Front Projection Home Theater - CheapAre you in the market for a Front Projector? Have you seen what these things can do? Front Projection can change your viewable picture size from 30 inches to 100 inches with a simple adjustment. To the budget conscious shopper this should open doors. A small compromise in aspect ratio can save you big money.
Most HDTV front projectors have a native resolution of around 1280x720 (720P), or if you're prepared to really spend the big bucks, 1920x1080 (1080P). Although there are plenty of warnings about EDTV, I'm here to tell you that a quality EDTV front projector set to the screen size you like will deliver a picture that rivals anything costing several times more. Resolution is only one small part of the total image quality. A good 800x600 front projector can be had for a pittance compared to some very average looking FP displays that deliver 720P. My 800x600 projector will deliver the correct widescreen aspect ratio from my DVD player with a simply amazing picture. The best news is I spent way under a $G note.
Optoma EP716 DLP Front Projector
Although plasma and LCD sets have come down, a large one is still way out of my price range. CRT rear projection is nice but not really up to the picture quality of the new fixed pixel display technology. Had I never seen a plasma or LCD, CRT might be okay; but side by side the old technology just doesn't have the same eye-popping contrast. Standard definition tube models with flat screens are cheap, but a tube is a tube and 480i in this day and age just isn't going to cut it.
I demoed a couple of projectors with big pictures and easy setup. My PC or Laptop plugs right in and the resolution looks better to me than the SVGA 800X600 resolution suggests.
The EP716 will set me back only $650. I added $118 for a Panoview 120-inch screen and $149 for a three year warranty. Ok, so I don't eat till next payday but I'm too fat anyway.
I hooked it all up in 20 minutes and could not believe my eyes! For under $1000 I could have picked up a 50 inch standard def CRT rear projector or a small LCD / plasma. In my opinion there is no contest. The theater look of the whole pull down screen setup blows away all other choices in this price range!
The word from Optoma:
"Optoma's 1800 lumens EP716 delivers optimum price and performance. The EP716 projector combines performance and functionality that offers a complete solution for a wide range of applications from boardrooms to classrooms. Weighing only 4.4 pounds, the compact and robust EP716 is designed to excel in today's demanding multimedia environments."
- Resolution: SVGA (800 x 600)
- Display Type: DLP™; 0.55-inch DDR DLPTM technology from Texas Instruments
- Brightness: 1800 lumens
- Weight: 4.4 lbs.
- Contrast: 2000:1
I am not usually an extended warranty purchaser but bulb life is only stated as 2000 hours. The warranty will replace the bulb three times in the three year period. At $400 per bulb, $150 seems like a good investment. The one-year manufacturer warranty doesn't include a loner projector or bulbs, let alone something going wrong in the two additional years. Money well spent, I hope.
Using Comcast Digital Cable, the picture quality is great. Using a PC / Laptop as a source set at 1024X768, 32-bit color looks even better. Using DVD I noticed a tiny bit of rainbow effect at times. But what do you want for $1000? Two weeks and 20 movies later, I have to say, I'm overjoyed. Xbox and PS2 look nice too - a gamer's dream. My 17-year-old and his pals met the experience with words like "Awesome", "No way!" "Your Dad rocks" and "I can't believe it".
EDTV isn't for everyone but for a significant savings you take only a small compromise in aspect ratio. And really with a projector you can size as large as you want; who's gonna know? - Eric "Greedy" Leedy