Skip to comments.HDTV Projector or Flat Screen TV
Posted on 01/03/2012 12:05:17 PM PST by John1111
I'm going nuts with this and as always, I know that I can throw this out on an FR post and get the input that I need. I'm trying to decide whether to go with a 55 inch flat screen TV or a HDTV Projector. Can anyone help with a decision. There are so many pros and cons to both and although I've been leaning toward the projector, I'm worried about bulb life. If I go with a projector, the viewing distance would be about 12' to 14' from the projector, which would be cieling mounted. I'm looking to spend less than $1000, but I'd really like to be able to entertain the kids with 3D/Blu-Ray movies and allow them to play their Wii on it. Are projectors they way to go?
Screw the 3D. If you want the kids to have an awesome 3D experience - send them outside to play and experience life in 3D. You can’t replicate that electronically.
You can get an LED HD Projector and not worry about bulb life. IMO, the bigger factor in this decision is whether you have a media center PC or other theater system to drive the projector (and whether you want to manage same.)
In the media room I’m very slowly building, I have both. I have a 42” LCD (will probably upgrade later this year) and a 110” projection screen. I use the TV for everyday shows then roll down the screen for when I want to watch a movie. I like the choice because I really don’t want something as big as a projection screen for just sitting around watching football, especially if I’m working at the same time. (also having a media room with projector is great if I plan to sell the home).
Considering how cheap components are these days, it can’t hurt to go with both if you shop wisely.
projction tv is great, providing that you have a way to eliminate all sources of light. We have a friend who just painted a wall in their basement white and they watch tv on that wall. It is like going to the movies! However, in daytime it stinks. Of course the sharpness isn’t quite as good as our 60 inch tv, but the size is a plus with projection. Hope this helps.
Something else to consider if you are using the WII with a projector is with such a small distance, will the kids motions get in the way of the projector and also where will you put the sensor bar if you have a large screen. It may be too low or high if you try to put it above or below the screen.
I haven’t seen modern projectors, but I know my 55 LED LCD is extremely bright. I just don’t think you’ll get the image quality with a projector. I’m under the impression that any extraneous light in the room is a problem for a projector, but all I know about is what I have.
A projector TV is usually not worth the trouble unless you are setting up a serious home theater. Since your post doesn’t mention anything like that, I would recommend you stay away from a projection system.
I’ve used a projector and an edge lit LED flat screen. Both have pros and cons. The LED flat screen is ridiculously convenient and colors are insanely bright - usually in the good way.
I should point out that my projector maxes out at 480P (no digital input) while my current 46” 1080P set makes blue ray’s sing.
All that said, I do prefer projector. There is something about the sheer size of it that matters, even if you sit far enough away that the relative size is the same. I can’t explain it, but it is real.
BTW, we sit about 6’ away from our 46” flat screen.
When we build our main house with media room, we’re definitely going projector, unless something changes.
About the 3D: I’ve been a huge proponent of 3D and the 3D Imax movies actually brought me back to the theater after shunning them for well over a decade. That said, I don’t like it in home TV’s. It really is more of a distraction than anything else. It also still needs to be cleaner and more perfected before it is really ready for prime time. I think it would be pretty cool for video games, though.
There is a trade-off involved.
If you have a $1,000 budget - don’t go with a projector. You will hate it, and it will sour your experience.
Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty. A projector is a CHEAP way to get into the 100-300 inch screen size. Face it, for $3,000 for 1080p projector and screen - you can get the SIZE of a theater for a fraction the cost of a LCD/Plasma TV. You can’t buy a 110-300” LCD/Plasma - and if you could, you could likely get a house with a nice car for that price tag.
But, here’s where the Projector is going to fall short. You cannot shoot a black spot on the wall. Ambient light will be ‘black’, so the goal here is “light managment”. In a dedicated ‘Home Theater’, a Projector is in it’s prime. No windows, controlled lighting in wall sconces and/or rope light hidden behind crown molding. My old house had a dedicated theater room with a 110” screen. The HDTV projector and screen cost around $2500 combined.
