We’re having a spartan Christmas this year. We’re not even going to get a tree since it’s too much to decorate and we’re only having guests over for Christmas Day dinner. So getting a tree and decorating it just for the two of us would be pointless. We’ll have more lightweight decorations around the house instead.
But….. we’re getting one big gift for ourselves: a new projector! The projector that came in our house is an old Sony CRT projector that is showing its age. It’s a $30,000 (!) projector new and it has a great picture (it’s CRT) but the blue bulb burned out earlier this year and it’s $800 to replace it. And the other two are sure to go soon too. So rather than sinking more money into that projector, we decided to get a new projector. The previous owner spent $30k on a TV… that’s just nuts, he could have had a nice car for that. But it was fun to watch movies on it and after spending the last 10 months watching movies on the little screen we were anxious to get back to the big screen!
After weeks of research, we decided to get the Sony VPL-HS51, an LCD projector but supposedly has “black blacks”, so it competes with much more expensive DLP projectors. The HS51 is the improved model of the HS21, a well-regarded projector itself.
Weak justification: given that we just saved $4000 on our office remodel, it’s almost like getting it for free.
What sucks about buying projectors is how hard it is to see one in real life before you buy it. The high-end Seattle shop, Magnolia Hi-Fi, had only two models you could watch: an InFocus and the excellent Dwin Transvision 3. The InFocus was not impressive and the Dwin costs $10,000.
Trying to find someone who can demo this projector, we called Fry’s Electronics. They claimed they would have the model the following week. Trying to avoid a trip to Renton if we could, we kept calling to find out if they had it in stock yet but they wouldn’t return our calls. We ended up going there anyway. Can you find a projector in the store? No. They have a $20,000 plasma screen front-and-center, but the projector room is behind a locked door. We found a salesman (who was in the middle of eating his lunch over a trash can) to show us the demo projectors. We were led into the projector room while he and I disagreed about whether the HS51 even existed. A Pearl Jam concert video (how long can that band milk their one hit?) was blasting in the room and the Sony projector had no plug. While we listened to ten unbearable minutes of Pearl Jam the salesman rummaged around in the store for the electrical cord. After returning, he took the projector off the shelf, put it lens-down on the ground and tried to fit a square plug into a round hole with his fist. Not surprising, he couldn’t get the projector to work even after finding the correct power cord that was there all along. So we watched two other projectors and listened to the salesman critcize the cheap model and praise the expensive model. Then we left. Fry’s has a long way to go if they want to sell a projector.
Unless you can find someone in your area that has the projector you are interested in, buying a projector is a gamble. So sites like ProjectorCentral are indispensable. I just hope they’re right! We bought it online, but we have a week to install it and see if we like it and return it if not.