For quite a while i've thought of replacing the 32" Philips TV, maybe with a larger LCD or even a plasma.
On this page you can read about how i transformed my living room into a home cinema.
Reading different audio/video forums I got the impression that a lot has happened in the projector area over the past years.
The choices between projectors was either LCD or DLP. They are 2 different technologies, each with their advantages and disadvantages. DLP projectors generally have deeper black levels, higher contrast and are smaller in size. I was considering two projectors, the Optoma HD20 DLP or the Epson EH-TW 3200, which both are in same price range.
Soon after i found out about the so-called 'rainbow effects' on DLP projectors which for some people can be a problem. My eyes are quite sensitive, can instantly see flicker on 50/60 hz CRT TV's and PC monitors, phosfor trails on some plamas. Even though technology has moved forward in this area and today's DLP projectors have multible color wheels, the rainbow effect still worried me. Sure its possible, like most people i would not be sensitive to this but without having an option to see a live demo, i opted for the Epson TW-3200 LCD projector. So here it is!
What! an empty box with a cat inside?
Just kidding, now a closer look at the Epson TW-3200 1080p LCD projector:
The projector is rather large compared to others on the market and weighs a little over 8 kg.
The are plenty of connections. I plan using both HDMI inputs (satellite tv and PC).
The remote is straight forward to use, the button to enable its backliting glows in the dark, a nice touch.
Most ceiling mounts with max load over 10 kg generally are expensive, i found this Mediastar (relatively unknown German company) 15 S. It was cheap and has a max load of 25 kg.
Its well built and can rotate fully in all directions.
Testing if the mount fits the projector before installing it, well it is an universal mount so i wasnt expecting any problems..
Ceiling mount ceiling mounted :D
Up and running:
And we have picture:
When projecting on wall i found i needed to desaturate red and yellows as my wall isnt completly white.
Lots of room reflections.
Pist in the credits.
It took a while to figure out but can now see the importance of matching refresh rate to frame rate. Otherwhise there with be image tearing like on my PC monitor..
The ATI 5850 graphiccard and drivers supports all different refresh rates as seen above.
Does anyone know if nVidia has the same option in their drivers to run primary and secondary monitor at different resolutions and refresh rates simultaneously? I'm considering upgrading to the dark side.
The Epson 3200 projector doesnt officially support 24p (Blu-ray) but it works perfect as you can see. Sure is nice to be able to download Blu-ray rips and watch through computer ^_^
I started with projecting a 92" 16:9 image directly onto wall, omg it looked huge! Maybe not a surprise coming from a 32" LCD TV.
It took a while getting used to, watched a load a movies.
I put 'marks' on the wall experimenting different screen sizes in 16:9, had a plan to buy a projection screen. After a week or so getting used to 92" it suddenly didnt feel as huge as before, the eyes adapted to it. Still 100" was a bit too big.
121" gave me motion sickness.
Then instead of a 16:9 screen which i originally planed, i thought of a CinemaScope screen which is 2.35:1. So was time to test this format as well.
I found 106" was a bit too small even when sitting closer, it didnt have that extra wow effect as 110", remember CinemaScope is extra widescreen and not same height as 16:9. I found sitting futher away from a larger screen size was a greater experience than sitting closer to a smaller one.
I'm glad a waited a month before buying a projection screen. At first i thought of a 92" Beamax M-Series 16:9 pulldown screen and somehow making a masking system for other formats like 2.35:1 and 4:3. While 92" in 16:9 seemed a good size for my room, in CinemaScope and 4:3 the image would be too small. Another idea was having 2 pull down screens, both 2.35:1 and 16:9. A pull down screen sounded like a good option at the time.
Beamax where kind enough to ship me test samples of their 'Matt white v1' and 'Matt white v3' materials. The image with v3 had more color, deeper blacks and brighter whites compared to the v1 material even though it was hard to see at first. The cheaper v1 was more stiff and can imagine less prone to waves, ripples. The v3 sample from screen edge actualy had waves in the texture, the material also felt soft. Its hard to say the characteristics of a full sized screen from a small test sample, i think i got a bad peice. I hear good things about Beamax in general.
After lots of confusion about: aspect ratios, materials, gain, manual pulldown, motorised, tab tensioned, all the different brands and not to mention screen sizes, i finally made a choice.
While in many situations its not the best option, i went for a fixed screen, it should stretch perfectly flat and stay that way.
With a CinemaScope screen it would be easier to make a masking system, as with a 16:9 screen the masking would have to be done horizontaly instead of verticaly. Its easier with help of gravity to mask an area, more about that later.
Projection screen is a 115" R115WH1-Wide 2.35:1 projection screen, CineWhite, 1.1 gain, (269 cm x 115 cm).
The packaging was smaller than i expected but this was because the frames horizontal pieces attach together.
Lets see how the installation of the projection screen went:
First, frame put together.
Screen layed loosly over frame with extra plastic sheet underneath (cat hair protected).
The smell of screen sortof reminded me of a plastic football. It should go away after a week.
It felt soft and flexable as well as good quality..
Tension rods in sleeves.
The screen tension rods are stretched into grooves and fix plates pushed in.
Fix plates inserted.
Nice flat, even surface:
The screen came with 2 brackets for wall mounting.
After that it was pretty much just hanging the screen up on wall.
115" CinemaScope Screen is up.
And its level.
Screen texture of R115WH1-Wide, the smaller sample above is Beamax M-series: It texture is a bit finer than the Beamax M.
All in all, the screen was a breeze to setup, manual user friendly. It was good to have a helper, i'd say we completed the job in a little over an hour.
It takes certain camera knowledge to take good cinema photos, something which i dont posses, but hopefully this will give you an idea.
