Confused... Projector or Plasma???????

I am in the middle of assembling components for a dedicated home theater room. It will have 2 rows of seating. 2nd row I gather would be about 16' from the screen. Don't know whether I should be looking at a projector set up or plasma set up. I would like the screen size to be between 5' ( i have been looking at the new pioneer elite 60") and 7' in width. (5' is probably a little too small at 16' away)I would assume the projector would be the way to go for anything above 60" at the moment(cost concerns). Which set up has the best picture quality? (if you were to compare 60" screens)What's the biggest bang for the buck?
The 58" panasonic full 1080p plasma can proboably be bought at 6th ave electronics (RT 4 paramus NJ) for $3500 or so if you haggle in person. The pioneer elite 60" in either 1365 X 768 or the full 1080p will have a better scaler but probably will cost a $1000+ more. Check their sales online as they often clear out plasmas during holiday sales.
I prefer plasmas to LCD's (which are getting close but still look artificial IMHO) and I'd skip the projectors (DLP's etc and front projectors) if 60" is enough.
Samsung and perhaps LG make 63" plasmas and pioneer makes 65" and even larger plasmas are available but you'll pay a huge premium for anything over 60".
Plasma - New Panasonic 1080p. Good picture and price.
Projector - Optoma HD-80 best value vs performance. 1080p 10,000 : 1 contrast. I own one and did my homework before a final purchase. The best projector for the money. Well above competition and equal to projectors costing double and triple of its price.
Check this website:
How dedicated is the space and how much are you going to use it?, also is light control an issue? If it is dedicated and for serious movies and HD programing with no need to watch in a really bright room then for sure the Projector is the way to go, there is no substitute. On the other hand if it is a hard room to control light, casual veiwing of general programing in a multi use space the Plasma is a more suitable (but small size) option.
I just went through this exact dilema and went with a Panasonic 720P projector to be installed soon, my father has the Panasonic 58in unit on his space at 12 ft it is a fairly good size but at 16ft........a bit small, I am gong to be 12ft from my screen and run 92in.

I am with "55dok" on this one. Unless you need a viewing area that is greater than 65", I also think that a plasma set is the best way to go. You can get almost as much effective viewing area as you would with a projector and screen system and they're MUCH easier and simpler to install (though with a massive plasma screen, it is still best that the installation is handled by a professional installer).

I, myself was getting ready to buy an LCD set earlier this year (a Toshiba 42HL67 42" LCD set), but then, I became concerned with the refresh rates that these sets exhibit as well as black level (and to a certain point, viewing size and distance) and decided in the end, plasma was the way to go (I will be getting a Panasonic TH-42PX77U).

You may agree with the same thing after you have weighed the fact that you may have to have a projector and screen professionally installed and calibrated.

A 63" to 65" set should just about do it for you. And as "55dok" has said, plasma sets are available in even bigger screen sizes, but it's going to take more gases and better engineering to make a plasma set bigger, and in the end, you're going to pay a BIG premium for all of that additional engineering and viewing real estate.

Good Luck and Happy Shopping......


At 16' away, 60" is WAY to small. I use a 70" set @ 12' and am at the lowest size by THX rec's, @ 16' you'll want well over 100", so plasma is right out! Go the projector route you will not be sorry.
I have both a dedicated theater room with the JVC RS-1 1080p projector and a family room with the Pioneer Kuro 150FD (1080p plasma.) The primary seating area in the family room is 15' away from the plasma and I daily regret not having a larger screen. The farthest seating area (I have three rows) in the theater room is 22 feet away from a 108" screen and that row is the least desirable view. What I have learned in my experience is that bigger is much better and that 1080p only allows you to sit closer and have a larger screen. The best view in my house is the first row in the theater room, which is 14' away from the screen.

Good luck
For sitting that far from the screen, projection is your only option unless you want to be squinting to see the action.

Plasma is great for the living room, but if you want a real "theater" experience, you've got to go bigger.

The best quality projection I've seen (by far) is Runco. They are pricey, but worth it.
Thanks guys for all your suggestions. I thought that a 60" screen would be too small at 16' away.

Rgwrjs, what's the difference in picture quality between the Pioneer 150 (I've heard this is an excellent plasma) and your JVC?

