Any experienced Projector users?

I know there are a ton of websites and info to be found but there is a certain comfort asking people on Audiogon questions I have, I have done a ton of research so I dont have a ton of question's and just need to confirm some ideas and options.
If anyone out there is up on the more budget end of projectors let me know please.
Main concerns are ceiling height placement, lens shift and zoom options and a few general concerns....thanks
I'm hardly an expert, but I have my projector ceiling mounted, and it's a budget model. I previously tried a cheapo epson LCD before I found I had to spend more and got a Optoma HD70. I really like the Optoma - it's totally silent, the picture is excellent with no screen door effect.

As for mounting/placement - my ceiling is just under 8 ft, the projector lense is about 8" below the ceiling, as is the top of my screen. Projector Central has all of the info in addition to a calculator to help you set up your throw distance.
I second Bdgregory's recommendation of Optoma HD-70.
Also - having a drop/ceiling makes the installation easier.
You can mount it to the floor beams and have almost "0" clearance between projector and the ceiling. Runing cables - could not be easier.
HD-70's options are very limited but its picture quality is way above its price category.
Make sure to pick the right screen - since its light output is not that great.
HD-70 was my second proj. - now it is HD-80.
For about $700-$800 street price it is hard to beat.
I have a Panasonic PTL-500U and love it. I would highly recommend doing some research at AVS Forums. Just searching the threads will probably answer most of your questions. Feel free to email me if you like or post your question.
Go to AVS Forums and spend some time doing research.

IMO DLP projectors have gotten so good and are so inexpensive that they are the best way to go today. LCD still suffers from poor black level which makes everything look washed and less 3D, and slow refresh which makes motion look traily and blurred.

The latest DLPs have 1980x1080p resolution, excellent contrast and black level and none of the refresh issues. The only knock on DLPs has been that some people are sensitive to a rainbow effect caused by the color wheel. The newest mono chip DLPs have improved 6 and 7 segment wheels that run at very high rpm and cause less of a rainbow problem. Most people aren't rainbow sensitive anyway.

I have recently done some projector shoot-outs where the Infocus IN82 has started to surpass (for the first time) my Sony G70 CRT. The Sony was $20K new, the 720p IN78 is $3500 and the 1080p IN82 is $5500.

I'm a dealer for Infocus. There are lots of other good DLPs out there.
Davemitchell is right! If you can splurge for the DLP over an LCD, do it. My brother's DLP crushed my LCD (he had the same LCD). I have an NEC 440 that is not bad either.
Keep in mind that most have cooling fans that you can hear. If you can mount this far enough behind you and zoom in to the screen, that's best.
When looking at used, keep bulb replacement in mind-they can run $300 to $500 easily.
Thanks for the tips!
Do LCD projector's in the budget arena offer easier placement with lense shift and zoom?, thats what I see when I look.
The room will be in basement so light isnt an issue but I would like to be able to use some lamps for ambient light for casual sprts and daytime events so I dont want a super dim dark-only unit.
Another concern is that the ceiling is low so the unit if mounted on ceiling would be around 6ft which I could pace aboive my sweet spot which will be about 12-13 ft from screen,otherwise on a table a few feet in front of me would be next ideal position, I am going to run 80in screen due to ceiling height and placement of center channel under screen. Thanks guys!
I setup a budget projector for someone a few months back...the picture was outstanding, and lens shift was outstanding also. I needed a 19ft throw distance for this setup...ceiling mount.

Sanyo Plv-Z5:

Thanks Dave, the Sanyo is on my short list and I have it saved in my favorites but what is the farthest distance you can throw the image for an 80 in screen without a major drop in performance? thanks
Most budget projectors are in the 1000-1100 ansi lumens range which means they really need to be in a dark room. Turning on a lamp or accent lighting will kill the picture. If you want to have accent lighting, then you need to be looking at projectors in the 2000 ansi lumens range. Panasonic makes the PT-AX200u or PT-AX100u which both do 2000 lumens and run around $1700 street price.

I think that a better alternitive would be a Samsung slimfit rear projection set. Only about 10" deep, up to 71" and 1080P verses 720P on the projectors. In addition, you don't have to worry about lighting.

I have a PT-AX100u and a 100"+ screen in a completely dark room. The picture is really nice on HD. But, when you factor in two bulbs a year at almost $400 a pop, it's becoming a real drag. I'm about this close to putting it on ebay and picking up a 60" Plasma.
I would like to just get a rear Pro unit but there is a Fireplace on that wall I dont wish to conceal, plus the major point is audio and the soundstage which a rear projector no matter how slim will be a sonic compromise I want to avoid. With a simple screen either manual or power I can quickly close it up and let the music play to its best potential, thanks for all the thoughts and keep bringing them on!
I would also recommend the Sanyo as a budget option. I owned the PLV-Z4, for the money it was great.

You have a lot of leaway in regards to the throw distance.

I would recommend the projector to be positioned behind the viewing seat as you won't notice the beginning of the light emitting from the projector - distracting.

You will also probably not need ambient light as the projector gives off alot of light... unless you want to add it to floor - think movie theatre step lights facing away from your seated view point and far from the screen.

Because of a recent move, I have downsized to a LCD and am very disappointed in the picture.

The beam is a real distraction if in front of you?

I never would have thought about that.....everytime I think I am getting somewhere I get hit with more confusion :)
With the Sanyo should I be able to expect to be able to throw it from behind me if I am at around 13 ft from screen or will I be more limited to projecting from front?
If the beam is behind you, your periferal vision will just notice a haze above you... with the beam infront of you, you will see the beginning of the cone of light... it would bother me.

If you are seated 13 feet from the screen, you have a lot of room behind you to mount the projector. I think the spec on the Sanyo Z5 was over 9 meters max distance... although I wouldn't go that distance.

The Sanyo had a lot of controls to tune the picture, lens shift, zoom, etc.

If I go back to a projector and was looking low budget the Sanyo with HDMI and 1080p is great... with more dollars the Infocus is looking real nice at $5000.

On another note, a HDDVD or BlueRay gives a ton of resolution to the image and you can save various picture settings for older DVDs or new High Def DVD's on the Sanyo.

Thanks Richard, while the Sanyo was a top contender it might be the unit I have to find a reason NOT to purchase at this point, everyones ideas were appreciated!
How big of a step up is the Sanyo PLV25 over the Optima HD-70? These 2 units plus the Panasonic PT AX1000 are my 3 top choices, I would like to be able to have some light fom time to time in room, it can be easily totally dark but for parties and casual veiwing, a bit of direct reading light and some low watt ambient would be great.
Also with any or all these options can I expect good if not passable results with a somewhat budget pull-down screen........around $300 for screen? Thanks again, doing research is great on many websites but having the chance to talk to members here makes me a bit more comfortable.
You need to spend some time over at
As I said I have been Projectorcentral, AVSforum, Audioholics and learned a ton of info but talking to real world owners makes me more comfortable, especially folks on this website.
I have an Epson Powerlite S5 projecting on an 8x12ft wall to play Wii games. This is a $600 solution and I think it's well worth it. The only draw-back is that you have to buy Component Video cable to feed into HD15 to get the best video out of it.
1-The rear projector may be nice but, how will you get it down the basement stairs?
2-My NEC is 2000 lumens and still doesn't look nearly as good with any lights on. One 40 watt light cuts the quality a lot.
3-Don't skimp on the screen. A higher gain screen will let you get away with more light.
4-Finally, don't mount the projector right over your "sweet spot". You will hear the fan. You can mount it much closer or farther away and zoom in/out. You can even get different lenses to allow different placement.
Thanks for the continued tips, I appreciate them!