CRT Home Cinema on a tight budget - can it be done cheaper ?

helipilot

Active Member
With the current price of CRT projectors at an all time low, it has never been cheaper to put a respectable quality home cinema together.

The first thing you will need is a crt projector which at current bargain levels will probably be a 7" or 8" model. There are plenty to choose from :- Barco, Seleco, Nec, Sony etc.

What else will you need ? - scaler, audio, screen

Scaler

Well I assume you will be wanting to run your DVD's at a minimum of 720p (1280 x 720). We do not want visible scan lines after all. Conventional thought would say you'll need either a HTPC (not user friendly or particularly cheap) or a scaler (some second hand bargains out there but not particularly cheap either). So what is the budget solution ? How about an Xbox360 (latest dashboard upscales dvd's to your chosen resolution via the optional vga cable). A PC vga to BNC cable from Maplin will get it happily hooked up to just about any CRT projector. This will give you respectable upscaled dvd performance and a fairly good games playing machine as well.

Audio

plenty 5.1 surround packages at very affordable prices

Screen

A sheet of MDF and some white emulsion.




So why post this in the CRT section ?

Because any other projection technology can not provide similar quality for an equivalent financial outlay. But you knew that already didn't you ?



Any cheaper solutions ?
 

morksbeanbag

Novice Member
720p may well be too high resolution for many 'budget' CRT's. I use 576p on my 1272 and have no scan lines. I think for people that want to setup a CRT system they should look at the same kind of resolution 576p or i've heard 1080i would look fine too. I would have thought for well defined 720p and certainly 1080p you'll need to invest quite abit more.
 

Barcoing Mad

Active Member
Having used a Medion PC for a couple of years with a Sweetspot capture card, I had very good performance for modest outlay. Medion (from Aldi) was quite a find at the time: 3 GHz, hyper threading, 800MHz FSB, 9800XL ATI graphic and a very good 6.1 sound card (WMA from WMF9 HD disks is up there with anything).

I used it very happily with a BD801s at 720p. At a guess, the equivalent could be set up for about 1k now.

The cheapest option is to find a HC geek whose always upgrading, befriend it, lick butt, wait and find the cast offs coming in your direction.

I'd invest in a screen with modest gain 1.3 or so.
 

helipilot

Active Member
720p may well be too high resolution for many 'budget' CRT's.
I agree but there are still some bargains out there that can easily handle 720p. In the forum classifieds a few months back a nec 9PG+ sold for £275. This has got to be an absolute bargain in terms of performance per £ . The nec is basically 8" projector ability shoehorned into a 7" chassis.


The cheapest option is to find a HC geek whose always upgrading
For ease of use and ease of configuration however I recon an xbox360 for just over £200 would be very acceptable.


It really depends what your budget is. I was contemplating how little it would cost to get a decent performing system together not necessarily a minimum cost system. I had in mind a system running 1280 x 720p or 1080i because that is pretty much regarded as current hdtv technology specifications.


Rough costings

projector ........................£275
av receiver ....................£100
speaker pack ....................£80
xbox360 core and cables.....£250
Screen ............................£30

total cost ..... slightly over £700

There has never been a better time to build a crt based home cinema :)
 

klr10

Novice Member
My Sony G70 was £1595 and a KD HD leeza was a grand. I have an 8ft leccy Owl screen. Every time I get a DVD from blockbuster I smile to myself.
 

Alaric

Well-known Member
Hi There,

I'd say you could probably pick up a PJ cheaper if you were willing to look arround. I know i let a BG800 go for a lot less than that and while not perfect tubes, it was still very watchable, and to be honest you'd probably notice more problems on the DIY screen than a worn tube projector (so long as it didn't have an off putting burn mark).

I remeber the thrill of getting vanilla video running on my first BD800 that was projecting onto a wall...10' picture, scan lines like fingers and still i couldn't take my eyes off the film....ended up watching it even though it was late and i was knackered...i was that awestruck.

I've heard good results from an upscaling Progresive scan DVD player and they can be had under a £100.

cya,
Lee
 

cosaw

Novice Member
I already had my dads old capable stereo. I built my own Shiva Subwoofers and they'll pretty much wipe the floor with anything I can get on the high street for the same monetary outlay.

However I don't consider the above the real essentials as if you've got the knowledge you can coble together a basic useable audio system which will do for small homecinema for very little money.

Without getting into details lets just say I got great value for money on my pj.

My screen was DIY, frame, canvas, paint and is probably in £30-40 area. Very nice results considering - 90% of people would be non the wiser!

