Best cheap projector for small HT.

Hello all...

I'm figuring to add a projector to my HT system. the only requirements are a vivid colorful picture that can be developed to about 8 feet wide... perhaps a little less, say 7 or so... I don't need high def... just a colorful and highly contrasting picture.... big and bold is better for me than is definition.

also simple conections, component will do, two sets would be nice but certainly at least one set... then S video, as only two items will likely connect to it... a cable box (DVR), AND A dvd/vcr COMBO UNIT. THAT'S IT. JUST TWO THINGS.

It also needs be pretty quiet... as it will likely be right above me only a couple feet or so... and naturally I'll want a screen..

New or slightly used makes me no mind, depending... somewhere around 1000.00 to 1500.00 give or take... for the projector... no idea about the screen...

I spent a ton on a big rear projector and wish I hadn't now... so this time it's just a 'projector and screen... oh, it's doubtful it'll need to cast the images from the side... it''ll be directly in line with the screen, maybe just at the top of the screen throwing the picture straight ahead and downwards...

thanks very very much.
Take a look at Infocus...always good bang for buck.

Blindjim, needs a projector? Please forgive me, but, for about $2K you can really move up in quality! A new unit with a generous return policy is what I'd suggest. The replacement bulbs can be quite expensive and sample to sample quality variations seem to be unfortunately quite common. High Def will soon be the standard, you may end up needing a converter box just to accept standard def in the near future. On top of that, an 8' screen will really show off the difference between standard and high def. I hope you realize that without spending a lot of money on a special screen, room considerations (ambient light) will be a very serious consideration.
Check this out:
Available used for $1250-$1500 used.
Good luck!
Wow, with the $400 rebate one could purchase the panny 9000 for close to $1500 new. Pretty darn good! Good catch Myraj.
I agree with the DLP Infocus units. For the money, da_n hard to beat. Use the special paint for the wall and buy the best projector you can buy then upgrade to a screen.

There are many different breeds, but here the DaLite is best deal for the money. Spend the few hundred more than the B model and get a freaking Dasnap, or like. Draper if you can swing it but then a Draper will likely cost more than you projector.

Still you could get a decent Dasnap and NICE Infocus for less than 2 kilo bucks and not spend more than 14-1500 for the projector and paint up front. Add the screen later.

das loon
Although I dont have a recommendation, I would like to echo Unsound's advice on warranty and bulbs. Anyone who is shopping for a projector or projection TV should be aware of the high cost of replacement bulbs. I usually look at the extended warranty as just another retail sale they are trying to make, but when you consider that the bulbs can cost up wards of $300 each its something to think about. Also, many extended warranties dont even cover the bulb, or only cover 1 bulb replacement. Some companies offer an extended warranty and a seperate bulb warranty! Just something to think about, until I started started looking to buy a new TV I never knew how involveed the decision is these days.
Thanks, Unsound, and Myrai...

that's funny unsound. but, you've a good point. I never thought along that tact. I will now.

Myrai... ever deal with that joint? I've seen some outlandish pricing online but have been reticent to get serious with any that I know nothing about in terms of their previous dealings..

bulbs. yep. They are high.. which made me think about LCD instead of the standard light (s).

My viewing is quite limited. No pun intended. News. NFL. The occasional movie. Some PBS/DISC/TLC.. AND YES, some DIY. GO FIGURE. See, I'm not 'black out' blind... but I'm like 20/900 and with a really limited field of view, say 15 - 20% of a normal one.

hence the bigger pic, with lots of color and contrast... but one I can adjust to get the right size from tthe viewing position. I'm figuring six to eight feet of picture is likely the deal for me ... a bit more or less. But I go to movies on dates, play pool, (although I do suck at it now though used to be... ah, let's just say better), and so forth...

the room can be totally blacked out. Likely no daytime viewing. I'd just TIVO it anyhow. As for the screen, it could be like back in school... one you simply pull down when necessary... don't need a motorized unit... well not at first anyhow.

after the newnest wears off the usage wil be around about 10 - 12 hrs a week. Maybe. So I don't see bulbs as a real 'big' deal but do understand the impact. Also the notion about extended coverages.

lastly, about the rig supporting it... are they costly too? I'd probably wish to have the mount on the wall facing the screen and as close to the ceiling as possible... they run hot right? and the fans are well, fans.

