Need help with front projection TV on a budget

My search for the right TV to complete my home theatre seems never ending. I was only considering HD rear projection but I'm intrigued with true BIG screen TV front projection. I have a dedicated theatre room that is 15 feet by 25 feet (I can completely control all light). I would love to have a 100" screen but I've heard a lot of negative stuff about projectors in my price range. I have budgeted $3200 for the TV and I've heard decent front projectors are several times that much. If there are good units out there in my price range I'd love to know about them. I've heard of headaches, rainbows, and other nightmares that I'd rather avoid. For my budgeted price, I'll need the projector, mounts, and a screen...a complete package. Is it worth trying front projection at this price? I'd hate to spend my money and not see the picture quality I want.
The Sony HS20 with ceiling mount is under $3200. All you need to buy extra is the screen that cost about less than $200 as a starter. There are many knowledge and consideration in choosing a screen and I can't detail them here. But for less than $3400, the image quality is more than enough to satistify your need.

I own an Sanyo Plv-70 already and I don't mind downgrade to this model if my Sanyo die today.

Forget about the DLP, the color and contrast is good, but the rainbow effect will still be there even for those $10000 top end model. Even if you cannot see them, your guests might see them when you are showing off your gear.

Hope this help.

Panasonic PTAE500 ($2000online) ,fixed screen 108"($300) and chief mount ($180). That leaves you $700 for good component and DVI cables. I'm using a PTL300U in a room of similiar dimension with great results. Keep in mind that HD will look incredible and standard def will look like crap (after seeing HD).

Good luck,
I really believe you can easily get the picture quality youre looking for, i have owned both rptv and now use a Toshiba lcd 16:9 1000 lumen projector, the cost of the Projector, screen and HDTV Directv box was about the same as the TV USED!!!

The picture is 106' and fantastic, the colors are unreal and the clarity is beyond what my old hi def rptv was.

You MOST DEFINATELY will like the picture you get, i have never looked back even for a moment. A HUGE bonus? it takes up zero room, works well in light (ever see glare on your tv screen?) and most importantly, the speaker placement becomes limitless!

I would recomend looking on ebay for the guy in Canada that rebuilds CRT projectors, his prices are fair and he knows everything there is to know about CRT projectors.
Try this place look at the top 10.
I`ve sold both the Sony and the panasonic. the sony had a lot brighter picture. for a similar price.
Yeah you'll notice all are recommending a large screen FP set up. There's indeed no replacment for an excellent image on a large screen for impact! doubt. Still, unless your buying a used (referbed) front PRojetion CRT unit(bulky, and outdated a bit for convenience and the times), your challenges at your price range for front projection are black level and resolution(to a lesser degree) from the affordable DLP and LCD units...that and rainbows/headaches from single chip 3 color segment color wheeled DLP units.
IF you like a unit, you can balance a rather large maybe 110+ inch 16x9 image in that room! Still, is the picture quality overall satisfactory to you? You can always run down to the local Best Buy, and pick up an Infocus X1, show it on a piece of cheep foam core poster board($20-40) and judge for yourself! Black level will be improved with the expensive "grayhawk/Firehawk" screens at $1800 range new however, which adds to the cost. Still, trying this "demo" route will let you know what you're dealing with with cheeper DLP. With LCD, you don't get the rainbows, same black level, same kind of rez, but screen door at larger image size, and questionable black level(watch dark movies).
In my opinion?..your only real obstacle with trying to get a large (exciting) image is the black level at this point! It is highly desireable to ultimately end up with a large front projected image, and the resolution for even DVD's is superb upto the 100" range from even 12 feet away!..very good with some of these little projector units. Still, black level??????
With Big screens that are properly calibrated, there are no such problems really. Although, you are limited by slightly different factors with some of these RPTV's. But, you can dial them in for a pretty world class picture from a qualified person. And you could get upto maybe 65"(16x9) in your room with good set up. Hummmmm.
With the prices right now as cheep as they are for large RPTV CRT based units, and given the picture quality with some of these Toshiba, Sony, Pioneer, even Mitz's and such, you might strongly consider one of these temporarily. YOu can always sell it later, or move it to another room when front projection improves down to the lower price points. Right now, I think the better DLP's and Lcos bassed units are too much for your budget. These give simply superb images!
You can also buy a used CRT FP unit in your price range, but do you want the bulk and complication?
Yeah, that's a tough one. Still, I'd check out a projector first, and decide. Everyone who's seen my Sanyo Z1 on a 95" screen in my smallish sized room goes "wow!". But to me, the black sceens make me want to SERIOUSLY consider a more expensive projector, which I'm waiting on. If I had a CRT unit, I might not be so anxious. You decide
BTW, you can pick up a superb 60"+ RPTV from Toshiba, that's really really good for around the $2000-2500 range! This is amazing how cheep it is for what you get. But, then again...
Price of the panasonic PTAE500u is $2000. Price of the Sony hs20 is $2900. Both have the same contrast and light output. The Sony is brighter than the Panasonic PTL300u.

I demo the Sony HS10 and Panasonic PTL300u in my room. The Sony was brighter but $1000 more. The bulb did not last as long. It was louder. And the bulb was twice as much as the Panasonic. Also, the Sony had this annoying problem of defaulting to the memory card slot when ever it was turned on. Also, it takes longer to warm up and cool down. Guess because of the bigger bulb.

I'm going to make the jump to the Panasonic 500 soon.
Brentchp, I recently set up a system in my basement similar to what you are talking about. I bought a Sony HS20 ($3200), but the Sanyo Z2 and Panasonic 500U are supposed to be good choices also, for a little less money. If you read a lot of posts at avsforum you will find there isn't a perfect projector. They all have some issues. If you listen to the nitpickers you will be scared off from buying one. In reality, the pictures these things produce are REALLY good. Colors are accurate and the image is sharp. I am extremely pleased with my setup. No RPTV can come close to the experience of watching a movie on an 8 foot wide screen.

If you truly can control all light and have dark colored walls and ceiling, the best screen is a white, gain of 1 type. The Carada screens run about $700 for a 110" 16:9 and are the best deal out there. If you have reflective surfaces, no matter how good your light control is, you will benefit from a contrast enhancing screen like a Firehawk or Grayhawk. I bought a Firehawk because my walls and ceiling are somewhat reflective and I don't have perfect light control in the daytime. It improves the black levels considerably.

My advice is find a projector you like and project it on a temporary screen for a couple of months. A white wall will do, or you can try one of the many DIY screens described at avsforum. After living with it for a while you may decide you don't even need a commercial screen. At a minimum you will determine what screen size you like without spending a lot of money on potentially a wrong sized screen. Also, the screen manufacturers will gladly send you samples and this gives you a chance to compare them.

The Chief mount is excellent. It is very solid and allows independent adjustment of each axis. I highly recommend it.

The lens throw length of each projector may affect your choice. Due to some recessed can lights in my ceiling, the Sanyo wouldn't work due to its short throw. It would have required its mount to be where one of the lights is. The Sony works perfectly. The front of the projector is 170" from the screen.

Figure on having your first row of seats at roughly 2x the screen width away from the screen. This will minimize the visibility of the pixel structure of the image (screen door effect). My seats are 15 feet from the 8 foot wide screen (110" diag., 16:9).

In summary, you don't have to spend a lot to get a great front projector. The current crop of LCD projectors produce really fine images. Some people have problems with headaches, etc. viewing the DLP types so the LCDs are the safest bet. Good luck and have fun!