Projector recommendations?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Anyone have any recommendations on a good projector to use instead of a TV for watching movies from both my DirecTV and from my Mac. I'm kindof new to projectors. Is DLP the best thing to get? Will projectors do widescreen? Thanks.

Comments

  • Reply 2 of 13
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    Over time, yes, DLP will probably be best. It will hold the best color and brightness for the longest.



    http://www.projectorcentral.com has a lot of good information about projectors.



    I'd recommend that you buy one that is capable of widescreen -- they are available -- and at least 720p resolution. Don't discount the importance of brightness or quietness in a home theater setup. Both will improve your experience significantly. Also, be sure to buy one with DVI or HDMI in to get the best signal to the projector.



    Finally, be sure to get a good screen. It can improve the brightness, sharpness, and color quality of the image. Lots of people just project onto a white wall, but that's not going to get you anywhere near the best picture quality.



    Enjoy!
  • Reply 3 of 13
    Don't know if this is helpful at all, but maybe an avenue to think about. Three years ago I got an InFocus LP770 (2000 lumens, 1080i capable) for $400 when it was originally over $10,000. I got it from a dot com that went out of business. It was hardly used and has been sweet for backyard drive-in nights.



    Just offering my story because even though it's not the most advanced technology, getting a used high end projector has been fantastic.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    Projectors are useless except when used in dark rooms, because as soon as you light up the room a bit the blacks turn to grays on the screens (and to whites if you have enough light in the room). It does this regardless of the brightness of the projector.



    If you have the room, a 2nd hand CRT projector and a ceiling mount is your best bet. I bought an Electrohome Marquee 8500LC on Ebay for $1400 (+ $500 to buy the ceiling mount and pay carpenters to mount it) and I project it onto a 120" screen in a dark room - it is awesome. It is 600 lumens peak - which is very little but still plenty bright, so you can safely ignore any talk of projector brightness. The 7" CRT (Electrohome 3500) that I had before was not bright enough, but I can even have light streaming in one door with the 8" 8500 - and the 9" 9500 is ideal (but expensive - maybe $3K to $5K).



    A CRT projector will get you the best blacks, highest contrast ratio, and most filmlike presentation. No other projector technology comes close - from best to worst: CRT - DILA - DLP - LCD. The downsides of CRT are weight (mine is 120lbs), size (24" x36" x 18"), and the need to converge the 3 colors of lens every year or so (which on mine is pretty easy).



    If you want to use it with a computer, you just hook up the VGA with a VGA to BNC cable, but if you want to use a DVD player you need a line quadrupler to go with it. I currently use a quadscan elite, which sells used for about $300 - and I am upgrading in two weeks to a $2000 DVDO VP-30.
  • Reply 5 of 13
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    Projectors are useless except when used in dark rooms, because as soon as you light up the room a bit the blacks turn to grays on the screens (and to whites if you have enough light in the room). It does this regardless of the brightness of the projector.



    Normally yes, but what if you had a screen that cancels out ambient light? Sony has also developed something similar to this in their ChromaVue line, though it's developed to work best with a specific Sony projector.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by CosmoNut

    Normally yes, but what if you had a screen that cancels out ambient light? Sony has also developed something similar to this in their ChromaVue line, though it's developed to work best with a specific Sony projector.



    The Sony screen was at last CES as well - I heard that it is $5K for a 42" screen, not exactly cost effective. If it went down in price, then I might consider one, but right now it costs more than my whole video system did.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    Projectors are useless except when used in dark rooms, because as soon as you light up the room a bit the blacks turn to grays on the screens (and to whites if you have enough light in the room). It does this regardless of the brightness of the projector.



    If you have the room, a 2nd hand CRT projector and a ceiling mount is your best bet. I bought an Electrohome Marquee 8500LC on Ebay for $1400 (+ $500 to buy the ceiling mount and pay carpenters to mount it) and I project it onto a 120" screen in a dark room - it is awesome. It is 600 lumens peak - which is very little but still plenty bright, so you can safely ignore any talk of projector brightness. The 7" CRT (Electrohome 3500) that I had before was not bright enough, but I can even have light streaming in one door with the 8" 8500 - and the 9" 9500 is ideal (but expensive - maybe $3K to $5K).



    A CRT projector will get you the best blacks, highest contrast ratio, and most filmlike presentation. No other projector technology comes close - from best to worst: CRT - DILA - DLP - LCD. The downsides of CRT are weight (mine is 120lbs), size (24" x36" x 18"), and the need to converge the 3 colors of lens every year or so (which on mine is pretty easy).



    If you want to use it with a computer, you just hook up the VGA with a VGA to BNC cable, but if you want to use a DVD player you need a line quadrupler to go with it. I currently use a quadscan elite, which sells used for about $300 - and I am upgrading in two weeks to a $2000 DVDO VP-30.




    To my eyes projectors utilizing the latest TI "dark metal" DLP chips are quite competitive with CRT, and given the huge wins in convenience, cost, size, weight and digital connectivity I can't imagine going with a CRT at this point.



    Typical DLP home cinema projectors generally put out around 1000 lumens, bright enough to punch up the whites without compromising blacks. With a hight contrast screen, these models can deliver something like 5000:1 contrast ratio, a massive improvement over earlier fixed pixel displays. Check out models from NEC, Marantz, Sharp and InFocus.



    But be sure to take a look at the latest crop of LCD projectors, which have made amazing gains over the last few years in order to stay competitive with DLP, and are just now delivering performance very competitive with DLP at a lower price point.



    For instance, the new Sanyo PLv-Z4- is a real comer and has some great features, such as a manual iris for stopping down the brightness for the best contrast when viewing in a totally dark room.



