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Discussion Starter #1
I read the “Buying your first projector? Please read…” Thread. This was helpful information. I’m glad I’m reading when I am as I have yet to make a projector or screen purchase. I’ve been looking at the Epson 8100 and 8500 and like many, wish Epson would post a price for the 8500. I’m also considering the Panasonic AE4000. I’m trying to figure out what would be the best value for my environment. I’m not opposed to spending more money for a better projector, but I want to get something noticeable for the extra expense.

I primarily watch movies and sports in the room this will go in. It is a dedicated theater room with no ambient light and I have total control of the lighting within the room. There are 6 can lights and 4 wall sconces on 2 separate dimmers. The room is 16’ x 22’ and the primary seating is at 14’ from where the screen will hang.

That being said, any suggestions on screen size, type, and projector would be greatly appreciated. I’d like to do a DIY screen to keep my expenses down. The idea of a fabric screen is appealing as I’d like to place my center channel behind it. I have 3’ behind the screen for any speakers. Thanks in advance for your suggestions and let me know if additional information would be valuable.
 

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Well before buying a projector. You need to go see a few movies in the theater to determine your favorite spot. If it's close to the screen you'll need to go bigger. If it's far from the screen you'll need a smaller screen.

If you have a white wall you can use that until you get an idea of the size you like.

Good acoustically transparent material is usually pretty expensive. So I'd sugget you simply angle the center channel up toward your position instead. It will work just fine that way.

You can read the DIY screen area for ideas on that.
 

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If your projector is not going to be placed perfectly in line with the center of the screen or your ceiling is very high you will need a projector with lens shift Im not sure if the Epson has it but the Panasonic AE4000 does and so does Sanyo who also make very good projectors.

By the way Welcome to the Shack!
 

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What I meant with "perfectly in line with the center of the screen" is the ideal location for a projector is mounted about 6.5' off the floor and center of the screen any higher and you will need lens shift to correct for the offset (you never want to use the keystone feature).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I would likely need some type of shift capability. Thanks for the heads up. I hope to have the projector "in" a soffit which would technically be above the screen. This would help eliminate any fan noise. The projector would be approximately 14 ft back from the screen as well (directly above the primary seating).
 

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How large a screen do you want to go with? 14' will be far enough back that you should be able to go about 110" diagonal. Have a look at the calculator at projector centralto find out exactly how large you can go by entering the projector you want to buy .
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That's good news. I'll take a look at the screen size calculator at Projector Central.

Lsiberian - Thanks for the suggestion on tilting the center channel up. Unfortunately I won't have room there for the center because I'm running some large, low tuned subs that will be below the screen which is why I'm interested in a cloth screen over a solid surface. Anyone absolutely in love with DIY fabric for a screen that lets sound pass through reasonably well?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Looks like 110" would be the max with the 8100. I may take it down to 100" to help improve the picture quality at the viewing position. I'm upgrading from a 65" CRT projection TV so I'll be more than doubling the square feet of viewing surface at 100" which will be a HUGE change. Now if Epson would just get a price out on the 8500!
 

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at 110" you wouldn't have a drop off in PQ IMO. However I must suggest you do testing before constructing the screen. A screen that's too big will give you eye strain(very painful)
 

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I'm a big fan of Panny projectors, I just sold my PT-AE3000 and still have the AE4000 in the box, at $1999 I think it's a of a deal. Careful mounting your projector in a soffit, you want good air circulation around the unit so it's fan can cool it efficiently. Lens shift works great on the Panny and fan noise is barely noticable even in high lamp mode.
 

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With those LCD's rear shelf mounting works really well too. The Epson, Panny and Sanyo are pretty even in quality. The JVCs are the best in class. But I see more Panny's and Sanyo's on the used market than Epson. So I suggest Epson since it seems folks are more content with them. You can't go wrong though.

www.projectorcentral.com is a great place to compare them.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've read a lot about the JVCs and would love to have one but I just can't justify the expense knowing how much I'll want an LED model 4-5 years down the road.

I hear ya about the cooling issue in the soffit. It actually runs across the room 1/3 of the way in from the back to "break up" the 2 levels in the room. It houses nothing like duct work or beams, just for decoration. I can put a vent on the back side and it can draw in/exhaust plenty of air through the 22" floor trusses above it. I'm feeling pretty safe on that front.

Quick question about the Panny... is it worth $500 over the 8100? and if so, why? Not to be critical, just trying to learn. I should also point out that I'll be running a Onkyo TX-NR3007 with the Reon upscaler built into it so I'm not sure how much I'd benefit from having that built into the projector as well as the 8500 already does. Any thoughts on that? Thanks again for all of the ideas to all!
 

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I've never seen the 8100 in action although I've read good things about em, I'm sure someone has one and will hopefully chime in with there thoughts.
 

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I think the real advantage the Panny AE4000 has over the 8100 is the fact that the Panny can handle 2.39:1 aspect ratio. This illuminates the letter boxing above and below the image like you see in movies when watching 16:9. The downfall with that is you will then get letter boxing watching HDTV on the sides of the image because those are broadcast native 4:3. Neither is right or wrong, just a preference. As far as brightness and blacks go, i think its pretty close between the two. Each has its own fans. I'm personally going w/the 8100 and a 16:9 106" screen.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I don't know that 2.39:1 is a show stopper for me. Definitely a good point though. Right now I'm leaning towards the 8500 if the price comes in at 2,300 or less with a spare bulb. Otherwise I'll be deciding between the 8100 and the 4000 but may find it hard to justify the extra $500 for the 4000. What do you guys think? Thanks again.
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The Panasonic is getting high praise by many reviewers and is said to be the best projector out there unless you spend a lot more. If I was to do an upgrade I would be buying one for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I hear ya, but is it $500 better than the 8100? I've read nothing but good things about the 4000 but I have seen where the 8500 outperforms the 4000. Therefore if the 8500 comes in at $2,300 with a spare bulb, I'm buying the 8500. However it's a tougher call on the 4000 over the 8100 because of the price difference. From what I've read the 4000 is definitely better than the 8100 but the question remains.. Is it $500 better. Definitely not an easy decision.
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Im also new to projection and the way i see it is by the time i pay the extra $500 for the Panny then i would have to have a screen that could handle the 2.39:1. Why limit yourself? So it would be alot more than $500, i would have to consider the extra cost of the screen as well. I should of noted that in my first post for reasons id go w/the 8100 over the Panny. But the 8500 vs the Panny is a different ball game and i think your on target depending on purchase incentives.
 
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