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Below is a post I made in the screen forum sometime back, but it is equally applicable here, probably even moreso.

As will be explained below, probably the number one biggest mistake that people make when setting up a Home Theater Room or Media Room is to buy the projector first and then worry about the screen and room setting.

Over in the screen forum we tend to deal with helping people after the fact and try to get them the best screen for their setting and projector, but sometimes that can be difficult if the person bought the wrong projector for their room or viewing habits. Hopefully this will help those looking to get into the projector world and arm them with some knowledge prior to spending their money on a projector that may or may not be ideal for their particular setting.

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Before anyone can help make a recommendation, there first must be some preliminary information obtained. This isn't just a DIY thing, even professional installers, screen companies, and projector sales staff need to know some information before they can make any kind of useful comments.

Before getting into the list, sometimes things go backwards. Usually the first thing a person gets is the projector and then they worry about the screen, and lastly the room. Dedicated theater rooms are really much easier to assist people with. More and more people though are incorporating projectors in their living rooms or other multi-purpose rooms, such as myself until I can build an addition on the house that is a proper true 'theater'. These rooms take much more thought and planning. Granted a dedicated theater room will cost much more and yes there is plenty of design and planning that goes into it, but typically they do not have to deal with some of the problems that a multi-purpose room has, primarily light issues.

When it comes to this, there will always be disagreements by some on how to go about things. As mentioned, a professional HT Integrator will do an on-site assessment before recommended anything, especially the projector.

Stewart Screens says this:[MOUSE]Most enthusiasts believe a great custom installation begins with the projector. Why should consumers radically change this view? "At Stewart we believe our 'screen-centric' approach ensures the perfect match between the screen, the room, and the projector. The key parameters in the screen selection are size, type, material, and lighting conditions.[/MOUSE]
Now I know... what would we expect a screen company to say? Except if you apply this to any screen and room setup and not just Stewart, it is really good advice.

The room determines the size and type of screen as well as the projector. Many try to force a screen that is way too large for the setting. It is always 'cool' to have a monster size screen that is absolutely as big as possible for the wall. At first it feels 'immersed' and impressive, but once the coolness factor wears off and practicality and optimal viewing starts to be considered, many times people actually reduce their screen sizes. If you feel like you are at the centerline at Wimbledon- your head and eyes constantly turning and darting back and forth to take in the action, the screen is too large for the setting.

What are the room dimensions, how many rows of seats are planned? Height is calculated based on the distance from the prime seating position. Based on the desired aspect ratios and room dimensions we can help pick a screen. Also the type of screen, shade, size, seating distance... it really does depend on that.

If someone were to come to me with a room like I have and say they haven't started and are just looking for advice, this is where I do agree with what Stewart said- I would first recommend a screen that handles ambient lighting well, and then recommend a projector that can handle the screen and room setting.

Many times though a person buys the projector first, and then learns about its limits. That's no fault of their own, this is a tad more difficult than buying an HDTV and just plugging it in.

With that said, 99% of the time we are asked for recommendations after the projector is already purchased. In some cases the projector is very versatile and a wide range of options can be given. Sometimes though the projector now dictates what is needed, and that may not always be optimal for the actual room conditions, but we still try to help.

So when researching a screen option or asking for assistance in making a decision (never let anyone tell you what to use unless it's options of several screens). A Home Theater, whether it is a dedicated room or a multi-purpose room is not only impressive, but has to look good. Listen to the advice, but also do your own research. The best advice I can give anyone is not to trust anyone blindly. Read what they are saying, educate yourself, and you decide. Anyone that pushes something on you most likely doesn't know your setting and isn't looking out for your best interests.

Now for the list:
When helping to chose a screen we need the following-
  • Room dimensions
  • Seating distance, and if multiple rows of seating, where is the prime seating distance going to be.
  • Lighting conditions. This really is an important factor.
  • Viewing habits. Do you do most viewing with lights off? Do you only watch movies on the big screen? Will there be lighting on from time to time, and where is the lighting located in reference to the screen? Will there be any daytime viewing where sunlight is a concern? These are all very important when determining a screen and making a recommendation.
  • What projector you have (if you already purchased one), and the exact brand and model.
From there we can start looking at options, but also an important factor is talking to the person and listening to what they want and expect. Only then can a recommendation be made with some faith the person will be happy with it.

The truth is, without really seeing the setup, all we can do is recommend. The final decision is up to you, and the better educated you are on both screens and projectors, the better you are to make a decision.

Maybe that sounded a bit wishy washy, but really this does come down to what you are expecting and looking for.

Calibration- After all that, please don't over look calibrating your projector. Even if it is just using the THX calibrator that comes with any THX cerified movie. It is a basic calibration, but still... it covers the fundamentals. Avia and DVD Essentials also have calibration discs, as does the ISF organization. Most are well under $30 and are definitely well worth it.