First impression with some ambient light:
Much nicer now, just like a framed picture on a wall.
There are more home cinema pictures later but must say the above looked really nice in the room, it felt like a huge LCD TV.
As satellite and TV channels dont broadcast in Cinemascore but rather in 16:9 format. If you look closely you can see the grey border projecting outside the screens area and onto the wall, this is something which is far more noticable with less ambient light (darker room).
But wait, as i said before, the home cinema isnt complete just yet! Keep on reading.
To create a more authentic movie theater experience and to blockout reflections which bounce of screen and onto walls then back to screen, dimming the image, i bought different materials from Whaleys UK.
People have been raving about the 'Silk Velvet Black Devore' and sure enough from the test samples Whaleys sent me i could see why, its absorbs lots of light and doesnt reflect it. I will use this for the area behind screen and a little on the ceiling.
Prior to installing the material i got thumb pins and spray painted them matt black.
Black velvet devore installed. This stuff is BLACK, i mean like a coal mine.
Now getting a projection screen i've set colors back to default. The image quality is amazing. The screen is uniform in all viewing angles unlike most screens with gain.
True Grit 1080p:
The Elite Screens CineWhite 1.1 gain has a slight silvery shine in the material which i'm sure is the reason for mild hotspotting (projectors lamp reflecting part of screen). Its hard to notice it and its only visible in bright (white) scenes if one tries to see it, doesnt really bother me, it even took me a few days to notice.
The screen had some ripples in the center, again it was first when i watched ice hockey i saw them. I heard other users had same issue but it was something that should go away after a week or two. Update now a month later, i can tell you they are completly gone. I guess the screen has had its time to scretch out.
I must say i'm thrilled with this screen, sure there might be better ones but at the price i think its a great buy and can highly recommend it.
If you where to buy a screen and have a light controlled room, then there is no reason to get a screen with gain. Most screen with gain suffer from limited viewing angles and hotspotting. I think the only real exeption are Da-Lite screens.
Pist has taken the good chair (again).
The material for curtains i used was 'Velvet Cotton Victoria Black', its not quite as dark as the devore stuff.
You can see the Silk velvet (devore) in the middle how it passes through more light as the material is thinner, not really suitable for this job.
Masking system for 16:9 and 4:3.
With the screen being a 2.35:1 (CinemaScope) format, there are black or more like greyish borders on the screen when watching other formats like 16:9 or 4:3. So it was time to come up with a masking system!
I first tried bending and sewing the silk devore in a straight line, this was impossible as the material is thin and flexable, its hard to work with.
What worked well was to use part of the screens cardboard packaging, apply some glue, stick it on then glueing the other side while pulling material.
This created a perfectly straight edge and i even managed not to bend the cardboard as i sewed it onto curtain rails in front of screen .
With a masking system its now possible to watch any screen format and block out grey borders. In all formats the height is the same but width ofcause is different.
So for CinemaScope the screen size is its full 115", in 16:9 its 92" and 4:3 its 74". The screen was almost too big for the wall with its 115". With the speakers on each side of screen there are only a few cm's space left. While most content seems to be 16:9, CinemaScope is my favorite format. I guess its true, bigger is better!
The black velour included on Elite Screen is an added bonus, i would even say in a room with low ambient light its as dark as the silk devore from Whaleys. Also if the image is overscanned (zoomed outside screen area), its really hard to notice it.
I've also installed curtains across the window and along the wall on opposite side of room, all in all darkening area infront of projector and seating, about half the room.
Was hoping this would improve the blacks in image but i don't feel it made much difference, if any. Maybe if i did the whole room it would make improvement. Mine is more like a living room cinema, dont want to live in a batcave. Still with the black material surrounding screen, walls and ceiling, its a great feeling, like you get drawn into whatever youre watching, no room distractions. I can really understand people who build dedicated home cinemas.
Using curtains instead of painting walls is a good idea. In bright daylight i can make the room almost pitch black in a matter of seconds.
Picture with flash, minimal reflection from materials:
Screen curtains over screen when not in use:
Recently i've put up shelfes for the speakers. Tools for the job:
There is a gap between shelfes and wall in which the screens masking curtains can slide into.
With the home cinema system sure enough movies has come to life, but the living room in the same time has also gotten a lot darker. If i wasnt zombie enough already..
I havnt used the projector for gaming yet but its something i look forward to.
The audio/video rack (if you can call it that).
The material is Whaleys fireproff velvet cotton. It has a greyish tint but still darker than the wooded table.
The Good Witch's Garden, one of my favorite movies:
The Epson 3200 is a great projector for its price, possibly the best right now, movies and for that sake sports look amazing on a big screen and i'm sure you can get that effect from a cheaper projector as well, even projecting on a wall, why not.
For deeper blacks its seems the JVC HD350 would be the better projector, though it cost a whole lot more.
Some Home Cinema tips:
Always unplug projector during thunderstorms, you know how a lamp bulb suddenly increases in brightness and later fails prematurely.
Powering on/off projector lamp reduces its life, try to only use if you plan to watch for longer periods, like a movie or two.
A projector with lens shift is an advantage as it can be placed anywhere, not only in same height and pointing center at screen.
Screens with high gain are best avoided, specially cheaper ones as they suffer from hotspotting and limited viewing angles.
Dont smoke in the home cinema, it will stain screen over time.
Mount screen in a comptable viewing height for your eyes, often mistake it to place screen too high.
With a big screen you'll want quality sound.
Just got a new amplifier and speakers, Panasonic DTS surround system.
I'll update soon with more pictures and info, hope you enjoyed reading.
Feel welcome to leave any comments/questions.
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