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Advice for new setup

jsliman
11-23-2004, 05:58 PM
Hi, I am weighing my options for a home theater setup. I want to setup in my basement. I have complete light control, lights are on a dimmer switch, no outside light, but would like to be able to have lights on (at least a little) while watching a football game. I have been impressed with the reviews of some lcd projectors but I am not sure what the minimum lumen spec I should get. Would 800 be enough?, 1000?? Can anyone give me some feedback about how the Sony VPL-HS51, Sanyo PLV-Z3, or the Panasonic PT-AE700U will perform with some light in the room. I currently have an analog cable tv signal in my house and I am considering getting a converter that increases the signal to 720p. Is it worth it, does it work? How about a 16x9 native aspect ratio projector displaying an anolog cable signal, would it display correctly. I would appreciate any help. Thanks.

borromini
11-24-2004, 03:09 AM
Let me start by saying that you have the potential for the perfect room for a front projector home theater. Basements are ideal because the sound can be isolated from the rest of the house and as you mentioned...great light control. The challenge is to determine if home theater to you means watching all TV activities or just movies and special events. Does the projector need to replace your TV or can you continue regular TV activities in your living room? Unless you have a unique situation that requires you to do all your TV viewing in the basement, keep a regular TV in the living room. The main reason being that cost-effective, high performance projectors including the three LCD projectors you list perform best when used in virtually dark rooms. If you have to have some lighting, it should be dimmed so that it simply provides just enough illumination to allow you to see where you're walking or where you set down your drink/popcorn without throwing any light on the screen. Recessed down-light cans work best for this environment. General rule of thumb for minimum lumens for an FP should be 800. Higher if you have absolutely no control of lights, but in your case I would recommend that you don't bother buying a projector with more lumens. You'll get the most bang-for-buck with one of those three projectors. I'm a big proponent of FPs for home theaters because of the fantastic PQ and immersive experience you just can't get with the best RPTVs, but that's only possible if you are serious about setting up the room properly. If possible, keep regular TV activities in your living room upstairs.

As for analog cable, there's no cable box that upconverts the signal to 720p. You can however, get certain DVD players that upconvert DVDs to 720p/1080i and I recommend them. Using these PJs for TV, you're going to want to instead subscribe to digital cable with an HDTV package because you will enjoy watching your favorite sports in HD or your favorite prime-time programs in HD. While 4:3 SD programs looks OK on most channels with these projectors, I recommend that you save your SD viewing for your living room. Use the PJ for your 16x9 programs because that's where you really enjoy HD/DVD viewing. Hope this helps!

rbinck
11-24-2004, 09:29 AM
I would just add that most PJs have both a 4:3 mode and a 16:9 mode and you may want to experiment with that on the SD viewing.

borromini knows the stuff on PJs and usually will not steer you wrong.

Be sure to pay attention to the distances, screen sizes and mounting heights. Nothing worse than to find out that they don't work together after installation and you have to move a PJ closer to the screen or have most of the screen not covered. Don't think external lenses are the answer as they cost as much as the projector! They are really only for extreme cases like churches, etc.

borromini
11-24-2004, 01:29 PM
All good points rbinck! Unless the viewer is going to be watching 4:3 content more than 65% of the time, I tend to recommend 16x9 native PJs since that's the ideal cinematic/HD experience. In this case I'm assuming this is an open basement to build the HT from scratch. I also recommend to not do any mounting or screen purchases until the projector has been received and do test setups by projecting on the wall that the screen is going to be located at. Those tests will reveal whether it's best to do a shelf mount on the rear wall, cart/table mount somewhere in front of the rear wall or ceiling mount as well as the ideal screen size and material. Ideally the projector should be at a height and lateral location whereby the cone of projection is centered on the screen in all directions and light is hitting the screen as perpendicular as possible using the longest throw possible while avoiding significant use of the len's zoom. This will produce the best visual results with minimal to no distortions and maximum light coming straight back at the viewer for a brighter image rather than at an angle where it bounces off and strikes a side wall, which degrades the contrast. This is why high ceiling mounts while being convenient for keeping the projector out of the way, tends to force a viewer to rely heavily on lens shifts/keystone corrections which degrade the quality of the image. The only other issue not addressed is the wiring scheme between PJ and source component equipment. If everything can be elegantly installed towards the rear of the room, it will minimize costs for what's normally expensive video cabling, and I highly recommend using HDMI/DVI cables where ever possible. I'd rather see the longest cables be speaker cabling for the front satellites and subwoofer.