Chaskelljr2001, I'm looking at the Panasonic TH-42PZ700U for my living room. Any difference in picture quality between the 700U and 77U?

Chadnliz, the room will be soley for home theater and light is not an issue.

So in summary, less than around 60" = PLasma, more than 60" = projector

Any opinions on picture quality differences?

thanks again guys.
I sit at 17'....a 100" picture works great in my room. Projectors have come a long way, even the budget models ($1,500-$2,000) have very good picture quality.

Only consider a projector if you can control lighting. If not, you will be disappointed and will be happier with Plasma. Also, you need to be thinking bigger than the sizes you are considering.
At 16', projector for sure. I am a plasma fan but not at that distance. For reference, 42" plasma is just about right for an 8' distance in my room. At 10' its a little small. My $0.02. If light is not an issue, I would go projector for sure. And you are probably going to want professional calibration anyways.
Projector is the only way to fly. You will not be sorry. The larger screen area will blow you away. I don't care what anyone says, for movies bigger is always better...that's why folk buy tickets to go see them at at a theater.
In a dedicated room like the one you describe a projector makes much more sense. I agree with some of the previous posts that believe you are thinking too small for screen size.

We use a 92" diagonal screen here at Ultrafi and our viewing distance is 16 feet. If anything, with HD material, our screen is a little on the small side of the ideal range.

Think bigger!
If you have a dedicated room (which can be outfitted as a very small theater) you should have a projector. Only the "little people" have TV displays pressed into service calling them "home theaters". It's really kind of sad.
FWIW I watch from 13 feet, have a 106" screen, which is fine for 16x9 but not so good for wide screen. I suggest AVS Forum for information on projectors.

To me, it may be hard to tell a difference, but your eyes may see something that mines do not see. So, from an initial standpoint, I cannot tell any differences in perceived picture quality.

About the only differences between the "77U" and the "700U" is going to be picture resolution mainly. Feature sets are almost going to be equal (given in the end, the "700U" may have a few features that the "77U" may not). But the main difference is picture resolution. The "77U" can go up to 720p resolution and the "700U" will go up to 1080p resolution. And in a 42" set, you'll be hard pressed to detect any differences in picture quality, but you're going to pay $300.00 to about $500.00 more for a set with higher preceived resolution. Given that my Denon DVD-2910 can output only up 1080i, my getting a 42" plasma set that has 1080p resolution will almost prove to be a moot point to me.

So, in the end, you will to decide whether or not you can detect enough of a difference in picture quality and resolution to justify paying such a premium for the higher priced set. In my opinion, I cannot seem to see enough of a difference to justify paying that premium.

Only when you get a plasma set that is about 65" or larger, then the benefits of 1080p resolution will become more and more apparent. Otherwise, it is not necessary to get 1080p resolution in a 42" set.

Sorry that I couldn't be more helpful this time around.

I agree with Chas, 1080P in anything under 42in is simply bragging rights with no reasonable benefit, even at 720P and 1080I a projector is still the best bet while a couple things work themselves out, 1) would be the format war for the new disc technology....2) let the price come down, I bet this time next year both quality, and price will both be much better.
I agree with the projector recomendation if it can work in your room and conditions. For me it would not due to vaulted ceilings and windows on my back wall. I would have had to mount the projector in a cabinet on the floor. So I went Sony 50" SXRD. Its a great set but I still like my buddies 100" projector better. There is just nothing that gives the "cenematic experience" like a projector.
Charles & Chad,

I don't know why you guys make universal statements like 1080p is unnecessary for smaller than 42" displays. Do you guys imagine you hear thunder when you speak? Obviously higher resolutions lets you sit closer to a display of given size for greater visual immersion, i.e. achieve a greater septended angle, In tight viewing circumstances, sitting close can be a boon to appreciation of a movie experience even with a small screen. Watching a movie on a 60" screen at 16' seems pointless to me. I'd rather watch a movie on a 42" screen at 5' or 6'; of course, I'd rather watch on a 92" screen at 10' to 12'.

