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Home Cinema - Cheap Projector

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by gsxrjames, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. I’m thinking about investing in a cheap projector. I’m too lazy to join an AV forum but there’s a lota IT nerds here so why not ask… :angel:

    I’ve been looking on the web (ebay) and there seem to be some decent looking projectors at the $200-$300 mark. Specs are 2,000 lumen (reasonably bright), 1080p, heaps of inputs, 20,000hrs bulb life etc. so they sound reasonable for the price. Build quality may not be great but meh.

    My idea was to use it for late night movies, HBO tv etc. projecting on a wall behind my comparatively tiny tv.

    I don’t have a separate entertainment room, it would just be set up in the living room of my apartment. As I’m renting I don’t want a permanent fixture, so I thought I could attach it to a slim speaker stand behind my couch?

    When in use I’d use a long (5m probably) RCA cable to take the image from the bluray or media player to the projector (rather than tv). I’d leave all the audio hooked up to my amp and just switch the image around when needed.

    I’ve read that other light sources can be an issue but don’t think it will matter if I’m only using it at night. Also don’t think I’d bother with a screen as I’ve got a creamy white wall that should be ok.

    I’m not after the absolute best picture quality, I just thought it’d be fun to have a wall size screen to watch isle of mann or gone in 60seconds :).

    Has anyone here done anything similar, have any ideas/suggestions?
    If you think I’d be wasting my time/money/effort let me know.

  2. My advice - get a price on replacement bulbs first (also check whether they're used in other projectors and likely to still be available in 6 months time).

    20,000hrs is only an average value under ideal conditions, so not unusual for the actual life to be a lot lower than this depending on how it's used, and how well the projector is made (ie cooling).
  3. Yeah I had thought about that.

    Assuming it only lasts 5,000 hrs, maximum use would be 10hrs per week = 9.6years.
    I highly doubt the actual unit would last longer than 2-3years, and I would probably loose interest in it by then anyway.

    If I love it and the bulb burns out in 2years time, at $200 I'd probably just replace the whole thing. I'm environmentally friendly like that :D.

    Some of them also include a spare bulb and still cost around $300 so I don't think it's a huge issue.

    Have you got any first hand experience?
  4. Make sure native resolution is at least 1280x720...that is true 720p HD. If you see one that says 720p-1280p compatible but only has 800x600 native resolution they are lying. The unit might process 720p, but it will only display it at 800x600.

    But for the price you are asking...1280x720 might be hard to find (good quality). 800x600 will be easier to find...1024x768 might be possible.

    Colour/contrast will depend on your wall/screen. If it is a creamy colour...you will definitely not get true white. I have had a portable one set up in my house, I have an off white wall and the white was odd.

    I don't have personal experience, but I was looking at a projector system for my house...however way out of my price range!
  5. 20k hours????? :eek:

    average life of a projector Bulb I have seen is 2k-3k , depending upon things like power settings and brightness et.al.

    It might accept 1080 input but auto-scale it to a lower resolution as well.

    Keep in mind some of the cheap ebay projectors use a halogen globe similar to what you see in floodlights.
  6. Don't have first hand experience at home - but having spent 5 years as a Uni lecturer I've spent a bit of time around cheap projectors ;).

    I actually bought a cheap Acer to use when I was off campus which worked well - although the image size was not as big as I would have liked and that's certainly worth checking out before buying (maximum image size quoted by the manufacturer often involves setting the unit ridiculously far from a wall, or losing an unacceptable amount of image clarity). Also worth checking how well they work in daylight.

    Biggest downside though was the fact that replacement bulbs were worth pretty much the same as what I paid for the projector. So may not viable to keep a spare on hand, which just means that if the bulb does fail it'll almost certainly be in the middle of something really good/important :LOL: (or course if it comes with a spare it's all good - just don't forget where you put it ;)).
  7. Thanks, that helps. That's pretty much exactly what the adds' say (720p-1080p compatible, 800X600 native resolution).

    For the price, and considering I'd mostly be using if for avi dvd rips I don't think I'd be overly fussy :)

    I think a name brand, true hd projector would be in the $700+ range minimum, and to get the most from it you'd need a proper screen, permanent fixture, quality cabling etc.

    We've got a $5k projector at work that's used for presentations which is fecking amazing...

    I might be optimistic about these cheapies but it might be fun and think it's worth a shot. I'd love to hear from anyone who's seen one first hand.

    I haven't bought any toys for a long time.

    Something like this;
  8. As Thera pointed out - there's no way you're getting 20,000 hours and 2000 lumens out of a bulb. Either it's using a cheap halogen that'll be barely visible in even the darkest room, or the bulb life is less than 2,000 hours.

