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Front vs Rear Projection

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Kruppy

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Hey guys,
Before I look like a fool in a couple of other forums in front of people I don’t know, I figured I could look like a fool in front of those of you I know here.

I know enough to be dangerous when it comes to rear projection TV/front projectors, but I am looking for some advice from people with more experience with this than myself.

I've been getting antsy to replace my smallish CRT TV with a HD something (system 90, I know that 27in looks ridiculous on my rack). I've been watching the price drops on the 720 products currently out and I can barely keep myself from whipping out my credit card, God help me because my wife is going to kill me.

Here's my question: What are the pros and cons of rear projection vs. front projector?

I realize having a 60 inch TV in between my speakers is not very ideal for sound staging and a big pro for front projection. What else is there?

I've got about 75 inches in between my SL3s and 54 inches from the top of my rack to the ceiling. At the maximum width, this would allow about an 85 inch diagonal picture (75in long x 42in high 16:9). I understand that the picture would have to be a bit smaller than that to clear my speakers for the odd of center viewing postion. My speakers sit roughly 3 feet from the back wall and my seating position is roughly 13 to about 15 feet from the back wall.

Am I better off with a rear projection set to sit on top of my rack (say 60 inch) or should I dig deeper into researching front projectors? Is a screen size less than 85 inches not taking full advantage of the projector?

Here’s what’s driving this. I found the Panasonic PT-AE900 LCD projector (new) on sale for roughly $1900 from a very reputable web dealer that I have purchased from before, in addition there’s a Panasonic $400 rebate until Feb 28th (I think that’s the date). So $1500 for 720 LCD front projector that retails normally for around $1900-2200 (again I’m always looking for the best bang for the buck). Can you hear me salivating right now? I’ve been reading good things about the PT-AE900 on the AVS forum and Audioholics.

I keep telling myself to wait for 6-9 months, but do deals get any better than this?
 

lugano

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hard decision

Well, I'll start by saying that I'm a fan of projectors. The reason why is embedded in the wording itself: Home Cinema. That's what I want: a picture as big as I can get it. Now, what are the drawbacks:

1) The black "color". Your deepest black will be as deep as the ambient lighting. I don't much care, as I always watch TV/Video in the evening and I can also make the room quite dark in the daytime.

2) The noise. Projectors do have fans, and depending on the model it can be annoying.

3) The lamp's life span. Mine was guaranteed for 6000 hours but after 4500 I had to put a new one in, and they're quite expensive. Nowadays it's hard to find an affordable projector sporting a lamp lasting more than 3000 hrs.

4) The positioning. I chose ceiling mount for various reasons, but it might interfere with the room's aestethics. And a brand-specific ceiling mount will raise the bill 100-200 $, minimum.

5) The screen. Although you can paint a wall with special coating, nothing will replace a good screen, which will add to your costs (but at least it disappears when not used if you roll it up and does not disturb, try that with a TV set).

Before deciding to change the lamp of my projector (it was in november 2005) I read a whole lot about the actual models, and the Panasonic you're mentioning was at the top of my list, together with the Epson EMP TW-520.

I'll post another picture of my room soon (look for system #91), with the screen rolled up and showing the projector as well.
 
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twich54

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Being the purist nut that I am I say FRONT PROJECTION !! Now that I have that off my chest here's my reasoning:
1) assuming it is used primarily for "Theatre" not "TV"
2) Given your speaker seperation it's fair to assume your listening / viewing sweet spot is 10-14' back, if so 85" is MORE than adequate ( I view in the 10-11' range with a 76" screen and love it )
3) In so far as the accoustic benifits, big time when you are listening to two channel, your getting rid of the clutter between speakers.
4) Video benefit, as I have said before, in Hollywood that's why they call it "the big screen" !
5) Projector choices - pretty tough to beat the current crop of DLP stuff for the $$, check with Joe/Zip, he has recently plunged into front projection and I'm sure could shed some light on current projectors.

Good Luck !!
 

Kruppy

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What's the typical lamp replacement cost?

