LCD Projectors

LCD projectors are systems that display or project information or video onto a surface. LCD stands for liquid crystal display, the technology used to project images. LCD projectors are the technological descendants of overhead and slide projectors, older systems which serve the same purpose. LCD projectors are most commonly used for displaying images in presentations or lectures, but are also used in home theater applications

While all LCD projectors perform the same fundamental task, there are many different models available, and consumers should know what their projector will be used for before selecting one. LCD projectors are priced based on several factors, especially resolution. The highest resolution LCD projectors are only worth the money for those who need to project fine details as accurately as possible. The right amount of brightness, measured in lumens, depends on the lighting conditions the projector will be used under, as well as audience size. A darkened home theater requires less brightness than a fully lit conference room.

Other factors in considering LCD projectors are portability, computer connectivity, and input options. LCD projectors with higher resolution weigh more and are therefore less portable. Those using multiple computers to make presentations should consider a projector that is easily compatible with different systems. LCD projectors used to project movies in a home theater should have component video inputs for the best picture quality.



LCD TVs

Flat screen LCDs are more expensive than their rear projection cousins and are much smaller in size. They are lauded for their brightness and contrast levels and the problem of burn in isnít really an issue.

Another factor in their favor is their low power consumption. This is important if you are an avid television watcher and for home theater TV purposes, then this is a plus.

Plasma TVs

Plasmas are very slim these days making them ideal to be wall mounted. They are still regarded as having the best color delivery as well as high contrast ratio for greater detail.

Above the Fireplace Installation - Basic Considerations

Will the heat from the fireplace harm the plasma TV?

Plasma displays are normally specified to operate within a temperature range of 32 - 100 degrees Fahrenheit (0 - 40 degrees Celsius).  The actual supported ambient operating temperature range varies from model to model, so please check with the accompanying product literature. This information is normally included as part of the product technical specifications and covers details for temperature and humidity ranges applicable to both operating and storage conditions.

Operating your plasma TV at temperatures above 100 degrees or so, may lead to premature damage to the electronics - shortening the display lifetime. On the other hand, operating at excessive low temperature may lead to a deteriorating on operational performance.

Thus, prior to proceeding with mounting your plasma over the fireplace, you first need to check the ambient temperature above the mantel when the fireplace is in use.

The best way to do this is to tape a thermometer at the point above the mantel where you plan to place your plasma TV set.  Then build a fire and let it burn for some time. Once the temperature stabilizes, take your readings. If it is close to or above the 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then the area is receiving too much heat - either escaping from the front of the fireplace and rising up the face, or radiating through the chimney wall.

Should this be the case, it would be unwise to mount your plasma over the fireplace - especially if you plan to run your plasma TV for long periods while the fireplace is in use. Though plasma TVs have their own cooling mechanism, operating the unit at high ambient temperatures reduces the effectiveness of the plasma cooling system - thus increasing your risk of pre-mature damage to your plasma TV. OK, you may always opt to use your plasma while the fireplace is off.

Do not forget that operating your plasma television set at relatively high ambient temperatures for extended periods may also void the product warranty since you will not be making use of your plasma in the environment it was designed for.

Note that:

Burning a fire with the plasma over the fireplace while your plasma TV is off, will not harm your flat-panel TV. This being so as long as the ambient temperature is within the  storage temperature range for your plasma TV; the latter is typically from 15 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. -10 to 50 degrees Celsius).


Home Theatre

Home theaters are defined as spaces within the home that feature audio and visual equipment that are intended to replicate the effect of watching a performance in a commercial theater setting. To this end, many home theaters include comprehensive home entertainment systems that will include wide screen televisions and a series of speakers that help to provide a higher sound quality to the viewing experience. A home theater may be set up in a residence of any size, ranging from apartments to palatial estates.

Along with the equipment needed to successfully create the home theater, there is also the necessity of designating a specific space within the home. People may choose to convert a basement or an unused bedroom in the home to a home theater, or simply to set up the den area as a combination family room and theater for the home. Just about any space will work, which makes it possible to set up a simple home theater in even an apartment.


 'ALL-IN-ONE' INTEGRATED SYSTEMS

All-in-one, single-brand systems are often called 'Home-Theater-in-a-Box' systems ('HTiBí). Like the term implies, HTiBs include most, if not all, of the audio components you'd need for home theater in one box: small speakers, a preamplifier/processor and amplification (usually in a single receiver unit) and sometimes sources such as radio, CD player and even DVD player.

HTiB Advantages

-Easy to choose and buy.
-Compatibility.
These systems are built to work together. 
-Easy to hook up & easy to use.
 
-Compact size & Inexpensive.

