Home Theater

Filed under Media

image I’m a big Home Theater fan. Ok, maybe not in the sense of being fond of having one, but I certainly do admire some of the installations and techniques that are being used out there. Installations like the one here just blow my mind.

Funny how just about anyone I’ve ever talked to, though, that actually has a setup like this (ok, maybe not quite this nice), ends up rarely using it.

While it’s a nice thought, and, for a hobbyist, could definitely chew up some free weekends, plus a pile of cash, dedicating an entire room to a home theater has always seemed like a bit of a waste to me.

Take this setup here. What else could you possibly do in this room? Play video games? Ok. Anything else? When the extended family comes in for the holidays, are they going to gather in there? Is the family going to gather in there to watch Dr Who before going to bed?

It just doesn’t seem like someplace that would foster a good family experience. Maybe I’m wrong. I also am of a school of thought that says there’s no need for more than one TV in a house. 3 PC’s per person, sure, but just the one TV. I know, I know. How quaint<g>.

But I do admit, for that one TV, I like it to be a good one. I picked up a 36″ Mitsubishi tube TV back in ’94, when such behemoths weren’t all too commonplace. Now, a 36″ TV is, um, quaint.

When our family watches TV, we want to do it on a big screen, so the only decent alternative I saw was a projector/screen combo. And since I didn’t want to dedicate an entire room to a home theater, the equipment needed to be unobtrusive and disappear if we weren’t using it, as only a projector/screen can.

imageIn the end, I went with a Draper motorized tab-tensioned screen (craigslist) and a Panasonic AE900U projector (ebay). I was really looking for an AX200U (the next up model number), but when a 900U came up at a really good price, I couldn’t walk away from the deal.

Besides, from reading the specs (www.ProjectorCentral.com is an excellent resource for those), the two units are virtually identical, with the 200 supporting 1080P being the major difference.

This projector has turned out to be utterly fantastic. Contrast is great and the picture is terrifically bright, even with all the lights on and the windows open (though, admittedly, the windows are shaded by trees outside).

And if I turn down the lights, even a bit, the picture really pops.

What’s better, the Panasonic units (both the 900 and 200) have one of the best picture positioning systems around. Not only can you move the image without moving the projector (so you can tweak things once the projector is mounted), the zoom lens allows for a very wide range of positioning the projector from the screen. It’s one of the few reasonably priced projectors that can do an 80″ image from over 17′ away.

Now then, my audio gear pales. Ah, next project…

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