I always recommend calibrating to a unity gain white screen before making any screen decision. The reason is because this is what the company that made your projector set it up to be calibrated to as a standard. This will tell you any strengths and weaknesses that your projector has, and from there you can decide on how to improve things. Without doing this, it is difficult if not impossible to tell if you actually did improve things or not, or perhaps even made them worse. A baseline calibration is very important when setting up a projector system.

Also remeber this, and this is critical too... when you change screen to a darker gray, or even if you go from gray to white, recalibration to the new screen is a must.
 

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Great post Bill,

I also think that being able to control ambient lighting is a must. As far as I am concerned if you cant make the room almost completely dark a projector is not the way to go at all. Ambient light will affect the blacks and contrast from even the best projectors.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great post Bill,

I also think that being able to control ambient lighting is a must. As far as I am concerned if you cant make the room almost completely dark a projector is not the way to go at all. Ambient light will affect the blacks and contrast from even the best projectors.
Tony I totally agree. The real solution, and every installer I know will agree with this is to kill the ambient light problems at the source and not depend on the projector and screen to do that work.

I tend to disagree that a room does not have to be totally dark in order to set up a projector system. It may not be optimal as compared to a totally dedicated room, but it can be done and provide a more than acceptable image.

The point is people really need to know and accept what their actual viewing conditions will be and then work from there.

Ambient light will always be a screen killer, but with the right setup a person can still have amazing results... but that same setup may not be what a person with a dedicated room and total light control would want or even like and that was my point.

Before anyone buys their first projector they really need to do a total room survey and evaluate what it is they want and expect. Otherwise they have a high probability of being disappointed on a some level.

Education is the key, and that's what we're here for. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
One thing I want to make perfectly clear is this forum and the screen forum should and does work hand in hand. Both are very important aspects of building your media room or dedicated HT room.

It's always better to ask before spending your money than regretting it after the fact.

Those that want a truly big screen experience don't have to sacrifice performance. Just ask if in doubt.
 

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Hi bro.. What if i want to get the projector for outdoor place..
As in my knowledge, the common problem in projectors is that they fail to give the 100% if the light falls on it... The screen becomes dim and do not provide that type of picture as in the darkest room..
 

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If you have lots of ambient lighting in your area it becomes hard to get good blacks and the contrast will suffer. Projectors outside do work but you make a sacrifice in quality. It becomes very important that you dont skimp on the projector you buy, a high lumen high contrast projector is a must.
 

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Thanks for the information.
Although this is not my first projector your thoughts and opinions gave me some-what of a refresher course. That being said I would appreciate some fresh opinions on researching a new projector.
Unfortunately my Infocus 7205 at 8.5 years maybe nine is showing it's age. Recently I noticed after watching "The Town" I have vertical lines on the screen. I thought maybe it might have been a DVD issue. Nope that was not it. Then I thought my Sony 777. Nope that was not it it either.
So I finally shut down the Sony and just had the Infocus running and there were those horrible lines.
In perfect alignment I might add.
I have called Infocus in California and also two companies that are local to my area that work on Infocus.
Two out of three told me they would NOT invest any kind of money into the projector since it is almost nine years old. Cost ranged from a minimum $300.00 to as high as $1000.00. Add to that the possibility that Infocus might not have the replacement part for the 7205.
Infocus fee was $100.00 just to look at it with that fee being deducted with whatever maintenance had to be done to it. Then there is the shipping cost if I decided to ship it to Infocus in California.
Not likely since the other two companies are no more than a couple of miles from my house.

I and the Mrs. have decided to investment in another projector. After all I should not complain considering the Infocus cost me $4000.00 nine years ago I got my monies worth with not ever having a problem with it.

We have decided on the Epson.

My HT is a dedicated room with NO ambient light. However I do enjoy watching sports with the light on...low light but definitely lit well enough to see who you are seating next to.
This issue could also be a screen factor.

Screen Inovations. Check them out.

The 7205 is 14-16 feet from the viewers front row. I do have two other rows of seating. Four seats. Two seats.

I want a well made projector with a colorful bright tight picture that is 1080p high contrast rating and HDMI.
At this point I am not so concerned about 3D.
My screen is a Da-Lite screen and at this writing I am not sure of what kind of gain it has. I have to look into my records and find out exactly what it is before I buy a particular projector. I do not want to purchase another screen. I actually purchased the Da-Lite material and made the frame myself. Total cost was about $300.00.

I have looking into the Epson 1080UB projector.:dontknow:
I would appreciate any helpful feedback.

Thanks to all in advance
 

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I recommend you read through this recent thread, Epson, Mits, JVC, Sony are all discussed. Even the best will only run you $3k with the JVC D-Ila engine, much higher performance than 9 years ago and cheaper to boot. Sony sxrd at $2200 will be shy of a JVC but will be a strong second choice. The Epson over the Mits at $1200 would be my choice if money is tight. It took forever but price vs performance in front projection has dropped drastically within the last couple years so obviously its not the same market as 9 years ago...
http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/home-theater-projectors/36226-more-features-more-money.html
 

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To whomever may be nice enough to help with my first projector purchase.