Now, with a dedicated room, you control the light - so you can take several ‘tricks’ to make the bulbs last longer. My bulb in my set was rated for 1800 hrs; but by running the bulb in “Economy” mode - I have over 3200 hrs and it’s still going strong. Why “Economy Mode”? Because I have no outside or unwanted light to compete with. As I said earlier, you cannot shoot a black dot on the wall - so you trick your eyes by making the projected light and colors so bright, as to convince your brain that anything not brightly illuminated, appears black (in comparison). Because I didn’t have to fight sunlight, lamps or lights outside of my Theater Room (Man Cave) - I could tone the bulb down from 1,200 watts to ~750 watts and still keep the picture looking great (plus the fan is on a lower speed as well).
If you don’t have a room with controlled lighting, and want to keep in the sub-$1,000 range - I’d encourage you to go with a flat panel. Don’t “poison” the idea of a projector - as ‘cheaping out’ will mean an inferior experience. A decent screen will cost you ~$500- 1,000 by itself.
Neither. Do your kids a favor—turn off the TV. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Neither. Do your kids a favor—turn off the TV. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Couple things with the projection system: First: other light. The room with a projection system has to be fairly dark and if the room has windows it’s going to be a problem watching it during the day. Brighter bulb helps but won’t eliminate. Second at the distance you have from projector to screen how large will the image be? You need to see the projector images under same kind of conditions you’ll be using. Third what kind of screen are you using or just the wall? A real screen will give you a better image, but if you’re going to use a wall then you need to buy special paint (whole wall will need to be painted or it’ll look sloppy but man is that wall going to be white).
False and true. 1080p projectors are pretty commonplace now. Overall quality is a function of both the projector AND the screen.
Projectors are KILLED by outside light. A projector cannot project 'Black'. Any color but 'black' - so what they do is project every other color so bright - that an absence of this projection 'appears' black. Easy demonstration - make a shadow during a movie over a dark scene - you will easily see your shadow - so outside light really messes with the picture.
But, if you have a basement, or have a window-less room; you will get a great picture on a Projector, at a price that flat-panels can't begin to touch. You just can't buy a 100+ inch LCD/Plasma TV - they don't make them. And if they did, they would cost a lot more than $2,500.
Look at a 60” projection-style HDTV by Mitsbishi. Cheaper than LCD/Plasma, just as sharp, and 3D ready if you want to go that way. We have a similar sized room to what is described, and that is more than enough TV. Plus, we don’t have to deal with having a dark room like you need with a projection system.
We have a 55” Samsung LED flat screen. It is unbelievable crisp. Before that we had an LED projection, and it gave me migrains. Also, areas of the screen were turning pink. It is now out in the garage and is used for guitar hero/xbox stuff.
Not any more.
May I direct your attention to THIS little gem.
LED light source never needs replacing (30,000 to 50,000-hour life)
Based on 10 hours a day, that's 8 to 13 years of life - 10 hours a day - every single day. Wow!!
I have both too. We use the big screen for movies and a lot of HD material off Cable. We have a 133" screen and it pops. You can easily get a plasma looking effect with the right screen material. 1080p Projectors aren't too expensive. Movies on Blu-ray on the big screen look as razor sharp as any TV I have seen. For serious movie buffs, a projector and a good sound system are the best way to get a fully enveloping experience.
You could start off with a less expensive projector setup to see how it works out. Even the lower end equipment is better than many of the mid level systems from 6-8 years ago.
OLED is the new standard. Everything else is junk.
As an owner of both, let me offer the following:
We use a projector in the basement home theatre room. We and the kids love it, but ... you CANNOT get a good experience for $1000. Why? You **NEED** a big DA-LITE movie screen. You *NEED* a suitable sound system/media amp. The projectors do NOT produce anything close to movie or game sounds. You *NEED* a dark room and a 10-18’ viewing distance.
If you lack the above, DO NOT go projector.
Having said all that, again, we LOVE the home theatre in the basement, a truly darkenable (sic) room, and the big screen experience for gaming is amazing. We can project a 9.5’ wide image in HD. The room has more than paid for itself in money NOT spent on movie tickets, gas, popcorn, and worry about where the kids are.
In our bedroom we have a good HD TV and a modest 5 speaker sound system I wired in myself. etc. Perfect for sports, NetFlix and TV-based entertainment (mostly just NCIS and Antique RoadShow).
