have a plasma to complement it.


My $1200 projector -- for what it's worth -- has more pixels than a $3000 plasma, has a resolution that allows for brain-dead easy scaling of HD, and can put up a high quality image of 60-80" with good source material.


That's why it is better than a plasma.


But it is useless during the day, has some fairly serious screendoor if you are too close, has already lost a lamp/bulb at 600 hrs., is useless during the day, has less good blacks *and* less good contrast than a plasma (although both are adequate), and -- finally -- is useless during the day.


Mark
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by R Harkness
There is "picture quality" and there is "viewing experience."




Delvo I'll try and help you out :) When you go to a movie in the theater, do you have a feeling that the images in front of you look perfectly solid, like you can reach out and touch them? Or does not the image have a somewhat "see through" or "light passing through a film strip" or "image projected on a screen" quality?" Of course they do: that's what projected film looks like.


In contrast, as opposed to projected or reflected images, displays that emit light directly ("emissive" displays like plasmas/tube sets), appear more intense, more vivid. There is no feeling of a reflected quality to the image because, of course, it isn't being reflected - it's a direct light source. This gives the emissive technologies the density and strength of light to more closely replicate the solid nature of real objects. Recently I watched HD images on a very nice Sony CRT RPTV. They looked GREAT, in a big, smooth film-like way. But those same images on a nearby Fujitsu 50" plasma looked more "there," like images placed behind the glass. Metal objects looked like I could reach in and polish them. In comparison, the Sony looked like images being projected on film: smooth, but relatively lifeless and less solid.


Hope that helps.
Hmm. Isn't practically everything we see in the real world the result of reflected not "emissive" light unless we're looking directly at a light source?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by quobar
Hmm. Isn't practically everything we see in the real world the result of reflected not "emissive" light unless we're looking directly at a light source?
Depends what you mean by "practically everything". In our case, when you are watching TV on your CRT or plasma display you are looking directly at many sources of light.


Andrzej
 

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"Hmm. Isn't practically everything we see in the real world the result of reflected not "emissive" light unless we're looking directly at a light source?"


Yes, but real, solid objects are being illuminated by that light, as opposed to flat images of those objects being projected as shadows on a wall. Big difference. Real life objects don't have that see-through quality. Emissive displays seem to be able to represent the light intensity and (in a good display) contrast intensity of real life objects. (Perhaps it's possible in a Front Projection system, but practicalities make it rare).


For example: I've noticed since I got my digital camera that when I view my pictures on my CRT computer screen they have a startling vibrancy and realism that is completely unavailable from looking at a printed picture, no matter how sharp and detailed the printed picture. (The printed picture would represent the less lively quality of the images reinterpreted by reflected light).


I just performed an experiment: I snapped a shot of my computer desk top with my digital camera and transferred it to my computer. Then I printed out the photo on a photographic quality printer. I compared the image on paper (non-emissive, the image overlaid on paper being more in line with an image being overlaid on a movie screen), to the version on my computer screen (emissive image). No contest. The printed photo looked like a photo compared to the real objects on my desktop. Whereas the image being emitted from my computer screen looked uncannily like the real life objects on my computer desk, in terms of matching the real life intensity of the real objects. The glint of the real metal objects on my desk are matched almost exactly in perceived luminance value by their on-screen counterparts. So, despite loosing some resolution over the real objects, the emissive images matched the visual impact of real objects that a non-emissive image could not.


Anyway, there you go, fun with geekiness...
 

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since I own and use both. I have a Pioneer PDP 433-CMX (43 inch plasma - approximately $4,000) and a Sony HS-10 projector using a 106 inch screen (approximately $2,800 with screen).


I would agree very much with Rich Harkness' point about viewing experience. The viewing experience is totally different between a 43 inch plasma and a 106 inch projector. Before I compare the two, I will tell you that High Definition TV is fantastic on both the projector and the plasma.


From my experience, the plasma has a much sharper, clearer, brighter, punchier color image with better black levels on both HiDef sources and DVDs. It's also much better to watch if the ambient lighting is bright. Watching HD on a plasma, especially sports events, is like looking through a window - you feel like you are in the game. I would also give the plasma a slight edge in PQ when viewing standard definition TV. The only disadvantage of the plasma is its size.


The projector, on the other hand definitely does have the advantage of size and immersivity. The projector is our preferred DVD display, even though the PQ of the plasma is better because it is just more fun watching a movie on a 106 inch screen - and the PQ of the projector is pretty outstanding in its own right. It is also preferred when we have several friends over when watching football and other sports in HiDef - again because of the size of the image.


And Rogo's comment about viewing the projector in daylight is somewhat true, but in my case the HS-10 is usable if some light control is used - i.e. don't try to watch it in sunlit rooms, but if you have window shades or curtains, the projected picture can be "OK", not great, but OK.
 

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Your view may change if you had a better projector/screen set-up. HD on my Sharp 9000/HCCV screen blows away any Plasma I've seen. I'm not talking about an ED model either.


The fact remains, these are oranges and apples.
 

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From my experience, its best to have both. Plasmas are great for everyday viewing and projectors for movies and HD.

Plasma might cost more up front (though some projectors cost more) but their operating cost is much lower compare to projectors.
 

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Rich,


I like your description of viewing experience and the difference between emmissive and reflective sources.


Just to add some scientific thought:


We see objects in real life through subtractive absorption (from white light) combined with reflection of unabsorbed light.


All printed material (photos....etc) use subtractive absorption (Cyan,Magenta, Yellow)


All emmissive/projection displays use additive color (Red Green Blue)


When you look a FP screen you are looking at the TOTAL reflection from the source so you are still using an additive process. So it is more like a direct view than anything else.


The problem is that the white screen not only reflects but also scatters light (nessassarily of course). This is why photos and projected images lose depth and why emmissive sources look more lifelike.


Now FP right into the retina would be something.........
 
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