I'm looking to purchase a project for my bedroom which will be used for watching movies...mainly netflicks streaming, watching tv mainly sports, and most importantly I want it to act as two monitors from my macbook pro 10.5.8

I use a music production software, which would be a lot easier to use if I didn't have to consistently switch back and forth between screen displays, I'm able to create 4 different screens on my mac and I would love to have 2 of them split on the projectors image.

My price range would be less than 2k, and was hoping to get a decent LED one for that price...The energy factors and bulb life are important considering I'll be spending I'd say 4hrs per day on average using the projector.

Room dimensions- 10x8

Seating distance- while laying in bed the distant would be 8ft, while working on the computer the distance would be 2ft

Viewing habits. Do you do most viewing with lights off? Yes

Do you only watch movies on the big screen? Yes

Will there be lighting on from time to time, and where is the lighting located in reference to the screen? No, and my room stays pretty dark during the day there is only one window with blinds

Will there be any daytime viewing where sunlight is a concern? no

Thank you very much in advance
Adam
 

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Adam... it looks like your post has been on here for awhile now and no one has responded. You probably got your answer somewhere else but for future questions you might have better luck starting a new thread; just saying.

Well, I'll give you my 2 bits... for what they are worth.

I usually pretty jealous of those guys who get to work from home but to work from your bed... SUPER JEALOUS! :R

I have no experience with trying to split your screen; which would be perfect for your application. I use 2 screens at work and couldn't go back to 1. But I would definitely give the pros at Projector Central a call and explain your needs to them. I called them back when I was looking for a HD projector for our school auditorium and they were very helpful.

One nice thing is that you wont need a lot of lumins as you never have to worry about overpowering any other light sources; that should mean an increase in hours of use.

Couple of things you will need to keep in mind: noise & screen size!!! Here is a link to a pretty comprehensive calculator that should help you narrow your search: http://www.projectorcentral.com/projectors.cfm

If you need any more semi-useful advice let me know. Good luck!
 

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Well OK I am starting to build my home theater / family room and I haven't bought a projector or a screen yet.

Room dimensions are 18x35.

seating distance 14ft

lights will be on, dimmed.

There are two windows in the room off to the left. I will put blockout shades on them tho

I will mainly watch movies on it and some PS3 gaming.

my budget would be under 2k.

Any advice would be apprectiated
 

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I would get as nice of projector as you can. A lot of people recommend a gray screen for any less than ideal light situation, but I am not 100% sure that it is necessary for low ambient light depending on your wants. I have a white screen, about 1.1 gain, and an epson 9700ub which has 1600 lumens and it has been plenty bright for my living room during the day with a install of blackout curtains. Hope that helps. If you really want good advice, you should start your own thread, and read as much as you can about projectors. I got my epson for $1400 refurbished with a warranty, and I built my own screen, so not including speakers and receiver it cost maybe $1600. If you can find a great deal like I did on my projector, and are willing to work a little for the screen you should be well under budget. :)
 

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Hi thanks a lot for the information as I m looking forward to buy a home projector for my living room in basement.

I m developing my basement just now, just did the framework. I m thinking of putting a projector but not sure what i should get ? I m providing you the following information that will help you make a recommendation on what screen size i should get.

1) Room Dimension: 22ft long x 12 ft wide
2) seating distance: about 17 ft from the screen. Just putting a L-shape sofa with recliner.
3) there are four pot-lights in total: the first two lights are about 3ft from the screen and are about 7ft apart. and the other set of two lights are 10 ft apart from the first set.
4) there is only one window in the living room. any suggestion on what type of window curtain or blinds to put to completely darken the room?

What screen size should I get ?
How far should I put the projector from the screen?

Since this is my first time dealing with the projector, please help me out!

Thanks,
Kush
 

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What's your budget? Is it a dedicated room? What are the dimensions... You cannot just ask for recommendations until we get some specifications... It's like saying I am looking for a car, what should I buy...
 

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Have to agree with jon96789, more information would be required to make an informed recommendation.

If you are looking for the best low budget projector I would recommend the BenQ W770ST which has the added benefit of being short throw. If you ARE on a tight budget but don't want to settle for less than 1080p I would recommend the ViewSonic PJD7820HD. However, if you are wanting top of the line then neither of these would work for you.

Post your budget, room size constraints, lighting...basically any information that you think might be relevant and then someone would be able to give you a better recommendation for your specific needs.
 

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great thread. I know ambient light is a killer, but as long as i have realistic expectations, i think i can live with the light. Now, i'm hoping to find the best projector/screen combo for ambient light for decent value
 
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