HTiB Disadvantages

-Limited growth potential. Most HTiBs have a limited number of inputs and other connection facilities with which to hook up additional sources. There may be only one input for an additional digital source. With the rapid changes in digital and entertainment-delivery technologies these days, you may find yourself unable to connect a new entertainment source like a recordable DVD player or a Blu-ray player. HTiBs is not highly 'future-ready.' 
-Lesser sound quality than component systems, t
his is why there is a difference in price. You have to decide what level of sound vs. price is right for you.
-Weak speaker pedigree.
Most HTiBs are made by companies that specialize more in electronics than loudspeakers.


COMPONENT 'SEPARATES' SYSTEMS

A home theater system made up of separately-purchased 'components' would include (for instance) a multi-channel Dolby Digital receiver, a set of speakers and whatever source components you choose, such as CD player, DVD player, etc. Each component would be chosen separately, and they often originate from different manufacturers.

Component System Advantages

-Flexibility. Component systems offer tremendous flexibility and choice. You can mix and match components from various manufacturers to get the best product in each category and exactly meet your unique needs for style, size, and performance. 
-Style choice.
You can choose from a wider range of speaker types (floor standing, bookshelf, compact, etc.), styles and colors or finish choices when you build a component system than you could with pre-packaged HTiB systems.
-Extreme upgrade-ability. Add or upgrade one component at a time as you build toward your ultimate system goal.
-Greater functionality.
Most component receivers have multi-room or multi-zone functions, allowing you to connect speakers in other rooms of the house. And usually, that's just the beginning
-High performance. This is The Big Reason to build your system using components. Systems put together with complementary component parts sound a lot better than all-in-one systems.

Component System Disadvantages

-More difficult to choose. Component systems are harder to choose than integrated systems.
-More difficult to set up.
Set-up controls and adjustments that may be complex and confusing. Instruction manuals can be difficult to understand. Most people hire a professional installer in order to optimize the performance of the system.
-More expensive.


HDMI vs. DVI

Which one is better? Are DVI and HDMI compatible? And of course, given the choice, which one should you use? The differences (or lack there of) may surprise you. Lets take a look at each of them then evaluate the differences.

Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is a digital standard introduced in 1999 by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG). It is designed primarily for carrying uncompressed digital video data to a display. Originally the display was a computer monitor but DVI is now commonly used for television as well. One of the main areas of confusion with DVI is the number of different connectors available, which represent different functionality. There are three main connection types for DVI, DVI-D (digital only), DVI-A (analog only) and DVI-I (digital & analog).

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), released late in 2002, is an all-digital audio/video interface capable of transmitting uncompressed streams of data similar to DVI. However HDMI also provides the ability to carry audio signals, in addition to video, as well as incorporating HDCP, which is a Digital Rights Management technology.

So what is the difference? When looking at the differences between HDMI and DVI we find they actually have more in common then differences. They both support digital transmission; they also are based on similar specifications since HDMI was derived from the DVI specification. There are two big differences: HDMI incorporates content protection called High Definition Content Protection (HDCP). HDMI supports audio in addition to digital video. (DVI only supports digital video)

Are DVI and HDMI compatible? Is HDMI compatible with DVI? Since DVI is the predecessor to HDMI, HDMI and DVI are identical as far as video is concerned. Therefore, video backward compatibility exists. However, DVI will not support digital audio. For example, if you have an older DVI connection on your source and a HDMI connector on your display, a HDMI to DVI cable is all that is needed in order to view the video. A separate audio cable (TOSLINK or SPDIF) will be needed to carry the digital audio.

A Warning about Cable length The HDMI specification does not define a maximum cable length. HDMI 1.3 defined two categories of cables: Category 1 (standard or HDTV) and Category 2 (high-speed or greater than HDTV) regardless, neither HDMI or DVI work well over distances greater then 15 feet. If you need a cable longer then 10 feet you will definitely want to consider top quality cables. For anything greater then 15 feet, some companies offer amplifiers, equalizers and repeaters that can help bridge longer distances.

Which one should I use today? If available, we recommend HDMI. This is not because it is any better then DVI, only because the industry will heavily push HDMI due to the HDCP Digital Rights Management technology. However you should not expect any difference when moving from DVI to HDMI, therefore if you have DVI already, stick with it until the next standard comes around. A little off topic, but still of relevance is that you may be able to get similar quality video by using your existing Component connections. A common misconception is that Component cannot carry HDTV quality video, which is incorrect. Depending on the components in your system you may get the same or better performance with a Component connection then with a HDMI or DVI connection.


What is Blu-ray?

Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD) is the name of a next-generation optical disc format. The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc.  Yes, that's the expectation. The Blu-ray format has received broad support from the major movie studios as a successor to today's DVD format. Will Blu-ray replace DVDs? In fact, seven of the eight major movie studios (Disney, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) have released titles in the Blu-ray format. Many studios have also announced that they will begin releasing new feature films on Blu-ray Disc day-and-date with DVD, as well as a continuous slate of catalog titles every month.