Should I Trade My Projection Setup for a Big LCD?

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Q For years, I had a projection system that dropped down in front of a plasma TV in my multi-use living room. I loved it but ended up using it less and less as the hassle of viewing in a blacked-out room grew to bother me. I have now moved and am considering options for my new living room. With the price drops of 80-inch LCDs, it’s hard to see a reason to use a projector anymore. I know the screens are getting better, but projection systems still can’t match the brightness and contrast of an LCD panel with local dimming. Then again, 80 inches is nowhere near as big as 120 inches. Right now I’m leaning toward the new Vizio M-series 80-incher. What are your thoughts? —Alex Smith / via email

A Here are my thoughts: An 80-inch LCD UHDTV with high dynamic range and local dimming that sells for $4,000? Wow. I’m sure Vizio’s new M80-D3 is going to give plenty of people who might otherwise have been considering a projection system reason to pause.

Then again, like you say, 80 inches isn’t the same as 120 inches, and that’s where projectors retain a distinct advantage. In the projection world, an 80-inch screen would be considered small—the vast majority of systems have 100-inch-diagonal or larger screens. And while a 120-inch LCD TV puts you into the stupid-expensive range—Vizio’s own 120-inch Reference Series UHDTVs sell for $130,000—for $4,000 you can get a good 4K/HDR-compatible projector like JVC’s Top Pick-rated DLA-X550R that can easily fill a 120-inch screen with a decently bright image, even in a room with some light, especially so with one of the new ambient-light-rejecting screens like the Ambient-Visionaire Black 1.2 from Seymour Screen Excellence we reviewed favorably a couple of months ago.

Ultimately, your decision should come down to screen size: Is 80 inches big enough for your space, or will a 120-inch screen be a better fit? While an LCD TV will provide a brighter, punchier image in a non-blacked-out room, it’s clear that you know the pleasures of very big screens, which are substantial. Also, keep in mind that the VA (vertical-alignment) LCD panels that Vizio and many other manufacturers use typically have a limited viewing angle—contrast fades when images are viewed from off-center seats. Depending on your room size, that’s something else to factor in.

danielmartin's picture

Wow it is good to read about the big LCD .
It is great to see the picture of watching LCD. Thank you for sharing this post with us.
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