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.
Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.