Go to avsforum.com and check the Displays area of the site. There you can you do research on any of the technologies you mention above. Another site would be projectorcentral.com. They do a lot of projector reviews and have articles on projectors and associated topics. Right now the Optoma HD70 (720p) is great bargain at around $1000. I have an Optoma H31 projector (480p projector) and it looks great (you could get one of those for around $500 - $600) with a Graywolf 92" screen, also made by Optoma. I also have a Panasonic plasma (also 480p) and it also performs great. Any of the Panasonic new plasmas will be great. Of course, you can also get a projector for a much bigger and immersive picture. There are many issues to consider with projectors such as the screen and the room layout, room lightning, etc. so you will have to do your research, but I bet you it will be more than worthwhile. I am already thinking about my next projector, not my next plasma or any other TV technology.
Front projection can give you an immersive experience that otherwise seems unattainable. I've been thinking about a replacement for my excellent 36 XBR, and have come to the conclusion that a front projector needs to be supplemented with a flat panel display if you intend to do casual TV viewing as well as movies. The significant issue is the need for a darkened room with front projection -- I don't want to sit in a dark room to watch casual TV. Secondary is the issue of bulb life for a projector that would be a primary viewing source. My solution is a pull down sreeen in front of a flat panel display.
I don't think it's an either-or question if you would consider front projection. Rear projection can stand by itself, but you won't get the immersion you get from front projection.
Hey Don, My father and I are looking into equipment for his basement home theater to replace his standard def 60in Monitor, although his room is in the basement with no real light issues from the outside world he likes to watch sports or check out the news scroll while enjoying music.
My original thought was to use a flat panel monitor on the wall for these situations and use a pull down screen with projector for movie enjoyment, then I saw this screen wich on paper boasts almost no problem with use in light filled rooms wich I cant recall its brand but know it starts at $2500 for a 60in screen... now I would be real curious to see a real world demo of this, although it is very pricey it really isnt much more then having to add a quality flat panel to the mix, and my fathers finances wont be a concern with bulb life....just thought I would throw that idea at you.
New question, can projector be used as a regular tv, as in bulb life and dependability? How about room lighting?
Thanks for the great responses. This will be a basement theater projector - casual TV watching will be done on a smaller TV in a diff. room. This will be used for movies, music (w/o the projector) and the obligatory Notre Dame football games.
Why not watch a real fotball teAm,,,,GO BUCKEYES! :)?
A couple of years ago I owned the 14k Sim2. I had a 92",$3500 screen. A big investment. I did the motor, "pull-down" in front of the tv. At that time I had an older standard def. tv. Then I upgraded the tv. to a JVC hdila; A 5k-job.---What a piece of crap that was. Then I took another step,up.--Got the Mits. 9" crt 65" model. Then I could see just what Black Level is all about. Black Level was good on the Sim2 but not in the same league as the Mits. Sure, I know thin is in but until I see a "better than mine" thin one, I'll stay "over-weight but happy".
I would only consider front projection to achieve a 16:9 screen size of near 100" diagonal, and every such projection system I've seen suffers when ambient light is above very dim. Think about the last time you were in a movie theater.
Bulb life is a matter of money and inconvenience. If you're willing to buy and change a couple hundred dollar bulb a few times a year, then bulb life may not be an issue.
There is a huge buzz about the new Panasonic PT AX100U front projector on avsforum right now. It is extremely bright and designed to make some ambient light acceptable.
It has a feature that will automatically adjust the brightness of the pic as the light changes in the room.
Go read the reviews at projectorcentral and audioholics and prepare to salivate.
I'm ever so tempted to plop one of these on my coffee table and throw an 80" pic on the wall from 10 feet.
Check it out.
Used projectors - do you seem them much? Is the only real downside the bulb life question? What else can go wrong? What used projectors do you recommend?
Try videogon for used projectors, although you'll mostly find new projectors offered at discounts. Technology is changing rapidly and prices are dropping quickly, so older projectors are not like older amps. The AX100U is under $2K, but you'll need to add $1-2K for a screen. If you find you need to add a flat screen TV for casual viewing, not much is lost. You'll probably soon want to upgrade from the AX100U for better resolution, but there will be a trade-off in price and brightness, or you can wait a year or two.
BTW re.bulbs: My Sim2 had an 8k hr.bulb/ tho I never got past 3k hrs. I just read the website for Infocus. The bulb (3k hrs.)price is $549--ouch! Be careful,it's expensive out there in bulb land,and many never reach the time/hrs. they are touted for.