I'm not so concerned about lighting as this would be in my basement where it's pretty darn dark. P

Another question: Screen gain, I don't know where to start on this? Are there guidelines to follow?

twich,
Why the issue with TV vs Theater? Just lamp hours? Whatever I end up with will be used for both cable and Theater viewing.

I'm hoping Zip will jump in here too with advice/suggestions.......Yoo Hoo, Joe you out there?
 

twich54

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Krupster, Yeah, I was thinking about lamp replacement cost($200-400, depending on unit) depending on brightness level I'm hearing 2-3000 hrs. Mine is used just for theatre, therefore with a 16:9 native resolution, and 480p is A-OK with todays standard DVD. Once the Hi-Def format war settles down along with pricing I may make changes down the road.

"Twitchy"
 

Jeff Zaret

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Krup-meister,
I too have been thinking along those same lines. Now let me say I do have a 53" rear projection TV so I am not in that much of a hurry untill it breaks. I sit 8 feet from the TV so any bigger and I may glow in the dark. My son has a 42'" plasma "flat panel" and I watched movies on his sitting about the same difference without a problem. BTW he is upgrading to a 50". I hate that kid! :rolleyes:
Anyway here is a link to Sound adndVision Magazine's website. This was an interesting artile in regards to resolution and distance. This may help shed some light on "screen" size and then you can narrow you search to what works best for you.

http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article.asp?section_id=5&article_id=1137

Jeff :cool:
 

Robin

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Front Projection...

Kruppy said:
Hey guys,
Before I look like a fool in a couple of other forums in front of people I don’t know, I figured I could look like a fool in front of those of you I know here.

I know enough to be dangerous when it comes to rear projection TV/front projectors, but I am looking for some advice from people with more experience with this than myself.

I've been getting antsy to replace my smallish CRT TV with a HD something (system 90, I know that 27in looks ridiculous on my rack). I've been watching the price drops on the 720 products currently out and I can barely keep myself from whipping out my credit card, God help me because my wife is going to kill me.

Here's my question: What are the pros and cons of rear projection vs. front projector?

I realize having a 60 inch TV in between my speakers is not very ideal for sound staging and a big pro for front projection. What else is there?

I've got about 75 inches in between my SL3s and 54 inches from the top of my rack to the ceiling. At the maximum width, this would allow about an 85 inch diagonal picture (75in long x 42in high 16:9). I understand that the picture would have to be a bit smaller than that to clear my speakers for the odd of center viewing postion. My speakers sit roughly 3 feet from the back wall and my seating position is roughly 13 to about 15 feet from the back wall.

Am I better off with a rear projection set to sit on top of my rack (say 60 inch) or should I dig deeper into researching front projectors? Is a screen size less than 85 inches not taking full advantage of the projector?

Here’s what’s driving this. I found the Panasonic PT-AE900 LCD projector (new) on sale for roughly $1900 from a very reputable web dealer that I have purchased from before, in addition there’s a Panasonic $400 rebate until Feb 28th (I think that’s the date). So $1500 for 720 LCD front projector that retails normally for around $1900-2200 (again I’m always looking for the best bang for the buck). Can you hear me salivating right now? I’ve been reading good things about the PT-AE900 on the AVS forum and Audioholics.

I keep telling myself to wait for 6-9 months, but do deals get any better than this?
Kruppy,

I have been lusting after front projection for sometime now. As you may remember I have a Pioneer Plasma HDTV 43" currently. I want something more cinema like for my HT. Anyway, I had started a thread asking for recommendations, in case you missed this thread:

http://www.martinloganowners.com/~tdacquis/forum/showthread.php?t=1599

I think your viewing area and HT system it self would benefit by having a front projector, but having said that, IMHO I would recommend, you listen to your inner self by waiting 6-9 months, as their will be better deals or even better projectors possible, what with the advances in technology as it is today. Also, I want you to stay married, as I have this gut intuition or premonition - your wife will kill you if you do this now... ;)

Personally, I am going for the HDMI connectivity of the front projector, as Joe recommends and is doing. For a clearer picture and direct line HDMI connectivity to my future Blue-Ray DVD player, for the clearest possible picture. In the above thread, Joe graciously recommended a cheaper start-up screen he was considering vs. the painted wall option. Joe is a wonderful guy and was great of him to share his knowledge and information with me (us). I for one really appreciate his in-put. :) I know he is currently very busy setting-up his new front projector in his system as we speak. IMHO, I think you should ask him what he thinks or hopefully he will chime in here too, if he is not too busy with his new toy... :D
HTH

Good luck and don't die... :D
 
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Kruppy

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Lugano,
Thanks for the link. Looks like there's a lot of good info there.

