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Hello everyone,

We just moved into a new apartment, and we have decided to invest in a video projector instead of getting a TV.
I need some advice on the setup I have in mind, before I buy the wrong equipment. It might be very straight forward, but I'm not exactly really knowledgeable in the area.

What we are looking to do:
• Image source: Video projector connecting to Apple TV.
• Audio source: Video projector connecting to Onkyo amplifier - This will be across the room, and ideally we'd like to avoid having a cable running across. The amp has built-in Bluetooth and Wifi, is there a way to connect wirelessly to get the sound while getting the image from the Apple TV (via HDMI)? Do most projectors have built-in Wifi?
• We want to be able to watch during the day too, but without having to blackout natural light. Anyone can recommend a decent quality projector to project daytime? Budget is around USD 600 to 700.

Any help would be much appreciated, thanks everyone!

Olivier
 

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You will be very very sorry if you spend money on projector compared to any midrange TV selling for $900 to $2000. No projector manufacturer will tell you this. The lens in the projector degrades the images compared to TVs because TVs have no lenses. You view TV pixel DIRECTLY with nothing but a few very thin filter layers between the pixels and your eyes. The lens in inexpensive projectors makes images look blurred compared to flat screen TVs. Projectors are ****** for HDR content because none of them are remotely close to the 1000 nits+ you get on a 65-inch TV in the $900 to $2000 price range.

Black levels on the projector will also not be as black as a good mid-range TV with full array backlight dimming. Projectors with the most expensive illumination systems (typically in projectors costing $25,000 or more) have up to 100 blue lasers aimed at a spinning phosphor disc that produces yellow light that is split into red and green light and the blue LED light is used directly for pixels with blue in them. These TVs use quantum dots also called ULED by at least one manufacturer. A $60,000 projector produces HALF the light output of a $900 Hisense 65-inch quantum dot TV and that means the TV produces a wider range of colors and image detail PLUS not having the image degraded by the lens and other optical components in the projector. You can imagine how pitiful light output from a $2000 projector is... plus, the lens in the $2000 projector.

A $1200 Vizio 65-inch TV outputs 8 times more light than the $60,000 projector. Now... you may be thinking "but I don't NEED that much light". That only means you don't understand what it takes to get good images from HDR sources. More than 90% of everything you see on-screen with HDR content happens between 0% white (black) and 50% white. But all the brilliant "new" saturated colors that come with UHD and HDR require that light above 50% to make them look great on-screen. And the brighter the TV can get, the more colors and the more saturated (and beautiful) colors the TV will be able to create. So projectors, just because they aren't as bright as decent UHD/HDR TVs, simply cannot reproduce the full range of colors you get with "better" flat-screen TVs-and the blurriness added by the lens that TVs don't have.

So, you are probably thinking... well all I need is a projection screen with some gain then. 2.0 gain makes images 2 times brighter... but the viewing angle is significantly truncated in achieving that. PLUS screens with gain produce a hot spot in the center of your vision that looks like 5000 swarming mosquitoes. And that gets really annoying to see once you have seen it for the first time. A $2000 85-inch TV will produce brighter and sharper images than a $2000 projector with a $3000 screen with 1.3 gain (if you get a Stewart Filmscreen 1.3 gain screen, because there are other brands and cheaper brands that will have hot spot problems even with a low gain like 1.3. Don't want to rain on your parade, but UHD and HDR have essentially made projectors an under-performing old-tech that will disappear as LED walls get increasingly affordable... first in movie theaters, then at home. Yes, in 15 years-or-less, projectors will be gone from movie theaters because projectors can't make compelling images compared to decent TVs.

