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Thinking about getting a PJ but......

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by JoeyJoeJoe, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. JoeyJoeJoe

    JoeyJoeJoe
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    ......where do I start?

    I've had a look through the threads here but still not sure what to look for. I see the most popular makes are Panasonic, Sony, Epson and Sanyo. My budget can stretch to a new TW10 but would I be better off buying second hand and getting more for my money?
    What's the minimum spec I should be looking for feature wise?
    Lumens? Contrast ratio? Throw distance? Bulb life? Native 16:9 or 4:3? Connections?
    The PJ will be used in a room where the max throw will be slightly over 3m and used mainly for DVD viewing and the odd footie match.
    It will be getting hooked up to a Pio 912 Amp and a Sony DVD player which doesn't support component? Will I need a new DVD player too?
    What about a screen? I'd consider making my own but wouldn't want it to be a permanent fixture. If it was too big, I'd have nowhere to store it when it's not in use. Therefore, I'd much prefer a wall/ceiling mounted one but where do I start and what sort of money are we talking?

    Sorry for all the questions but I'm sure you guys with the knowledge will be able to help me.
     
  2. KraGorn

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    I'll throw in a few comments to start you off. :)

    1) Second-hand could be good, there are plenty of machines being sold now that this seasons new models are out. Choosing where to buy is important, the classifieds here are a good starting point, e-Bay OTOH is to be approached very carefully. ;)

    2) Lumens and contrast .. ignore the numbers in ads, they're meaningless in 'real-world' use, if you look at the popular models, eg. AE700, Z2, Z3, HS20 etc. etc. you'll see they're typically 800-1000 lumens. Contrast ratio is even more meaningless in ads than lumen output, generally DLP is a lot better than LCD, but recent LCDs are getting very good.

    3) DLP vs. LCD .. understand the differences and each's limitations.

    4) 16:9 vs. 4:3 .. depends on your viewing, for DVDs then 16:9 is the logical choice, but not a 'given'.

    Rather than addressing any more points right now I suggest you pop over to ProjectorCentral where you'll find many introductory articles on these and other subjects, Projector People is another good site for the beginner in this technology. Once you've browsed those articles you'll have a better idea of the issues you need to look at and those that are not important.

    HTH. :)
     
  3. Gary Lightfoot

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    Try to demo if you can. That way you get a much better idea of what to look for and what suits you. Have you considered DLP as well as LCD pjs?

    I'd say go for at least 1024 x 768, so that full PAL widescreen can be used (1024 x 576). If it's mainly DVD, I'd get a 16:9 screen, though 4:3 can be used for the footie. If you get a 4:3 pj and pull down screen, try to get a screen that can roll down to the height for 16:9 as well as 4:3. It'll look a bit better. A pull down DRH screen can cost under £200.

    Throw distance varies of course, so decide where the screen an pj will go, and then see if the throw will allow you to fill the screen OK. Don't try to sit much closer than 2 x screen width (i.e much closer than 12ft away from a 6ft wide screen), as you may start to see the gaps between individual pixels. If you decide on a certain pj, you could buy it, project onto a wall, and then decide what size you prefer. Of course, make sure the throw is suitable for a reasonable size for the distance.

    High lumens aren't necessarily a good thing, unless you have to combat light in the room (from eindows through curtains that don;t block light for example), though a grey screen can help with that a tad. Too bright can sometimes highlight noise or mpg artefacts which you may find distracting.

    Contrast ratio of a genuine 1000:1 or higher should be a minimum I would say, with many quoting 2000:1. That will often equate to 1400:1 for corrected video output though in some pjs.

    Bulb life tends to be 2000 to 3000 hours on average, though some more expensive pjs go up to 6000hrs.

    Any DVD player should be fine to get you started (some pjs support scart, as well as s-video), but digital HDMI from players like Pioneer will give a better picture than analogue players. You might be perfectly happy with the Sony, so you may not have to upgrade it.

    I'll say it again though - do try to get some demos. It's very easy to be awed by the 'wow factor' when you see your first pj, so try to get some perspective with a demo of a few if possible. Both LCD and DLP projectors have their pros and cons, so you have to see them to decide if they're for you or not.

    That's a very quick reply, but hopefully some owners of the manufacturers you suggest will be able to help you with more definitive info.

    EDIT: Kragorn beat me too it. :)
     
  4. Ewan

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    I just bought an Epson TW10H projector, I'm very happy it :) Does your DVD player have a scart plug? if it does you can connect the DVD player to the projector using that.

    My Epson pj cost around £500 :)
     
  5. KraGorn

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    Ah, but you noted the prime directive: thou shalt get a demo :D
     
  6. JoeyJoeJoe

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    Thanks for the input so far. Looks like I've still got a littel homework to do.