Jeff,
I've seen that article too. I'm not so worried about seating position vs screen as I am actual picture size. Some of these projectors can throw 100+ inch pictures, which is much much bigger than what I can handle in my room. Some times bigger isn't always better. I'm wondering if at less than an 85 inch picture size am I over doing it with a front projector that's capable of producing one that is much larger? If that makes any sense.

Robin,
Thanks for the link. I kind of forgot about that one. I'll have to re-read it.
 

twich54

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Kruppy said:
Lugano,
Thanks for the link. Looks like there's a lot of good info there.

Jeff,
I've seen that article too. I'm not so worried about seating position vs screen as I am actual picture size. Some of these projectors can throw 100+ inch pictures, which is much much bigger than what I can handle in my room. Some times bigger isn't always better. I'm wondering if at less than an 85 inch picture size am I over doing it with a front projector that's capable of producing one that is much larger? If that makes any sense.

Robin,
Thanks for the link. I kind of forgot about that one. I'll have to re-read it.
Don't worry for one minute about overdoing it with the size screen you settle on. Keep this thought in mind, when you go to the movies where do you like to sit....now that you have that mental picture put yourself in your "sweet spo" listening postion and that will give you a good indicator has to how much screen you want between your speakers.
Also another advantage of front projection is the ability to adjust via screen or curtian valiance(thats how I do it, mimicking the theatre) the compensation of the aspect ratio the film is presented in, which most of the time is 2.35:1
 

Robin

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Front Projection Magic...

Kruppy,

My future plans, lately have been to somehow, on a much smaller scale of course, aspiring to emulate the set-up of ML ultimate HT system. Especially in regards to front projection. It seems that ML engineers designed the front projection screen's, front placement to be just in front of the, Statement E2x's and the Theater i, see the third zoom picture next to the article:

http://www.martinlogan.com/facilities_tour.html#pic3

ML really knows how to do HT up right, as I'm sure you would agree... :D
 
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Reverb

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Kruppy said:
I'm hoping Zip will jump in here too with advice/suggestions.......Yoo Hoo, Joe you out there?
Hi there. :D



Well Kruppy,

Front projection is the ultimate video setup for us electronuts. With our speakers being bi-polar, they do interact with the acoustics of your room (that I am sure you know). My setup I had before was impressive to look at (if I do say so myself), but that big box I called a TV can be murder on the sound. It took at lot of playing to find the best placement for the TV from the wall and the speakers around the TV to get it to sound right, and now that I have made the jump to front projection the sound stage has double over what was my best effort at speaker placement with my X 60” rear projection LCD.

To go front projection you will of course need the projector, you will need to consider placement, do you want to table mount it or ceiling mount it? Next you need to get video to it and that means cables. You will need to measure and figure out what cables you need, composite, s-video, component, DVI/HDMI, ETC. and at what length? I needed 30ft runs to get the video to back of my room, going from the back of my rack, across the floor, up the wall to the projector. I could have made them sorter if I ran them in the ceiling, but that was not a good idea from a room I know if a temporary home.

I decided not to go for a screen to start will because I am short on cash after my projector, and I don’t want to cut coasts on a screen, I would rather wait and get a good one. With screen there are lots of chooses out there. You can paint your wall, there is a product out there called “Screen Goo”, its about $200 and in the end will give you a 1.5 gain screen with a black boarder on your wall.

If you want to buy a screen you have fixed screen that hang on your wall like a painting, manual pull down, electric screens (for that bling, bling look). The material comes in different gains and colors for different proposes. See this thread for some help on that.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=262466 “White, Grey, or Silver - A Review”


Remember if you get a new video device MAKE SURE it has an HDMI port with “HDCP” (high definition copy protection) or you will not be able to make use of the new Hi-Def DVD formats coming out.