NET: You cannot go wrong with a decent LCD HD TV. Go projector when you can do the whole room thing.
1) A GREAT projector will set you back maybe $2000 or so; yes,that is "two thousand" dollars. (ie, Panasonic PT-4000) A completely light controlled environment is cool if you have it, but I set my theater up for football with side sconces lit, and a little overhead lighting so people can see their snacks etc and it isn't "pitch black" by ANY stretch. These new projectors do GREAT things. Movies will be an experience you will enjoy again and again, and will never get old. Sports will be amazing, and you will discover friends you never knew you had to watch movies and things like super bowls, etc. A 70" screen just doesn't cut it. PERIOD.
2) A GREAT sound system will set you back maybe $750. YES!! That includes speakers, sub-woofers, and receivers. No bull! But read on...
3) A GREAT screen will set you back maybe $4000. That is a 110" x 47" 2:35:1 aspect screen, acoustically transparent, blah blah blah etc etc ad nauseum. (Speakers behind the screen, DEFINITELY preferred.) You could put up your own "home brew" for easily 1/4th of that. Look around! It is out there. Get a good screen one way or the other.
4) Professional grade acoustically design room? PRICELESS!!! You MUST look at this if you want the "wow it's like a real theater" experience. End of story, no argument.
I have seen s-o-o-o many "home theaters" that have huge screens, sound systems that would break the bank, seats that are built for a king, but they sound like @7^5*^%% because they have not taken the time, money, blood, sweat and tears to design or seek advice on the acoustics of the build. PLEASE consider this when you design you home theater! I have a $500 "home theater in a box" that sounds like a million dollar sound system because I have had the theater acoustically designed and treated. OMG it makes all the difference in the world. Spend your money on a good, well-designed acoustical environment, and you can ALWAYS upgrade EVERYTHING else. I have had so many people tell me "I wish we would have done that when we were building our theater....".
A GREAT reference for the DIY'er or even someone who has someone else design and build is the AVS forum. (avsforum.com)
But the speakers are horrible, which is why the sound is routed through the sound system. We also don’t use the internet stuff since we have an Apple T.V. To route Hulu through, for example, requires a Hulu account. It is easier to hook my laptop up to the Samsung to do what I want on Hulu. It worked really well with the Rose Parade yesterday (KTLA streaming). (We don’t have cable.)
Not much to add - but agree with the following summary:
1. Projectors preferred for THEATER setting - controlled light, controlled sound, controlled experience.
2. projectors preferred for >60 inch sizes.
3. Quality of expereince - for $1K - won’t be there for projector.
3. LCD/LED preferred for everday use.
My own experience - since you mention kids - is LCD/LED all the way. With any sort of sound in the TV - can just drive the sound with the TV - no need to have kids driving 100+ watt complex input surround sound. (Also - since projector in ceiling - heck of a lot easier to just plug a new source in the back of the TV) (Also - if they play with your settings - can take while to figure out they turned off your center channel)
Then - when I want a movie with surround - switch the source.
The real killer though is the light. if you can’t make the roomdark for viewing, projector is going to lose.
I’d get a cheapish LCD, and a cheap computer (build yourself from NewEgg (start with beginner level video - make sure to have HDMI - but with open card slot. Add fancy video card later, and play games at 1080P! some of these games are better than movies).) Drive most/all AV through computer. netflix, Youtube etc. That is what my kids watch. That is what they are watching right now.
Projector great for Theater Setting. LCD for “everyday use in non-theater setting.”
AVS forum is invaluable. There is an amazing amount of great information there. It's where I found out about the DTS-10 Sub.
All your comments are on the money, especially about acoustics. I have used REW, bass traps and did other treatments. It makes a world of difference. It takes time to get the sound system configured, but it's worth it.
It's important for people to calibrate their projectors too. It makes a difference.
