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Monitors as TVs (Re: TVs as monitors)

Robert La Ferla wrote:
> I am also using a front projector for my television.  The picture 
> quality is amazing.  It's truly flat, nearly all digital (except for the 
> analog RGB) and in the living room projects a 108" diagonal for 1/3 the 
> price of those flat LCD and Plasma panels.  The downside is that you 
> have to replace the bulb every two years (at a cost of $200-$300) and 
> you need a room that doesn't get too much light - some is okay if the 
> projector is powerful enough.  Additionally, native resolution is 
> usually XGA (1024x768) which is great for TV, most HDTV and is usuable 
> for computer use.  DLP offers much better black levels than LCD.  You 
> can read more about DLP and projectors at

The one minor gotcha is that data projectors generally don't have TV 
tuners. If you want to watch broadcast TV, you need something; 
possibilities include a VCR (the cheapest but lowest quality option, 
since it only outputs composite video; you can probably get a junk one 
for free if you don't care if it plays tapes), a TV tuner card for your 
PC, or a standalone TV tuner designed for computer monitors (such as the 
Viewsonic Nextvision series). Recent ReplayTV DVRs have RGB outputs; 
some TiVo models may as well.

If your budget includes an HDTV settop box, you're in for a treat; HDTV 
can be gorgeous. (Have a look at the PBS-HD broadcasts that Channel 2 
carries; the programs are often dull, but the visuals are stunning.) 
Reception can be fussy, though; you may need an outdoor antenna for 
reliable reception. Some HDTV boxes also receive analog broadcasts, so 
that may be taken care of as well.

If you're going to watch satellite TV, you're in luck; your satellite 
box probably has RGB outputs. If you're going with cable, cable boxes 
with RGB output may or may not be available from your cable company.

Data projectors generally also don't have speakers; if they do, they're 
not worth using. Plan to set up a separate sound system. Even a $50 set 
of computer speakers is much better than a typical TV set; if you have 
more space and money, you can go for a full-blown home theater setup.

Brightness and image size interact; if you're willing to settle for a 
smaller picture, you get a brighter one. Robert talks about a 9' 
diagonal image; if you're willing to step down to 6' or 7' (which may be 
more suitable for your room size anyway), you're more likely to get an 
image you can watch with normal room lighting. If the projector has a 
zoom lens, you can adjust it; otherwise, you just move the projector 
closer to the screen.

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