Just so you know I'm not some 18 year old troll getting his jollies by dashing dreams... I was an engineer with the worlds largest consumer/professional/commercial imaging company in the world for 34 years before I retired. I worked on numerous WYSIWYG imaging systems intended to take one source (film or digital) and convert it to a different source and to output images that appear identical to the original. These systems included stints in digital cinema, developing a new 3-D viewing device for medical, resource exploration, and mapping applications, professional photographer imaging systems for editing and printing images, and much more. I also review home theater equipment and have reviewed well over 50 projectors and probably have calibrated an additional 100-200 more projectors. I've had to return a $50,000 projector that was laughably bad in so many ways, I couldn't understand how they got their CEDIA demos to ever look good. Another, different brand, projector had nonsensically high black levels for a mid-5-figure projector. By the way, the CHEAPEST projector I know of with that multiple-blue-lasers firing at a rotating yellow phosphor disc... is $8000 and it would not produce more than 250 nits. Remember that $1200 Vizio 65-inch TV that produces 3000 nits? Trust me, you show 100 people both screens and let them choose which one to watch... NOBODY will pick any projector over any decent mid-range TV. I'm looking at a $2000 Sony TV right now (discounted as low as $1400 I believe). It tops out at around 800 nits for brightness, while the $60,000 Sony home projector only produces about 500 nits. The TV images look better. If somebody came in here and installed a $60K Sony projector and took the flat screen... I'd sell the projector and buy a Master Series flat screen and use the rest of the money on vacations. And I have been a huge fan of projectors until about 2 years ago when it was obvious projection was losing the image quality race quickly.
 

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Ignore the naysayers. A projector can give an immersive experience that a TV can never match, if you have a dedicated fully-darkenable room, with black side walls and ceiling back to the seating area.

Yes, a TV can give a brighter, more contrasty image than a projector - but that applies to the commercial theaters as well. If you like the big screen image at a movie theater, then imagine it even sharper and bigger, at your home seating distance.

Don't hold your breath for LED walls. The hurdles to making them, installing them, and maintaining them free of dead pixels in huge sizes without requiring multiple small panels with gaps between them may or may not ever be overcome. It's far easier to install a projector and screen. I don't even use a discrete screen - I just painted a wall with this site's Cream & Sugar Ultra recipe.

But just remember that you're going down a rabbit hole, and - up to a point - the more you spend on a projector, the better the image will look. I'm using an entry-level $5K JVC true 4K projector and I love the image I get, and am not tempted to trade up or add an anamorphic lens, the siren songs in the forums for this category of toys.

In your price range, you should look for a 1080p projector, possibly second-hand, while saving up for a better projector a few years down the road. As far as hookups are concerned, put your projector atop a wire-frame set of shelves with your AVR and sources on the shelves below it, hook everything up with 6 foot HDMI cables - and wired Ethernet if possible, and 12 to 14 gauge speaker cable, depending on the size of your room. Stay away from wireless connections as much as possible, for stability's sake.

Try not to let those with much more expensive rigs make you feel like your setup is inadequate - just buy something that you can have time to setup and evaluate and return if it's not good enough, and then put the rest of your money into your sound system - and movies to watch!
 

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Ignore the naysayers. A projector can give an immersive experience that a TV can never match, if you have a dedicated fully-darkenable room, with black side walls and ceiling back to the seating area.

Yes, a TV can give a brighter, more contrasty image than a projector - but that applies to the commercial theaters as well. If you like the big screen image at a movie theater, then imagine it even sharper and bigger, at your home seating distance.
Aprojector is great, but the bulbs are very expensive and if you, like me, have your tv in use a lot (8+ hours) or more you are going to spend a lot for new bulbs. I good tv for tv and a screen that can just lower in front of the tv when you want a great movie is fantastic, however a dark room is very critical. The darker the room including walls, the better the picture. The only thing I know of is some screens that are highly directional but start at around $4000 ! A good projector and a good screen with good blackout blinds and dark walls can do a lot, but a light room is not tolerable with a projector unless you want to break the bank. For the price of such a screen you can have a decent room darkness with blinds and have both tv in the daytime and movies at night. .
 