The first thing that went about a year later was the color wheel, and I also had to replace the bulb, because that had died as well. The bulb wasn't covered in the warranty. The next thing that went about a year later was basically the whole innards of the TV. The picture was being scrambled because the TV wasn't properly receiving the signal, so they replaced a large component part via the warranty. The component part came with a new bulb, so the guy removed the bulb I had previously bought, and I kept it for when the new bulb died, which was about another year or so. The last problem I had with the TV was this October. By now the extended warranty had ended, so any repairs would be out of pocket. The guy came, and originally thought the problem was the color wheel again. He ordered the part, put it in the TV, but it still wouldn't work. So, he took out the new color wheel and told me that whatever was wrong with the TV was probably electrical, and would cost too much to fix. I paid one of the maintenance guys at my apartment complex to come and take the damn thing to the dump.
I'll never buy another Samsung product, not only because of the problems with the TV, but also because I'd bought one of their home theaters, and had nothing but trouble with that too. It finally crapped the bed on me last year. Fortunately I'd had bought an extended warranty on that too, and got my original purchase price back from the company when it burned out.
My sister passed in September, and I brought her Zenith flat-screen Plasma HDTV here, and that is what I am watching now. Unfortunately, because it is an older model (2005), it doesn't have an HDMI connection, but I will watch it until it $hits the bed. I hope whatever type of TV you purchase, that you have good luck with it.
Had a fair Epson proj for under 600. Loved it just on the wall with some windOw light even. Two major issues : fan noise my wife hated it and preferred the small tv just for that reason. Bulb replacement when it goes it isn’t cheap or necessarily easy to find. I’m looking for a LCD or Plasma now to address the noise.
Forget the projector. LCD will last and look great all the time doing it. I have owned DLP and multiple LCD HDTV’s and the light bulb thing stinks. Especially when you cannot even get them anymore. Plus the picture quality on projectors is just so so.
My newest favorite is the Sharp 70 in or 80 in LCD. It should be calibrated with a AV disc to get everything it can do. They have been dropping in price like crazy and will continue to do so. hey have 120 hz and 240 Quattron models which give you variable pricing options. You can also 3d or not 3d ( I think it is a waste of money and gives you a worse picture than a blur ray non 3d. However some think the horsepower to run 3d makes the non 3d look even better YMMV.)
I am a techno-geek.
I suggest you wait a few weeks and purchase a 50-60 inch LCD 3D tv. Don’t pay 2k. You should be able to get one 1k-1.5k depending on brand.
Then, get a projector and screen for temporary setup. I have a screen I can move into different rooms, setup the projector for gaming.
This setup is what I have.
You get a pretty decent 8 foot by 5 foot image in a dark room ~ best used at night. Or, a better image with smaller dimensions.
They are LED projectors. Should last about 300,000 hours.
Look at all the technology ~ not just the old stuff. You may be pleasantly surprised.
We made three of them ~ used aluminum frames (from IKEA scratch and dent ~ $10 each frame), and stretched and fastened the Spandex.
There are many ways to tie it off, or pull it tight. These screens are FLAT and you can use FRONT or REAR projection methods.
Your favorite discjockeys down at the club do this. Spilled beer can be washed out easily.
One of my friends has a projector in an in-home theater. It's much better than any 60" TV. Here are two pictures I took during the US Open this past year. One was taken out on the course and one was taken in my friends theater.
The comparison isn't perfect because one picture was taken in bright sunlight. Only a portion of the screen (probably 50% or less) is included in the TV shot.
I did try to do something similar on a 60" plasma during the Masters but the pixels in the TV picture were quite clearly visible.
One night while I was down there we watched a Stanley Cup Finals game. I'm someone who has mostly given up NHL hockey but I did formerly attend as many as 35 games a year. Many times I sat in the first row against the glass at the old Madison Square Garden. NOTHING I've seen on a TV comes close to that experience except my friend's theater.
(And BTW, I thought the 3D sucked. Much of the brightness in the picture is lost, and the 3D effect really only makes a difference in tight closeups. - My friend gave me some movie to watch.)
The only problem with most rear projection sets besides the bulbs is they are deeper than a flat screen.
They tend to be 15-20 inches deep. A secoond issue is the bulb life. They are $100+ and unless you can replace it yourself (supposedly not difficult) you’ll have to add the cost of a service charge and what ever they add to the cost of the bulb. Still better than the old projection sets that had 3 lamps.
I was wrestling with the same decision last summer and decided to bite the bullet and go with the projector.
