Replace your big screen TV with a tiny black box

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My fascination with tiny houses and micro houses continues, and I saw a home theater system in one of the small homes that would work equally well in bigger spaces.  I was watching a video made by Derek Diedricksen for his Relaxshacks website in which he toured the small house built by Chris Haynes of Tiny Home Building.  I won’t go into the surgery that Chris did to convert the components to run off his solar-power system, but the important thing is that he combined a small Bluetooth speaker with an Apple TV and later with a Roku 3 box, and fed the signal out through a small projector he got at Brookstone.  His home theater projected a 50″ image on his white wall, and the entire setup used less than 19W of power – far less than flat screens on the market today.  

If you are interested in this setup, it seems that the projector Chris used was probably the Compact 85-Lumen Pocket Projector, which is still available at Brookstone.  It’s just under 4″ square X 1″ thick and half a pound.  It has a rechargeable battery, so it’s portable, and the 3800mAh battery doubles as a USB backup battery for your mobile devices.  It accepts 1080p and 1080i video input, and it connects to most smartphones, tablets, computers, video players, cameras, and other sources with an HDMI cable.  It has built-in speakers, but it has an audio-out jack if you’d rather use your own speakers like Chris did.  It can project an image up to 80″ (diagonal), and it has a “mega-bright LED lamp that projects up to 85 lumens for up to 2 hours on a single charge.”  The Compact 85-Lumen Pocket Projector is $299.99 at Brookstone.  

Check out Derek’s YouTube video with Chris and his cute dog, Ajax, then go read more about tiny houses at Relaxshacks and Tiny Home Building.

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10 thoughts on “Replace your big screen TV with a tiny black box”

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  2. I’m familiar with this particular video and the hardware in question. The brookstone device is (1) 85 lumens, 480p and the (2) lamp will probably outlive the electronics by a decade. Don’t think the lamp lifetime relates to the lifetime of the device.

    All in all, for living off-grid or in a ‘small space’, it’s a good alternative to trying to mount a 30’+ TV on a wall of a small space *AND* power it. Just make sure you don’t let it overheat (running in the summer in an un-air-conditioned space, for example). It’s also just not very bright for daytime viewing.

  3. It would work with a standard cable box. Awfully small projector to plug in a big, power hungry projector though.

    If you plan on watching in modest light, though, you’re going to need a projector that has over 2000 lumens. Otherwise you’ll be disappointed.

  4. This projector output is 85 lumens and yes its dim during the day. It was a tradeoff that worked for me because I watch TV at night. I could also add shades for the windows for better daytime performance. The #1 priority of this setup was low power consumption since I am 100% off grid.

    The size of picture you project determines the brightness. I currently have it projecting a picture over 55 inches which gives the least amount of brightness. In some tests I tried 24 and 36 inches and both were much brighter. I decided on 55 inches because it fits the layout of the house.

    The projector has an HDMI input on it and accepts anything that puts out an HDMI signal. I hace used it with macbook air, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Roku3, and currently a WD TV box. I switched to the WD TV because it accepts external hard disks for movies. Using the external hard drive bumps up the power consumption another 2 watts or so.

    After months of use the only annoying thing is the noise made by the LED cooling fan. Otherwise its been a solid system.

  5. Chris, thanks for confirming the details of your setup.

    I really enjoyed the video tour of your home. Give your dog a pat on the head for me. I had to watch the video a couple of times so I could see your house and then so I could watch all his scene-stealing antics!

  6. Chris:

    Have you thought about getting a silver screen? They can be a bit spendy, but worth it if you are short on lumens. You can also experiment with some various paints and test your results. A reflective silver really can help with the brightness quite a bit.

    Stay away from the gray screens for your set up and low lumens — while they will give you REALLY black blacks, they mute the overall colors.

  7. @jhon – I have seen special reflective screen material that will help brighten the picture. Its probably worth playing with at some point.

    @Julie Strietelmeier – I have not done anything with the ladder. Its one of those projects that I will end up doing in 2 years or something. I’ve gotten used to the ladder.

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