Home theater

Bringing back the projector

     You've probably picked up a projector at some point and projected onto a wall or an outdoor screen by the pool for "movie night". It can be a cheap way to get a big picture. Or maybe you have a media room with a white screen and a thick black velvety frame all around it. However, there are few that would argue that a projector could look as good as the latest models of 4K HDR TV's. That's changing.

     The Projector: Projectors themselves have come a long way. They are brighter, have better lenses, longer life spans and can produce stunning images. 4K projectors used to be (and still are in some cases) $10K+. But there are a few models that are changing things. Take for an example the Epson 6040. This projector is available through A/V installation companies only and, for the most part, can't be purchased online. However, this projector provides 2500 lumens in both COLOR and white light, making for a bright and dynamic picture. It also provides an amazing contrast ratio for sharp, crisp lines. How much? Less than $4K. And speaking of 4K, it can play native 4K content in HDR! Comes with a 3 year warranty, and an extra lamp. So you get the idea, the technology has come a long way and is only getting better. 

     The Screen: Don't blame the projector! The issue with projection screens has often been that they cannot be used in bright environments with natural or artificial light. Many screens are nothing more than a stretched white sheet over an aluminum frame. The projector is always competing with the light in the room and often we see just a white-washed image that's hard to make out. And think about this; How do you use a light bulb (projector) to project black (an absence of light)? For most people this means that they have to have a dark room with heavy curtains. That has all changed but most a/v companies have yet to catch up. One manufacturer in particular has made the most game-changing screen to date. Screen Innovations, based in Austin TX, has developed several screens that reject up to 85% of ambient light. What this means is that you can now have an open media room without having to paint it black and close off all the windows and, at the same time, have a stunning large screen with amazing video quality that's even better than many LED TV's. By rejecting ambient light coming in from multiple angles and only reflecting the light coming from the projector, you can now have a 120" better than LED quality display for less money than a comparable 80" TV. And the screens themselves are amazing to look at even when they aren't displaying an image. Full LED backlighting a zero-edge bezel and a dark slate color material bring a modern and elegant touch to any room of the house. They basically look like a giant LED TV.

     Conclusion: To often people have had bad experiences with projection and feel its limited to dark rooms only, but that's simply no longer true. Although projection setups aren't for everyone, if you are considering a 70"+ TV, give projection a second look. You might find that it far exceeds your expectations.

Should I get a new TV?

     We often times get asked this question by customers who have seen the latest offering in the big box stores. How do we respond? Well it depends.

   Why do you want to upgrade? This is our first question. Is there something wrong with you current TV? How do you watch most of your content? Do you watch more TV or Movies? The answer to these questions helps narrow things down quite a bit. For instance, if you watch mostly movies in a theater room and your TV has no HDMI inputs its probably time for an upgrade. 

     "I need a smart TV." The only truly convenient feature in a smart TV we find useful is automatic firmware upgrades which help the TV stay up-to-date. Other than that, an Apple TV, Amazon Fire or Roku, will turn almost any regular TV into a "smart TV" giving you access to online streaming services and much more. If the TV is part of a home theater system, we often recommend that it be used just as a display, and we normally turn off any "smart" features. Think about it; in a home theater setting the only thing the TV does is provide picture. There are many issues that ensue when the TV tries to control different devices through HDMI or when streaming through the TV's built in apps which often times do not support advanced surround sound. 

     "I need 4K." If your starting fresh with a new system then why not go 4K? The costs have come down considerably and the picture quality can be stunning. However, there are many factors that play a part in deciding whether or not to upgrade an existing 1080p HD TV to a 4K model. There is not, at the moment, a large variety of content available in 4K. And resolution is not the only spec to a good picture quality. 


Not all TV mounts are created equal

     We have often been asked to install a TV on a mount a customer purchased online somewhere (usually Amazon). Often times these mounts are very cheap in every sense of the word. So what makes these mounts inferior to your mainstream mounts? Lets discuss that.

     Materials: In an effort to provide a cheaper product while still maintaining a profit margin for the manufacturer, inferior materials are used. Normally a very thin gauge steel is used on cheap mounts that allows for a lot of twisting and/or bending of both the wall bracket and the tv brackets. Basically these mounts are disposable and can never be re-used because of severe warping or bent brackets. 

     Design: Some of the mounts found online are copies of mounts made by reputable companies, but this is often not the case. Many mounts are 2-piece, meaning the wall braket must first be bolted together then mounted to the wall. This saves on shipping for the manufacturer due to a smaller box size. However, these mounts are incredibly difficult to level since the two pieces rarely line up properly. Of even more concern is the fact that many knock-off discount mounts lack stops on the end of the rails that are mounted to the wall, meaning that you could just push the TV until it slides and falls off the wall. Have kids? Enough said.

     Hardware: This is a frustrating thing for the installer. A professional, reputable mount will come with a variety of hardware and spacers to properly secure the TV mounting brackets to the back of the TV. Most all discount mounts come with very limited hardware that doesn't allow you to properly secure the TV. In some cases the screws are too short and don't thread into the TV far enough. In other cases the bolts are so long that many spacers are needed, thus pushing the TV away from the wall and leaving an unsightly gap. 

     Conclusion: Proper TV installation takes some time, patience, a good mount and the proper tools to get it right. Getting it secure and perfectly level are just part of the equation. Retrofitting HDMI, optical and/or power outlets to make for a clean install further adds to the complexity. With the right tools, some patience and the help of a friend, an ambitious DIY'er can tackle it themselves. Should you ever need our help just give us a call. We can often times professionally install your TV while providing a high quality mount and cable concealment for little more than you would pay for just a quality mount.