As front-projector prices drop and homeowners become more aware of technology advancements, Capitol Sales Company dealers want to be on the cutting edge of proper design and installation. One strong selling point of front-projector systems is the large viewing screen, but customers don't always understand that size is dictated by the room space to ensure optimal viewing.
Capitol Sales has developed a "Top 10 Myth list" to help dealers get started with front-projector theater systems.
MYTH #1: Bigger is better.
FACT: Customers will often tell you, "I want the biggest screen you can get in the room!" Technological improvements in sources and projectors allow bigger images to look better than before. However, if a projected image becomes too large, the viewer will start to see the limitations in the sources and equipment. This is similar to holding a newspaper photo too close and only seeing dots. A good rule of thumb for sizing a screen to a room is that the seating should be at a distance of 1.5 to 2.5 times the width of the screen.
MYTH #2: Brighter is better.
FACT: Finding the projector with the highest ANSI lumen rating for the least amount of money and combining it with the screen with the highest gain ratio does not guarantee greatness. Quality of optics, uniformity of brightness and color accuracy can outweigh the lumen rating.
MYTH #3: A less expensive presentation projector will work as well as a more expensive home theater projector.
FACT: Although presentation projectors work well in a meeting room with still images, they usually don't have the correct shape for home theater or the inputs needed to display consumer electronic sources. That's why they are less expensive. For maximum quality, select a projector designed for home theaters.
MYTH #4: Any room for an in-home theater will work.
FACT: Front-projector systems need a room in which ambient light can be reduced to a specific level of darkness—if it's almost impossible to read in the room, it's dark enough. That typically means a dedicated room. "Great Rooms" do not make "great theater rooms" because of all the windows, traffic and noise distractions.
MYTH #5: I've pulled all the wires I need throughout the house.
FACT: Installing a large conduit or flexible raceway from the equipment rack to the projector location is the best approach to wiring a projector system. This also allows for future upgrades. Digital video signal technology is changing so rapidly that from the time a homeowner accepts a proposal to the time the project is completed, the needs and desires of your customer may have already changed. You could have initially designed for an HD component video when the homeowner now wants to use a product that requires an HDMI plug at the end of the cable. An expandable wiring system will allow flexibility in completing or upgrading the system over time.
MYTH #6: All sources will look equally great.
FACT: With a projected image 15 times larger than the homeowner's last TV set, HDTV broadcasts will be brilliantly displayed while old videotape or a weak cable channel will look even worse than on a smaller set. Expectation management is critical to customer satisfaction. All video sources are not equal and front-projector systems reveal those differences. If you want to give a homeowner a solid idea of what an image would look like magnified on a 110-inch screen, have them stand about 30 inches away from a 27-inch TV and look at several sources, from home video to digital DVD to understand the range of quality they may experience.
MYTH #7: I should run all wires to the middle of the room's ceiling and center them to the middle of the screen.
FACT: All projectors specify the distance from lens to screen, known as the throw ratio. This is defined as the ratio of distance from lens to screen compared to the width of the screen. A ratio of 1.5 would mean an 80-inch wide screen would require the projector to be 120 inches away. Usually, the zoom lens allows some flexibility in the minimum and maximum distance the projector can be placed from the screen. Once you have determined the width of the screen you will be using and the throw ratio of the selected projector, you will know where your wires should appear. Most projector lenses are not built into the middle of the projector. Your mount should be offset left or right by the same amount to center the lens to the horizontal middle of the screen. Some projectors have a mechanical lens shift which allows for off-center placement.
MYTH #8: All DVD players with progressive component output will have the same picture quality.
FACT: A $60 DVD or a $120 DVD/VCR combination works great with a smaller TV, but for front-projector systems, you should recommend a top-of-the-line model. You will want to assure top video quality to withstand the scrutiny that a large image brings.
MYTH #9: My customer should pick their projector first and then decide what room they want me to install it in.
FACT: On the contrary, it's important to have your customer select which room they want the home theater system in so you can size the screen based on the ceiling height. Eight-foot ceilings can limit the screen size based on speaker locations and viewing comfort. Nine-foot ceilings provide you with more flexibility in sizing the screen to the room. Armed with this information, you may eliminate projectors that will not work because of throw ratios or resolutions.
MYTH #10: I can cut corners on the audio equipment and speakers and the homeowner will still have a great theater experience because their picture is huge.
FACT: Big images should have big sound. This is not the place for a home theater in a box. While accurate speakers perfectly placed around the listener starts you down the road, the effect of a super-sized subwoofer will ensure maximum impact for your customer's home theater experience.
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