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Don't ignore the naysayers when he is a 48 year industry professional with experience in home and commercial theaters and reviewing experience with more than 50 projectors in 10 years and about the same numbers of flat screen tvs--and who is about to measure a TV for a new review. I've reviewed projector's priced between $1200 to $60,000 (most in the range of $2500-$30,000) and $900 to $10,000 in flat panel TVs. Up until UHD/HDR existed, I was strongly PRO-projector, though for those with their video displays on for a long time every day, projection lamps are a significant expense. Example: Epson projectors... their $2000-$4000 projectors use a lamp they charge $300 for. You can purchase an IDENTICAL LOOKING lamp for $60... same plastic housing, same exact lamp, fits perfectly in EVERY way. But after installing the cheap lamp, the Epson projector goes beep - beep - beep constantly as long as the cheap lamp is installed. Put an Epson-brand lamp back in and no beeping.

UHD/HDR is the DEATH KNELL FOR 100% of projection. Movie theaters in 15 years OR LESS will have NO PROJECTORS WHATSOEVER and the tales of problems with LED walls are inconsequential to how reliable the new direct view large displays will be by the time they begin replacing projectors in earnest. Anybody who thinks a larger picture is preferable to a GOOD picture has weirdly skewed preferences and probably has never viewed UHD/HDR content side by side on a UHD/HDR full 4K projector and any good flat screen TV... and that includes a TV as inexpensive as the 65-inch Hisense H9G with $1000 MSRP. I have a $30,000 projector here right now with 40 Blue lasers aimed at a yellow-phosphor spinning disc that gets so hot it has a liquid cooling system with an electric pump that keeps the disc from over heating. This is the same illumination system used in movie theaters and it can reproduce MANY more colors than conventional projection lamps. NO projector with a conventional projection lamp, UHP type, ultra high pressure, can produce a color space larger than Rec.709 color which is the standard for HDTV. UHD/HDR video has a significantly larger range of colors it can reproduce than ANY projector with a conventional lamp. So NO projector you purchase that employs a conventional lamp can produce more colors than ANY HDTV or HD Projector even when it is capable of accepting UHD/HDR images. AND... even when projectors have the blue laser/yellow phosphor light engine, they can only produce perhaps half of the larger color space you get with UHD/HDR. While quantum dot flat panel TVs reproduce about 90% of the expanded color space offered by UHD/HDR.

Saying a BIG PICTURE is so much better than a SMALL PICTURE is short sighted in the extreme. The size actually matters little. What matters is your viewing angle. You have to have about a 50-degree viewing angle to see all the detail visible in UHD/HDR images. That can be achieved with a 65-inch TV or by a 65-foot wide screen and in BOTH CASES, you will have the SAME viewing experience in terms of how large your brain thinks the picture is. BRIGHTNESS is not the main reason to get a UHD/HDR TV... UHD/HDR video is not BRIGHTER per se, than HDTV video. HD video puts all the image in the range of 0% white to 100% white. In UHD/HDR video, all the image is in the range of 0% white to 50% white. All the rest of the light from 51% white to 100% white is used for specular highlights from refractions and reflections from things like chandelier crystals, chrome objects in bright light, sun glinting off the surface of water, etc. Most of the extra light is used to make the expanded range of colors you get with UHD/HDR sources. Without that extra light, you cannot get the extra colors. The $30,000 projector is **** compared to the 65-inch TV. I should also mention that I use a $6500 reference quality hard-mounted Stewart Filmscreen reference screen that is the best projection screen available, but it does require black walls, black ceiling, and black carpet... which describes my review-cave precisely. The projector is NOT SHARP in comparison. Projected pixels are decidedly soft compared to images on the flat screen TV because the $30,000 projector has a 17 element glass lens that inevitably cannot make images as pin-point sharp as directly viewed pixels. Side by side with the $1000 TV, the images from the $30,000 projector are vastly inferior to the flat screen TV. Now imagine just how inferior the images of a new 1080p projector selling in the $1000-$2000 range with a conventional projection lamp and a lens with fewer elements that is far less expensive to manufacture than the lens in the $30,000 projector is going to look next to the $1000 UHD/HDR TV.