Mucho grasss.
Some units can be placed on a shelf. A lot depends of how the air is vented and how the lens can be aimed. I'm assuming that on occasion others might be viewing with you. The NFL can be recieved in High Def, current movies and some broadcasts will appreciate a 720p and others 1080i. You might want to check out AV and Your black room is a definite plus, while a roll down screen will do, you might prefer a permanant one in the long run. The prices on these set ups are coming down as fast as the quality is going up. Good luck.
Unsound makes a good point...if your going to mount on the rear wall you should look for something that does not vent out the rear of the unit.

You will also want a projector with the correct throw distance for your fixed location, will want to be able to adjust picture size up or down if needed. The mount should fit somewhere near the middle of the adjustment range for "that" projector...they are not all the same.

Good budget screen can also make one for around $100-$200 which is what some people do at the (AVSforum) Unsound mentioned above do...all kinds of plans at that site.

Word of warning about the AVSforum!...some members are like some of our members....they do more tweaking than watching, (or listening in our case)..HeHe

Some great responses here. One thing to remember is that the digital PJ's do not beam the image straight ahead, they actually offset it upwards. This is so you can sit it on a coffee table for example,and the image will be above the coffee table. Usually the lens is approx at the bottom of the image. This is important because if you angle the PJ, the image gets out of shape, the bottom being wider than the top. This can be corrected by a "keystone" adjustment, but it is advisable to not use it, since it is digital and will markedly decrease image quality.
Ok, if you want to mount the PJ in the back of the room, near the ceiling, you will probably want to hang it. When hung, the PJ is actually upside-down, so the image will now be BELOW the lens. This helps to center the image on the wall. Once again, you want to avoiding tilting the PJ any more than absolutely neccesary due the the keystone problem.
Blindjim, the solution is simple. Just buy a used rebuilt Electrohome Marquee 8500 crt projector.

No digital projector that you would be looking at could possible compare vs this $24,000 projector. If anyone tells you otherwise they are uninformed or trying to sell you something.

1200 lums and 25,000:1 contrast ratio. It is film-like. You will find you won't even have to go to the movie theaters anymore. Its that good. You can pick one up on Ebay or better yet on VideoGon.

I run mine from Cox Cable HDTV via DVI cable and watch DVD's on my HTPC at 1440x960p with a VGA-to-5 BNC cable. My best advice is to find one thats been gone over and rebuilt by a tech with warranty. Get tubes rated 8 out of 10 or better and you will be fine. The tubes last 10,000 hours and cost $600 each.

If you want to really learn more about this stuff I suggest you go to and visit the HTPC forum and CRT Projector forums there. The real experts post there.

*Analog fans may be blind, but digital fans are deaf*
I personally do indeed love the "highly calibrated and maintained picture" of a good CRT projector. Blacks are black, and thus contrast looks superb, as well as the smooth vibrant overall image. However, the price of Lcos and even 3 chip DLP's are dropping very very quickly. The gaps are closing in the black level area, and the overall image has been equalled if not passed by these digitals. You couple that with the simplicity and convenience vs. the inconvenience factors of CRT's, and it's a much more difficult option to consider CRT's, which are all but gone, bulky, loud, unflexible and need to be constantly tweaked.
I think CRT's are great for any videophile who likes to tweak. In that respect, I'd consider them as well for cheap. But, if I'm going to spend $10k, I'll get an LCos every time...the benefits are too great.
Flrnlamb, I've heard reports about how the newer digital projectors are getting better. Still not up to 100% par with a nice crt projector but you mention that the other trade offs is a consideration. To me its all about image quality and cost. You can get a really nice Marquee 8500 for just over $1500 (which the original poster stated). To come close in quality with a digital projector you would need to spend $10,000 on a sub-par image. For most people, the budget dictates a real world system. Talking about some $10k digital projector is irrelivant to most people because they can't afford it. Of course I'm happy to have my $1500 crt projector and quick to point out mine is better than that $10k digital. Neener neener :)

BTW-A $1500 digital projector is just a toy. Made for pie charts and videogames. Not for watching movies.
"BTW-A $1500 digital projector is just a toy. Made for pie charts and videogames. Not for watching movies"

Darn I gotta tell the family no more movies, they are going to be very bummed out.

