Accessories: What Are They Good For?

It has been said that “the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” That also applies to your home theater, as the right accessories can make your home theater more fun, and a breeze to operate. Check out some of the “must-have” projector accessories, all under $250. Feel free to also send this list out to those looking for just the right thing for their favorite technophile.

Oppo Up-Converting DVD Player

Unless you are still living in the `80s, or have never had an extra $20 to spend on your home entertainment system, you probably already have a DVD player. So why should you upgrade to a better DVD player?

The best answer is simply, DVI. Digital Video Interface (DVI) is a relatively new video connection that outperforms all other previous connection types in terms of image quality, with the exception of HDMI, which is built upon the same standard but carries 8 channel audio as well as video. Specifically the DVI signal helps to eliminate flicker and to deliver a clearer picture. The Oppo also up-converts DVD signals for better looking images and is scalable to 576P (PAL)/720p/1080i. So it is a great, low-priced, accessory to help you take advantage of a native 720p video projectors full capability.

What the experts say:

“If you are avid videophiles on a budget, a savvy computer user, or an amateur video editor, then the Oppo Digital OPDV971H is a DVD player worth your money. This player was capable of playing basically any file we threw at it across a range of recordable media and brands.”

~ ECoustics

Benefits: High quality video images over DVI connection, low price, versatile compatibility.

Cost: $199

Click here for more on the Oppo DVD player

Dual Component/HDMI Cable

One very common issue among our customers is the requirement for both a component cable and an HDMI cable to set up their theater. So, our Projector Experts worked with Liberty Wire and Cable to develop a special cable to meet the needs of those customers.

For example, if you have an up-converting DVD player with an HDMI output and a receiver with only component inputs running other electronics (Playstation, VCR, cable TV box), you can hook the HDMI DVD player (or other HDMI source) with part of the cable and all the other components of your theater through your receiver via component input. That’s just about everything you need feeding into your projector from one cable.

Benefits: Running one cable saves you time. You save money by purchasing ‘one’ cable instead of two.

Cost: $149 – $199 (25ft. – 50ft.)

Click here for more on the Dual Component/HDMI cable.

Harmony Remotes from Logitech

Has this ever happened to you? You decide to enjoy a pay-per-view movie with your family. You look down at your coffee table and see your stereo remote, VCR remote (in your remote caddy), Tivo remote, and TV remote, but not your cable company remote. You ask everybody to check between the cushions to no avail. After an intensive 20 minute search, you find the remote in the kitchen. Of course it has. That is, unless you have already had the good sense to invest in a universal remote.

Universal remotes are a tremendously handy accessory to have, but Harmony remotes take that handiness to a new level. Whereas traditional universal remotes allow you to control all of your sources from one remote, a Harmony remote allows you to control entire “actions” with one click.

For example, with a Harmony remote you can click the “Watch TV” button, which will turn on your receiver, television, and cable box, as well as setting your TV to the proper video input, all at the touch of a button. The same goes for watching a DVD, or watching a show through your DVR.

Harmony remotes have varying feature sets, the most advanced of which have color displays and can even control your living room lighting. Setting up the Harmony remotes is pretty simple, but you will need an internet connection and an available USB port to download all of the information. The Logitech website will walk you through the setup and allows you to set preferences based on the way you want to use your remote. Much more high-tech than older universal remotes, and a lot more fun, too.

What the experts say:

“The same things that make the rest of the Harmony line outstanding are back, including an easy-to-use Web interface for programming the remote; a Help button that makes troubleshooting a breeze; and a comprehensive database of remote codes that makes it possible to control even your air conditioner.”

~PC World

Benefits: One remote controls virtually your home entertainment activities, many with one click. No batteries required, as remote comes with recharging dock (on select remotes).

Cost: $149 – $249

Click here for more about Harmony Remotes

Avia Calibration DVD

We have created our own fast and easy guide to calibrating video, but it doesn’t get your video looking nearly as good as it will after using good video calibration software.

Beyond the basic five video elements we mention in our tutorial, there are 180 test patterns included for adjusting and testing display parameters such as power supply adequacy, geometry, convergence, resolution, gamma, color decoder accuracy, and screen hot-spotting. Each pattern is accompanied by explanatory text, and live video demonstrations show you exactly what to look for while making adjustments. The Avia disc is as close as you can get to professional calibration, for $50, instead of hundreds.

Benefits: Accurate color from all sources you use. No more frequent color adjusting, or disappointment with details or color depth.

Cost: $49.95

Click here for more about Avia Calibration DVD

Want to know more about these or other projector accessories?

Contact a Projector Expert today. They can help answer your specific questions and give you the best available prices on projectors and accessories.

