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Projector advice

Dear Lazyweb, I think I need a new video projector. What should I get? And what should I do with the old one?

I have this Panasonic PT-D5500U 5000 lumen DLP projector that I bought for $7200 in 2005. Which is an insane amount of money, but that's what 5000 lumens cost back then. Previous projectors hadn't lasted longer than a couple of years, so I thought I will buy an expensive one so that I never have to deal with this shit again. Six years doesn't count as "working out as planned".

To make a long and very irritating story somewhat shorter:

My lamps were at end-of-life, so I ordered two new ones. At least one of those arrived broken. I got a refund and they sent me two new ones. At this point I had three new, working lamps. None of them would light up when placed in socket 2 in my projector, but they all worked in socket 1. This says "socket 2 is bad".

I found the one guy in the entire Bay Area who will repair these projectors, short of me having to mail this 40lb behemoth off to Panasonic and wait who-knows-how-many months, and his crackerjack diagnosis was, "I think you have a bad lamp."

I told him about how I tested this, and he stuck to his story. And added, "Oh, don't buy the $400 lamp pair, you need the $800 official Panasonic lamp pair."

So that trip to Mountain View cost me two weeks and a hundred bucks for absolutely nothing.

I was back to running on one lamp again, when that one stopped working too! I bought two new lamps (the double-priced, official ones this time), which took another week, and they didn't work either, and neither do any of the old lamps.

So this says to me that both sockets are dead.

Repair guy said, "Well, I can replace the ballasts. Those are $400 each, but it's rare for them to go bad at the same time."

So basically, I got my projector back from this guy in worse shape than when I took it in, and his proposal is that I pay him another thousand bucks to try the next random thing. His diagnostic approach seems to be, "replace everything from the lamps back, in order, until something works."

Thanks for nothing, dude.

If this projector is really only $1k from working again, then that's the economical thing to do, but that sounds like an expensive crap shoot.

I guess the thing to do is just buy a new projector, and in the mean time, ship this one off to Panasonic, then when they send it back to me in six months, try to sell it.

Unless you have a better idea?

Also, what projector should I get?

I need 5000 lumens throwing a 120"-ish image 17-ish feet. 1024x768 is fine, though higher rez might be nice. Quiet is nice. Being able to power it on/off from the web is nice.

Why is the ViewSonic Pro8500 half the price of comparable projectors? It's around $1300 but I see a lot of projectors with almost identical specs and worse lamp life for $4000+. Is it shit?


Update: I decided to buy a used PT-D5500U from eBay, since there was one there for $900. This is the cheap route, since I'm sitting on like $1500 worth of lamps for that model which may actually work... A used projector sounds like a better gamble than letting this repair guy wave his chicken at it again. We'll see...

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DNA Lounge update

DNA Lounge update, wherein we stumble upon proto-mashups from DNA Lounge's prehistory.
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