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Hello the Shack, following the advice in the Official Screen Recommendations FAQ I am asking this question on a screen recommendation before getting a projector or really anything (my current NTSC TV broke).

The room is the finished portion of my basement. The viewing area is appox. 9.33' x 15.58' with the screen at the 9.33' part. Floor to ceiling is 6.9' with part (though not the center) of the ceiling covered with a duct that hangs down about 9 inches. The room is actually a bit bigger than that but that is the viewing area.

The closest seat is 7.1', the ideal seat 9.2' and then there is a couch in the back where the viewing distance is approximately 14.1'. The chairs and couch could be moved a bit, but this is a pretty comfortable setup at this point. The viewing area is narrow so I do not think there ends up being any off axis problem. And generally the front two chairs are what get the most use, it is unusual for us to have a packed house watching.

I can get rid of ambient light altogether, there are a few block windows but I could cover them without undue hardship for watching movies. But there are also times when people are over and it would make sense to keep the lights up somewhat, also for things like folding laundry while watching TV and so forth. And then probably the biggest use is game playing (x360, Wii) and a lot of times you want to look at the person you are playing with. The walls are a brown cheap panelling, floor is brown tile.

We do not have cable and currently never watch over the air television, though I suppose I would get a tuner and hook it up just in case and for sporting events. We only play games (a lot) and watch movies/tv shows, currently using our x360. I expect to get a blu-ray player and watch blu-ray when the titles are available from Netflix. Another prime use will be watching family sports videos that I make with my HD camcorder that shoots 1080p so I definitely want 1080p projector.

And as I mentioned, no projector has been purchased yet.

I currently have a 5.1 audio setup that I am happy with. I don't really care whether the speakers are in front of or behind the screen, though recommendations on this are welcome; I can put the screen on the front wall or hang it from the ceiling and put the speakers behind it. Speakers are a foot deep. From what I read, I would need an acoustically transparent screen to make use of that so I probably will not mount the speakers behind the screen, but if there is inexpensive AT material I would consider that.

Budget is important to me. I am looking at going in the $2000-$3000 range for the setup and would prefer to be on the low end of that (but also thinking about value here). I am very attracted to the Polywall or Do-Able setup though I have not found any at the Home Depots near me in Chicago. I don't mind doing a certain amount of DIY, but if there were a suitable $300 screen I would probably just take it and run with it (absent something as inexpensive and workable as do-able which sounds like a magical solution if you can find it). I am thinking a fixed screen mounted on the back wall would be the easiest DIY, if I went commercial I would want manual retractable.

Well your wisdom and recommendations would be most welcome.
 

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Hello the Shack, following the advice in the Official Screen Recommendations FAQ I am asking this question on a screen recommendation before getting a projector or really anything (my current NTSC TV broke).

The room is the finished portion of my basement. The viewing area is appox. 9.33' x 15.58' with the screen at the 9.33' part. Floor to ceiling is 6.9' with part (though not the center) of the ceiling covered with a duct that hangs down about 9 inches. The room is actually a bit bigger than that but that is the viewing area.

The closest seat is 7.1', the ideal seat 9.2' and then there is a couch in the back where the viewing distance is approximately 14.1'. The chairs and couch could be moved a bit, but this is a pretty comfortable setup at this point. The viewing area is narrow so I do not think there ends up being any off axis problem. And generally the front two chairs are what get the most use, it is unusual for us to have a packed house watching.

I can get rid of ambient light altogether, there are a few block windows but I could cover them without undue hardship for watching movies. But there are also times when people are over and it would make sense to keep the lights up somewhat, also for things like folding laundry while watching TV and so forth. And then probably the biggest use is game playing (x360, Wii) and a lot of times you want to look at the person you are playing with. The walls are a brown cheap panelling, floor is brown tile.

We do not have cable and currently never watch over the air television, though I suppose I would get a tuner and hook it up just in case and for sporting events. We only play games (a lot) and watch movies/tv shows, currently using our x360. I expect to get a blu-ray player and watch blu-ray when the titles are available from Netflix. Another prime use will be watching family sports videos that I make with my HD camcorder that shoots 1080p so I definitely want 1080p projector.

And as I mentioned, no projector has been purchased yet.

I currently have a 5.1 audio setup that I am happy with. I don't really care whether the speakers are in front of or behind the screen, though recommendations on this are welcome; I can put the screen on the front wall or hang it from the ceiling and put the speakers behind it. Speakers are a foot deep. From what I read, I would need an acoustically transparent screen to make use of that so I probably will not mount the speakers behind the screen, but if there is inexpensive AT material I would consider that.

Budget is important to me. I am looking at going in the $2000-$3000 range for the setup and would prefer to be on the low end of that (but also thinking about value here). I am very attracted to the Polywall or Do-Able setup though I have not found any at the Home Depots near me in Chicago. I don't mind doing a certain amount of DIY, but if there were a suitable $300 screen I would probably just take it and run with it (absent something as inexpensive and workable as do-able which sounds like a magical solution if you can find it). I am thinking a fixed screen mounted on the back wall would be the easiest DIY, if I went commercial I would want manual retractable.

Well your wisdom and recommendations would be most welcome.
My suggestion is more of how to look as opposed to exactly what to get (as I just went through this process for my second screen I installed last week). I found many screens available at a fraction of the original costs if you are willing to spend some time researching them. I routinely found stewart filmscreens at 50 to 70% off (these are supposed to be the greatest screens going) but I could not find the exact combination to fit my set needs. If you want a fixed screen I have a local source in Atlanta GA for a 92" stewart firehawk for less than $500 (it sells for 2k new) from a big box retailer who is changing there display. I don't want to post the info here because I don't want to break any rules (I am not affiliated with company selling it). I purchased a 1,500.00 tab tensioned electric screen for $200.00 last week and am very happy with it. There are many sites dedicated to selling used or demo high end audio and video gear for sale. If you would like some info on any of these just send me a email I will send you the links and or contact info.

