Home theater projector musings

Discussion in 'Home Theater and Stereo' started by CJ, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin Top Poster

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    So relative to my question about cabling, I'm shopping for projectors now. I don't know if anyone has been through this recently since people on this forum seem to have relatively static "mature" systems but I thought I'd share my research and thought process.

    Criteria: I wanted an upper entry level (not the bottom of the barrel) LCD or SXRD projector. I haven't seen a 6-segment DLP but I have had issues with rainbows in the past so I decided just to avoid them and LCD seems to have largely caught up. I also wanted lens shift so I can get everything right without using keystone controls. Finally I needed the right throw. I wanted the front of the projector to be somewhere between 15-20ft from the screen and throw a 110-120" 16:9 image. Some projectors cannot go that small from that far back, so that played a roll in options.

    Everything else was subjective based on reading specs and reviews.

    So I ended up narrowing down my choice to three basic models. 1) Sony VPL-HW40ES, 2) Panasonic PT-AE8000, and 3) Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB. At this point I'm leaning very heavily towards the Epson.

    Originally I was looking at the Epson 3500 which is closer to $1700, in line with the Panasonic, which recently got a price drop due to its age. The consensus seems to be that the entry level Epsons are a little more hybrid between ambient light capable light cannon and true HT projector. When you step up the range I'm looking at they're still bright but really more designed for home theater. The 5030 gets high marks for color and black levels with little if any qualification of "for an LCD". In fact, in a shootout with the Sony, which is SXRD, I believe Projector Central viewed them about equal in black level and contrast. And on that note, I ended up ruling out the Sony fairly early. It has some nifty features and SXRD should arguably be a superior technology vs. plain old LCD, but Sony eliminated some features to get down below the historical $3000 price point they've typically been at. One of those features was a variable iris. This means that your global contrast for a film is the same as the projectors overall contrast. With a variable iris, a projector can still only achieve its rated contrast at a given iris setting but over the course of a movie, the contrast can be higher because the iris can close down, producing darker blacks in a dark scene and open up, producing brighter whites in a light scene. Think of it like measuring the overall dynamic range of a song. This fact coupled with high ratings for the non-intrusiveness of the Epson's dynamic iris pretty much eliminated the Sony.

    So the Epson vs. the Panasonic was interesting. Both projectors were originally priced about $2400. The Panasonic was released in 2012 and thus has subsequently been discounted to around $1799. The Epson is a 2013 release and street price is around $220-$2300. So neither is brand spanking new technology but both represent current models (i.e. neither has been replaced by a newer equivalent). Speculation on AVS is that the Panasonic may not be replaced. Panasonic may be exiting the consumer level display market. While that wasn't a deal breaker, knowing that the entire company was not going away, it did bother me a little. That coupled with the fact that the Epson 5030 does get a slight nod in overall PQ in several reviews and I was pretty much settled.

    So I've ordered all the cabling I need, the projector mount, and picked up all of the electrical supplies I need. I also purchased the TV mount to get my Sharp 70" up on to the wall to facilitate the screen dropping down in front of it. The mount will arrive today so tonight I will likely disassemble the entire front stage of my room in order to mount the TV without dropping it on the rest of my equipment as well as the fact that I'm going to have to cut another channel in my drywall to run the projector cables. Once the TV is mounted I will take it back down and set it aside and begin the drywall work and cabling for video and power for the projector and screen. Once the cabling is run I'll order the projector and screen and finish painting etc. while it ships. If all goes well I'm thinking I'll be up and running in 3 weeks. I could probably do two weeks if I ordered the projector now and had it on standby but I don't want either the projector or screen sitting in boxes for a week in case there is any damage I would want to know right after they arrive.
     
  2. Max Yokell

    Max Yokell Well-Known Member Top Poster

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    I was hard pressed to pick between them when they almost the same price. The Epson won my $$ but I suspect it sold have worked out whichever way I went. Brightness is not an issue I keep mine in low light mode and it is still plenty bright.