    Is that 6' across or 6' diagonal? As I'll be about 10 or 11' from the screen, does that mean I'm only going to have a 5' screen? I was hoping for a little bigger although I may get away with 6'
    To answer someone else's question, yes, my DVD player does have a scart socket. Infact, it has two :)
    If I was to get a PJ that doesn't have a scart socket, would an S Video connection still be OK?
     
  7. Gary Lightfoot

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    6ft across, though it does depend on the resolution and technology of the projector - DLP has smaller gaps, so 800 x 600 res would be fine for 2 x or just under (1.85 maybe), but LCD at that res probably wouldn't.

    I would say that a DLP XGA projector (or better) would be fine for a 6ft wide screen at your seating distance, as would an LCD with a greater resolution (1280 x 720 for instance).

    If you can get a demo, you'll see the screendoor (gaps between pixels) for yourself if you look close up, then can decide what distance is fine for you - some people are more picky than others in what they can put up with.

    If RGB via SCART isn't possible, s-video will do as a start.

    HTH

    Gary.
     
  8. JoeyJoeJoe

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    I see that some PJ's have a computer in connection, how does that fare against other connections such as component, scart and S Video? Is there any DVD players on the market that have a 'computer' out type connection or is it solely computers that have it. If the computer in connection was to give good results, I would rather have a DVD player with that connection rather than drag the PC into the front room. Is one particular connection better than others or is it a case of suck it and see?
     
  9. KraGorn

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    The types of connectors you can get, in descending order of picture quality:

    1) DVI/HDMI - digital (HDMI is a super-set of DVI but in this context they're equivalent)
    2) Component and RGB - VGA is RGB, both transfer the 3 base colours separately
    3) S-Video - combines two of the colours into one signal, thus less quality
    4) Composite - the one we don't mention, forget it :D

    So as you can see VGA and component, while not the same signals, are generally equal in quality so a component-equipped DVD and a VGA-equipped PC will be able to supply equal picture quality. The big difference though will be that generally the PC will be capable of producing a better image after decoding a DVD than a DVD player (except for high-end machines).

    That said, a PC configured and tweaked for DVD playback, aka. an HTPC, can take some time to set up for optimum results and at times it's arguably not worth it IMHO.
     
  10. Gary Lightfoot

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    HTPCs can produce great images due to the ability of the PC to scale the image to that of the display (quite often better at it than the pj), and the deinterlacing capabilities along with a native progressive output mean that you'll be hard pushed to find a normal player capable of equal quality. As Kragorn says though, it's not everyones cup of tea, and not always practicle.

    You can build them to be like a piece of AV kit so that it fits in with the rest of your kit though, and use remote keyboard and mouse for a tidier look.

    There are a few players that have VGA outputs - as well as an HTPC, I have a Skyworth 1050p player which produces quite a good picture via it's vga output. There are some players now ith DVI which are better still, and these can produce an image on a par with an HTPC with DVI output, so if the pj can accept a DVI or HDMI input, that might be the best option. I think the Samsung 935 or Bravo D2 are relatively cheap and produce a good picture according to those that have them. You can probably get a DVI to VGA adapter to use the analogue output from the DVI instead, so that may be worth looking into.

    Gary.
     
  11. theritz

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    Kragorn, Gary,

    Compliments on substantial advice........ :smashin:

    Just a couple of small corrections for the record... not being picky for the sake of it or anything....

    Component video consists of three signals. The first is the luminance signal, which indicates brightness or black & white information that is contained in the original RGB signal. It is referred to as the "Y" component. The second and third signals are called "color difference" signals which indicate how much blue and red there is relative to luminance. The blue component is "B-Y" and the red component is "R-Y". The color difference signals are mathematical derivatives of the RGB signal.

    Green doesn't need to be transmitted as a separate signal since it can be inferred from the "Y, B-Y, R-Y" combination. The display device knows how bright the image is from the Y component, and since it knows how much is blue and red, it figures the rest must be green so it fills it in.

    Svideo carries two signals, chrominence and luminence separately.

    Needless to say, no argument with the hierarchy of signal quality.....


    As for the hcpc issue, for vanilla dvd playing setup need not take an inordinate amount of time - I can do a rebuild in about an hour from a formatted disk to properly fuctioning 1:1 pixel matched image (although it took a little longer first time out...). I agree however that many prefer the familiar functionality of dvd players and that the advent of DVI-equipped upscaling dvd players which can output 720p (and 1080) signals is the step change in dvd playback.

    Again, kudos on the posting - this kind of unbiassed advice is rare stuff....

    Sean.
     
