Home theater ERA - what's your experience with projectors?

peppermints

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,349
We've got a basement that's pretty under utilized. My office and the laundry room is down there, but the living space is just a playroom that our kids never play in because they end up just playing in their rooms. So we're considering making it more into a functional second living room.

My old Panasonic plasma is down there, but there's an empty wall that would be perfect for a projector. 1080p is all I'd need to start off with - we have an LG OLED upstairs that will be the main TV. This will be for family movie night, sports etc. Maybe some old school consoles as well.

My questions are:

1) How much would I be looking to spend for a full set up (not including audio, I have that mostly covered already) - so projector, screen etc
2) What are some good entry level brands? There's a lot of super cheap ones on Amazon that have good reviews, but they are not anywhere near the lowest I would have expected to pay
3) How much distance is needed from the screen to the projector?
4) What sort of maintenance is required?

That about covers it for now.. just looking for some input on what I might be getting myself into. :)
 

Octodad

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,206
1) Projectors and Screens range massively. Are you looking for a fixed screen or pull down or motorized? What is your speaker setup going to look like? Do you want a front or rear projector. How big do you want the screen to be?

2) So many. BenQ and Optoma are well liked. But there are plenty of others.

1080p? Optoma GT1080 and the BenQ HT215OST are well liked. You can regularly find deals if you keep an eye out. How much do you want to pay?

3) Here's a calculator: https://www.projectorcentral.com/projection-calculator.cfm

4) Bulb replacement based on hours used, that's really the biggest.
 

harSon

Member
Oct 30, 2017
2,613
It depends? Probably anywhere from $700-1500 for the projector itself, in terms of a truly quality experience. BenQ HT2050/3050 is a good bang for your book 1080p projector. The new BenQ HT3550 seems like a great bang for your buck entry level 4K projector. A screen is going to run you anywhere from $120-300 depending on the size. You can get a pull down (the down side being wrinkles, but they're not that noticeable to me) that is manual or powered, which may work best depending on if you have the space for a dedicated screen. If not, you can just get a screen that mounts on your wall.

You could get away for as little as $800-1000, or as much as $1700-$2000 - it depends on 1080p vs 4k and what you're willing to settle for as far as the screen.

Maintenance is pretty easy. Pretty much just the bulb. I use mine exclusively for movies and some light gaming, and I've had it for a good 4-5 years now and the bulb is still going strong.
 

Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
12,783
Breh. If your budget goes up to $24k, I gotchoo.




This is by FAR the dumbest thing I legitimately want. Like, there is no reason for me to own this and I never would, but if I were a billionaire, I'd buy it and never admit it.

120 inch 4k HDR display, 10 inches from the wall....


Of course if you can put up with just 80 inches of screen, then you can place it two inches from the wall....
 

HiLife

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
9,481
I have a benq short throw and I love it. Everybody who has seen it and played games on it, love it. And I can’t go back to smaller screens to watch or play anything. I’m just shooting it on my apartment wall and picture quality is perfectly fine. I just need surround sound.
 

Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
12,783
I have a benq short throw and I love it. Everybody who has seen it and played games on it, love it. And I can’t go back to smaller screens to watch or play anything. I’m just shooting it on my apartment wall and picture quality is perfectly fine. I just need surround sound.
I bought a Yamaha YSP 5600 soundbar. It has a single flaw. It won't pass through 4k AND HDR - if you use it as is, you have to sacrifice one or the other. But if you split the signal with an HDFury splitter, that issue is totally bypassed with no compromise. And you get Atmos sound that is 100% convincing (we did an A/B test in the same room as discrete speakers) and appears to use magic to bounce sound off of anything in your room, from the ceiling to a rubber plant.

It's the best audio purchase I ever made, and I was and still am stunned that it actually works. I unironically adore it. BUT it's expensive. It costs about as much as buying a similar quality receiver and discrete speakers. So it only makes sense if you absolutely don't want to deal with speakers. Also it doubles as a multiroom audio control center, Alexa speaker and for music it's by far the best stereo output in my house and absolutely crushes my Bang and Olufsen and B&W speakers.
 

harSon

Member
Oct 30, 2017
2,613
I have a benq short throw and I love it. Everybody who has seen it and played games on it, love it. And I can’t go back to smaller screens to watch or play anything. I’m just shooting it on my apartment wall and picture quality is perfectly fine. I just need surround sound.
Mine isn't short throw, but I'm rocking the BenQ W1070 that I got back in 2014 or so - and people are still pretty amazed at the image quality. The only issue is the quality when it's not dark, but given that you'll be in a basement, that most definitely shouldn't be a concern.
 

Andi

Member
Oct 29, 2017
383
I had the same question a few weeks back and opened a thread for it that got some good responses.