    I had an SXRD that Mike has now and it was like 6 years old but I will say the LCDS get some screen door effect up close but never at any real seating distance. I have been very happy with mine.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
     
  3. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin Top Poster

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    So Max, do you have the exact model I'm eyeing?
     
  4. Allen

    Allen Active Member

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    That's interesting. I had the predecessor models of both the Sony and Panasonic LCD projectors you're looking at, CJ, when I had my dedicated HT (probably several generations earlier in the case of the Sony, but the Panasonic model number is very close to what I had).
     
  5. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin Top Poster

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    Yep, my buddy like 10 years ago had the Panasonic PT-AE4000 I think. My first projector was a Sony VPL-HS10 Cineza. It wasn't native 768 lines of resolution which drove me nuts due to the fact that everything ended up being scaled regardless. I do think I had a Sanyo after that as someone else remembered for me. Then I had a low end Optima that there is almost no hope of me remembering.
     
  6. Max Yokell

    Max Yokell Well-Known Member Top Poster

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    Yes these are the same exact models I picked from and it was a coin Toss between the two when I made my choice and they were very close to the same price. What I found was the Epson had a very slight advantage in blacks. The only other thing that swayed me had to do with 3d which you have been pretty vocal about your disdain. Just in case, the Epson cones with two pair of UHF 3d glasses and is compatible with most UHF 3d glasses which can be had for had for even less then $30 while the Panasonic. Co.es with no glasses and uses an IR line of sight system. The compatible glasses are tough to find come only from Panasonic and are like $75 or $80. Oddly I found a pair of very nice Panasonic UHF glasses that were compatible with the Epson but not the Panasonic mentioned here and they were $50 or so at best buy. So I have 2 pair of Epson glasses, 2 pair of Panasonic and 3 pair of the $25 Samsung glasses so I have seven seats and seven pairs of glasses. If you truly will never use the 3d it won't matter but for me it really swung things the Epson's way. I have a friend that lives near me and he got the Panasonic a month after me and the image is close but he wanted to get the 3d going and found out why he should have spent the few extra bills on the Epson. In 2D they are very very close.

    I do like that the Epson has an automated lens cover when you turn it off. I don't know if the pany does or not and did not know about it when I made my choice.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2015
  7. Max Yokell

    Max Yokell Well-Known Member Top Poster

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    Oh BTW Mike who is not a huge fan of 3d came by like the first night I had it running and was pretty amazed with Avatar in 3d. I was really surprised at how complimentary he was of the 3d and I had yet to really get it dialed in.

    In many cases the 3d looks better then what you see in theaters and I think it has to do with 24 fps vs the higher refresh rate of the pj.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
     
  8. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin Top Poster

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    If I get the Epson, which is probably a foregone conclusion at this point, I'm sure I'll give 3D a try. I just don't own much 3D content any way and still consider it a gimmick.
     
  9. Max Yokell

    Max Yokell Well-Known Member Top Poster

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    Well I have FIOS for my Cable system and their picture quality is great. That being said what you get from their boxes as 3d is horrible and shudders during any pans. Not to be used as any type of judgement in 3d. I have the ability to do 3d from Vudu on my Blu Ray and PS4 but they charge insane prices for 3d, better just buying a disc. I like Hugo and Avatar as show disc's in 3D .

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
     
  10. Rick C

    Rick C Active Member

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    CJ what do you find is lacking with the 70" TV that makes you want to have the projector too. In our room now we have a 106" projector and screen with the screen coming down in front of a 50" Plasma. I would say about 60% of the time we watch on the TV and the rest on the projector and big screen.

    We can have full light control during the day but I am not a big fan of watching much beyond movies in the dark.

    I have been thinking that when we move I might ditch the projector and go with a bigger TV like yours.
     
  11. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Well-Known Member Top Poster

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    We have a 120" projector in the basement and a 52" TV on another level. I haven't sat in front of the TV in ages since getting the projector set up.
     
