Home theater: a dedicated room found in trophy homes created by professional installers who charge from $50,000 on up to create a cinematic experience in your own home.
That definition is starting to fall apart, as prices for all things high definition continue to tumble. The latest breakthrough is a 1080p projector for less than $1,000. Last week, Optoma announced the HD20, a new DLP projector. Rated at 1,700 lumens, this projector is targeted for mainstream consumer retail outlets, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Staples.
It was not too many years ago when breaking the $5,000 barrier for a 1080p projector was big news, but this rips this product category out of the hands of the high-end integrators and makes it practical to create your own viewing room. The problem with front projection is that even with a screen that is good at rejecting ambient light, you still won’t get great results unless you can control the room lighting. This means few or no windows, and good light-blocking treatments if there are windows. Still, if you’re going to sit 10 feet or so from your HDTV display, you really need screen sizes that you can’t get in flat panels. And now you can have a 70″ or 80″ image for less than the cost of a 50″ LCD HDTV.
So maybe you should reconsider whether a front projector makes sense for your viewing needs. Football season is coming and this could deliver life-size images. Better wear your helmet.