Riding the bus to school was always a drag, so it felt great to be able to slide behind the wheel of my new car and drive there on the morning of my 16th birthday. Each day after that I'd wake up late, then get halfway home before all the losers who didn't have wheels even got on the bus. Having to work at Taco Bell was a small price to pay for that quantum leap in transportation.
While it won't improve your life as much as a new car in high school, going from a regular tube TV to a big-screen front projector is a theatrical leap of the same magnitude. While the words "big-screen" evoke images of bulky, boxy rear-projection TVs that take up half the room, front projectors can deliver an even bigger picture without the box. And the best part is that some new front projectors, like the PLUS Piano Avanti, don't cost much more than their boxy brethren.
The Avanti's small, easy to use remote control has glow-in-the-dark keys and separate buttons to select each video input. Menu setup options include digital keystone control to compensate for imperfect placement relative to the screen's surface and selections for front, rear, floor, and ceiling installations. There are separate picture memories for each input, and standard picture controls are augmented by advanced options like gamma presets. During setup, the projector's large onscreen menus obscured the picture, making adjustment a little tedious. Also, the available picture controls varied with the input source. For example, when I watched 480p or HDTV programs, I couldn't adjust color.
IN THE LAB