Contemplating a projector

Posted:
in Genius Bar edited January 2014
I am seriously thinking about buying a projector instead of a TV. I will be moving out of my house soon and have my own small apartment. I will have to buy a TV, but experimented with a friend's projector and it seems like a good idea. A high resolution, bright picture, compatible with my powerbook, digital cable box, and DVD/Receiver.



I have a few questions though:



1. Am I being really stupid? Am I overlooking something? What's the downside? I understand bulbs burn out and they're expensive to replace, but not that expensive, right?



2. What's the minimum resolution I'd want? I see some projectors with 800 x 600 but then have a maximum of 1028 x 760. What do I need in order for it to run at maximum? Also does it matter if it is HD or not?



3. Would I be able to use my DVD, cable, and powerbook without switching a whole bunch of cables?



4. How many lumens do I really need? Some are as low as 300 while others are 1600. The one I experimented with was 1500 and it was fantastic. Is it a really big difference between 300 and 1600? (I would guess so)



Um I guess these questions may depend on the projector in question, so to help here are two i'm looking at:



Sony VPL-CS2

BenQ DX650 DLP

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    I just wanted to add to this:



    I have a Powerbook Alu 12" 1.33 gHz. What resolutions can it display? Can it display widescreen?
  • Reply 2 of 9
    regreg Posts: 832member
    I am not sure about the current models of projectors but here are my impressions of a friends projector from about 10 years ago. He has a 42" plasma now.

    Cons:

    1. He was always keeping the room semi dark to get a good picture.

    2. The fan seemed to always run which was annoying.

    3. The projector was about 10' into the middle of the room. This meant he also had to have his cables run out there also and it just did not look good.

    4. Not as many inputs as most TV's today. He used a Harman Kardon AVR 55 so he could control other inputs.

    Pros:

    1. Good picture and about 80" BIG.

    2. Great for gatherings.



    I have not seen a 300 lumens unit but I would not go less than 1500.



    For the price of the VPL-CS2 you could get a nice Samsung DLP projection TV.



    reg
  • Reply 3 of 9
    danosaurdanosaur Posts: 258member
    If I buy one it will be on eBay. They're running for about $1000 cdn.



    Thanks for the reply.
  • Reply 4 of 9
    maccrazymaccrazy Posts: 2,658member
    Bulbs only last about 300 hours and cost $600.
  • Reply 5 of 9
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,797member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by MacCrazy

    Bulbs only last about 300 hours and cost $600.



    Making a blanket statement like that isn't helpful. The lifetime of the bulb depends on many different things, including the design of the projector (SIM2 are rather proud of how long their bulbs will last, for example) and the environment in which it is used. Obviously, the cost of replacement will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.





    Quote:

    Originally posted by Danosaur

    I just wanted to add to this:



    I have a Powerbook Alu 12" 1.33 gHz. What resolutions can it display? Can it display widescreen?




    I don't know what the maximum resolution it can output is, but it definitely won't have a problem with the relatively low resolution of a projector. Yes, it can display widescreen.



    These are the things you should bear in mind when choosing a projector:



    ? Look for native 16:9 resolution, with a minimum of 854 x 480 resolution. The highest native resolution available at the moment is 1280 x 720, but 1920 x 1080 DLP devices are due imminently. I would suspect, however, that even 1280 x 720 is out of your price range.



    ? Look for a DVI or HDMI input.



    ? DLP is, on the whole, superior to LCD.



    ? How long will the bulb last? How much does it cost to replace?



    ? ThemeScene, ScreenPlay and SIM2 make the best projectors.



    ? A proper screen will give you much, much better images than projecting on to a wall. Obviously, if funds are tight, you can start with just a wall, and save up for a proper screen.



    ? How loud is the fan?



    ? Long throw ratio or short throw ratio? Simply put, short throw ratio projectors do not have to be too far away from the screen to provide a large image, at the expense of some (hardly noticeable) image distortion.



    ? Projectors are slightly less practical than rear-projection or plasma/lcd flat screens, to get the best images you will need to close the curtains. Of course, you can turn the brightness up, but that will decrease the lifetime of the bulb.



    ? Personally, I prefer projectors over flat screens, because IMHO, the larger image size and superior image quality (if you get a decent projector, that is) outweigh the practicality issues.



    ? High brightness DOES NOT equate to high picture quality.



    ? Personally, I would never buy a projector or flat screen without seeing it in action first. Some devices are very poor indeed and could disappoint. When auditioning screens, pick something with lots of dark scenes (e.g. nightime) to check out the contrast levels (can you see any detail in the blacks without turning up the brightness so much they end up looking grey?) and something else with fast movement, and a third scene with lots of red and orange. These three areas are things that projectors/flat screens can have problems with.



    That's everything I can think of at the moment.
  • Reply 6 of 9
    maccrazymaccrazy Posts: 2,658member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Mr. H

    Making a blanket statement like that isn't helpful. The lifetime of the bulb depends on many different things, including the design of the projector (SIM2 are rather proud of how long their bulbs will last, for example) and the environment in which it is used. Obviously, the cost of replacement will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.



    It's an average from the limited research I have undertook.
  • Reply 7 of 9
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,797member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by MacCrazy

    It's an average from the limited research I have undertook.



    Well, your post did raise the issue of bulb lifetime, which is important to investigate. 300 hours is very poor lifetime, though. SIM2 quote a lamp life of 6000 hours for their Domino 18 projector (see page 24), for example.
  • Reply 8 of 9
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    My neighbor has a projector which cost him around 1200e, the same price than my 24" HD computer monitor bought at the same time. The projector is over DVD resolution, but how much, I have no idea. He runs it from a cheap Windows laptop and VGA. It's far, far superior to a regular TV in watching movies, and the immersion in some kind of console games is better. Of course you wouldn't generally want to watch TV from the projector. I thought it interesting that the projector shows even bad picture sources tolerably, whereas my screen shows an ugly picture with a bad source.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    Don't worry about the lumen rating of the projector. All projectors require a dark room to work (or else the black parts of the screen turn gray or white), and my 200 lumen CRT projector provides a bright nice 120" image in a dark room.



    My info is a couple of years old on projectors, but from best to worst 2 years ago:



    CRT: best picture, best blacks, best contrast (200,000:1 or something like that), low light output, physically large (my 8" CRT is 120 lbs and 24"x36" big), you have to converge the 3 colors of image (only once per few years if ceiling mounted, every day if on a floor table).



    D-ILA: film like picture, blacks not quite as good as CRT. One lens, so no convergence needed. Much brighter than CRT.



    DLP: not quite as good as D-ILA, less expensive



    LCD: not quite as good as DLP, blacks the worst of the lot.
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