I can highly reccomend the Optoma HD29H projector (800-900 eur, 27H in the US if I'm not wrong)
Great fro Gaming, good for movies.
I have it setup 324cm away from a 100eur 100inch amazon screen from E-Smart that has a light chemical smell on it that does not really bother me.
With cables and all the setup cost me 1200 EUR.
 

Octodad

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,206
I haven't installed it yet, but I got a BenQ Tk800 for $600 refurbished from BenQ with only 40 hours of bulb usage on it.

Got a Vutec 110 Motorized screen for $150 from a craigslist deal.
 

Parch

Member
Nov 6, 2017
2,661
Breh. If your budget goes up to $24k, I gotchoo.
This is by FAR the dumbest thing I legitimately want. Like, there is no reason for me to own this and I never would, but if I were a billionaire, I'd buy it and never admit it.
120 inch 4k HDR display, 10 inches from the wall....
Of course if you can put up with just 80 inches of screen, then you can place it two inches from the wall....
Yeah, you're really slumming it with a mere 80 inches.
Seriously. Home theater systems are friggin' incredible now. We've come a long way from CRT.
 

Wackamole

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,827
I have a 200 inch projection screen and an Epson gaming Projector with very low response time.
It's 1080 P. We do EVERYTHING with it and have been for years now. There is a Panasonic Plasma behind the screen that we haven't used for years.
We use the projector for playing games, watching Netflix, Tv, Sports, Photos... everything. And everything is WAAAAY more immersive than on a TV.

You do need a bit bigger sound with it though.

Seriously: projector for LIFE.
Waiting for an affordable fast 4K projector. But i'm fine with the 1080P one right now. Especially with downsampling on the PS4. Everything looks nice and clean these days.
 

harSon

Member
Oct 30, 2017
2,613
I bought a Yamaha YSP 5600 soundbar. It has a single flaw. It won't pass through 4k AND HDR - if you use it as is, you have to sacrifice one or the other. But if you split the signal with an HDFury splitter, that issue is totally bypassed with no compromise. And you get Atmos sound that is 100% convincing (we did an A/B test in the same room as discrete speakers) and appears to use magic to bounce sound off of anything in your room, from the ceiling to a rubber plant.

It's the best audio purchase I ever made, and I was and still am stunned that it actually works. I unironically adore it. BUT it's expensive. It costs about as much as buying a similar quality receiver and discrete speakers. So it only makes sense if you absolutely don't want to deal with speakers. Also it doubles as a multiroom audio control center, Alexa speaker and for music it's by far the best stereo output in my house and absolutely crushes my Bang and Olufsen and B&W speakers.
I have a sound setup with a receiver and 5.1 setup. A 4K HDR / Dolby Atmos receiver, and Pioneer Andrew Jones setup. I tried to use a splitter to automatically switch between my 65" Vizio 4K / Dolby Atmos television and my BenQ W1070 projector, but unfortunately - even though the splitter supposedly supports 4K HDR / Dolby Atmos (and it does) - when they're both plugged in together my television can't receive those signals. If I simply unplug the HDMI going to the projector, it works, but merely having it plugged in even when the projector is off unfortunately degrades the experience on my TV. A minor inconvenience that's not inconvenient enough to fix...

I have a 200 inch projection screen and an Epson gaming Projector with very low response time.
It's 1080 P. We do EVERYTHING with it and have been for years now. There is a Panasonic Plasma behind the screen that we haven't used for years.
We use the projector for playing games, watching Netflix, Tv, Sports, Photos... everything. And everything is WAAAAY more immersive than on a TV.

You do need a bit bigger sound with it though.

Seriously: projector for LIFE.
Waiting for an affordable fast 4K projector. But i'm fine with the 1080P one right now. Especially with downsampling on the PS4. Everything looks nice and clean these days.
I think BenQ HT3550 might be it. I don't see legitimate 4K getting much cheaper than $1500 for some time. The price on BenQ's most popular 1080P line remained pretty stagnant over the years.

Breh. If your budget goes up to $24k, I gotchoo.




This is by FAR the dumbest thing I legitimately want. Like, there is no reason for me to own this and I never would, but if I were a billionaire, I'd buy it and never admit it.

120 inch 4k HDR display, 10 inches from the wall....


Of course if you can put up with just 80 inches of screen, then you can place it two inches from the wall....
I have wanted one of these for some time lmao.

In terms of something that I could actually justify, but is still not a good usage of money, I want to purchase a Pico / Portable Projector and outdoor screen for some quality outdoor movie nights.
 
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LL_Decitrig

Member
Oct 27, 2017
9,789
Sunderland
I'm considering a projection unit because it may be the easiest way to protect from malicious damage. We've got an adult autistic child who sometimes becomes so distraught that they'll go for a television screen and kick it just to get some temporary relief from the mental pain.

