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Things to look for:
- Input, make sure you can plug stuff in
- Remote, mounting these on a ceiling or mantle is great
- Lumens: Dont go below 800. Higher the better, fewer windows and lights that have to be off
- Native resolution. Bigger screen size doesnt mean high pixel count...
Costs to consider:
- Bulbs. Projector bulbs run as high as $100. They generally last 1000-2000 hrs though
- Power: These bulbs are alot of watts. Running a projector isn't free.
Nevertheless, I've got my projector hooked up to my xBox which I plan to hack very very soon and install linux on. It plays movies, TV, and games very nicely. Quite fun honestly if you have the setup for it.
I bought a Infocus X2 about 4 months. Built a HTPC (just a computer for the front room) and bought some Logitech 5.1 speakers. The X2 is terrible if you want to hook up to the composite in or s-video in, but if you hook it directly to a computer and never use the composite or s-video inputs you will find it a much better deal. I bought a $35 DVI cable for the unit so I could hook it directly to my radeon 9800. I just watch movies and tv through my computer. The clarity is unbelievable. There is no bleed over of colors or anything like that, every pixel is perfect. Projectors, especially lower priced ones, don't do blacks very well, but you will forget all about it when your watching a movie on a 100" screen in your front room. I play doom 3, farcry, hl2, and whatever. It is a incredible investment.
Paid $1000 for the projector, $250 for the 100" Draper screen and $140 for the speakers. Now I watch movies in either Dobly Digital ES or DTS on a 100" screen with a crystal clear digital image, no analog in the loop. Now go down to your local tv shop and look at a 42" $3,500 plasma or $3,000 65" RP-CRT and laugh.
Dont forget projectors weigh almost nothing, mine weighs 6 pounds. The 65" mitsubishi I was looking at weighed 400 pounds. Try dusting under that.
How did you mount the projector, twist?
I bought a $80 audio rack from a store and set it on the second to bottom rack. Nothing special. I live in a apartment so ceiling mounting is out of the question but they do sell a ceiling mount, which would be very cool, for about $180 I think.
Assuming Draper being the manufacturer -- did you purchase direct or through a distributor?
I bought my screen through a big name online shop. My suggestion about getting a screen, if you go with a X2, would be to get a high-contrast grey screen. I had no idea how bright the X2 was going to be so I bought a white screen. Using a grey screen will give you darker blacks while losing a little brightness. LCD projectors tend to output less light so if you get a LCD I would suggest a white screen.
Just for reference, you should buy a projector first and get a screen later. I watched mine on just a painted white wall for months before deciding on what screen to get. The bigger your screen the less bright it will be. Depending on how much ambient light is coming into your room you may want to go with a smaller screen, like 80", to make the picture brighter. I wanted to get a 120" (10') screen but my front room is only 18' long and it was a little too big for such a small room. I mounted my retractable screen over my front window, so when I want to watch it I just pull it down and cut off most of the ambient light anyway.
I spent months on the avsforum asking questions before making all my decisions. Some things you might want to know. Fan noise can be a problem, the brighter the projector, most likely, the louder the fan. My X2 is somewhat loud but no louder than the HTPC, I am used to listening to fan hum, being around computers all the time. I think people who get projectors that haven't used computer tend to be put off by the fan noise.
Also want to point out that I bought a bottom of the line $1000 projector and am completely blown away by the picture quality. Watching movies on a rear projector has advantages that people tend not to think about. For example, unlike a regular TV your looking at a reflection of light, as opposed to light being shined into your face. It is much easier on the eyes to watch. There is also zero glare and you can watch from pretty much any angle. The X2 is DLP and doesn't have any of the burn in problems that RP-CRT's and Plasmas have. Bulbs last about 4000 hours, about the same time most TV's start losing their luster, difference is you can just buy a new bulb and it's like you just bought a brand new projector.