Or you can go the DYI route and then the BW seems to be the king

Oh and on the projector front I have the panny ax200u and am very pleased with it (I think it is easily bought new for 1,000.00 today)....I also understand many 1080 projectors can be had for under 2k today as well.

.
 

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I purchase a PJ and the screen from this guys and I'm pretty happy, I did have problems with the screen, but after calling the sales guy they send me a new one, :T, I order a elite today 100" manual mate white for only $135 shipped, my other screen is a Da-lite 100" gray $180, just want to see the difference between the two:coocoo:.I read that a white screen is better for a control light room and that's what I have.

Good luck!!
 

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Good going coolhead, tcarcio, and Rodny!
It's great to see other members jump in to help. :)

I too have the Panny ax200u! Great projector!

One thing to keep in mind even with controlled lighting is that sometimes it might be desirable to have some room lighting on. Things that come to mind are sporting events, or other events where people will also be interacting with each other. Those are circumstances when people don't typically want to be sitting in the dark.

Even with one dim light on in the room there is a huge impact on the screen, even if that light isn't shining directly on the screen. Just one lit candle will trash CR ratings. Something as minor as a lit candle will take a 5,000:1 CR rated projector down to 500:1!

Sometimes the projector and screen can even create its own ambient light. If your walls and ceiling are light colored, the screen will reflect light onto these surfaces which in turn gets reflected around the room and even back on the screen... therefore having the same effect as that lit candle.

Artuero I applaud you for doing some research first and not just jumping into things. So many times I see a person buy the projector first and then worry about the room and screen. It sounds to me like you don't need a powerhouse of a projector when it comes to lumens. Now days though most projectors are more than bright enough to accommodate a wide variety of settings and tastes.

Here are some of the top rated HT projectors for around $1000 (in no particular order)
  • Sanyo Z60- 1200 Lumens (470 Lumens video optimized) 10,000:1 CR $995
  • Optima HD65- 1600 Lumens (1152 Lumens in Bright Mode, 656 Lumens with Bright Mode off) 4,000:1 CR $999
  • Epson Home 720 1600 Lumens (331-1453 Lumens) 10,000:1 CR $1,139
  • Panasonic AX200u 2000 Lumens (257-1845 Lumens) 6,000:1 CR $1,027

Any of the above will serve you well and also be on target for your price range. The Epson is an incredible projector and it as well as the AX200 are probably the most flexible when it comes to placement and setup, but again any of the above will do you well. Since you did mention you'll be playing game consoles, it's worth mentioning that the AX200u has a special gaming mode.

That leaves you around $1,000-$2,000 for the rest of your build.

I have absolutely no aversion to recommending a commercial screen, but if you want to save some money DIY is a very viable option. Price doesn't always mean better performance when it comes to commercial screens. I've seen Designer White go up against a $2K commercial screen and you couldn't tell where the DW stopped and the other screen started. Same goes with some less expensive commercial screens- it was virtually impossible to tell the difference between the lower cost screen and a white screen that costs four times as much.

When it comes to gray screens, that's usually when the playing field starts to thin out some. Not all are created equal. I'd probably recommend a screen in the N8.5 to N9 range. Even with the lights out it will be an excellent performing screen. Here are a couple of links to help you decide if gray or a white screen is best for you.
A Gray Screen even with total light control
How to Determine if Gray is for you

You didn't mention whether you have a Bluray player or if you intend of getting one. This could also be a huge factor in what way you go with your screen. DIY would of course let you spend the money you save on a high def player... just one thing to consider.

All in all it sounds like you are off to a good start! Make sure to take lots and lots of pictures of your HT room build! People love to see pictures of other's setups. Also it is a lot of fun to look back and see the before and after. I've even suggested to some people to get a photo album and put together a little 'coffee table' book for guests and friends to look through and see the room transform. Just don't forget to show us here too!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
These replies have been quite helpful, so thanks to each of you who took the time to think and post. I have been doing a lot of additional research. As to the projector, I have pretty much talked myself into going a little further than originally planned and getting a Sanyo PLC-Z3000. With the $400 rebate currently applicable it seems like a sensible purchase. Plus I have read people saying that this projector is good for gaming.

Art's review suggests a high contrast grey screen for this projector (I will look further at the articles wbassett mentions), so I suppose I will look at that. It seems like for my budget the only way to go is manual pull down or DIY. I am thinking right now that I either will get a commercial manual pull down for less than $200, or get a very easy to make DIY like the Wilsonart (or Durotherm if that is still available). One thing I have been thinking is that a smaller screen may be necessary just because of how the room is set up. I was thinking 82" but it might be nice to have a few inches less. I think as a future project I may make a more involved DIY screen if the easier approaches are unsatisfying.

I did find someone selling fixed screens on ebay for fairly cheap (screendiscounters). I could not find any information about them anywhere though their feedback is very good. Anyone know? I have been looking at the sites tcarcio and Rodny mentioned and will most likely buy from one of them, or visual apex.

Wbassett, that's interesting about how little light it takes to mess up the image. I will make sure I do black out the windows. Again, these are basement block windows that are already recessed so I think I can probably eliminate or virtually eliminate light from them. The walls and floor are brown, a little glossy on the walls because it is cheap panelling, but not light colored in any event. But you are right that probably a good deal of viewing will be done in a lighter environment-- people over, gaming together that sort of thing.

I would certainly get a BluRay player. And good idea on the pictures, that will be fun to do a before and after shot. Though at this point, I'm not imagining anything too fancy.

Again the comments are very helpful and if anyone reads something they want to comment further on, I'm all ears. Thanks!
 
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