    I found the model of the projector I was using, which seems to be an Acer X1.
    Can't recall which model exactly but these are rated at 2,700 lumens (which was often not bright enough) - and only have a 1,000hr bulb life guarantee. If that cheapy is much worse (and it almost certainly will be) then I suspect you'll be disappointed with it.

    To reiterate - don't buy unless you've had the chance to test it out. Might only be $300, but that's not money you want to spend only to realise you should have spent $5-600 instead.
  9. [MENTION=15324]jd[/MENTION] My understanding was that LED bulbs last much longer than bulbs of latter years. Honestly, I'd be happy with 2,000hrs anyway (that's almost 4years use @10hrs per week). 2,700 lumens might not be enough for day time presentations and lectures (I think our work one is 5,000?). But surely for my purposes (pitch black lounge room, bean bag and 2L pepsi max) 2,000 should be ok?

    I appreciate the feedback though. Ideally I would like to see one first but I don't think it's possible. I might go to harvey norman and checkout the cheapest available and base my decision on that.

    I'm willing to gamble $200 on an ebay purchase. If it doesn't pay off I'm not overly concerned. I'm not in a position to get a quality projector so it wasn't really a consideration.

    Did you ever use the Acer at night for movies?
  10. As mentioned above,
    Native resolution is what to look for.
    ANSI Lumens, not just lumens, not OTF lumens. ANSI lumens is measured against a 5% visible difference in contrast.
    Lamp hours are more like 2-3k and looking like puss after about 1500.
    Make sure it is ventilated and dust filter is clean, that's a great way to kill an LCD/DLP panel.
  11. Yes. They're also a lot more expensive for an equivalent light output.

    I actually have a few LED bulbs in my house, and in my car/bikes - but you're still talking 6-8 times the price compared with "conventional" bulbs. That of course will improve over time, but it'll be while yet before you get an affordable 2,000 lumen LED for anything other than a point source (I replaced the $280 lamp in one of my microscopes with an $8 LED - but that doesn't mean you can do the same with a projector).
  12. i can recommend and give advice if you jump to 2 k minimum budget ...

    on the cheap stuff i dont know too much about but did stumble around on ebay and forums trying to work it all out, then just bought i really cool one.

    but heres a possibilty - i did the go harvey special - ie. checked out there in store
    projector - full high def etc then did the ebay ha ha from canada.
    this plan might work as i think they may have a cheap one - 1 k projectors
    on show - maybe try an ebay one half price.
  13. Hmm I don't really understand. The $200ish ones (like I posted) are LED and claim to be 2000 lumen? I don't know if that's a legit measurement but I don't think the bulbs are overly expensive. One seller is $50ish more and includes a replacement.
    It's only for night viewing so doesn't need to be very bright.

    I think where I'm at is finding the crapest/cheapest possible in a store, checking out the quality in a dark room and comparing the specs to the ebay ones. If a $200 ebay product gives a $800 aust retail image I'll be happy :D
  14. If you measure them as a single point source they might be - but if you project that single point source over the area of a wall it's going to be much, much less.

    This is why you stick to something which has a lumens rating based on a standardised test - and certainly never trust the bullshit ratings a lot of ebay sellers place on products.
  15. Ok thanks, I get it. Just went to Harvey Norman and they only had a $2.5k epson :(
  16. Also forget using RCA cables for bluray to 1080p projector. HMDI cables is where it's at, much better quality - noticeably so.

    Around 5m you will be right with a standard passive cable. if you go to 10m, you'll need an active (boosted) cable. $99 from Jaycar, I've heard that if you go to your local computer markets (they will run once avery 2 weeks or month) they will be significantly cheaper.
  17. Hi James - if you could go to ~$400 I have one that I'd probably be interested in selling - it also has built in HD TV tuner for all FTA digital channels including radio! We only use it for films really and I'm looking to get a really good one as an upgrade. PM me if you are interested :)
  18. yeah i got the epson , the picture is as good as any plasma - even when you walk up
    close so cheeba look into that )
  19. I seam to have issues with HDMI cables when I'm splitting audio and visual. Ie. HDMI cable from bluray to TV for visual, RCA from bluray to stereo amp. It just doesn't work properly, so I gave up and went back to RCA all round. It's probably just my bluray player having issues. I'll play around with cables and see what works best with the entire setup.

    I'd probably need to get mrs approval for that :D but send me the details.
    I actually live in NSW now so might be a hassle. I'd defiantly like to know how you've found it though.
  20. I cant advice on what you should get.........but its a super idea.

    Ive got one in the back yard....................I cant wait for warmer weather to come. Movies/sports while drinking beer and flipping the barbie.......................PERFECT.

    I just got a used bar one....light isnt as good anymore but its tough as nails.