I started to go with a 120” screen, but (never thought I would say this) it was just too big. We went with a 106” screen with seats at about 13-feet. I also added 7.1 sound system at the same time.
The projector is a 1080p Epson 8350 (about $1100) and the screen is an Elite “Sable” (about $299). The picture is amazing!! Blu-Ray discs are even more so, as in: “count Gandalf’s nose-hairs” clear. We could not be more satisfied with it and I don’t know how it could be noticeably improved. We have a two year-old 50” flatscreen in the family room and the projector on that 106” screen looks better than the flatscreen.
Projectors *do* like a softly lit (or dim) room and we had to add some window shades to control late afternoon sun glare and a dimmer switch for the lights. But that was it. I like it just light enough to read; wife wants it movie-theater dark — the screen image looks great either way.
We started with nothing but a Blu-Ray player and a bare room. For the projector, receiver, speakers, sub-woofer, screen, ceiling mount, cables and shipping, we were right at $2600. Additional costs would be for whatever hardware and install related stuff you needed. I was able to get it all in one big bite, but there’s nothing saying you can’t piece it together over time. As for the install, I did it all myself over a weekend.
I did do a lot of hand-wringing, researching reviews and vendors online. I wanted best-bang-for-the-buck and looking back over my parts list and the prices I found, I think I did pretty darn good.
We do have a Wii connected to it and the last party had about 20 teens playing some kind of dance game and they had the whole house shaking. Just have to stay back from the screen about 5 or 6 feet to be under the projector’s path.
The prices of flat-screens are coming down, but even so, you might be looking at about a 55” or smaller screen in your price range for a really good unit. If that size works for you, get the flatscreen. If you want something larger than 60”, then you might want to consider a projector as the bigger the flatscreen, the faster & bigger the price rises. A projector & screen at your distances can do 72” up to 120” or more for about $1500 +/-
I decided on a projector because the room was so large, I was looking at a minimum 60” flatscreen. At the time, that would have been $1500 to $2000 for a 60” flatscreen. So, the projector allowed me to go *much* bigger for about the same cost (for the video solution).
Both technologies are only getting better and better as time goes by. The first question you need to ask is what size screen do you want? If that size indicates a projector, then the only other “show-stopper” would be if you can control the room lighting. If you can NOT control lighting, then the biggest flatscreen your budget allows may be better. If you CAN control lighting, I would recommend the projector.
As for bulb replacement, they are typically rated at something like 3000hrs. In our case, the projector is not the main TV and we only use it for movies, ball games and parties. We will probably replace the bulb in about 3.5 to 4.5 years. I would imagine we will replace the projector with something more current before we would need another bulb beyond that. But if you are going to have it turned-on all day every day, then bulb-life would be another cost consideration.
Good luck with it!
Hadn’t heard of the Spandex screens before; and while novel, theyhave a place and a purpose. For bars and DJ systems, they may work adequate.
But, if you are going to drop $60K (and believe me, it’s EASY to drop a h*ll of a lot more than $60K) on a home theater room; why cheap out on the target of your attention? Seriously, you don’t think twice about droppign several thousand dollars on speakers, at least another thousand on your receiver, around $1,000 on a good LED 1080p projector, soundproofing and furnishing your home theater with raised seating, sectionals or theater chairs (again, approximately $1,000 each) - and then throw up a $100 to 200 display? Really?
They may be adequate for a bar; but for someone who wants to sit down and seroiusly watch a movie; I can’t say I’d every recommend or even suggest the Spandex solution.
“The screen they produce is nothing short of a complete disaster. Their product comes apart after a few uses, the material they use is “off-the-shelf” spandex and ...”
For a bar and throwing music videos in VGA or XVGA formats - it’s probably ok. But for a home theater? Sorry ....
Depends on what you want. We've been using them for a couple of years and they do just fine.
This is where the ‘point of dimminishing return’ arguement is going to come in.
Consider, a ‘bright screen’ typicall means it’s very reflective, this gives bright contrast and great color saturation, but the down-side is that the viewing angles taper off greatly from views off axis.