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Automatic for the Presenter

Imagine you are the last speaker after a long day of presentations. You know you only have a small window of opportunity to keep their attention. You slip your projector out of the bag, plug it in, connect your computer, hit a button and you are ready to present in less than two minutes. After the presentation is over, you want nothing more than to get on with your day. When the final question has been asked, you unplug your computer and projector and are packed and ready in under a minute. How is all of this possible? New automatic technology on the latest projectors from NEC.

The World’s First Truly Automatic Projectors

NEC’s new LT30 and LT35 projectors are being touted as the world’s first truly automatic projectors. Both have footprints smaller than the size of an 8

A Home Theater Under the Stars

Rich and Lisa Morgan have turned their back yard into a showplace for movies, football and even PlayStation.


Published October 28, 2005

LUTZ – Beneath an old Florida canopy of lanky oak and pines trees, Rich and Lisa Morgan watch a captivating show against the night sky.

Yes, there’s a scattering of stars overhead.

But there’s also another kind of outdoor entertainment this evening: a Disney movie.

The big screen isn’t at a long lost drive-in, but on their patio outside their cozy, art-filled house in Lutz not far from Nebraska Avenue.

“Our friends think it’s really cool,” explains Lisa, 37. “They say, “How did you do that? Where can I get that?”‘

Of course, they fall in love with it. A tented gazebo with wicker furniture offers an outdoor living room for kicking back.

And prime seating for the night’s event.

The movies play on a 12-by-9-foot screen that Rich – a projector sales representative and amateur outdoor theater designer – made from a $12 painters’ drop cloth. The poles are PVC pipe. He added grommets to hoist the drop cloth into the trees with a rope. A small, $999 Sanyo LCD projector plays the nightly flick. The image is as crisp as the moon on a fall evening.

The family can watch movies, football, even use a PlayStation.

Setup was a cinch: He ran a cable to the audio visual system in the house; a couple of speakers nestled in the planters provide surround sound.

Their two children, Amelia, 4, and Adam, 21/2, watch enraptured.

“It really beats going to the movies,” says Lisa, a stay-at-home-mom and artist whose paintings of sailboats, woods and beaches fill the walls of their small house that backs up to a wooded county park.

“We wait for everything to come out on DVD and then watch it together at home.”

A longtime salesman for Projector People, a local company that sells projectors on Rich has been known to cart his 9-pound model PLV Z2 projector to block parties and even to the country, where he has shown movies to friends on the side of barns and in the middle of fields.

It’s a true “high-definition projector,” said Rich, 37.

His point?

Even if you don’t have big bucks to blow on an entertainment room or big-screen plasma TV, you can still watch movies on the big screen, stylishly and for not a lot of money.

And with little technical skill.

“Most people think you have to live in an MTV crib or be a rock star to afford a home theater, and it’s just not true,” he says. “Projectors are so much cheaper than many big screen TVs and the quality has just gone up and up and up.”

If you live in Florida, you can enjoy outdoor movie watching year-round. The setting can be adapted to anyone’s taste or preference.

The Morgans’ outdoor theater area is beautifully designed and romantic-looking. It has a hand-laid flagstone patio, a pond that Rich built, a curtained gazebo and canopy of lush trees.

The only drawback is the cost of replacing the projector lamp – $300 to $400.

“But even if you show movies a couple of times a week, (the lamp) should last you three to four years,” Rich says.

For the Morgans’ annual Halloween costume party, which also celebrates their anniversary, dozens of guests mingle while movies play on the big screen outside.

“Halloween is very special to us. We love Halloween,” says Lisa, who grew up on Davis Islands and met Rich back when he played guitar locally in an 1980s rock band.

Dangling from the rafters are dozens of fuzzy handmade spiders with pipe-cleaner legs she created with her daughter.

“We show kid-friendly (movies) first, then, when it gets late, scary ones for the adults,” Rich says.

Guests watch outdoor movies and mingle in the renovated house that’s a tribute to Lisa Morgan’s art skills. Handpainted murals adorn the walls in the children’s rooms. The theme is nautical in Adam’s room, in deference to their love of sailing. They sail their small Catalina 25 sloop out of New Port Richey, a regular weekend outing that includes the kids and sometimes their 120-pound chocolate lab, Buddy.

When the weather’s too hot or cold for outdoor movies, the couple relaxes in movie-theater comfort in their lodge-style living room, where Rich affixed a similar, but more permanent, roll-up screen to the ceiling beams.

Still, there’s nothing like watching a flick on the patio, they say, something their friends will enjoy this Halloween weekend.

At a party, no one’s really watching, he says. It just provides a back drop for fun.

Kind of like at the drive-in.

At home.

[ originally published in the St. Petersburg Times, October 28th, 2005 ]

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