You can NEVER see how good UHD/HDR images really are on a projector. Not even the $60,000 beauty produced images that looked as good as the $1000 Hisense TV or as good as a $1200 Vizio TV or as good as a $1900 Sony TV being sold at the time (earlier this year) for $1500. And the difference between a new $1000 projector and a new $60,000 projector are HUGE in favor of the $60,000 projector... massively better in every possible metric on the $60,000 projector. So a $1000 HD projector will provide: SOFT PIXELS (sub optimal lens design is inevitable at this price point); color range limited to Rec.709; expensive replacement lamps; much worse black levels than new flat panels with full array backlights and local dimming, the projector will be 60 Hz refresh rate, while the $1000 TV has 120 Hz refresh rate, so much more flicker from the projector. And the list goes on and on. If you want GOOD VIDEO... it is time to begin abandoning projection. I don't consider ANY video display that is incapable of UHD/HDR worthy of owning in 2020. UHD/HDR is a vast step forward in image quality. It is downright goofy to limit yourself to 1080p and Rec.709 color when the better option is so much better.
 

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IF it is possible to make a larger budget, I think for an 'apartment', you may have the best results with a tv + projector. I am guessing there is not a lot of wall space, so some people will hang a pull-down or electric drop-down screen over the tv so when needed, it can be lowered to be hanging just in front of the tv, thus taking up virtually no space.

You could get a decent not too big tv and then the screen. If money is tight, you should still be able to find a good 1080p projector for not a whole lot. I have discovered, that if you really are interested in a hobby / desire, you should save up and spend a little more to get something you will be more glad to have.

I have occasionally spent many late-night hours trying to get my projector to look like the tv screens I just saw at best buy. It just won't happen! 2 different technologies at play. But, as I have graduated myself to a better projector, having better tech in the projector and more controls for tweaking, I can get a really nice picture.

Why I love using a projector - I can NOT get a tv as large as a projection screen! I go to the movies and say to myself, I need one of these in my house. So, a projector basically gets me that. I currently have a 106" screen. This is not achievable from a tv...not one that I could ever afford. It is just more fun!

Companies do make 'wireless' hdmi units that would make your idea of 'projector across the room, don't want an ugly cable on the floor' happen. But, this chews into the budget. ~$100+ last time I looked.

The quality of what you want will also determine the expense. 1080p is more budget-friendly than 4k. Which one will you be happier with? Are you willing to 'settle' for now, and wait to save and spend money again? Is 1080p good enough?

BB sells a 43 inch tv starting $150. Pull down screen on amazon (elite brand 100") $70. These are popular 'economic' products that may suit your tastes. Now you are left with ~$450 after taxes to use for a projector. Projector prices will vary along with amounts of connections, amounts of tweaking capabilities and overall quality of parts.
 

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For what it's worth. I have a dedicated HT room that I painted the walls and ceiling a medium to dark gray with blackout curtains. I purchased an Epson 5030UB projector which projects on a 120" screen viewed from 13' feet away and I am very pleased with the result. I also have a sharp 80" TV that I use for everyday viewing. The Epson 5030UB I use for movies with friends. Both give a pleasant viewing experience but for movies, size matters and I feel like I'm in a theater when watching the 120" screen. I purchased my Epson 5030UB on ebay for a little over $700 with 800hrs on the bulb. A friend of mine has the same projector and uses it for everything and just changed the bulb at 3300 hours. So I don't know how much help this is but I have both and would not give up my projector. Good luck
 

