in Video

Projection TV

We came back from vacation on Monday and when my wife pressed the power button on the TV remote all that happened was click, click, click…

I’ll check in with my local repair shop tomorrow, but I thought it was a good time to figure out the brave new world of televisions. My current set is a hand-me-down from my father, so I haven’t actually bought one in over 20 years (a 13″ Emerson to use with my Commodore 64. [sigh]).

In short, it seems like good old fashioned CRTs still look good and provide the most bang for the buck. The ‘flat’ CRTs aren’t as flat as LCDs or Plasmas but are much thinner than our father’s sets. LCDs and Plasmas look great but aren’t that big yet and are molto expensive. Rear projection sets are giant, affordable, and look crappy.

Then there’s front projection, like in a movie theater. My friend Leah had talked about using a projector as a TV years ago, and now the price has come down to where they are being marketed (and sometimes tweaked) for home theater. It’d be nice to ditch the big box, and have gorgeous, huge video projected on the wall (with the project 11 feet away from the wall, the screen will be 65 inches diagonal minimum). Drawbacks seem to be 1) connecting the projector — which is close to your sitting position — to the audio gear which is across the room, and 2) putting a screen on the wall.

ProjectorCentral is an excellent resource. Their recommended list makes shopping easier and their projection calculator is perfectly executed.

On the bargain side (< $1000), Infocus seems to have the lead with performance in their X1 and X2. Here's a thorough X1 review. The X2 seems to be the successor, increasing the brightness for the same price. Here’s a story — not entirely complimentary — of someone who upgraded. Apparently Infocus subtracted some features to sell a premium version of the X2 labeled the 4805 for $200 more.

Also interesting is this Dell vs. Toshiba shootout in which the Dell wins, but they mention the Infocus might be a better option for movie use and the Dell better with more computer use. The comments section there is very astute, but this one is more emotionally charged. The Epson Powerlite 10 is similar, as is the BenQ 6100 which, with the current $100 rebate from Amazon, would be my first choice.