Stacey's been wanting to decorate the house, when we did we swapped the two rooms around which seemed logical at the time, but when we did, even though it was only a 32" the TV took up most of the room and seeing as we didn't watch it that much it seemed to be a bit of a waste. After some discussion (and using my powers of negotiation) we came to the conclusion that having a projector really would be a good idea...
The main advantage of having a projector is it'll be up on the roof and the screen out of the way when we're not watching it saving a load of floor space. Knowing that they can be somewhat of a ball ache to get working so the brief was simple -it has to be as simple as using a TV.
A while ago I helped a mate buy a projector for his gaming system so with his help I started looking around at our options. We set a budget of £2,000 for the entire setup but I was adamant I would get a full HD projector, screen and something to play the videos.
I figured I'd need to spend something around £1,500 for the projector to get something half decent and after a fair amount of looking around settled on Epson's (then) new TW-1000 but that was nearly my entire budget so I got shopping some more. After a while I found a website called Price Japan which imports electronics from Japan for a small fee. I managed to get it imported for around £1,200 including all taxes etc. I'll write another post about buying from them but if you're thinking about buying electronics they're worth a look.
Gladiator Computers supplied the hardware (specs below) which is more powerful than my dev machine but still fits in the room as the case (a Antec Fusion Case Media Center Case) looks like a standard separate -though it's a little deeper).
The player and projector were sorted, all that's left now I thought was the screen. Not having a lot of space I followed the instructions and worked out that the biggest I should have the screen was 2.2m wide. It's actually quite difficult finding a screen that "small" but to make things easier for Stacey I wanted an electric screen -it would also make it a little cooler ;) Looking around I found they ranged from £100 to well over £1,000. In the end I found one from Germany that had received a number of good reviews so thought I'd give them a chance. As I saved a few quid importing the screen I was able to spend out on the MASL unit which makes the screen automatically drop when power goes to the projector (or other power consuming unit) -gadget-tastic!
The only thing I hadn't sorted was the mount, on testing the roof for joists I couldn't locate any where I wanted so I ended up going for a wall mountable projector mount by VivoMounts so I could fix it wherever I wanted. It came in a somewhat broken cardboard box but the build quality is excellent for the money.
It took a few weeks to source everything but last weekend I got it all up and running. I have to admit, I didn't think about it at the time but because of the position of the projector/media PC I had to buy a 10m HDMI cable. It wasn't an expensive one in comparison to some but boy is the quality impressive.
Luckily you can't really see the cables (though they're a little more obvious atm than I'd like) because they were wound and need a little time to stretch out, but I've lain them across the top of the picture rail. I've screwed the speakers onto the wall at the bottom of the screen and hidden the cables along the underside of the windowsill/door frame.
And that's there all to it! So what's it like? As I said, we don't watch a great deal of TV but watching HD films on it is awesome, even playing the Wii is a whole new experience. The thing I really like about it all is that Stacey can use it (it all runs using a remote control). The screen is pretty big admittedly but it's not too big for the room and when it's all turned off we've got the use of the entire room...
What I forgot to mention is that while this was all going on, I managed to talk Stacey into letting me get a bean bag. I'm not talking the sort you had when you were 10 (though I was winding her up that I was seriously tempted by Spiderman beanbag!). I've had my eye on the Fatboy bean bags for a while but then heard about an alternative to the Fatboy bean bags the Sumo Omni. It's unbelievably comfortable and is a great place to sit and write long blog posts ;). At under half the price forget the Fatboy bean bags and go for the Sumo Omni instead! I ordered it on the Sunday and it arrived on the Wednesday -from the states! Pretty impressive if you ask me...
Photos of our new home cinema
The gritty details of the system