Ask a Pro
What Display is Best for My Viewing Distance?
Is a plasma a good idea for Steve's 15-20 foot viewing distance?
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January 28, 2010 by Robert Archer

Q. I am looking at purchasing a Samsung PN63B590 for my living room. I’m going plasma because of the size, and my viewing distance is 15-20 feet. Is there a better option that you know of for the same price range? - Steve, Indiana

A. Steve, my suggestion, considering your viewing distance, is to go with a two-piece projection system.

I searched around and found an Epson Home Cinema 8100 1080p Projector for $1,500. I also found an Elite Screen 100-inch EZ Frame CineGrey Screen for $385. This system gives you a much bigger screen for less than $2,000.

The 100-inch CineGrey from Elite helps color saturation, black levels and contrast in rooms with ambient light. The Epson projector is a highly-rated, affordable 1080p projector that should be bright enough to fill a 100-inch screen with some ambient light.

A plasma will do certain things better than a two-piece system. But with the combination of Epson’s 1080p resolution and the gray screen, you should get a good picture from it and an even better picture when the lights are off.

One thing both plasmas and projection systems need is control of a room’s ambient light. LCD TVs are brighter and custom installers tend to use them more in a bright room. Where you’re looking at a plasma, you’ll need some control of the light.

If you buy this system, look into Lutron’s Maestro IR dimmer. It’s $40 at Home Depot, installs in a few minutes, and controls your lights, saving you just as much money as a CFL bulb.

If this system is too complex, talk to a local custom installer. He may have some basic packages that he could install for you.

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Robert Archer - Senior Editor, CE Pro
Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.

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