Building a home theatre in the living room, please help me decide :)

dave_st185

Novice Member
Hello everyone

I'm hoping for some general advice and thoughts to help me decide how to go about getting a dual purpose living room and home theatre setup

I'm happy with the sound system I have, an active 5.1 Linn system, so it's just the picture element I'm looking at here


A bit of history:

September time, I just wanted a bigger TV, (currently have an old 25" CRT) so I started browsing a few forums and looked at 50" plasmas

November time, I came to the conclusion (rightly or wrongly) that plasmsa's maybe weren't the best way forward for me so I started investigating front projectors instead

I had a demo of an Infocus 76 a few weeks ago, and whilst the image was good at first, I started suffering bad rainbow effects after 30 mins of viewing, to the point where I eventually found myself involuntarily blinking at the screen which made the effect even worse, so I've ruled out DLP for now

My problem with a projector is that I will want to watch with the lights on sometimes, so I'm now starting to favour a smaller plasma tv for Simpsons, news, general TV etc, and a projector for movies, XBox 360 etc

Additionally, as the Linn system doesn't do HDMI switching, I think an external VP to both improve picture quality and act as a hub that can feed both displays will eventually be purchased too

Now the key is I don't need to buy everything at once, but if I could afford to then right now I'd go for the forthcoming JVC HD1, a Pioneer 427 plasma tv, and either a Lumagen or DVDO depending on deals and further recommendations


The room:

Here's a badly scaled drawing :)



Two rooms knocked into one, 2 blue chairs for the main seating facing a chimney breast that sticks out into the room 22" leaving 2 alcoves where I will put my 2 dimmer controller uplighters. The chimney is 62" wide

On the left there is a bay window with a sofa, with big thick (quite dark) velvet lined curtains that I don't open, and hope due to the angle won't reflect too much ambient light. To the right is the pool table room - no wall, so I hope there won't be much reflected light from there either

Projector to be shelf mounted just behind the seating position, with a throw distance of approx 9 to 9.5 feet depending on the depth of the projector

The viewing distance is approx 8.5 feet

However if I mount a plasma on the chimney breast, then hang a screen in front of that, throw and viewing distances may be reduced by a further 6"s


The screen size:

I have 2 choices - fill the width of the chimney fully that will give me a 65" screen with a couple of inches either side for a border, or go for a 77 to 80" screen that may look a bit odd as it will overhang the chimney by around 4 to 5 inches either side, but I could always hang some more curtains to make the chimney look wider and make the screen appear to fit properly

I looked at http://www.myhometheater.homestead.com/viewingdistancecalculator.html to come up with that maximum size - it's pretty close to the THX recommended size for a 16:9 screen


Viewing:

Mostly SD material now, though Sky HD will be bought once a display is sorted, XBox 360, and I'll be building a MythTV HTPC on a Linux platform, probably over Christmas


Decision time:

I think I'll buy the projector first and see if I can live with the ambient light picture, I'll still have the 25"CRT if it's bad whilst I save for a plasma. If it's good though I may skip the plasma idea altogether until they drop in price more and improve in technology further

I've been thinking of 5 different projectors at different price points, the AX100 which will allow me to buy a plasma to accompany it now, but will it be too bright for this setup?

The Mitsubishi HC5000, Panasonic AE1000, and Sony Pearl which would mean living without a plasma until around June when more funds will become available - I could live with the CRT staying downstairs until then if I have to

Or the JVC HD1, which is taking into account June's bonus now and will prohibit buying a plasma until 2008 - ie I'd have to be happy with the ambient light viewing as I really would prefer to relegate the CRT to a bedroom upstairs :)

I've seen Ben and Elliot are both active on this forum, and highly rated by the regulars here, with discounttv having 3 or the 5 projectors, and Elliot having the JVC, so that makes them the front runners for supplying the projector

Re: the screen sizes my preference would be for the bigger one :) and if I was doing without the plasma I'll get a Carada fixed screen, probably with the 1.4 gain brilliant white material. If the plasma is required it'll have to be a pull down with similar material, maybe Da-lite or something

I know I've not mentioned the VP here, I suspect with the JVC I could get away without buying one now with it's gennum processor, whereas the others may benefit more from one?

Bascially if you managed to get this far, thanks for reading :)

Any thoughts? Any other ideas? What would your preferences be?

Cheers

Dave
 

Batdog

Well-known Member
Hi there

Rather than addressing any of your points directly I'm just going to post a link to my own thread which basically details all the thought processes, decisions and outcomes that I went through recently whilst creating my own combined living room / home theatre. I don't proclaim to be as knowledgeable as many of the other guys in here but hopefully this may give you some good pointers to start with.

