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Topic: Advice on a good conference room projector
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Joined: Jan 10, 2006
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Hi,

We currently have a Optoma EP 755 in our conference room (about 40' x 25') projecting onto a 67" wide screen. The current projector is DLP, 2000 lumens, 4:3 ratio, 1024x768 native. My biggest gripe with it is the color reproduction is pretty bad when it comes to similiar shades of pastels, which we have a lot of on our website. Currently the proejctor just sits on an AV cart. We are looking into installing a ceiling mount, and we are looking into a possible new projector as well.

The sources are a DVD player, VCR, and PC. Because users had complications with selecting the source in this setup, I am looking into purchasing a switcher/scaler that will upscale everyhting to a HDMI, as well as switch audio. This will allow the projector to only need to be turned on, and its source will always stay the same, as well as I will only need to run one cable. The reason I mention this is because the projector will need to have an HDMI in, and I am not concerned with issues of internal conversion. I will set the scaler output to match the native resolution.

I was initially impressed with the reviews on the Panasonic PT-AE900U. It is an LCD (which I like because I don't need to worry about color wheel issues), and apparently has remarkable color and contrast. It purpotedly has an image that is hard to beat for under $10K. It also has lens shift which is nice for a ceiling mount. I am concerned about the light output though, as it is only rated at 1100 lumens which is a step down from where we are at(2000), and they often like to leave the lights on during presentations. Also, it is a 16:9 aspect ratio, and since the limiting factor with our screen is the width, it will actually result in a smaller screen. I am concerned they may not be happy with these two issues, but I am having trouble finding other candidates that meeet all of my wishes. Can anybody reccomend some others I should look into?

Thanks!
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Joined: Jan 10, 2006
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I should probably add, though, that we are willing to spend up to about $8k. Even with this amount of cash, the reviews seem to indicate the AE900U is a leader for image quality. I wish they would implement some of this great new Home Theater technology in presentation projectors. We are also looking into a plasma screen alternate (65" Panasonic TH-65PHD8UK), which would run about $8-9K, so a projector that has many advantages in the same price range would be open for consideration.

Thanks!

Mark
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Joined: Mar 31, 2005
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Mark,

I think you should be looking at projectors that are built for business use, not home theater ones. There are a few reasons for this:

1. In a board or conference room people often want to leave the lights on as you said. If you don't have at least a 2K lumen projector your image will be very washed out and not really usable. In fact in rooms we are going to need lights on we install a minimum of 3K lumens and it works out really well. 3k projectors are not that much more expensive than 2K anymore.

2. The screen size is also a big deal. Especially if you are looking at a lot of text and web pages because you want to be able to comfortably view smaller details although you are able to purchase a larger 16x9 screen.

3. I also think you are going to run into quite a few issues by trying to convert everything to HDMI. Anytime you change a signal you change some of it's quality. I think the best way to solve your problem with inputs would be some training and a home made manual.

What I would suggest to save you some time and money.

1. Take a look at 4:3 business projectors because you need the screen size and higher lumens.

2. Mount the projector on the ceiling. -make sure that you follow code when wiring.

3. Wire the system like this. Use RCA plugs from the DVD/VCR combo to the projector so they are both on the same input and then wire the computer to the VGA in. Use the projector remote to switch inputs, and have a manual with some illustrations that show how the equipment needs to be used.

4. Take a look at raising your budget just a slight amount in order to purchase a switcher to make things easier.

Some questions I have:

How often are the same people using this room?
What are you planning on doing for sound with the movies? Speakers? Amp?
Is your budget flexible at all?
Can you do most of the install?

An example of the system that I would install in this type of room is as follows.

1. Projector (Sharp MB70)
2. Crestron Control System (TPS-1700 Small touch panel)
3. Amp (QSC)
4. Ceiling speakers (JBL)
5. Small Corner Cabinet
6. DVD/VCR Combo
7. Laptop Connection in cubby on conference table
8. My standard is a Doc. Cam also.

This is our standard classroom installed for between $10-$12K; the price depends on whether or not we install a document camera. I also do the programming for the Crestron which is possibly something you would have to hire out -don't know the cost for that.

Again I don't know every nuance of your install but I hope maybe this advice will help you out.
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Joined: Jan 10, 2006
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Hi Claym,

Thanks for the response. I agree, I probably should be looking for something with higher light output. I just can't seem to find a projector that seems to do everything I want! Management here, has hinted they they may want to go with a plasma screen (despite the smaller screen, with 65" being the largest I have found) so it may all become a moot point!

First I will answer your questions:

The senior staff are the regular users of the projector, and they usually have few problems. However, we also lease out the conference room to other organizations, who often have never been here before, and they are the ones I typically have to help to use the equipment.

Yes, I have planned to install either ceiling or wall mount speakers. If i use the scaler switcher that I so far like the most, I will need to have something that can take a digital input. The scaler DVDO iScan VP30 accepts audio inputs (analog or digital) so that the audio source is switched along with the video. However, it only has digital audio outputs (coax or optical) so that must mean it converts even the analog audio from the VCR to this form. I originally began looking for an inexpensive receiver with a digital input to use as the amp, but a friend referred me to Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speaker system. Although intended for a PC, it has a digital input, built in amp, wireless remote, and wall mountable speakers. It has plenty more wattage then the current systems, so should be plenty powerful enough, I just will need to extend the wires for the rear speakers. This is much less price wise than anything I was looking at, plus I imagine a good deal simpler to operate.

The budget is not really set, so I am unsure how high I can go. I was told to spec out some options and their respective prices. After I saw the larger plasma screen prices, I checked to see if that was out of the ballpark, it didn't seem to be, so I am trying to offer the nicest projector package I can in the same ballpark (hopefully less).

Yes, I should be able to do most if not all the install myself, to help save cost. I am pretty proficient at electrical work, running wires, etc. I also have a variety of metal fabrication tools (welder etc) at home I can use if needed for the mount. I may build my own if it saves us enough money to make it worthwhile. I have seen some of the DIY plans at the AVS forums. My biggest hurdle will be making sure it is code. I imagine everything will have to be plenum? Also, I am hoping to use a nice surge suppressor/conditioner for both the projector as well as the AV equipment. We have very frequent power issues here. I was hoping that I may be able to run a high quality power cord to the projector above the drop ceiling, to avoid any actual electrical work, and allow me to use the same power conditioner, but I need to see if that is really ok with code.
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Joined: Jan 10, 2006
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Wow, I exceeded the max post length. Sorry for the book guys

continued ...
After further review, the 16:9 aspect ratio does not seem to be a concern. In fact, I have seen several articles that have said that it is actually preferable in rooms with low ceilings. It works great with PowerPoint when I experimented a bit. In fact, I like it better. Allows less line wrapping when an image or chart is on the same slide.

I am curious why you think the scaler/switcher may cause problems? I was under the impression that the projector would have to upscale the image to native resolution (XGA) if it wasn't already, so it seems it is not doing any conversions that wouldn't happen anyways. Also, this way the longest cable run would be in HDMI, rather then an analog form, so should actually result in a much less noise/artifacts shouldn't it? also, this allows the Audio to be switched with the video, rather then having to switch the two separately.

I am kind of leaning to LCD because I like the color saturation, and newer versions have good contrast. Plus, that would alleviate the potential eye strain and headaches caused by the color wheel on DLPs. What would be some good recommendations on high lumen XGA LCD's?

Thanks!
Mark
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