  12. JoeyJoeJoe

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    You're not wrong. The quality of posting has been very high and not one biased opinion written.
    You guys have certainly been a great help but, unfortunately, you have given me too much to think about now. Which is not a bad thing of course.
     
  13. MikeRJ

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    I'm in the same kind of position and this is a really usefull thread, thanks to all that have contributed. :thumbsup:

    My problem is that whilst I pretty much understand most of the pro's and cons of various technologies, I am simply woried about buying an "entry level" projector that I am going to grow out of very quickly. My budget is tight and the Epson TW10 seems to fit most of the criteria I want for an exceptionaly reasonable price (and low running costs). My only slight misgivings are the lack of resolution for playing games through it on Xbox/GC etc. Is this likely to be a problem? It will be used for DVD's probably 85% of the time. I could stretch the budget to breaking point at about £1k, though this is absolute max. Is there a native 16:9 projector significantly better than the Epson that I should be considering?
     
  14. KraGorn

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    Mike: your concern about 'entry level' is understandable, and it's a bit hard to know how to reply. Looking at your budget, and question about native 16:9, just looking through the price list of one of the more popular suppliers I see these at less than £1k incl. VAT:

    Hitachi PJ-TX100 (£997)
    Sanyo PLV-Z2 (£821)

    I owned a Z2 when they first came out last year and was very happy with it (I changed it for a DLP at twice the price :)) I have no experience of the Hitachi. Before the Z2 I had a Panasonic AE300 which had a slightly higher resolution than the TW10 and I have to say on a 92" screen the extra resolution of the Z2 made a very noticeable improvement in PQ .. you don't say what size screen you're planning on, the smaller the screen of course the lesser the effect of resolution on perceived PQ.

    One other advantage these two have over the Epson, and this obviously depends on your needs, is that both have DVI(HDCP) connectors, meaning if you wanted to get into the wonderful world of HTPC you'd reap more benefit in being able to feed digital signals rather than anlogue.


    Joe: I know what you mean about 'too much info', and indeed this area like most technologies is mired in jargon so at times it's hard to know how much to say and how much to simplify so as to try to convey the complexity and the number of issues to be considered while at the same time making such information comprehensible. :)

    Ultimately, if you really aren't sure and can't afford to 'chance it' .. I'm on my 3rd projector in 15 months and about to change again ;) .. then a demo is the only ideal solution if at all possible.
     
  15. charlaph

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    On the subject of discounted older models vs cheaper newer models, which would you say is the best route to go? AE300s (and Z2s) are pretty heavily discounted now and almost fall into the price range of the TW10H, which is a newer model. Ignoring connectivity and features, can a 2 year old design (that cost £2k new) really still offer better picture quality than a new budget (£1000) model?
     
  16. MikeRJ

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    Many thanks for the suggestions, I will take a look them. As for screen size, the room I have for my HT setup is not very large. We will probably be sitting only about 10 feet from the screen so a 92" screen will be way too large I suspect. I was thinking more in terms of maybe around a 60" screen. I guess that helps "disguise" any aritfacts that the lower resolution could otherwise cause.

    The only hard and fast rules I have (apart from budget) is that my SO has said it absolutely must installed and working for the day the ROTK extended edition is out :D

    EDIT: PLV-Z2 looks very interesting! Very tempted to go for that on the strengths of the reviews and your experiences.
     
  17. KraGorn

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    Bear in mind I've not seen a TW10H, however, I think it's fair to say that the technology in LCDs hasn't progressed by a large amount in the 12 months since the Z2 was launched, yes some models have better blacks and maybe the TW10 is one of those, OTOH from the reviews I've read I'd not think that's the case here.

    I'd be less certain in suggesting an AE300 over a TW10H simply because the 300 is now 2 years old and I'm sure the TW10H should give a better picture .. OTOH, this is a gut feeling only.

    When new the Z2 was around £1400 street price, excluding one or two early-adopter deals such as that from Ivojo, the AE300 was similar in price or maybe even a touch higher in the summer of last year IIRC.


    I sit about 11' away from my 92", which for some is a bit close (my Sharp in only 1024x576), OTOH I'm not particularly bothered about the screen-door effect, it's no different from staring at an LCD monitor all day :), and a 1280x720 image makes it pretty much a non-issue if you go for a projector like that.

    The Z2 is indeed nice, just make sure that you try to get a Dead Pixel Check, some dealers do, some don't. Also be aware that Vertical Banding can occur on all LCDs, some examples of the Z2 seemed a bit more prone than others, so again check about if you decide to buy.



    Oh, one more thing .. the Z2 has both horizintal and vertical lens shift, something the Epson doesn't, this makes it far more flexibile in terms of its' location with respect to the screen and seating position. This isn't unique of course, vertical shift isn't uncommon but horizontal is less common.
     

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