Good luck!!

http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=426743
 

dave_st185

Novice Member
Thanks Stuart - I've already had a good read of that one, it was helpful too

A thought I didn't articulate is that I wonder if the 1080p projectors I mention may be too dim for the ambient light situations, although I'm sure they'll be perfect for movies in near dark, but equally is the AX100 going to be too bright considering the short viewing distance and small screen

Demo's will help me decide, but I guess I need to short list demo situations and get my provisional plan a bit more defined

Dave
 

Batdog

Well-known Member
Hi there

I wouldn't worry about the AX100 being too bright, switching it to eco mode will reduce the lumens somewhat (I have it in this mode) and I believe that you can also adjust the brightness manually (although I must profess i've never even tried to).

I think that the AX is a good choice as the brightness can definitely be of benefit if ambient light is ever a factor - we sometimes watch X-Factor with some lights on!! My own personal view is that as there is little HD material about at present that you may well be better off with a modestly priced 720p projector rather than an exotically priced 1080p model like the Pearl etc. Whilst I think we can be pretty confident that they'd outperform the AX with 1080p material, there is also the fact that material is generally better viewed at it's native resolution and so a 720p projector may well outperform the 1080p models with SD material (this may set off an argument!!).

It sounds like you have a bit more 'cash to flash' then I did recently but I think a good bet would be to go with a 720p projector and a plasma aswell if you so desire. In a year or two when HD material is more common place then 1080p projectors will be a similar price to 720p projectors today.

As for screen size, certainly the bigger is often the better from my own experience!!
 

Timbo21

Well-known Member
Personally, I would put all my money into the projector. Look at the Pearl, or the HD1. I think the black level of LCD will dissappoint after a while. Fine if you're spending £1K area, but otherwise I'd go for something else.

If you want a CRT for upstairs, just get a cheap one. Although many flat panels, plasmas etc., are excellent with HD, only the very best can do anything with SD. And if that is a large part of your viewing material, which it surely will be, why spend thousands on a plasma to get a picture you could get with CRT for a few hundred? I use my £200 Bush CRT for watching TV rubbish, and use my projector with Arcam and Lumagen for films :thumbsup: That's just my preference though. From the sounds of Elliot's review, if you got the HD1, you would be a happy bunny for quite some time :) .

T.

Ps. I've had 2 Carada screens, and they are excellent. Both with Brilliant White. You are making some great choices, IMO, with things like DVDO/Lumagen/HD1/Pearl/Carada :thumbsup: Using people like Elliot is well worth it IMO. Also, 65" screen is not great. Go for as big as humanly possible. I originally thought my screen would be too big. How wrong was I? That's why I'm on my 2nd Carada ;)
 

dave_st185

Novice Member
Stuart / Tim - thanks to both of you

Stuart, you are definitely right about the lack of HD material for now, that's why Sky's not at the top of my list, more somewhere in the middle :D whereas the HDPC and XBox will be capable of providing the 1080 feeds sooner, and it's the HDPC and poor support of native res over VGA for all the plasma tv's that's still causing me to lean away from the plasma idea for now. Panels are better in this area but the idea is for a tv to accompany the projector so that I don't have to power up all the hifi just to hear a weather forecast :)

Factor in the falling prices, forthcoming OLED and SED technologies that may make an apperance by 2008, and I think I'll be better off just waiting (and saving again) and concentrating on the projector purchase for now

The CRT to the bedroom comment was just based on giving the living room a cleaner less cluttered look - the bedroom I had in mind is more of a store room / server room / Cisco lab for now anyway

It may even be worth keeping an eye out for a bargain SD 42" plasma, not may people want them these days, yet the pool I watched at a mates last weekend on his 42" SD Vierra (£500 2nd hand) was perfectly fine and would help me declutter the living room nicely and probably be better at SD sources than a badly scalled HD model anyway

So that leads me nicely to Tims preference, which I think is becoming mine too - spend the current budget solely for a good projector, and stick with the CRT or cheap SD plasma if one presents itself

The JVC is a financial stretch for now but doable if I feel it's worth the extra, whereas the Sony does suit my wallet a little better, although Dustin's trials to get a good one haven't gone unnoticed either. The Mitsubishi appeals with it's 19db noise levels and good reviews over at projector central, as does the AE1000, but I guess I'll have to wait a little longer before they are available and people start giving some feedback re day to day use

If my brightness concerns over the 1080p projectors are proved to be founded, then an AX100 may still fit the bill as a stop gap until the second generation models appear next year

Fortunately there's still time before all the projectors I listed are available in this country, so I still have time to decide

Thanks again for your thoughts - it's helping me weigh up the pro's and cons :clap:
 

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