NewsJohn Sciacca for Theo's Roundtable, May 28, 2013
A month ago, I wrote a post called “The Death of the Dedicated Theater Room” that listed all the reasons why a theater in a multi-use space such as a living room or family room makes so much more sense than going with a dedicated room. Multi-use spaces are generally more welcoming and comfortable, don’t require an exodus from one location to the next to watch a movie, and—most importantly—every home has one. (For simplicity’s sake, going forward I’m just going to call any multi-use space a living room.) Before I begin debunking all of the reasons why you think you can’t put a great theater in your living room, I want to start by saying that if you have the means, budget, space, and desire for a dedicated media room in your home, go for it. This is definitely not a knock on building a dedicated room, and in many circumstances, a dedicated space can deliver an amazing experience. With that said, here’s why I think you’re wrong when you say you can’t put a good theater in a living room. 1) “A living room lets in far too much light to be a good theater.” Granted, one of the benefits of a dedicated room is that it often has a single door and no windows, which makes it easy to make the room completely dark. But there is a lot that can be done to make a living room acceptably dark for movie watching.
It’s no big surprise that flat panel displays are getting larger. Not only larger, but seemingly more affordable too. Because flat panel displays have gotten larger and more affordable, many within the front projection community -manufacturers and enthusiasts alike -have begun to question the need or relevance of front projectors in any environment outside of a dedicated home theater. After all, in most living room environments, or even multi-purpose media rooms, does one need a display larger than say 80 or 90 inches? I say yes, but I also argue that when it comes to 80 plus inch flat panel displays -media room or not -a front projector is going to give you a better imageand potentially be more affordable. Right now the largest display size commonly available to consumers is 70 inches, though I am aware that both 80 and 90 inch HDTVs are also available. A 70 inch diagonal HDTV is big, I know because I have one in the wonderful (and affordable) 70-inch Vizio E-Series ($1,599.99 at Vizio.com). At just under $1,600 the Vizio E-Series’ value is nearly beyond reproach, however if you wanted to step things up to say 80 or even 90 inches diagonally the jump in price is steep -real steep. For example, Sharp’s 80 inch (or 80-inch Class) LED HDTV starts at $4,999.99 and caps out at $6,499.99 depending on what features you need it to have. Their 90 inch variant retails for $10,999.99. Five years ago both displays would’ve cost you three if not four times that amount, so let’s not get too bent out of shape. But even at a little over ten grand, is the Sharp 90 inch LED HDTV the best way to go? Is the 80 inch at even a penny under five grand the way to go? What if you want to go larger? The problem facing a lot of these larger than life HDTVs is that in order to hit certain price points manufacturers are reusing or utilizing back or edge lighting systems designed for smaller displays -say displays ranging in size from 60 to maybe 70 inches. This means that light uniformity and brightness -yes I said brightness -suffer. Also, because many of these displays use either glass or special coated plastic in front of their screens, glare is also a big issue. So is power. All of these things add up to an experience that doesn’t quite live up to the promise put forth by those who would otherwise have you believe that the only way to enjoy big screen viewing outside of a dedicated theater is via a large HDTV. So, what does all this have to do with front projection? With the advent of both light rejecting screens and affordable projectors we now have another option for big screen viewing, even in ambient light situations -front projection’s once Achilles heel. It’s not that ambient light or light rejecting screens were discovered yesterday -they weren’t -however, years ago they, like larger HDTVs, had their drawbacks. Today these drawbacks like “shimmer” and light uniformity have (largely) been remedied. Moreover, pricing for such screens, like their HDTV counterparts, have also dropped over the years. And what of the front projection part? For starters they (front projectors) have gotten really good at practically every level -i.e. price. Not only have projectors gotten exponentially better, they’ve gotten brighter too. Like with HDTVs, the level of front projector you can buy today for around $2,000 would’ve cost you ten or more (thousand) just a few short years ago. All these factors add up to an answer that not only has the potential for greater performance over a larger than life HDTV, but also be a better value. Manufacturer image of Zero Edge screen. Image courtesy of SI Screens. Without question, if you’re looking to enjoy an image in excess of 100 inches in a living room style environment then a front projection setup is the BEST way to go over even the largest of HDTVs available today. But let’s stay focused on diagonal sizes ranging from say 80 to 100 inches, which is plenty big. SI Screens is arguably the leader in the ambient light rejecting, front projection screen space and their latest variant, Black Diamond Zero Edge, is the crown jewel of the manufacturer’s line. According to one of SI Screen’s authorized retailers, Projector People, the Black Diamond Zero Edge screen starts at $2,799 for an 80-inch diagonal, 16:9 screen. $2,799 isn’t inexpensive for a screen, but remember we’re trying to put together a package that is equal to or less than a comparable 80-inch HDTV, which in this case is $5,000. So, having now spent $2,799 on our screen, we now have $2,201 to spend on a front projector and mount. Sticking with the online retailer Projector People, let’s add in an Epson 8350 HD front projector for $1,249. The 8350 is a phenomenal projector at its price (and even a few ticks above) and possesses a reported 50,000:1 contrast rating along with a brightness of 2,000 ANSI Lumens -plenty bright for an 80-inch ambient light rejecting screen such as the Black Diamond Zero Edge. The 8350 is not 3D, but should you need 3D functionality you could just as easily step up to Epson’s 3020 ($1,549) and still be well within budget. As for mounting and cables? A quick jaunt over to Monoprice will cure what ails you and all for less than $50 for both the mount and requisite HDMI cable. Final cost? $4,098 for a savings of $901 give or take over Sharp’s stripped down 80-inch LED HDTV. Compare it to their non-stripped 80 inch model and your total savings rockets to $2,401.99. But we’re not done yet. Let’s say we want to step things up to 90 inches and get even more performance (and enjoyment) out of our setup. Well, the 90 inch Sharp retails for nearly $11,000. Going back to Projector People, the 92-inch Black Diamond Zero Edge screen from SI retails for $3,099. We could stick with Epson but let’s throw another projector into the mix -JVC and their DLA-RS46U. While not as bright as the Epson (we’re still good), the JVC is a step up in terms of color and image accuracy when compared to the Epson. Maybe not night and day better, but better none the less. The JVC DLA-RS46U retails via Projector People for $3,495. Throw in the same mount and cables from Monoprice and you’re looking at grand total of $6,644. That’s a total savings of $4,356. I’ve been using SI Screen’s Black Diamond Zero Edge as an example because, well, it’s sexy and the screen most like today’s modern HDTVs in terms of its form factor. But what if you didn’t care for or need a screen as “flashy” as the Zero Edge? Be prepared to save even more! An 80-inch, non Zero Edge Black Diamond screen from SI will run you $2,199 with a 92 inch coming in at $2,499. That is an additional savings of $600 across the board, which is hardly chump change. But we can do even better. Elite Screens’ Airbright 5D Screen. Image courtesy of Elite Screens. Let’s face it, money is tight and while the Black Diamond Screen is amazing (it truly is) there are other ambient light rejecting screens out there. For example, Elite Screens sells an ambient light rejecting screen in their Airbright 5D, which is part of their EPV lineup of screens. The Airbright 5D screen currently isn’t available in sizes ranging from 80 to 90 inches diagonally, though the 100 inch model is available and retails for $1,912. That’s even larger than what we’ve been talking about thus far and for less money. Substituting the Airbright 5D in for the Zero Edge and adding in an Epson 8350 means you can enjoy a 100-inch, HDTV-like image in your living room for roughly $3,200 all in. Incredible. Today’s comparable 100 inch HDTV will run you close to six figures to start. And then there is UltraHD/4K. With a new format right around the bend many are holding off making a purchase until the proverbial dust settles. Those who maybe bought HDTVs last holiday season or slightly before may be kicking themselves or at least be wondering what to do next. While I’m NEVER an advocate for wasting money or looking at any AV investment as “disposable,” I have to say I’d rather be out the cost of an Epson projector in 18-24 months than $11,000 for a Sharp LED HDTV. Or even $5,500 plus for a new Sony UltraHD/4K display that (likely) won’t be compatible with tomorrow’s UltraHD format anyway. A projection screen will always be good, so it’s money well spent. Same is true for your mount -though admittedly those don’t need to cost much. So, if you buy smartly (which if you read this blog regularly you do) you can maximize your enjoyment today, while better protecting yourself for tomorrow. This is why I would “invest” in even a modest front projection setup today over almost any HDTV (or UltraHD/4K) display greater than 70 inches diagonally. As always I thank you all so much for reading. Until next time, take care everyone and stay tuned… Andrew NOTE: Article originally appeared here: http://www.andrew-robinson-online.com/super-size-me-why-front-projection-setups-not-larger-flat-panel-displays-are-the-way-to-go/
(SI Pure Zero Edge projection screen. Credit: Screen Innovations)For the biggest TV, movie, and gaming experience, you need a projector. On top of all the "normal" TV jargon, projectors have their own buzz words and marketing fluff that must be navigated. Then there's the additional complexity of wiring and screens. None of these things are difficult, especially if you're armed with a handy helpful guide. Hey, this is a helpful handy guide! Behold, all your projector tech questions answered. Sony 4K Ultra HD TV really is a new way of looking at things, a new visual language. There is so much detail, it's almost like you can walk into the picture,” said Davis. “One of the things unique to the TV is color. And the story we've been creating for this project is about celebrating color in lots of ways. With Sony 4K we are working at the highest end of technology and creativity.” “It is so nice to have a larger color gamut to