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One more time... screen size is completely unimportant. What is important is viewing angle. If you pick a 40-degree viewing angle you can produce the SAME viewing angle with ANY screen size from 32 inches to 120 inches. The only thing that would change is your distance from the screen. A 120-inch screen is NOT better than an 85-inch TV if the viewing angle is the same for both setup. The ONLY thing a big projection screen is good for is dim, soft, images and impressing your friends who don't understand that bigger screens are not necessarily better. I have 6 projectors in the back of the room ranging from $2000 to almost $30,000... right this minute. Any one of them could be in use in less than 5 minutes plus a little time to focus, and align the images with the screen. 4 of the projectors are $8000 or more and have native 3840x2160 or 4096x3940 imagers with laser-phosphor illumination systems. I have 3 TVs here in the room also, all of them are quantum dot TVs and 4K. The oldest one produces 850 nits after calibration and sold for $900 last year when NOT on sale (all are 65-inches, but I personally would purchase a 75- or 85-inch TV with full UHD resolution). I also have this year's version of that same TV that sells for $1000 when not on sale. It produces almost twice as much peak brightness (again, not because brighter pictures are better, but so the TV can produce more colors as supported by the UHD video system we have right now. So a $1000 TV that makes 1650 calibrated nits or 1850 slightly less calibrated peak white level and over 2000 nits in Vivid mode. I also have a current year TV with a $1900 MSRP that has been on sale already for as low as $1500 (again in 65 inch size). If you told me I could watch Tenet in UHD in my room on my system tonight, I would be watching it on the $1000 TV. Because the projectors just won't do it justice in terms of reference quality images. There is an $8000 projection screen here in 2.40:1 aspect with motorized "curtains" on the left and right sides so I can create constant image height projection, as they do in commercial theaters. There's also a $5000 reference quality screen in 16:9 format. Doesn't matter. The images on the TVs are FAR better. When you trim the budget to a $100 screen (or painted-on-a-wall screen) and a very modestly priced projector, the comparison tilts even MORE in favor of the flat panel TV. If you then increase the flat screen TV size to 85-inches (still FAR less expensive than any of the "better" projectors that are here, cost-wise), the size of the projection screen is no longer that impressive.
 

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Hello Da Wiz, If your last post is directed at me then, I'm impressed with your equipment and expertise. If using a 80" to 120" screen in a dedicated home theater room it would be difficult to sit where you would be viewing at a 40 degree off center unless it was close to the size of a auditorium. My above comment was not an argument with you but just a personal experience with my own equipment. No, I don't have the nits with either my 80" Sharp TV or the reflected image from my Epson projector but you don't have that brightness in a movie theater either. My movie experience is not like I'm looking out a window but rather enjoying the movie on the "big screen". I guess it's all a matter of personal perspective. I have a friend that has a Sony XBR-75Z9D and yes, it has the nits but it didn't make me want to rush out and buy one. Just 15 to 20 years ago we were looking at rear projection TV's that you couldn't even see the picture 40 degrees off axis. The world has changed a lot in the past few years and will continue to do so. For now, I am going to sit back and enjoy what I have. Regards
 

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Dear Wiz,

Please try to accept that not everyone has the same preferences that you do.

Enough brightness for total dynamic range is less important to many of us than social viewing on a large screen.

While one person can sit close enough to a smaller screen to make the image fill as much of his or her field of view, that becomes much less feasible the more people are watching - even with two people watching.

Telling us that we're wasting our money on buying projectors is, simply, offensive and you should try to temper your presentations.

Maybe you regret spending the huge amounts of money you say you've spent chasing perfection, but I don't regret spending the much smaller sum I spent on my projection setup, nor does anyone else in the forum for users of the series of projector I use.
 

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To omillier,

Hope our 'back-n-forth' disagreements don't discourage you. Sometimes passionate people get carried away. I feel that we should offer you our experienced opinions while at the same time try to actually answer your questions with possible commentaries on the 'ins and outs' of the answers.

Look for re-furbished projectors from a factory. This may be your best guaranty of a good working product that should come with at least a small window of return capabilities if needed. If possible, research a good reviewed projector that also offers a good quantity of tweaking features. More than likely, the less $, the less you can do with it. All of the auto adjustments may still not be good enough.

Figure into your budget the projector, screen, projector mount and hdmi cable. Maybe additional cables if connecting up different devices. The mount 'may' be not needed if you have a spot in the middle of the room to set your projector on without bumping it, or if you get a 'short throw' projector. You can research these options.