Well, to do a CRT "right", you have to consider all the costs and trade-offs really. First, the projector will be in the room with you, likely over your head, as opposed to behind, maybe in a cubbyhole, behind a wall, on a bookshelve, or whatever. You have NO FLEXIBILITY with a crt. It will be in the way, in plain sight, so you live with that takeing up a lot of space visually.
So let's say, you get a $2-3k 8" crt projector, which is very do-able these must strongly consider a Hush box, which needs to be built. The average person doesn't know how to properly engineer and build one, and that takes time, which is money. You then should STRONGLY CONSIDER paying an expert to set up and calibrate, possibly install the big beasts!! These things aren't light. Unless you have room on the floor, most will likely pay someone to install a 150lb plus projector over their heads. And add $200 for a mount. Firgure $500 minimum for install, and at least $400 for a descent calibration from a pro. Also, every 6 months you should consider having someone come out and tweak the projector, which will need it.
Another consideration should be an outboard "scaler" that will handle the standard def material,and properly scale things for your projector. That and the extra parts and cabling.
I would say, that when all's said and done, you're looking at a reasonable $6-7k worth of investment, minimum for the average person going that route!
Now, that might still be worth it when you consider the superb pic quality. But you will need a pitch black light controlled room.
I'd be willing to bet, if you look around, you can get the new Lcos projectors, that are dead quiet, more flexible, put out more light, have higher resolution capablities for wide-screen material, are smaller and less conspicuous, and cheaper to replace bulbs when they wear out mostly. And when you do replace a bulb, you don't have to pay for a recalibration, and someone to install it!
Face it, there's trade-offs.
If you are a DIY'er, and are a hobbyiest, then CRT's are a cheaper alternative (with trade-offs) for a superb display device, sure. for the average consumer, they don't make sense anymore I think.
Flrnlamb, CRT rules and digital drools!
Hehe I love the use of the first line in the forum.

Your mostly right in theory. A little extremist but your opinion does touch on the some of the differances. I would place more emphasis on image quality in my rundown of the differances between the two.

Tube life: actually the cost is less with crt projectors.
The life expectancy is 10,000 hours pre tube rated.
In reality its quite differant. the GREEN tube is 80% of the image light. Thats the tube that will most likely need to be replaced around 10k. Next is the RED tube which will sometimes last up to 15,000 hours. I never heard anyone replacing the blue tube.
The average movie watcher of 2 movies a night will last for 10 years with the green tube.
A new tube from VDC runs for $600.
Digital tubes are $500 or more and only last about 1,000 hours if that? ouch. Digital will break you.

Regular calibration once every 6 months. I can do that with my remote control in 15 minutes. Its easy. The projector comes with a built in convergance software and guide. Walks you thru it.

Hushbox: yup. I have 3 friends with this projector mounted on their ceilings and they do not have a hushbox. THey woudln't mind one. But havn't gotten around to it yet. The silent fan mod cost only $200 to make the projector very quiet. Its not that noisy compared to a computer can be.
The projector may seem big at first, but once its up on that ceiling its wonderfull. You barely notice it. It looks awsome. Like you have a 100k home theater system! :)

I helped all my friends lift the projector and mount it. They reinforced the ceilings with additional 2x4's to support the weight. Then mounted the $200 mounting bracket before lifting the projector up there. Its not that bad.

You can get an Electrohome Marquee 8500 projector with good tubes from a reputable seller with warrantee for around $1500. Those tubes will last you at least 6 years. If you dont play xbox games on it or watch HDTV more than 6 hours a night. You CAN even play online computer games on it if you don't mind running your tubes. But I won't let the kids do it. BTW this Marquee 8500 projector is rated to go to 3000x2000 res. I run my image at x2 dvd native resolution which is 1440x960.