I suppose I hope at some point there will be a projector unit that can be built into the ceiling of our living room with suitable armour to make it a difficult target. We'd probably feed it over Ethernet from elsewhere in the house so as to reduce the exposure, and the screen would essentially be a wall painted with a suitable surface.

None of this may be feasible. I'm investigating the idea. At the moment we simply rely on inexpensive second hand televisions with second hand Sony PS3 units for streaming services and DVD/Blu-Ray. If one gets kicked in we buy another.
 

Torpedo Vegas

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,833
Lexington, KY
I love mine, I got a BenQ 1080p right before the 4k projectors hit, I'm waiting for them to drop in price some before I pick one up. I can't go back to small screens for games and movies. I need that 120 inch life.
 

SVT Buck

Member
Nov 16, 2017
9
I have a BenQ HT2050 and painted my screen (125") on my wall using matte white paint with a bit of gray mixed in and applied it with a microfiber roller. My total cost for the projector, paint, roller and a 35' HDMI cable was under $800 as I already had an audio setup. My projector is about 12-13FT from the wall the screen is on.



If you're ok sticking with 1080p while the 4K projectors drop in price I'd recommend the BenQ HT2050A which is the same as the projector I have but with 16ms response instead of 33ms. If you need a short throw projector the BenQ HT2150ST is the same as the HT2050A, but needs about half the distance for the same size screen.
 

NSA

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
2,234
California
I have an Epson... 21...50? Something something. I got it last year and only have used it for outdoor movie nights (with a 110" screen). It's been fine? People have remarked how clear the screen is and thought it'd look worse.

Lighting conditions outside aren't perfect but it works very well once the sun has gone down.

I have it set up with a VERY mobile/lazy-ass setup, and it seems to do great paired with my Xbox One X.

It's only 1080p, so it's a bit of a downgrade from 4K inside, but I was actually pretty impressed all things considered. The 2150 was on sale for like $600 at Best Buy when I got it.
 

harSon

Member
Oct 30, 2017
2,613
I feel like projectors are somehow a hidden secret. For a while, they provided a comparable experience to televisions for a cheaper price. With 4K being mainstream, they've fallen a bit behind in the price:performance ratio - but they're quickly catching up. If you can make the setup work in your living space, nothing quite beats a movie or game in good quality on a 120-150" screen. And the duration for bulbs has improved quite a bit, which was probably the biggest downside of a projector.

I think people just assume that it's overly expensive, a hassle, and difficult to setup - which couldn't be farther from the truth.
 

hendersonhank

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,107
Projectors are the greatest investment you can make in entertainment IMO.

I have come close to weeping thinking of the poor souls who have never seen Game of Thrones on a 9' wide screen, or Legion, or Little Drummer Girl, or Haunting of Hill House, or Roma, or Annihilation, or so many other tv shows and movies (that had limited or no theatrical release).

Of course coupled with the projector must be a good surround setup and subwoofer.
 

IMACOMPUTA

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,085
i just went from a 1080p Viewsonic PJD7720HD to a 65" OLED.

I needed HDR in my life.

I liked the projector, no real complaints. Probably going to sell it though.
 

bionic77

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,038
I don't think I could get a screen bigger than ~120" or so on the basement wall the way it is set up.

I was originally planning on getting a 4K projector but now I wonder if I should get just a 80+" LCD and call it a day.
 

The_Land

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,242
Cleveland Ohio
I'm still rocking my panasonic AE 4000 from 2009 and it works fantastic. I use a 118 inch screen. I'm waiting for prices to dip a tad on the 4K HDR one's before upgrading. Biggest drawback is replacing the lamps. You can buy cheap knock off's for 50 dollars a pop but it's like playing the bulb lottery. The actual legit bulb that goes with my projector costs about 300-350.
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,253
They're awesome. You can find decent budget models - I've had Panasonic AE100, AE900 and now a Benq W1070. The Benq was about 1/3 the price of the Panasonic but is a great picture and has 3D support.

Screens can also be had at a reasonable cost or you can make your own. Fixed screens will be simpler/cheaper than roll down and easier to keep flat.

Heck of a sliding scale though - very easy to get v.expensive v.quickly.


For reference my current projector was about £400 (Benq w1070) and the screen was maybe £100 - ok budget pulldown model that I've installed into the ceiling void for neatness.

Also depending on your circumstances - spend a lot of time with the projector central calculator. Different projectors have different throw (magnification/zoom) and some are fixed. So for a certain screen size they'll need to be either in a fixed location (which may not suit your room/preference) or some have a more flexible option. With careful choice I was able to find a replacmeent for the previous projector that could sit on exacxtly the same ceiling mount I had before.

oh and watch your lighting. If you can paint the area around your screen (and a few feet of the walls coming out towards you) black or cover with dark material - it'll help your perceived contrast massively
 

BLEEN

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,043
Breh. If your budget goes up to $24k, I gotchoo.




