Originally Posted by jutang
I'm in the process of getting a projector. Avsforum is a great resource but tends to get a little fan boyish. Some of the threads become a tebow vs orton type pissing contest.
Hardest thing about this entire process is being unable to comparison shop. Most stores like best buy or fry's only have lower end projectors on display in less then ideal settings. Plus their demo's have been running who knows how long which can really affect the lamp lumen output.
Right now I am debating on the new sony hw30es or the panny 7000. Smart money say wait til more models come out is year, but that would mean missing the first half of football season on a 100 plus inch screen!
A few thoughts.
Every year you could wait for the next round of models to come out. So, unless you are looking for something specific (like passive 3D) or jumping on a new technology and want prices to come down, you are probably better off just jumping in and making a purchase.
You are right, typically comparison shopping isn't an option for the reasons you mentioned and more. So, what you need to do is look for reviews on sites like Pojectorcentral, and then looking through the owner threads on AVS, as well searching for threads on AVS with that discusse the model of the projector you are looking for.
Attempt to buy from a dealer that will give you a 30 day (or at least 7 day) return, so if you get it and find it doens't work for your needs, you can swap it out for another.
One of the reasons for looking for projectorcentral and other reviews is to learn the real lumen count. For instance, my projector is only rated at 1000 "video calibrated" lumens, but projectorcentral claimed it was one of the brightest home theater projectors they had reviewed (back when I bought it), being brighter than other projectors rated at 2,000 or more ANSI lumens. Some projector companies rate their lumens configured how you will use it, some crank it to the brightest, dynamic settings for their lumen test just to get a high number.
Don't go too small. 100" may sound big, but it depends on how close you will be sitting. There are THX and SMTP seating/screen size calculators out there, but once you are making the plunge, you want to try and get it right the first time. I'm at 118" and sit about 14' from the screen. I think THX says I should be 12' or 12.5' away or have a bigger screen. While it's not necessary to meet the THX standard, you probably want to land somewhere between the SMTP screen size recommendation and THX recommendation (I would get close to THX standard.
Where are you going to mount the projector? This makes a big difference. First, some projectors have fixed screen offsets, meaning, the image drops 5-15% (typically DLP projectors), so that the projector needs to be mounted above the top of the screen, or below the bottom of the screen if you (if you have it set to rise, vs. fall). Other projectors are designed to be straight on, but then have adjustable lenses that work as long as the projector is mounted within the height of the screen.
The offset and mounting accordingly is VERY important, because if you don't, you will get keystone (bottom of image wider than top of image) and have to use digital keystone correction, which degrades the picture greatly.
Anyway, there are a few things to think about when purchasing a new projector.
P.S. Screen material is another whole question. My suggestion is DO NOT buy your screen until after you buy the projector. Get screen samples from Carada, Stewart, Dalite or whoever you are thinking of buying from. Mount your projector (permanent or temp) and then mount the samples on to the wall (maybe with a sheet or other white material behind it) with some painters tape. That way, you can see what type of screen (grey, white, hi gain, etc.) for YOUR room and YOUR lighthing conditions.