    Also take a look at some of the brighter "corporate" type projectors. Even without the velvety blacks, there is something to be said for a projector that can pump out 3000 lumens, particularly as a "television replacement". It's true that blacks look greyish with much ambient light, but a very bright projector can give the illusion of deeper blacks by making the whites so nice and radiant. Plus, you can use such a projector a lot more "casually" than a home theater type, since you don't have to draw the shades or turn out the lights.



    Finally, be a little cautious about "wide (16X9) screen" models. Some of the less expensive ones just lop off the top and bottom a 4X3 imaging chip in order to not have "black bars", which means you would be better off with a standard aspect ratio model that would use all the available pixels for 4X3 material and a good masking screen for 16X9 stuff.



    And don't forget that projector bulbs cost around $400 to replace and last in the neighborhood of 2000 hrs.
  • Reply 8 of 13
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by addabox

    To my eyes projectors utilizing the latest TI "dark metal" DLP chips are quite competitive with CRT



    Interesting - I will check them out. I looked for an HDTV version and could not find one, does the new chip go past 1280x1024? If not, then that would be another advantage of a CRT projector, the ability to support 720p/1080i with an 8" CRT, and 1080P with a 9" CRT. CRT bulbs also last longer - 15000 hours, but you basically throw the unit away at that point because it is cheaper to get a new whole unit on ebay.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    Interesting - I will check them out. I looked for an HDTV version and could not find one, does the new chip go past 1280x1024? If not, then that would be another advantage of a CRT projector, the ability to support 720p/1080i with an 8" CRT, and 1080P with a 9" CRT. CRT bulbs also last longer - 15000 hours, but you basically throw the unit away at that point because it is cheaper to get a new whole unit on ebay.



    I've heard rumors but the current crop are optimized for 720p, so for sure CRTs still have the res advantage. Still, given what we've seen of what's likely to be available content wise, that will probably suffice for the time being.



    I should probably make clear that I absolutely get where you're coming about the look of CRT, there really isn't anything prettier; and up to a few years ago there was no contest.



    But you know how it goes: CRTs are a stationary target and DLP/LCD has been getting better by leaps and bounds, so it's only a matter of time. There's some really interesting tech that involves "active dynamic range control" that squeezes every bit of black out of the picture with things like variable iris and frame by frame processing (for instance, that Sanyo I mentioned claims 7000:1 contrast ratio, which I find a little unlikely, but still...).



    To date the very finest projected image I have seen was a DILA projector taking a feed from a Faroudja DVD player/scaler/processor which maintained the digital path all the way from laser pick-up to the imager and it was absolutely stunning. I assumed I was seeing an HD source and was dumbfounded to learn I was looking at a standard NTSC DVD.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by addabox



    To date the very finest projected image I have seen was a DILA projector taking a feed from a Faroudja DVD player/scaler/processor which maintained the digital path all the way from laser pick-up to the imager and it was absolutely stunning. I assumed I was seeing an HD source and was dumbfounded to learn I was looking at a standard NTSC DVD.




    The finest picture I have seen was a japaneese analog HDTV nature recording, played over a Vidikron 9" CRT - it looked like real life, except for the ocasional overbloom, but it was through 250K of equipment.



    DLP not only needs to catch CRT, but it needs to go a few years beyond to get the cost down. Even if there is a HDTV DLP projector that can beat an electrohome 8500, I doubt that you can get it for $1000 on ebay like you can a CRT.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    The finest picture I have seen was a japaneese analog HDTV nature recording, played over a Vidikron 9" CRT - it looked like real life, except for the ocasional overbloom, but it was through 250K of equipment.



    DLP not only needs to catch CRT, but it needs to go a few years beyond to get the cost down. Even if there is a HDTV DLP projector that can beat an electrohome 8500, I doubt that you can get it for $1000 on ebay like you can a CRT.




    True, but DLP (or whatever else might be on the horizon) is developing so quickly. After all, there wouldn't have been any point in even pretending to make the comparison just a few years ago, and now it's possible to say that DLP is "competitive" with CRT if not 100% there.



    Sharp has a new DLP for $1100 that just looks great (as does InFocus). Maybe a CRT side by side would reveal some subtle differences in black depth and all over "naturalness", but nothing glaring, I assure you. And don't underestimate the advantages of a digital signal path-- hooking up one of these to, say, a Bravo D2 DVD player through the up-sampled DVI output is a revelation.



    And, there's a reason you can pick up CRT projectors for cheap on Ebay-- many people are willing to forgo that last bit of "sweet" for a huge helping of "quiet, little, easy to set up, and light" (not to mention the light output drop-off over the life of the tubes).



    I figure one more iteration of the TI 16x9 chip, with more res and further contrast improvements, another round of prices drops (which happen every few minutes, as far as I can make out) and even you , Mr. #s, will be won over to the dark side .
  • Reply 12 of 13
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by addabox

    I figure one more iteration of the TI 16x9 chip, with more res and further contrast improvements, another round of prices drops (which happen every few minutes, as far as I can make out) and even you , Mr. #s, will be won over to the dark side



    Actually, the thing that will probably tip me to a new-style projector is HDCP. Once I can't do something because of HDCP, I will either have to buy a chineese HDCP stripping box, or else go to a HDCP compatible projector.



    It will all depend on my video scaler - right now it passes HDCP encoded signals through with no processing. If this continues to be the case, then the stripping box will be required (not just for me, but for everyone who wants to scale their video up). If the HDCP folks relax their standards, and let video scalers do the HDCP decoding, then I have more options.
  • Reply 13 of 13


    But I think DLP changes so quickly,not enough smooth!


     


     


     


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    mini projector

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