Be sure to read lots of reviews to get an idea of how others have used the products.

I agree with Da Wiz in that today's tv's can produce outstanding colors, contrasts, blacks and off-angle imaging. I enjoy walking through BB and looking at all the screens, trying to see the differences between a $400 and a $2400 screen. I sometimes get caught up in this and go home and spend chunks of time trying to get my projector to look like a brilliant screen. It doesn't happen, and I do understand it is 2 different technologies at play.

However, I would humbly argue that a good projector / screen can make images pretty true to real life. And while I enjoy looking at neon fruit on BB tv screens, I am more geared towards seeing things as they are. I do attempt to add a little more color in, but not much. I try to make skin colors look the same as I would see them in real life. When I look at my black keyboard of which I am typing this, I see black. Not infinite, immersive glossy 3d-ish black.

I have a 55" sharp and I like it and can tell a significant difference in the picture quality compared to my 106" screen. I am with Da Wiz in that I can watch the tv with some background lighting and still see a pretty good image. HOWEVER, I will stand by my preference of watching movies on the big screen for the 'fun of it' factor. My projector is tweaked for good quality imaging and I would be very hard pressed to give up the big screen enjoyment!

While I still go to the movies for a few select 'big' movies to get the real theater experience, my movie room at home is very satisfying for me and others.
 

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I will continue to state, uncategorically... nobody in their right mind would pick a $1500 1080p projector with a $300 screen over an $1800 flat panel TV chosen carefully and setup well. With projectors... the less expensive the projector, the less light it produces. The less light it produces, the smaller the range of colors it can reproduce, and the farther it gets from the larger UHD color space. This is not a matter of "personal preference" unless your ONLY criteria for "choice" is a big image. Big BAD images are impressive for 5 minutes. (BAD=less than UHD resolution, no HDR, and color space no larger than HDTV). How many people still have a preference for monophonic sound and black and white cathode ray tubes (TV before flat panels).

You cannot solve this problem with any amount of money and the claim that "it's the same as movie theaters" isn't justification for doing projection at home. Theaters would change to LED walls TOMORROW, if the cost wasn't prohibitive. Flat Panel TVs are the closest thing we have to LED walls for home cinema. And the cost of an 85-inch flat screen isn't as out of reach as it used to be.

DLP projectors are especially depressing as they have not improved their black level performance since 2010 or so--at least when typical UHP projection lamps are used. With laser light sources that have enough processing power (expensive) can modulate the laser to make "perfect" black when called for. But DLP/laser projectors are far out of the entry-level price range. 3LCD projectors also have black level issues when UHP lamps are the light source. With a laser light source, there are considerable improvements, but again, the cost is far out of reach for entry-level budgets.

All of my comments apply to those looking for the best images for the money. If screen size is your ONLY consideration... whatever... you won't be very happy with it over the long-term though.
 

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I see two clearly lines of thoughts: The "cost is not a problem" or "I want nothing but the best" and the "budget is key" or "I'm happy with limitation's". Very interesting...particularly I can not afford neither at the moment (COVID-19 decimate my line of work, aviation) but If money wasn't an issue, most likely will go in the line of the TV's. A valid point some failed to mention is products. The media, most TV signals still in the US are HD (720p/1080i/p) and physical media (BD or UltraHD) are in decline. Streaming content is unreliable at least (we are at the mercy of the Cable providers), try to binge 4K content at pick hours and you get an idea of what Im talking about it. As I said, 4k is there, but, limited. And while looking at those drone images of the beaches on Bali are mouthwatering after a while is a fade. And they are trying to lure us to 8K now!! please girl, be real! (not pun intended and not trying to be misogynist).
Believed or not I have a soft spot for 3D,so I am trying as well to get a decent 3D proyector to watch Avatar and The Martian one more time...
Conclusion: IMHO, this hobby is like liking women's, what is tempting to you, is nothing for the next guy. Be happy, be well, and take care of yourself.
 
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