In 6 years what till be going on? It will be 2012! A high end digital projector for $2000? At that point you may not want to retube the projector. Go digital when the $10k projectors are in the $2k range. Maybe those $2k projectors in the year 2012 will be better than anything we ever had before. 1080p! :)
i'm with StylinLP, the sony Ruby has made huge advancements but that $1000. bulb is hard to swallow. IT's light output also drops really hard in the first 150 hours based on reports from different users. The 720P chipped machines are OK but the pixel structure is very obvious from my favorite seating position of 9 feet away from a 7 foot wide screen. Most digital users sit where I put my back row of seats.

sony VPL-VW100 bulb life
0 hours - 164 lux - 0% brightness loss
30 hours - 137 lux - 16.46% brightness loss
50 hours - 127 lux - 22.56% brightness loss
70 hours - 127 lux - 22.56% brightness loss (this is not a typo)
*87 hours - 120 lux - 26.83% brightness loss - DVI input
*87 hours - 107 lux - unknown brightness loss - HDMI input
**97 hours - 102 lux - 37.80% brightness loss
150 hours - 91 lux - 44.51% brightness loss
"The life expectancy is 10,000 hours pre tube rated" (Stylinlp 38)

Yeah 10,000 hours is how long the tubes will actually operate. You're talking nothing of actual lasting image quality from the guns!!! After 4000 hours, you're starting to look at a sacrificed, less than pristine image! The Blue/Green Gun's will really need replacing to keep up image quality, and anyone who has a high end CRT setup will tell you that! That said, yes, that's still longer than a digital bulb will last. Still, you need to pay someone to replace the guns, which costs money! You then still need a complete recalibration. And again, MOST people will need to pay someone to do both! The cost is at least more than simply replacing a bulb on a digital pj, with a simple tweak afterwards.

"Digital tubes are $500 or more and only last about 1,000 hours if that? ouch. Digital will break you." (Stylinlp 38)

Ah, not really. Most replacement bulbs are going to run $200-300 max, and digital pj's bulbs will last at least 2000 hours, and some 3k+. That's not so much worse than CRT projectors, which will likely need two guns replaced in not so much more time. Again, probably cheaper in the long run than a digital pj scenario.
Digital breaking you???...I don't think so. Yes, overall, when it comes to black level at least, crt's are better, all things equal. Still, add it all up, and it's hard for the average consumer to go CRT, when they'll be also dealing with used pieces and parts, which may or may not be available in the future, and we're already to 1080p digital pj's! The best 9" crt will barely do 960p from a 4x3 format. Again, not the average consumers best choice IMO
Stylin.... mucho thanks.... that all makes sense to me. If overall, I can't do this thing for under two grand +/- a tad, I'd likely not do it.

Maintenance and adjustments? Bulb life? If it isn't slam dunk easy, OSD adjustments in step by step prompts... it is not a candidate. At 6 to 10 hrs. per week at best, even 2000 hrs is fine by me... tha's four years of bulb life... but lets say three. Still fine.

HD? Just is not a concern. There is to date, not a remedy for the condition I have save an act of God. It's chronic, progressive, and fatal if I drive. you can throw all the "P's" up there ya want to... I ain't gonna see one of them... perhaps my guest will but to be quite bulnt about it, I don't care. Sorry to put it that way but that's the long and the short of it.

User friendly is most definitely a big deal for me. I have to instruct anyone and everyone I know about how to simply plug in cabling... in my circle of friends who unlike myself have way more dollars than sense, my efforts are seen as ridiculous. Consequently, here am I, and as the result of the info on this thread alone I am far better off than just a bit. As are all the others who view it.

I truly wish I could actually realize the better res of HD. I could at one time. That is not my lot today. In this simgular exercise of bigger is better, given contrast, and color vididness, I suspect a quite afforable item will be found to resolve the issue, thanks to the links herein, and the valuable experiences being shared here.

Thank you as always.