The Right Way to Plan a Front Projection Home Theater

by David S. Brooks - Date: 2006-12-27 - Word Count: 673 Share This!

The concept of 'home theater' means many things to many people. Although some people are content with a 27-inch color TV and a pair of stereo speakers, most recognize a front projection system as the most thrilling and authentic home theater experience. Unfortunately, it is also the most demanding, which is why only about 5% of consumers actually go all the way and install a mini-movie theater in their home.

Thats a shame since a dedicated front projection home theater has so many advantages and benefits that its really worth considering.

For example, with front projection, you get all the benefits of going to the movies (big screen, immersive, theatrical experience), with none of the drawbacks of a night at the multiplex (cellphones, talking, rowdy teens, seat kicking, sticky floors, screen ads, bad sound, out-of-focus prints, crowded seats, no seats, stale popcorn, et. al). Perhaps the single most important benefit: a pause button!

To do a front projection home theater right, you must typically dedicate a single room of your home. This room should be a minimum of 18 x 15 and a minimum height of 7'. You should be able to control ambient light (thick drapes or a windowless basement). Acoustics must be controlled, either with thicker wall construction, room dampening materials, or both.

A dedicated front projection home theater room will cost anywhere from $10,000 to $250,000. You can pay less, but you will generally make compromises in terms of sound quality or picture quality.

These budgets sound high but not if you go out to the movies twice a month. For example, its easy for two people to spend $50 for a date at the movies with a visit to the concession stand. Add a nice dinner and a baby sitter and you're probably paying $200! If you go out twice per month you can lease a new car...or treat yourself (and your entire family) a terrific entertainment experience you can enjoy any day of the week.
Home theater front projectors have historically meant expensive, but prices on these systems - DLP or LCD -- have fallen dramatically in the last four years. What used to cost $12,000 to $20,000 in 2002 now looks better and costs less than $5,000! Excellent quality amps and audio receivers have also come way down in price.

Other system costs have not fallen proportionately. Good-quality surround sound speakers, sturdy furniture, room acoustic treatments, and other "accessories" are priced accurately relative to their quality. In other words, you really do get what you pay for.

A budget of $10,000 to $20,000 (less than $500/month on a home equity line of credit) is quite reasonable and will likely result in a terrific experience for you and your entire family.

To install front projection, it is always a good idea to start the process by consulting a professional. Unless you're planning to keep your projector stored in a closet for special occasions, an experienced professional can make a mediocre system a truly great experience.
Professional installation of a front projector (ceiling mount with all cables neatly installed) can cost less than $1,000. However, most professionals do more than hide wires. Professional installation can also include professional integration. It is a wise investment.
System integration is an important, albeit, expensive service where all your systems are unified into a single control system. Sometimes it's as simple as programming eight devices into a single multi-function remote control. Better systems have dedicated hardware that distributes high-quality audio (ad even video) to multiple rooms around your home.

A home automation professional can also add other time-savings equipment such as intercoms, home surveillance/security, automated lighting controls, etc. A good installer knows how to install all these systems and make them work reliably and within your budget.

With prices coming down, building a high-quality home theater in your home is not the extravagance it once was and certainly not just of movie moguls. For less than the price of a new car lease you can obtain a top-quality home theater system, professionally designed and installed, to enrich and enliven your evenings for years to come.

Related Tags: lcd, plasma, rear projection, home theater, dlp, front projection

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