This is by FAR the dumbest thing I legitimately want. Like, there is no reason for me to own this and I never would, but if I were a billionaire, I'd buy it and never admit it.

120 inch 4k HDR display, 10 inches from the wall....


Of course if you can put up with just 80 inches of screen, then you can place it two inches from the wall....
"add color to the air"
No. Just no.
 

captive

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,718
Houston
I have had an Epson 5010 since 2012, it died this year. I ended up buying a Epson 3700 to replace it. I went with a cheap Epson cause we're going to do a real theater upstairs with a proper 4k projector.

Projectors are the best for super large screens. especially when you can control the lighting like a basement.

If you want 4k I would stick with a Sony. They're one of the only ones putting a true native 4k projector, others use fake pixel shifting and stuff like that.
 

GreenMonkey

Member
Oct 28, 2017
641
Michigan
I had a projector for years, gave it up years ago when we moved to a rental. Nothing is really like it - although now that 77” OLED is a thing, and 75” LCDs are so cheap, it’s harder to make the case for it.

You can build your own screen using something like blackout cloth, staples, and some studs / L-brackets, it isn’t too hard. Depends on how big you are going, though.

We had a setup for years with a pull-down screen in front of a secondary daylight TV, that was pretty useful also.
 

joecanada

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,855
Canada
I feel like projectors are somehow a hidden secret. For a while, they provided a comparable experience to televisions for a cheaper price. With 4K being mainstream, they've fallen a bit behind in the price:performance ratio - but they're quickly catching up. If you can make the setup work in your living space, nothing quite beats a movie or game in good quality on a 120-150" screen. And the duration for bulbs has improved quite a bit, which was probably the biggest downside of a projector.

I think people just assume that it's overly expensive, a hassle, and difficult to setup - which couldn't be farther from the truth.
There must be a range of quality because we go through about one BenQ projector every 2-3 years at the office where it's only used like 3x week. Had one with "stars" another shot lens . Picture quality is meh and need dark room too from the ones I've used. Many offices are moving to dedicated monitor screens for presentations
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,253
There must be a range of quality because we go through about one BenQ projector every 2-3 years at the office where it's only used like 3x week. Had one with "stars" another shot lens . Picture quality is meh and need dark room too from the ones I've used. Many offices are moving to dedicated monitor screens for presentations
irregular on/off isn't great for projectors. Also offices usually require 'light cannons' where brightness >* due to need to use for presentations in bright rooms.

I've personally never had a premature death in a PJ - but then I've never kept one longer than about 5 years before updating it.
 

harSon

Member
Oct 30, 2017
2,613
There must be a range of quality because we go through about one BenQ projector every 2-3 years at the office where it's only used like 3x week. Had one with "stars" another shot lens . Picture quality is meh and need dark room too from the ones I've used. Many offices are moving to dedicated monitor screens for presentations
I've only ever had experience with the BenQ W1070. I purchased one for myself and one for my parents in 2014 or so, and both are going strong. I suppose models to differ, and I've always used it for media purposes - and not for business / meetings. That may be a factor?
 
OP
OP
peppermints

peppermints

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,349
i just went from a 1080p Viewsonic PJD7720HD to a 65" OLED.

I needed HDR in my life.

I liked the projector, no real complaints. Probably going to sell it though.
Let me know if you're looking to sell it. ;)

This has been all very helpful information. I'm still in the planning phases but I have a lot more knowledge than I did previously.
 

captive

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,718
Houston
There must be a range of quality because we go through about one BenQ projector every 2-3 years at the office where it's only used like 3x week. Had one with "stars" another shot lens . Picture quality is meh and need dark room too from the ones I've used. Many offices are moving to dedicated monitor screens for presentations
This is why I would really only stick with Sony or Epson.

Budget brands are great for a budget and you very may well get a gem that lasts a decade but it's a crap shoot.
 

Darknight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,641
BenQ = DLP = pray you and everyone else who doesn't watch doesn't notice the rainbows.

That's the reason that I chose an Epson over the comparable BenQ model. That and the $100 bulb replacement was a huge bonus perk compared to the cost of other projector bulbs.
 

Allforce

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,532
I bought an Epson that was basically considered the best back in 2011 (maybe the 5300? I forget), and it still holds up awesome. The best feature is it has a manual option to adjust the screen vertically and horizontally so you don't even have to have it centered in your room. Ours is in the back corner on a tall shelf and shoots onto a 125" electric screen perfectly centered. The electric screen is by EliteScreens and was like 199 bucks and works with a Harmony remote so everything just comes on and drops into place with one button.

Never had to replace a bulb but I know they're around 2-300 bucks a pop. I did use the warranty over some dust-blobs that got into the lens after about 18 months but they completely replaced it with a brand new one and I've never had any issues since.