Take care.
 

jfm

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No doubts about this one - front projection is the way to go! Prices are dropping, quality is rising, choices are multiplying - and all of these are true for both the pjs and the screens.

Movies become a real treat, of course. The nice fringe benefit - concert videos. The no-brainer - HD.

It's not just the wow factor of the big screen, though you will get many of those. The bigger screen makes you aware of the very subtle things that get lost on a small screen - the slight changes in an actor's facial expression, the way a director frames a particular scene, etc.

Then there's the lessening of viewing fatigue, because of the smooth, natural image. For example, my wife and I viewed all 3 Godfather films one after the other, and wished there was a fourth one to cap the day.

On the debit side...

Lamp life is the dirty secret in this business. Many users, including myself, have experienced much shorter lamp life than spec. I changed mine after 800 hours. Many pj's visibly deteriorate in brightness after the first 300 hours.

You might get lucky, but I would recommend that you actor in a replacement into the initial purchase.
 

Yang1815

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I actually switched from a projector with a screen size in feet to a 51" RPTV.

The reasons are as following:

Unless you have a dedicated dark room, don't get projector otherwise you can pretty much watch it at night time based on the same reason lugano has stated, the black's only as dark as the ambient lighting.

My lamp's rated at 2000 hour life and a new one costs $400 >_<

The fan's annoying...

Whatever you pick though would be a great improvement. If you're not satisfied or unsure you could always get both to compare ;)
 

Reverb

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Front projectors are best used in a light controlled fully dark room, but not all people have a room with the ability to control the light. For those unfortunate people, you can still go with front projection if you buy the right screen. Stewart Warner makes one of the best screens for rooms with ambient light. They have two screen that are gray screens (the fire Hawk and Gray Hawk), they use a gray material the helps give you a watch able picture in rooms with some ambient light as well as better black with digital projectors.

For rooms with lots of light you can go with one of the new “Black” screens. As you know a video picture is made up of three colors Red, Blue and Green, a black screen is designed to only throw these colors back at the watcher, so ambient light does not wash out the picture.

As far as the fan in the projector, all digital projectors have a fan to cool the projector because of the high power lamp. If whirling fans bother you then you need to pick the right projector that has a cooling fan you can live with. In my situation I have my Sony HS51A ceiling mounted above my head and sits only 20 inches above my ears, I can only hear the fan spinning under silence passages in a movie, with a little music playing I can’t here the fan, the HS51A is a very quite projector.

Your 2nd option if fan noise is a problem is to buy or build a hush box to incase the projector and seal its noise off from your listing room. They are typically Plexiglas boxes that use super quite120mm PC case fans to pull air into one side of the box and a 2nd to pull it out, a hush box can also increase the life of your projector and lamp.

My HS51A has a rated lamp life of 3000 hours in low lamp mode and a coast of $349 to $300 to replace the lamp. The projector does have an air filter in the back that will need to be replaced at least once a year; the HS51 comes with one filter install and a spare filter in the box.




Here is an example of a white screen on the left and a black screen on the right in a high ambient light room.



Sony's black screen on the left and a White screen the right.
 
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Robin

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White vs Black Screens...

Joe,

Thank you for all the great information regarding projector screens and hush box. :D I am particularly interested in the white vs. black screens. I understand what you are saying with regards to why a black screen for a HT with greater ambient light, although it seems to me that the black screen might be preferrable even in a HT with controled lighting for greater black on black. Wouldn't it be more prudent to choose a black screen to ensure the highest quality black picture?
 

Reverb

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Robin said:
Joe,

Thank you for all the great information regarding projector screens and hush box. :D I am particularly interested in the white vs. black screens. I understand what you are saying with regards to why a black screen for a HT with greater ambient light, although it seems to me that the black screen might be preferrable even in a HT with controled lighting for greater black on black. Wouldn't it be more prudent to choose a black screen to ensure the highest quality black picture?
Robin,

A black screen should only be used in a situation were ambient light is a major concern. Black screens are not good for critical watching, the picture will look good with lots of light in the room, but then you turn off the lights you black and white detail will be crushed. A space scene in StarWars will have no visible stars, someone warring a black shirt will have no detail in the shirt, it will look flat black with not textures for buttons. A black screen is good for a person that wants to watch their projector during the day or at night with the lights on.

