Projectors

Affordable Projectors for Non-Dedicated Home Theater Rooms - Sanyo PLV-Z2000 1080p Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Front projectors have been the gold standard in home theater for many years. But until recently, front projection meant a CRT-unit the size of a coffee table mounted to the ceiling. It only looked good if you turned your room into a bat-cave, was very finicky about set-up, needed regular calibration, and probably cost more than the family sedan.

Times and digital technology have leaped forward, and now there are numerous 1080p digital projectors available for less than $3,000. However, even at those prices, front projection is still not on the radar screen for all but the most committed home theater enthusiasts.

I have not put a projector system into my own home, even though I love the immersive experience of watching a film on a screen measured in feet rather than inches. I recently blogged about my reasons for avoiding it, which were summarized as: 1) lack of a suitable space for a dedicated room (loosely defining “usable space” as some element of light control, and a place to mount the projector and screen without requiring expensive custom-installation or triggering an SAF veto), and; 2) the cost of a screen, plus professional installation to mount the projector and run cables through walls and ceiling, which could easily double the cost of the projector.

As I pondered whether there was a relatively painless and economical way to enjoy the wonders of a front projector in my own home, it grew into the idea of a series of articles on the topic. Here’s the goal: a front projector system that can be duplicated in various environments, that will pass muster with the spouse, and makes buying and setting up a front projector as simple (or close as possible) as bringing home a flat-panel display from a big box store.

Specifications

  • Design: LCD Projector; Three 0.7" LCD Panels
  • Native Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080p
  • Brightness: 1,200 ANSI Lumens (Vivid Mode)
  • Contrast Ratio: 15000:1
  • Lens; 2.0x Manual Zoom
  • Lens Shift; Manual Horizontal and Vertical
  • Inputs: HDMI v.1.3 (2); Component (2); Analog RGB; S-Video, Composite
  • Weight: 16.1 Pounds
  • Dimensions: 5.7" H x 15.7” W x 13.6” D
  • MSRP: $2,495
  • Available at Discount from Projector People
  • Sanyo

The Room

I don’t have a light-controlled room that can be easily converted to a dedicated theater (you don’t see basements in California homes). The only space that could possibly host a front projector is the family room, which also doubles as my primary listening space. I’ve undertaken a fair amount of effort to dial-in the room for quality audio, including careful placement of the speakers and setting the prime seating position for near-field response, plus acoustic room treatments and parametric EQ (such as the Velodyne SMS-1).

However, the room is less-than-ideal for a front projection system. It has white cathedral ceilings, although the one concession is that I convinced my wife to paint the front wall in a dark flat-finish (she calls it “Eggplant”). There is a sliding glass door on one side, and a 12-foot tall opening to the dining room on the other side. Plus, the room opens to the kitchen in the back.

It cannot be done, you say? Let’s find out.