Welcome to my home cinema

Inception on the big screen
If there’s a film to try out the new projector its got to be Inception

I finally put down some money and got the Optoma HD143x, after lots of research and deciding that I will make it work somehow or send it back.

Optoma hd143x

After about a hour and half fiddling with controls, moving the unit (I tried different heights and even the coffee table) and adjusting it a lot. At one point I tried putting the telephoto lens in front of the projector lens but the lens on the projector is so large I ended up with a quarter of the picture missing.

But finally I got a widescreen 16:9 picture at 1080p/60 resolution positioned on my screen/blind. Its clear that ideally the screen isn’t wide enough

Stretched inception picture

Originally I had to set it to 4:3 stretching the picture vertically. I thought it was acceptable but then started thinking theres got to be way to fit a 16:9 picture on the screen.

Inception on the large screen
Note the [2] at the top left is slightly cut off

Then finally I found a image shift and crop feature which allowed me to position the picture at its natural ratio of 16:9. Its not perfect but it works and means I’ll keep the projector.

So next thing to do is get a long HDMI cable and replace the VGA cable for the old projector with it in the room trunking. I also need a better more solid backstop to rest the projector on. Currently its resting on my headphone case and thats not ideal. The projector only really has one support at the front and gets unbalanced when the back is up off the ground.

Inception on the large screen

The research paid off and and now I’m looking forward to hosting some nice film nights complete with 7.1 surround sound and fresh popcorn. What a great Christmas present!

Which projector fits in my flat?

My home cinema setup

I love home cinema and the idea of a projector is one of those things I always wanted but couldn’t afford. A while ago I (well my friends wife did and I helped) put up a white Tupplur blind from IKEA. Then I bought a really cheap XGA projector.

It kind of works but I have to put the projector on the coffee table and quite high. As its XGA (1024×768) and not even WXGA (1280×768), the picture is cut off when playing a film and of course its analog inputs only which is a real pain. So finally its time to get a new projector.

This should be easy but I realise I might be asking for the impossible?

  • Full HD 1080p projector
  • HDMI inputs
  • Less than £500
  • The ability to beam 4 meters and fill but not over shoot a screen of about 2.55m diagonal (2.1m width x 1.45m height)

The last part is the biggest issue, the current projector over shoots the screen massively and the only way I can make it fit is with a telephoto lens I bought recently.

The macrolen attached to my old projector
Telephoto lens attached to my current projector

So I’ve been looking up throw distances, and it seems to be roughly the meters I want the projector away (4 meters) divided by the second number in the projectors ratio (usually something like 1:62). The number resulting is the width of the image.
For example the perfect number is 4 meters divided by a nice projector throw ratio like 1:1.9 gets you 2.1 meters at 4 meters distance.

Theres lots of projector calculators online, I’ve been using this one. They are great but when looking up projector prices in the UK, its always difficult to get the throw ratio. This is important because even if projector central can filter by throw and other things, the prices are all over the place.

The telephoto lens in effect

After much looking, comparing and searching (I’m surprised theres no way to compare this type of data easily actually, the best site I found for this is Projector Central which allows you to search based on key features). I decided to order the Optoma HD143X HDMI 3000.  I’ve decided to give it a try and be prepared to use a telephoto lens again to get the picture down to a reasonable throw size. Searching and comparing was eating up my time, when I should have been doing other things. So I’m glad that all done now and just happened to nab one as the price went up again. One of the online retailers had not changed their price quick enough, luckily for me.

Worst comes to worst, I could always get a bigger blind, setup a white sheet or just send it back and go looking again.

Fingers crossed it will fit perfectly, otherwise another trip to IKEA is on the cards.

The screen is kinda up or rather down?

Cubicgarden's home cinema

Thanks to a friend’s wife, we were able to get the IKEA tupplur projector screen up today (its really a 2 person job). On the evening I set the little panasonic projector back up and tried out Inception (what better?)

It works just as Ikea hackers and AV forums suggested and after another trip to IKEA, they finally had a extendable rod (they never had one previously) to pull the whole thing down. Unfortunally due to the change in living room layout, I can’t really have the projector on the bottom of the coffee table anymore (there is only so far keystone will go). But once positioned on top of the table and after dropping the resolution down to XGA instead of 1080p (the projector doesn’t really support anything over 1024×768 and tends to cut off the rest, but at least my Kodi machine outputs the same image to both outputs, meaning I don’t need to unplug or blank one screen each time)

So with all that in mind, there is one problem. The screen doesn’t seem to pull back up. This looks to be a problem that might mean refitting the screen again.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be standing on a the step ladder pulling the screen back up!

Ian’s home cinema starts here…?

Ian's home projector test
Testing using Inception of course…

I have always been a fan of home cinema and had a pro-logic cinema setup way way back. Heck I even remember when I bought my first DVD player (Creative Encore 5X) and use to buy Region 1 DVDs for upwards of £30. It was great when I finally got a Dolby Digital cinema receiver. Must have warn out my first DVD from Amazon, Twister.

Anyway I just bought a second hand projector so I can finally have cinema nights at mine. I did consider getting a bigger TV but honestly I don’t see the point. Its not like I’m bothered about 4k and I already have a 3D smart TV and never used the 3D or Smart feature ever. I mean why bother when I got KODI (new name for XBMC) and a Chromecast just incase. I’m also not keen on getting a much bigger TV as it blocks the great view I have of Manchester. So a projector and screen made a lot of sense.

The projector I bought is a small Panasonic PT-AE100E and can support 720p and 1080i resolutions over VGA and Component connections (no digital connections at all). Its not bad, little noisy but compact.  I tested it on my black blinds but I’ve already got plans to get the IKEA Tupplur at 180cm wide. Looking at IKEA hackers I’m certainly not the only one.

  • Films – check
  • Kodi box – check
  • Home Cinema receiver – check
  • Projector – check
  • Pull down projector screen – need to order
  • New corner sofa – need to order
  • Popcorn maker – check
  • Friends to enjoy everything. – TBC 🙂

Look out for Ian’s home cinema nights soon… not quite a dinner party but its close enough.