Features

A Home Theater Build Project - Part II

ARTICLE INDEX

A New Projector?

While the Sanyo was an excellent first unit, it fell short in many categories and a new projector was very high on my list. Any projector improvement can basically be boiled down to a few things: increases in resolution, increases in brightness, increases in contrast, increase in accuracy. From 2003 we have moved closer to each of these and each of the projector moves that I've made have addressed one or more of these factors. The Sanyo was really the first reasonably priced HD capable projector to be released, and while fantastic, was lacking in many attributes: the black levels really weren't great and it wasn't a very bright unit. Given these, I was eager to upgrade as new models became available.

I knew from early on that DLP didn't "agree" with me. Besides being consistently more expensive than their LCD counterparts (circa 2003-5), they offered far less installation flexibility and I had always suffered from color separation artifacts (rainbows). I am a firm believer that upgrades in consecutive generations rarely gives you significant improvements vs cost, so I sat tight watching trends.

In 2005, I finally decided enough improvements had been made over my current unit and pulled the trigger on the new Panasonic 720p projector: the AE-900U. This unit significant step-up in black level performance due to effective incorporation of a "dynamic iris", which changes the amount of light that is produced in real time based on the black content of the image. The Panasonic 900 stayed in the unit for several years while I tackled other parts of the room.

Because my screen material was targeted towards a projector that had significant problems producing black, it was not entirely suitable for my new projector. This grey screen succeeded in reducing black level, but at the expense of brightness. Now that my projector had significantly improved blacks (both as a result of the dynamic iris as well as improvements in LCD technology), I no longer needed this screen. Carada offers two additional screen materials: a 1.0 and 1.3 gain. I chose the 1.3 gain screen material to replace my grey material. 1.3 provide a little extra punch to the images than the 1.0. Any positive gain screen achieves this by focusing light. While this can produce "hot-spotting", my room was small enough, and the gain improvement minimal enough, that this wasn't a problem.

I stuck with the Panasonic for several years, until 2007, when I replaced it with a JVC RS1. I'll discuss this upgrade a bit later in the feature.