If your looking for a screen that can do double duty, and offer you a watch able picture with some ambient light, and with no lights. Go for a “Gray” screen like the FireHawk, a gray screen is designed for digital projectors because the material can give your DLP, LCD, SXRD, Etc. front projector darker looking blacks. The problem with Gray is it also can crush blacks, but that the price you pay for darker blacks.

Silver and White are the best for critical viewing, but wont do a damn thing in a room with ambient light. Again see this thread for comparisons of these four different types of screen materials.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=262466


W = White material , G = Gray material, S = Silver material.

 
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Yang1815

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well I think I'll finish my basement this year and turn it into an HT with 5.1 and a projector hehe...
 

Robin

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Gray screen...

Zip3kx07 said:
Robin,

A black screen should only be used in a situation were ambient light is a major concern. Black screens are not good for critical watching, the picture will look good with lots of light in the room, but then you turn off the lights you black and white detail will be crushed. A space scene in StarWars will have no visible stars, someone warring a black shirt will have no detail in the shirt, it will look flat black with not textures for buttons. A black screen is good for a person that wants to watch their projector during the day or at night with the lights on.

If your looking for a screen that can do double duty, and offer you a watch able picture with some ambient light, and with no lights. Go for a “Gray” screen like the FireHawk, a gray screen is designed for digital projectors because the material can give your DLP, LCD, SXRD, Etc. front projector darker looking blacks. The problem with Gray is it also can crush blacks, but that the price you pay for darker blacks.

Silver and White are the best for critical viewing, but wont do a damn thing in a room with ambient light. Again see this thread for comparisons of these four different types of screen materials.
Joe,

I think you are right-on again as usual... :D Excellent information re: ambient light and screen choices. The "Gray Screen" seems to be the best for all purposes. Excellent photo comparisons. I appreciate your sharing these with me (us), as you can really see the suttle differences in whiteness and blackness as well. :D Will you be going with the Gray - "FireHawk" screen for your front projector system?
 

Reverb

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Robin said:
Joe,

I think you are right-on again as usual... :D Excellent information re: ambient light and screen choices. The "Gray Screen" seems to be the best for all purposes. Excellent photo comparisons. I appreciate your sharing these with me (us), as you can really see the suttle differences in whiteness and blackness as well. :D Will you be going with the Gray - "FireHawk" screen for your front projector system?
The main reason I chose to use my bare wall to project on is because I am still deciding on what material to go with? The Da-Lite Hi-Power was at the top of my list, but now that I have my projector mounted I don’t think the Hi-Power will work. The Hi-Power is a 2.8 gain silver screen that is retro reflective, it can give you that plasma look (bright vivid colors) but at the expensive of a little of your projectors black levels. Being that the Hi-Power is retro reflective it will beam the light straight back at the projector, so its best for table mounted, or ceiling mounted projectors with a drop bracket. The Hi-Power has a very narrow viewing cone, so your best to have the projector mounted at head height, and on axis pointing straight at the screen.

My problem is the stud in my ceiling, I have to mount the projector too, did not allow for the projector to be in line with the center of the screen. The projector is about 8” off center, so I don’t know if a silver screen will work? My 2nd concern with it being off center is hot spotting; I may get a hot spot because of the projectors lens shift. The best way to answer these questions is to get a sample of the material and try it in my set up and see.

I have seen the Fire Hawk material paired with the HS51 projector at my dealer and it did look good, but for critical viewing its best to stay with white or silver screen. If I was going use my setup with a little light in the room then yes I would go with a gray screen, if I had a lot of light in the room then a black screen. But white or silver is my favorite, no crushing of black detail or murky whites. Black and Gray screens do have their place in home cinema but for me I found it hard to look past the crushed black detail and the dark looking whites.

My first choice is the Da-Lite Hi-Power, 2nd is the Stewart Warner UltraMatte 150.
 
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