work with in 4K,” added Miranda. “You can extract more information and show what you may not have seen before on a TV. Working with Sony 4K truly opens up the possibilities.” Sony will begin airing a national broadcast spot this week accompanied by digital, print and radio ads, mobile media and experiential events as well as retail point-of-purchase and interactive displays. Sony said it will also spread the word about the new 4K Ultra HD TVs through social networks, email, direct mail and freestanding inserts. “The campaign calls out the enhanced quality of anything one would watch on a Sony 4K TV with a picture that is four times clearer than full HD,” said Patrick Bewley, Sony brand experience and visual design VP. “It's the highest resolution, most immersive experience Sony has ever created, and in order to experience it, you must see it in person to believe it.” Sony is demonstrating its new 4K Ultra HD TVs at select retail partners across the country, including Sony Stores and Magnolia Home Theater departments at Best Buy. Sony said the focus on 4K is the first piece of a year-long campaign that showcases emerging and established collaborators who have been inspired by Sony technology to create unique and unforgettable stories and Sony brand experiences. All aspects of this campaign were developed with the support of Sony Electronics' advertising agency, 180 Los Angeles. Sony’s current 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV lineup includes the 84-inch XBR-84X900 that launched last November, the just-launched 55-inch XBR-55X900A and the 65-inch XBR-65X900A. (read more) Screen Innovations (SI), a leading US-based manufacturer of projection screens and associated technologies, today announces the addition of two (2) new reference quality screen material options to the Company’s acclaimed Zero Edge line of projection screens. Aptly named, Pure™ White is a 1.3 gain screen, Pure™ Gray is a .8 gain screen, and both feature SI’s sleek and stylish Zero Edge bezel. Touted by integrators as being “the coolest, most forward-thinking solution to hit the Residential and Commercial entertainment space since the flat panel TV,” Pure™ Zero Edge redefines what white and gray projection screens can do to enhance the visual entertainment experience. Filling a void onscreen and in the marketplace, Pure White and Pure Gray Zero Edge projection screens feature SI’s proprietary Micro Texture that is nine (9) times finer and smoother than that of the best screen material available on the market today. Capable of reproducing perfect resolution from 1080P to 8K and beyond, Pure delivers image quality that is razor sharp with perfect color and uniformity that provides a sensory experience unlike any other. “Resolving the most common complaints associated with white and gray projection screens, Pure™ reproduces projected images brilliantly without any measurable color shift or visible texture,” stated Ryan Gustafson, president and founder of Screen Innovations. “It redefines the middle market by providing the coolest, most impressive and cost effective solution for video purists, enthusiasts and everyday viewers alike.” Designed to be quickly and easily installed, Pure Zero Edge screens do not require any additional assembly once unpacked. Mounting options include on-wall or flown from the ceiling by slender cables. New optional LED Lighting is built in to the frame and now incorporates six (6) custom preferences and 256,000 colors, including 6500 kelvin white. This unique feature set provides an incredibly sleek appearance and immersive entertainment experience that can’t be achieved with any other screen. Available in large-format projection screen sizes up to 120” in 16:9 and up to 150” in 2.35:1, the Zero Edge line now includes Pure White 1.3 gain, Pure Gray .85 gain, Black Diamond 2.7 gain, Black Diamond 1.4 gain or Black Diamond .8 gain screen materials. Prices start at $1599 MSRP and are based on configuration. The most affordable, innovative and versatile screen technology available, Pure Zero Edge carries a lifetime replacement policy and sets a new aesthetic standard that is currently unmatched in the Residential or Commercial marketplaces. Those interested in learning more about Pure or the SI value proposition are encouraged to visit www.screeninnovations.com or call (512) 832-6939. To download SI product images, videos, logos and associated marketing materials click on the following link: www.screeninnovations.com/downloads/.
###Screen Innovations Media Contact:Katye (McGregor) BennettKMB CommunicationsE. Katye@kmbcomm.comO. (406) 446-1283C. (425) 328-8640T. @katyemcgregorW. www.kmbcomm.com
- The comparison screen is our old white 100” Screen Innovations 1.0 gain standard screen from 2005. It is not directional - rotating it doesn’t visibly impact the image (you’ll notice it’s sitting up sideways in these photos).
- The projector is a Panasonic AE2000U from 2004 with a newly replaced bulb.
- The 0.8 gain Black Diamond is mounted normally on the wall, with the white screen propped in front of it on the right hand side. The white screen isn’t perfectly flat, but I’m looking at image saturation and contrast here, not perfect focus
- The projector is mounted at the maximum recommended distance of 12” above the top of the screen.Moving it down 6-10” didn’t appear to produce any noticeable difference in the image.
- BD vs white screen: overhead lighting
- BD vs white screen: ambient light/windows
- BD vs white screen: completely darkened room
- BD only, single image: varying light conditions
- BD only: darkened room