A respectable home theatre system requires a good set of speakers, HD projector, projector screen, video player and an AV Amplifier.
In my case, after getting the surround sound speaker system (Sony HT-RT40 5.1 Home Theatre System) set up last year, I kept trying to get approval from my wife to spend ₹1,50,000 ($2400) for an HD Projector and Screen – which never came. Luckily, my co-brother out of blue, called and asked me whether I will be interested in a used Sony Projector that he is not using anymore in his office – hiding my joy, I said “maybe” pretending to be reluctant – then he sweetened the deal by offering it “free”. And that’s how Ladies & Gentlemen, after a wait of 4 years, I got a projector for my home theatre room.
The projector I got was, Sony VPL EX242 (now superseded by newer models) – 3 LCD, XGA (1024 x 768), 4:3 ratio and 3200 lumens. This is a data projector but works well for movie watching.
Equal to the projector used, the projection screen determines the quality of the visual you see, especially for movies this is very important – the blacks have to be black. On the advice of the local service provider, I ordered a Fixed Framed Screen custom made by Eurros – with the wall area I had and the projector’s capability I went for a 94″ inch screen. The cost of the screen including fixing and carpentry needed was ₹35,000 ($550).
Next needed was a Video Player that supports Plex Server (which I use to store my personal videos, pictures, movies & music), Amazon Video, YouTube and Netflix. Earlier when I had a TV in the Home Theatre room, I was using XBOX One for this purpose – now both have been taken by my son to his room. I didn’t want to spend on one more game console either XBOX or PS4 – they are complex to use for simple movie watching. I evaluated Google Chromecast, Amazon FireTV and Roku – none of them suited my need.
- Chromecast, I was told will not have enough power to drive the projector kept several feet away and connected through overhead HDMI wiring, and, I wanted to avoid buying a separate AV Amplifier to keep things simple for now
- Amazon FireTV had the same problem as Chromecast plus it doesn’t support YouTube playing which is important for me to see/listen to music
- Roku was not available in India and I had my doubts whether Amazon Prime Video and Netflix apps shipped will support India subscriptions
After much (re)search, I went with NVIDIA SHIELD TV Streaming Media Player. The reason was it runs Google Android OS and ships with all official Google apps including YouTube and Google Music. I had a friend coming from the USA to get it for me from Gamestop for $180 – costing $20 more on Amazon. This device can also be used as a Plex Media Server, which I won’t be using now as I run Plex Server on an old iMac I have – but it is good to know it’s there for the future.
NVIDIA Shield has only one output port – HDMI, I could connect the projector through this port but to connect my Sony speaker system through the Optical port, I needed to buy an HDMI Extractor – I went with Aerctor HDMI to HDMI + Optical Toslink(SPDIF) from Amazon for $19.99.
The service provider installed the projector and the projection screen in few hours. Then, it took me less than an hour to connect and configure the NVIDIA Video Player and the HDMI Extractor – which worked out of the box. Configuring Android OS and the apps in NVIDIA Shield was super easy. Entering the email and password for the Amazon Video app was the only painful step I faced.
Watching a movie in private in your own home theatre room is a great experience. If you can afford one, please go for it.