jsliman
11-24-2004, 11:57 PM
Thanks for the input

jsliman
11-25-2004, 12:16 AM
Let me start by saying that you have the potential for the perfect room for a front projector home theater. Basements are ideal because the sound can be isolated from the rest of the house and as you mentioned...great light control. The challenge is to determine if home theater to you means watching all TV activities or just movies and special events. Does the projector need to replace your TV or can you continue regular TV activities in your living room? Unless you have a unique situation that requires you to do all your TV viewing in the basement, keep a regular TV in the living room. The main reason being that cost-effective, high performance projectors including the three LCD projectors you list perform best when used in virtually dark rooms. If you have to have some lighting, it should be dimmed so that it simply provides just enough illumination to allow you to see where you're walking or where you set down your drink/popcorn without throwing any light on the screen. Recessed down-light cans work best for this environment. General rule of thumb for minimum lumens for an FP should be 800. Higher if you have absolutely no control of lights, but in your case I would recommend that you don't bother buying a projector with more lumens. You'll get the most bang-for-buck with one of those three projectors. I'm a big proponent of FPs for home theaters because of the fantastic PQ and immersive experience you just can't get with the best RPTVs, but that's only possible if you are serious about setting up the room properly. If possible, keep regular TV activities in your living room upstairs.

As for analog cable, there's no cable box that upconverts the signal to 720p. You can however, get certain DVD players that upconvert DVDs to 720p/1080i and I recommend them. Using these PJs for TV, you're going to want to instead subscribe to digital cable with an HDTV package because you will enjoy watching your favorite sports in HD or your favorite prime-time programs in HD. While 4:3 SD programs looks OK on most channels with these projectors, I recommend that you save your SD viewing for your living room. Use the PJ for your 16x9 programs because that's where you really enjoy HD/DVD viewing. Hope this helps!

Thanks for the input, I found this on the net: http://www.guygraphics.com/index2.html and http://www.cwol.com/hdtv/ads-tech-hdtv-upconverter.htm Do you think these can actually convert standard signals to hd signals?? Thanks again

jsliman
11-25-2004, 12:49 AM
Thanks for the input, I found this on the net: http://www.guygraphics.com/index2.html and http://www.cwol.com/hdtv/ads-tech-hdtv-upconverter.htm Do you think these can actually convert standard signals to hd signals?? Thanks again

Also in the Sony HS51 review: DVDO iScan HD+ processor, says it will upconvert standard signals to 720p. I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

borromini
11-25-2004, 01:00 AM
I'm familiar with the DVDO video processor and it has a solid reputation in the AV world. Just remember that at $1,400 it isn't a cheap solution but if you have to have all your standard video sources upconverted to HDTV then this solution works. I'm not as familiar with the other products you've listed but they seem to be designed to do exactly the same thing. The only question is whether they put out comparable results to the DVDO.

rbinck
11-25-2004, 09:58 AM
The upconverting is largely a scan line conversion issue. SD material in the digital realm is 480 scan lines and HD material is at least 720 scan lines. The original reason for the line doublers was for projectors where 480 scan lines would show up as dark horizontal lines in the image. You can see these horizontal scan lines on many SD TVs as well, especially on the big screen SD TVs. My son in law has a 32" JVC SD TV that the horizontal scan lines are very noticable. I have a Mitts 27" that the horizontal scan lines are very noticable. You can imagine the horizontal scan lines that would exist on a 9' screen. Just doing some simple math if you have a 60" (5ft) high image at 480 lines each line is 1/8" in height.

The first projectors were designed to match a computer resolution rather than TV resolutions, with the most popular being 800x600 in the early days. In order to display the 480 line SD video on the 600 line projector a line doubler/scaler was required and in the early days they were not built into the projectors like they are now.

Line doublers like the DVDO do a good job of resizing the resolutions from the SD material to the HD outputs required by HDTV projectors, but they do have their limitations. Many people see the image enhancements shown on CSI and ask why can they do that and yet I can't buy a box to enhance SD to a HD level. I would point out that first that is Hollywood and second they take several seconds morphing the enhancement to the final photo. Several seconds per frame is not usable for watching TV.

borromini
11-25-2004, 07:13 PM
I agree, today's consumer video processors are similar to DVD upconversion players...a hit-or-miss scenario that depends on how well the unit works with a particular display. There are no universal formulas and therefore no universal results. :)