Whatever you say DB, its obvious where the thunder is eminating from. If you want 1080P then buy it, go ahead and adopt early and pay too much for very little content and perhaps enjoy its meager benefit on a postage stamp size display and if you dont like opinions, dont pay attention...feel better now??

It's that you and too many others express your opinions in such absolute terms. Some readers of these boards may take them seriously, not recognizing the tendency for hyperbole. Things are rarely as black and white as some of your posts would lead us to believe. By the way, usually I don't pay attention. I've pretty much sorted out those whose advice I do attend to. If you had paid attention to my previous post, you might have noticed that I prefer a 92" screen at 10' for movies.

Dedicated theatre room.......16 feet from the screen.......
projector is the only way to go.
1080p projectors under $3000 are a common thing these days.
Good screen should not cost you more then a $1000.
4G will get you a great picture and some $$$$ for pop-corn and movies.

I recieved my Projector for my dedicated room yesterday, its a 720P Panasonic LCD model I got for 25% retail with a new bulb as the screen is not here yet I shined it on wall to test it out and was really surprised how good it looked.
I suppose with a screen it should only get better, with its 200O Lumens and 6000.1 contrast it even looked great with lamps on for reading as long as they were behind its beam.

Have you considered one of the paint-on screens? Some who post at AVS claim they're a pretty cost-effective solution. I've been thinking along the lines of a Sony VPL 50 (Ruby, I think) with a 92" Stewart GreyHawk SST screen, but that's about a $5K commitment. A lower cost way to introduce myself to the real world of projection might be a better way to go. I don't want to sit in a totally dark room, but I do want the immersion I've only seen with front projection. Not really sure how viable FP is in my application.

db, for around $3000 and change a real high quality projector/screen can be obtain.
Optoma HD-80 ($2700 1080p) with Elite screen (white 1.0 gain or gray - $400 & up) and Gefen Home Theater Scaler for standard definition sources(around $400 street) would make a very hard package to beat.

Thanks for the advice.

I'm at a disadvantage living in Santa Barbara unless I want to drive 30 miles or so, because the only serious effort to demo front projection is by a retailer who shows only $10K+ projectors. I saw a Sony VPL-50 with Stewart GreyHawk screen in Reno, and was amazed, but there are undoubtedly other great setups I just don't know about. I do read AVS.

We actually live in Montecito, a village adjacent to SB popular with movers and shakers in the entertainment industry. In suspect there are some grand home theaters in town, I just don't know of them.
Thanks for the tip and I have a friend who used just that idea for his wall but I have a fireplace and mantle on the wall I need screen on so I had no choice but get a pull down model which arrived today, its a very budget Matte 84' unit so wish me luck!

Let us know how it turns out. If it isn't too personal, you might also give us a ballpark idea of the cost of projector+screen. I'm a complete novice with front projection, and would like to get my feet wet with a setup that I'm likely to replace. At even $3-5K I'd feel more or less committed. OTOH, a too cheap trail setup might not be a good test.


This is a very nice budget system: Well under $3,000

I bought a Panasonic PT-AX100U 720P LCD unit which is 2000 Lumens and 6000.1 Contrast, it works well because I can have lamps on and still keep it in economy mode, I payed $600 with a brand new bulb.
The Screen is Da Lite 84' wide screen Matte, manual pull down unit for $150 including 3 day shipping.
Many know I am disabled and on fixed income so I simply cant afford a better system but other than the blacks not being as deep as I would like it really is a great picture, with my Lexicon DVD player I can really further its performance as it has many adjustments, HDTV looks stunning and even 480I content is acceptable.
I have a Sony XBR WEGA tube HDTV which is arguably the best picture period so I have that for critical veiwing, the Projector is mainly to serve my Audio room without affecting the just happens it is both cheap and large.....and quite nice!
All in all I am thrilled with its performance for what I payed for it, even on my wall while waiting screen to be installed is alot of fun, this Panasonic recieved 5 star ratings across the board, not because it was the best but because it is so good for the money it is a no brainer.
There is new 200 model which is really the same except it has a game mode for Xbox players to optimze it for gamers.
In close for my application and intended use I really cant see going all out for a high priced unit, yes I know there are much better units but for me its Audio first, this is simply a great and cheap compliment to my new room.
Thanks for the info.