Technophiles -- any advice about a home TV projector?

I am not entirely sure if this is the right forum for this post, but since it is about TV tech, I think it might be. Anyway, disclaimer aside:

Does anybody have any advice about a TV projector? I have a fairly new apartment (six weeks) with a long expanse of blank white wall that my sofa faces. I was planning to get a flatscreen, but a friend I had over suggested I try getting a projector and simply use the blank wall as the screen.

Bare in mind that I have already dropped a fair penny on furniture and Christmas, including traveling expenses, so I have to keep it on the cheaper side. I don’t even know the price range for projectors, But let’s say under $500. If they are upward of that, I’ll have to ditch the idea.

Any shopping tips you might have I’d appreciate. What should I look for? What should I watch out for? Any thing that would indicate a good/bad product, etc.

Thanks in advance, and Happy New Year!

I keep thinking about a projector, but with the idea that I could make the “TV” completely disappear from my home by building the projection unit into the top of a closet and having a non-obvious projection surface.

They are expensive, to get enough lumens, and the bulbs are very expensive to replace. (I don’t think the LED ones are into the upper ranges of brightness yet, but maybe.) If you get one, though, and can either get permission or away with it, paint the projection wall with projection paint. It looks dead white except for some angular reflectivity and is unnoticeable on a white wall, especially if you give it angular or feathered edges. It will make a huge difference in perceived image quality.

Projectors are dirt cheap these days.
You can get an HD Optoma projector which will fill a wall with a cinema-quailty image for around $500.

If you have a room that you can control the ambient light in (dark window shades), then projectors can give you an image that is better than flat-screen.

Based on my experiences and a friend’s well-outfitted high-end home theater, I’d make the following observations. A projector creates a great experience for watching movies if you have the right physical environment (distance to screen, low ambient light) and a good sound system.

However, there are significant disadvantages to just watching normal TV that way. A decent TV will provide much better brightness and colors especially in normal ambient room light in which typical projectors are washed-out at best, if not practically unusable. Do you really want to do all your TV watching in theater-like darkness? Along similar lines, ordinary TV isn’t really amenable to the kind of dominance that theatrical projection creates – it’s often more of a casual background thing. Plus, it’s designed with a small screen in mind, and is often overwhelming on a big screen. Commercials are spectacularly obnoxious when they attack you with the visual force of an entire wall!

Personally, based on my own experiences, I would consider a decent flat-screen TV to be the essential first choice, and then maybe a projector to supplement that for movies if that’s physically practical and financially affordable.

That’s an important point, because if you don’t , or if you don’t always want to watch TV in the dark, a flat-screen is a better solution.

They aren’t good for a room with vast windowage, but the better (==higher lumens) ones give excellent viewing in normal room lighting. You only have to sit in the dark for <1000 lumen models, which are most of what’s sold for home use by users who want to save money by pulling the curtains.

Spend a little more, get the power your viewing room needs, and your enjoyment will be much higher.

Techmoan reviewed a short-throw projector a year ago and liked it.

When I built our HT room in 2010 I installed a JVC DLA-HD250 projector. It wasn’t cheap, but it has been an awesome projector.

Watching a movie projected on a screen is a different experience than watching it on an backlit LCD TV. It makes you feel like you’re at the movies.