Front Projection TV----Just bought one. Will it do what I think it will do?

Just a little curious about front projection TV.

I like the idea that it is very portable. I like the idea that it is receptive to HDTV (with a cable box). I like the idea that you can have as much as a 12 foot picture screen. (if you want).

So why are they not generally sold? Bought mine at Radio Shack -----for about a grand.

Most places----------Sears, etc, don’t even sell them.

Am I missing something here? Something disparaging?

If so----please tell me.

They all have easily-punctured packets of bird flu in them, for some reason.

I’m a huge fan of front projection. If you have the right room, there’s no better way to display an image.

But the key is the ‘right room’. And there’s one major requirement for front projection: You MUST be able to completely control all light in the room, and make it pitch black. Any ambient light will reflect off the screen and destroy your contrast ratio. The dimmer the projector, the more important this is. If you bought one for under a grand, it’s probably not all that bright, so you will need black-out conditions.

This makes a projector unsuitable for a ‘multi-use’ room. If you enjoy watching TV while your wife or kids read or play a game, forget it.

Also, a front projector is at its best throwing a BIG image. That means that you have to sit back at least 10’ from the screen, or all you’ll see is noise and artifacts. That implies a room at least 13-15 ft deep.

But if you’ve got that, and you’ve got a room that’s completely dark, nothing beats a front projected image. I have a DLP projector with a homemade screen in a dedicated theater room I built, and the picture and sound quality are better than the local cineplex, by a mile.

The different between front projection and even a large rear-projection TV is the difference between watching a big TV and being at the movies. Only front projection will give you that big, immersive, movie-going experience. Everything else is watching pictures in a box. I’d never go back to regular television.

I have a web page that shows how I built a home-made screen that saved hundreds of dollars, as well as details on how I built my theater, if you’re interested:
My Home Theater. The info on building a screen is on the left-side menu.

Say wha??

I’ve heard the illumination capabilities on some can be suspect. I.e. you either need a very, very dark room or the picture will be washed out by ambient light.

No personal experience with them though. Good luck.


I have no real problem with ambient light. Have other TV’s that can handle that very easily. Plan only to use the front projection TV at night.

So-----is there a downside that I don’t know of?

I posted a response to your duplicate thread.

The only other downsides are bulb life and noise. Depending on the projector, the bulb will last anywhere from 1000 to 4000 hours, and will then have to be replaced at a cost of $250-$500, again depending on projector model.

Some projectors that were not designed for home theater use have loud cooling fans that can be annoying.

But again - if you’ve got perfect light control, nothing beats a front projection image, even from a modest projector like yours. Make sure you feed it a signal through either HDMI/DVI or Component inputs - do not use the composite or S-video inputs. The output from a progressive-scan DVD player will knock your socks off, and if you have an HDTV cable box, HD programming will take your breath away.

I’d never go back to anything but front projection. It’s the difference between watching TV and being at the movies.


Great reply and thanks for the info.

(I seem to have created 2 different threads on this subject by mistake. Sorry about that. Mods ------please combine them if you will be so kind)

I bought a rather large wall mounted pull down screen from Radio Shack --on sale for $100.

I also already own a very old but very serviceable portable movie screen, easily set up.

I don’t see why I cannot just very easily transport the front projection unit from room to room —by simply unplugging a few wires and plugging them back in a different room.

And thus have a very large screen with HDTV in any room I pleased, with very little effort.

Seems to me this thing is the best thing since fitted sheets.

So why do so few retailers sell them?

(Try moving your $3000 plasma TV from room to room at your pleasure. )

I have Panasonic AE900. It does OK with some light, but obvioulsy the darker the better. I have a large window but with the vert. blinds all the way closed it is dark enough during the day (tho I usually watch at night)
The AE900 has “smoothscreen” which makes the pixel borders harder to see. I watch at maybe 1x the screen wdth without problems (generally the recommendation is > 1.5 screen width)

My screen is a sheet of durotherm. (a 4x8 sheet was ~$30. It is stiff and light)

Disadvantages to FP:
The afformentioned needed dark room
The afformentioned lamp replacement (tho also true with rear projection)
Longer cable lengths (mine are ~33 feet)
Need an external tuner


Why aren’t front projectors more popular? I’ll give you a few reasons:

[li]Most people watch TV in the family room, and very few family rooms are set up for front projection. They have too many windows, they’re often not large enough, and they sometimes ajoin other spaces in the house which means you can’t easily block light.[/li][li]Setup is difficult. My projector is mounted on the ceiling, with a 3" conduit behind the drywall running back to my equipment rack so I can pull cables for the projector. In existing houses, that’s not easy to do, so you wind up having to string ugly cables across your ceiling or put the projector on the coffee table with cables running across the floor.[/li][li]Cabling issues aside, it’s not plug-and-play. You need an external cable or satellite box, fed into a receiver and with video out to your projector. Compare that to a big-screen RPTV, which you just unbox, plug the cable into, and turn on.[/li][li]Picture quality. Until recently, the best stuff you could watch on your TV was interlaced DVD or standard definition television. Neither look particularly good blown up to 106". In the last two or three years, however, progressive-scan DVD has become the norm, and HDTV has become widely available. Both of these benefit greatly from a large screen, and it’s really the existence of these enabling technologies that has driven acceptance of front projection.[/li][/ul]

It’s really a convergence thing. Until there were really big TV’s, there was little demand for better picture quality, because it waas wasted anyway. HDTV on a 32" screen from 10’ away is hardly perceptible from regular TV. So no one wanted HDTV. Therefore there was no market for big screen TVs. A chicken-and-egg thing, really. DVD helped break that - the incredibly rapid market penetration of DVD (faster than any electronic technology in history) brought with it a desire for bigger screen TVs. And once people had big TVs, they noticed how lousy regular TV looked. That drove demand for HD, and now the existence of HD is helping drive demand for larger screens. We’ve recently passed that ‘hump’ in the curve where suddenly a technology explodes. Front projection is still on the bleeding edge of that wave, so it’s still relatively unknown.

Bad pun!

Seriously, convergence (aligning the red, green and blue images so they join up perfectly so there’s no color blotching or fringing on the image) used to be a pain. The older multi-tube projectors were horrid at this. Move it an inch, and you had to run through the process all over again. You just bolted that thing to the ceiling and never moved it.

Today’s young-uns with their DLP units that can just be pulled out of a backpack and plopped on a conference room table have no idea what we used to go through to set up a projector.

The one I bought from Radio Shack is a DLP type------from Texas Instruments (or so the salesman told me.)

It does seem to be very portable. They even had a backpack type kit for it on sale-----(which I might buy) ----carry it around and set it up wherever.