The real one for me which is the money saver is my HTPC which must have cost me less than £50 in bits over a year ago. I knocked this together with a 32MB ATI card, 128megs of ram, Slot 1 Pentium III 650Mhz processor, dvd drive, new mouse and keyboard (not wireless), PowerDVD3, stereo soundcard :rolleyes: This PC is a dinosaur!! :eek: But for dvd at 720x576p its stunning! Any minor issues I have with video playback are not gonna be resolved without me spending big money on dedicated solutions. In my experience even the most expensive up to date PC can have compromises in performance even when on paper it has enough horsepower to theoretically do everything you could ever wish without breaking a sweat. I dare to say you could quite easily pick up a PC with the same spec as mine at your local tip or certainly from a free source!

If you have the interest, and are willing to make CRT your hobby, and are prepared to use your eyes and ears to make your own decisions in terms of quality, you can have a CRT home cinema which will knock most people off their feet for very little money.

Tell me if you think I'm biased or blind but for the closest cinema expereience in terms of picture nothing on the high street currently compares to even Standar Definition DVD on my very modest setup. I'm no show-off or big head - I'm giving my honest oppinion. Would people agree with this outlook or am I somehow deluding myself?
 

Alaric

Well-known Member
Hi There,

Actualy thinking of HTPC's my first one was in the very early days and was built on a Creative Labs Dx2R card and drive combo that cost something like £150 back then but dvd players were 500+ so it was a bargain. You can pick one of these cards up or a later model for absolute peanuts and for DVD playback they are superb, very easy to use and will work in the worlds most basic PC as the card does all the hard work.

Cya,
Lee
 

Barcoing Mad

Active Member
For DVD playback very good results can be achieved with a setup like Cosaw's - it has enough grunt to handle decent DVD playback software.
If you're video capturing and using Dscaler, then processor power and decent graphics are a must, however.

Worth having powerstrip for custom resolutions.

Going out at 576p isn't a bad idea either. No point in upscaling DVD unless the scan lines are visible. A BD801s or 7" machine is going to be very happy.
I'd keep the screen size down to around 6'. Get a bright, punchy image rather than something dimmer with visible artefacts. (James, for example, runs a modestly sized screen with his diodgy Capri Ghia).

Ofcourse, HD is here, so there goes my budget...
 

cosaw

Novice Member
Barcoing, I think I'd have to agree with everything you said.

Going out at 576p isn't a bad idea either. No point in upscaling DVD unless the scan lines are visible.
And yet unfortunately its a point that so many people seem to miss or misunderstand.

Worth having powerstrip for custom resolutions.
Agreed. However I've managed to do away with that also by editing the registry to accept my resolution and refresh rate without powerstrip. For people who don't have this option or have an inflexible graphics card powerstrip is a must!

I'd keep the screen size down to around 6'. Get a bright, punchy image rather than something dimmer with visible artefacts.
Yep, my screen is 7ft wide of which I use arond 6ft 6". So many people end up going for a screen which is too big for their allowable seating position with regard to the point you discuss. Obviously this is where Hi-def truely comes in and by the same reason is also wher Hi-def seems unneccesary - i.e. widescreen tvs under 28", even standard def on a 32" can still look top notch with no line structure visible at the correct viewing distance.

Hi-Def is great but the vast majority of people are not gonna be able to reap large benefits. Don't get me wrong I'd love a 9" pj with 1080p :D :D. However its the people on low budgets with only a small appreciation of the technology who'll get screwed with the whole Hi-Def transition and feel the need to rebuy there whole dvd collection! Yes I'm a cynic when it comes to this but I think it pays to be if you're not loaded with cash.

Hey I'm not trying to go off topic with a Hi-Def debate I just think its relevant for this discussion. If people want great value for money out of a home cinema system it can still be done with a budget CRT and without the need to go Hi-Def. I think its worth advising people of this so that they don't get caught up in the marketing hype. Again its only my oppinion and anyone is welcome to disagree with me.
 

Barcoing Mad

Active Member
The nod I'd make to HiDef if on a budget would be to keep an eye open for a decent 8" em focus machine. The ancillaries - pc with HD DVD drive??? - will follow if/when a given format establishes itself.
 

cosaw

Novice Member
The nod I'd make to HiDef if on a budget would be to keep an eye open for a decent 8" em focus machine. The ancillaries - pc with HD DVD drive??? - will follow if/when a given format establishes itself.
Have you been reading my mind? Sounds like my upgrade route once I've decided on colour filtering solutions. I'll probably experiment with dyed glycol in the end after recent discussion with Chris Frost. Better start saving again!
 

Barcoing Mad

Active Member
I like to empathise with those I communicate with. Mind you, I'm having to budget for therapy sessions after hanging out here.
 

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