Also wanted to mention 'the rainbow effect' on DLP projectors because no doubt you will hear about this. If you are looking for it you will see it but once I bought the DVI cable I didn't even notice it anymore. I am the only one of anybody that has seen my projector that has noticed the rainbow effect, when I tell them they have no idea what I am even talking about. So don't be to put off by people complaining about the rainbow effect.
But please don't just listen to me, lots of kinds of projectors and people have many different preferences. The biggest thing people hate about the X2 is that unlike the X1 it doesn't have a faroudja chip which helps make signals coming through composite and s-video look much better, but I never use those inputs so I had no reason to get a projector with that chip.
Funny you should mention that. All rear projection units in shops and superstores tend to be in a dark corner of the showroom
Same reason they don't have drive-in movies during the day. Seriously though, some of the new projectors are very bright. I can watch tv and stuff during the day without a problem but to get the full effect I have to weight for the sun to go down or a cloudy day. A grey screen also helps control ambient light. The white screens reflect all light, not just the projectors light. Getting a grey screen helps cut down on ambient light because it tends to focus more on the light being shined directly on it.
Projectors aren't perfect, but when you compare the pro's and con's of all the different types of products the decision becomes quite easy.
1) without doubt, have the best picture quality
1) They have three bulbs that only last around 3,000 hours
2) The images tend to get misalinged over time
3) You have to sit directly in front to get a good picture
4) Not good with too much ambient light
6) Analog, not desinged to hook to a computer
7) Weigh up to 400 pounds to get even a measly 65" screen
8) Burn in
1) They crank up the brightness & contrast in the stores to simulate a bright picture which in no way reflects daily usage
1) Screens start to burn out around 6,000 hours, garbage after burn-out
2) Cost waaay too much
3) Heavy and generate a ton of heat
4) Burn in
1) High resolution
2) No burn in
3) Most are computer ready
1) Screen sizes are too small for the price
2) Terrible blacks for the price you pay
If I hadn't got a projector I would probably have picked a LCD TV but I probably wouldn't have gotten one of those either because I couldn't justify paying $3,000 for a 40" television.
I suppose I belong to the old school of "why fix something that's not broken?"
But, I can see why so many others get LCDs/RPs/Plasmas/ Phaser-power-multi-dimensional-extra-dolbyz(TM -supacolour (TM)-megaquality (TM)- hyper-performance (TM) - with autocorrecting colour balancing processing (TM), 200 Hz visuals, 2000 watts RMS sounds - I hear that these can sometimes pick up signals from alien lifeforms not yet discovered. :)
AsleepATheWheel, hope you don't feel I'm hijacking the thread here, trying to keep things on topic and push it a bit further...
What about connectors? I mean, we've covered the DVI interface to the computer, but what type of connection works best in terms of audio/video for component connections and tuners? My understanding is that the quality in terms of best to worse is as follows:
1. DVI (digital) HDMI (digital)
2. VGA (best analog)
3. Component cables (have a RGB wire)
4. S-Video cable (funky big wire)
5. Composite cable (just one yellow wire)
If you plan on hooking a S-Video or Composite cables to a projector make sure the projector has a good faroudja processor otherwise it will be a terrible picture.
As for audio, projectors sometimes have little built in speakers for presentations but you wouldn't use it for anything else, so you would have to add a seperate audio device. I just hook my projector to my computer and computer to the self-powered logitechs plugged into my audigy 2. I just use WinDVD to watch movies which gives me DTS and DD ES 5.1 sound.
Must warn you that if you plan on watching regular non-hdtv signals on the projector be ready to become less than impressed. Blowing up a low quality picture to a huge size can create a really poor picture. DVD's, computers, and high-definition sources look great though.
I just bought a TV and, you know what, I bought a boring old traditional 36" CRT.
Lol, that was my last TV, a 36" Panasonic from sears. Got a speaker to close to the side and got purple discoloration in the corner that never went away, after my first week of having it. After about 3 years the picture became fuzzy and dark and it would have squiggly lines across the top as it would warm up. Paid $650 for it back then plus $100 to have it shipped to my house. Weighed 75 pounds and I never did dust underneath it.