Home Theater

MO has received a number of hits from people searching for ‘parkland plastics’ or ‘infocus x1’. I posted back in May about my new Infocus X1 home theater projector and the fact that I was using a cheap plastic screen instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a “real” screen. After monkeying with the setup and our theater room over the summer, I’ve pretty much settled down. Here’s what I’m running:

  • Projector: InFocus X1
  • Screen: 71″ diagonal (66″ diagonal when running 16×9) Parkland Plastics “Plas-Tex” bordered by 3″ wooden trim painted flat black
  • DVD Player: Panasonic RP-91 (chroma bug-free)
  • Receiver: Pioneer VSX-810S
  • Satellite Receiver: Hughes HDVR2 (twin tuner Tivo)
  • VCR: Yes, but only because I have to
  • Speakers: Home Theater Direct Level 3 centers used for center, left main, and right main; HTD Level 2 mains used as left and right surrounds; HTD Level 2 subwoofer
  • Cables: Monster Cable 2 S-Video for satellite and DVD video, digital coax for surround sound, 12 gauge speaker wire to all speakers, 6.1 analog cables for the DVD player’s built-in audio decoder, and other assorted cables

The projector is on a shelf above the main seating, approx 11.25 feet from the screen. I would recommend purchasing the ceiling mount unit (about $150) instead of using a shelf like I am. The projector needs to sit at about a 40 degree angle (down) when it’s above your head. Right now, the back end is supported by a 2×4. Not pretty.

When I initially hung the screen, I simply tacked the sheet of plastic onto the wall. This worked well at first, but after a few weeks the screen began to sag a little and bubble out some, creating slight imperfections in the otherwise flat surface. I’ve fixed this by gluing the plastic sheet onto a backing board. I used a sheet of peg board so that the holes would allow all the air to escape and prevent bubbles. I used Nail Power brand Molding and Paneling Adhesive and made sure to press the entire surface of the screen onto the backing. It worked great. (I should also note that the message boards where I first learned of Parkland Plastics instructed people to mount the screen onto a backing board. I thought I knew better. I didn’t.) I use a 3″ border around the picture area, but I’d recommend even a bit wider if you’ve got the room. I’m limited, so every inch of border I add decreases the picture size. If you don’t use a border, get one. It makes an incredible difference.

Also, I want to point out that you MUST spend time with the projector, playing with settings and physical set-ups before deciding on a display size. Whether you are building your own screen or buying one, you don’t know exactly what the dimensions will be until you actually set the projector up and use it. Make sure that you run the projector from its final position to determine display size. This is a mistake that I made, and I needed to redo my borders after I moved the projector a couple of feet up.

I use S-Video instead of component cables for my DVD player for two reasons. First, the X1 computer VGA port doubles as the progressive scan component input. This means that you can have EITHER a PC or a progressive scan component hooked up, not both. Since I also wanted a computer attached, this was a problem. But since it’s a theater first, I purchased a custom-built component video-to-VGA cable. I ran into a lot of trouble, especially on non-anamorphic DVDs, with pixelation on images with large areas of the same color. I fiddled with adjustments quite a bit, but nothing seemed to improve it one bit. I’ve read that in some cases the de-interlacer on the projector can outperform the one on the DVD player. The RP-91 is a top-of-the-line DVD player, but it is a couple of years old, so maybe the X1 has passed it. In any event, using S-Video allows me to hook my PC up without any trouble. But it also means that I’ve got an $85 custom cable snaked through my ceiling that isn’t doing a thing for me.

The set-up is GREAT. When watching well-made DVDs, the picture is unbelievable. The sound from the system is great. All in all, I’d probably rather watch movies in my basement than in the local cineplex.


  1. I bet you get some hits off of HDVR2, especially if you put the word UPGRADE somewhere near it. Maybe HARD DRIVE as well. ***