The more wide-angle dispersion screens provide a more uniform view, such that the audience gets good color saturation from seats that are located to the extreme right or left of axis; however you lose the sharp color saturation and picture quality suffers. To compensate, you need a brighter bulb.
Now, for a bar or nightclub; I’m sure your Spandex solution works very well. It’s not a movie theater; there is substancial ambient light, smoke and background noise. It’s not a theater - people typically have their mind on other things.
But, for a dedicated home theater; a person is going to seriously stare at the screen, and any defects, any variation in reflective qualities, any splotches or distortions will detract from the movie. This is the differences we are talking about.
My screen would be a disaster in your application. It would be destroyed in the first couple of hours of use. Once destroyed, you cannot take windex and a rag and wipe it off - it’s trash.
However, the Spandex screen is the wrong solution for a serious home theater application as well. It’s simply the issue of using the right tool, for the right job.
Nice summary. Did the same thing you did; just 3 years previously.
Very satisfied with my results. Now, I’m looking at the new LED projectors and that was a mistake. Envy is kicking in. Imagine a bulblife of 50,000 hours (as we both control outside lighting - we can run in ‘economy’ or ‘standard’ mode).
Once you go with the ~100+ screen; it’s impossible to go back. I really feel like I’m sacrificing when I have to suffer through a movie on my 50” plasma. Plus 100% agree with you on the Blu-Ray comment. You really don’t appreciate the Blu-Ray resolution until you get well beyond the 60” range.
Plus, you can wash them quickly to get the beer and smoke out of them.
Now, barring setting aside a huge chunk of your average 1800 sq ft tract home for use as a formal theatre room, let's say you've got young chillun and they need game screens ~ these deals are fantastic with kids. You can put them anywhere, take them down at will, set up more than one, project either side ~ and if they get cr*p imbedded in the screen, you can wash it.
Depends on what you need and what you can get for under $100.00
It's real easy to jump from super giant to small than to go to the inbetween sizes.
LOL ... yeah; the trauma and drama is horrendous and almost inhumane. But, somehow I manage to persevere.
Did the DJ thing way back when ... when we had 12 plywood boxes full of LPs (and just one with about 150 CD’s suffed in it). We would have a large table in back, full of the vinyl, 2 Technics turntables with the ortofon turntable cartridges, couple of Crown amps for the subs, a Phase Linear and 2 Carver M-500t amps for the full-range speakers. Was a lot of fun; this was back in the 80’s and 90’s; long before there was much of a video component.
Some light organs, couple hundred feet of light rope, 24inch mirror ball and multi-colored spots, light organ panels, strobes, multi-colored floor floods - and 3 hours for $600. We played lots of High School Proms, dances, home comings and fund-raisers. Had a lot of fun, and made enough profit that it helped pay my way through college. Beat the heck out of stocking shelves or delivering pizza. Did this for 6 years, and loved every minute of it.
So, I know all about the convenience of packing small, durability and inexpensive. And for kids and games - this would be almost ideal. Quick set-up, quick tear down. Like you said, for smaller tract homes, this is a very workable configuration.
Now I’m an old geezer - and I just don’t want to mess with that anymore. So, I build my man-cave on the main floor; and did some sound-proofing. If you are building, you can do quite a lot of sound-proofing for very little cash. My home was substancially larger than yours - so I had room for a small theater room (13’ x 17’), my next house will have a much larger theater room.
I suggest using a 2x6 footer and header. Lay one wall with 2x4 studs set at 16 inches along one wall - and the inside wall uses 2x4 studs set 8 inches off the studs on the other wall. This creates a ‘Baffle’, such that bass hits the sheetrock inside the room, and doesn’t transfer to the outside wall directly. Fill the inside space with insulation - and you are 75% of the way there. Inside wall, substitute a product called “Quiet-Rock” in place of standard sheet-rock, and that will also make a huge difference. Use a solid core door; and you are 95% of the way there.
Also made some changes to the heating/cooling vents to reduce noise bleed. End result is that I can be making my ears bleed inside the room; and although you might hear some noise in the Kitchen; you will never know anyone is home from the outside. You will be able to comfortably watch TV in the Living room, and may only notice the Theater Room at full throttle during commercial breaks.
Buck up. Sounds dreadful.
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