Projector Reviews

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 Complete, Projector Based Home Theater System Review-2

The Dynamics of Owning a Home Theater Projector System

For the first time, a high quality large screen projection system – with sound to match – can be installed in people’s homes, stress free in less than a day!

We’re talking projector, 100 inch diagonal screen, a full 5.1 surround sound system, with sub-woofer, DVD player and AM/FM tuner, complete with almost all of the trimmings. (You’ll likely still want to have your cable or satellite hooked up, and sooner or later, a Blu-ray player – I recommend sooner!) A home theater system like this makes the average sized LCDTV look so small that it all belongs in the kitchen!

Projector-based home theater systems are a tiny portion of the home theater market, with sales in the hundreds of thousands in the US each year, compared to tens of millions of LCDTV and plasmas sold.

Most people who have thought about a projector-based home theater system in their home, find the prospect of actually buying one to be too daunting. As a result, by my estimate, most people who have a room set up with a projector for some first class home theater, fit into three categories:

  1. Home Theater enthusiasts, hobbyists, or whatever you like to call them, including DIY types (do it yourself) – they simply can’t live without
  2. Folks with a healthy checkbook – who will locate a local dealer, work with them to determine what level of system, and a few choices, but leave all the work to the dealer.
    1. Further, these people are typically not intimidated with home projects that can take weeks, or months, as long as it’s completed on time, on budget, and performs as expected (or better).
  3. All-in-one Projectors – these aren’t full home theater systems, but a portable projector with some built in speakers, and maybe a DVD player, but are really entry level products – pick one up, plug it in, and shine it on a wall – great in the kids room. These are, overall, far inferior compared to what we are talking about here, and very low cost

What’s missing from this list is most of the other 5 Billion plus people on the planet.

Most people go out and buy from their favorite toy store – Best Buy, Circuit City, and appliance stores that sell plasmas and LCDTVs. They then do the most basic setup in their homes. Over half of these people will just have their Plasma or LCDTV on a stand or table top, and not bother with wall mounting. Most will not even add to the typically anemic built in speakers inside the LCDTV or Plasma, thus losing the great room filling sound available on HDTV, TV, and DVDs of all types.

Basically people want to keep things simple, and with a serious home theater system at any budget level, there are many important choices to be made. That’s enough to intimidate the vast majority of people, whether they want a system for $3000 (or less), $100,000 or more, or anywhere in between.

What's Normally Involved in Putting Together A Home Theater

If you decide you want to put together your own projector based home theater, here is a list of most of the many decisions you normally have to make, and for many, they will want to understand the basics of each choice. First, you have to figure out what room it will go in, then:

  • Choosing the right home theater projector – for your budget, the picture quality you expect, the size of your room, and the options on placing the equipment
  • Choosing the right screen – including motorized, pull-down or fixed wall, and the right type of screen surface (intimidated yet?)
  • Choosing a full surround sound system (5.1 is most popular), but you still have to pick the speakers (five plus the subwoofer), by price, size, and positioning, sound quality (will your spouse let you have free standing speakers or must you have unobtrusive in-wall speakers)?
  • You are going to need a DVD player, or a Blu-ray player for those movies – which one? and Why?
  • You’ll almost certainly want to have a cable box or satellite receiver added to the room
  • And the “piece de resistance”, you don’t want to do it yourself, so you need to hire folks to handle the full installation. You’ll have to check out the price, choose the right company (sometimes companies) – especially since not all home theater dealers do “everything” which includes opening your walls to run wires (and not all dealers have electrical contractors licenses either), drywalling and painting the aftermath. That includes mounting the projector, speakers screens, and doing all the final wiring. And you even have to decide about the quality level of all the wiring used!
  • And finally, to get the last ounce of performance out, you likely will want the system calibrated.

I’ve been in the AV industry for roughly 30 years, and that’s enough to almost intimidate me! I know, I have had a theater (currently two) of some level, in each of my last 3 homes.