  12. Mike

    Mike Bon Vivant Donor Top Poster

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    I watch sports and movies on the projector, but usually no television.
     
  13. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin Top Poster

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    Heh, good question. Nothing is really missing per se. Overall this project is more "because...." But I will say that the different between 70" and 110" is pretty significant. Any time a screen is larger in FEET as a unit of measure, that's a big difference in visual impact.

    When we moved into this house I set up the basement as a home theater. All the speakers were wall mounted and identical. The equipment was wired to a utility room and the only display was front projection. As the bulb in my projector got dimmer I started to really feel constrained to the fact that I felt I had to be in the pitch black to watch anything. That wasn't a deal breaker for movies but I really felt like I couldn't watch TV (sports specifically) in the room because I didn't want to watch sports in the pitch black and lights (even dimmed) washed out the dim picture even worse.

    To attempt to solve that problem I sold my existing projector and bought a cheap ($600 at the time) 480p DLP projector. I had bad issues seeing rainbows due to the color wheel and naturally the picture wasn't very sharp. It was brighter but at that price point it probably didn't have very good overall PQ. As technology has improved and my budget is a bit more flexible, I still don't have a desire to back to projector ONLY but a hybrid system started to appeal to me after seeing some good implementations online. On that note, I'd always kind of thought drop down screens were really kind of janky looking and a TV and a fixed screen don't really work... its one or the other. Again, after seeing some good implementations I no longer think that.

    So long story short, I would like a bigger screen without sacrificing the ability to watch TV in full daylight if I want. What I'm planning allows for that and I think I can do it for the right amount of money at this time which maybe wasn't feasible in the past.
     
  14. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Well-Known Member Top Poster

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    I just went from a 98" screen to a 120 and the difference was massive for us.
     
  15. Max Yokell

    Max Yokell Well-Known Member Top Poster

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    I have 106 on the PJ and a 60 downstairs it always seems worth the effort to go upstairs to the theater room :)

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
     
  16. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Well-Known Member

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    CJ:
    I'd personally opt for a lower cost LCD projector if I wanted a projector like "right now"
    http://www.projectorcentral.com/epson-home-cinema-3000-projector-review.htm

    I have a feeling the 4K LCD projector panels may make an appearance later this year and that 4K projector pricing will very quickly come down from the stratosphere once that happens.

    So I'd get an in-betweener now, with the expectation that it will get replaced in less than 2 years.
     
  17. Carl V

    Carl V Bronze Member Donor Top Poster

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    It goes without saying that dark films don't do so well in a medium light room while the Front PJ is in use.
    And a nice big LCD /Plasma will win. As the room goes to medium light to low light to no light the PJ wins.
    I have a white DaLite...I have had Gray screen in the past....they do help with shadow detail & they still do
    most sports & TV just fine.

    If you don't have direct or reflected light sources obscuring your projected images you should be fine.

    If you do the math...geometry & figure the square inches from say 60" to 70 " to 90" to 100"...it's a helluva lot
    bigger than the mere diagonal numbers indicate. (it's sorta like realizing the difference between a 5" 7" 8" driver
    in terms of the SD radiating area...its exponential)

    Have fun. and your Basement HT has a Easterly facing windows...Some mild diffusing of the light should be perfect.
     
  18. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin Top Poster

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    I don't wholly disagree but because projectors are a bit more niche I don't think prices will come down THAT quick. I'm guessing I won't go 4k for several years because there won't be much content. I could probably cut $1000 off the budget and hit the $1k to $1300 range but if I'm unhappy with PQ or features I'll regret it.


    Posted via Tapatalk. Forgive my brevity and potential typos.
     
  19. Allen

    Allen Active Member

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    Besides, you've got money to burn now that you're staying put, right? ;)
     
  20. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Active Member

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    I've had the Epson 5010 for nearly 2.5 years now and absolutely love it.
     

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