We used to have a TV. It was small by typical standards, about 40" and I love TV but I don't always have the best self control when it comes to watching it. I like it on in the background and I like to watch teen dramas and trashy reality TV. In a small apartment there isn't really a way for me to watch bad TV without the kids seeing it. As we didn't want Theo (or Mae) to have a lot of screen time we found having a TV in the apartment a distraction and a constant reminder of the shows they weren't watching. So we sold our TV and watched shows on our laptops with Netflix. This allowed us to limit screen time for everyone (mostly me) and also left our apartment feeling bigger, calmer and technology-light! We were able to set up Trevor's parent's 1970's record player and have been loving the sound and ritual of playing records.
We've lived this way (tv-less) for about 3 years and have been happy with the decision. I find we miss having a TV when it's the Olympics or that one year the Canucks made the playoffs or if there's a good season of the Bachelorette that everyone is talking about. Lately, as the kids are getting older and louder and we host friends for dinner, we put on a movie and the kids huddle around the laptop to watch. We've been wishing we had an alternative larger screen option.
We hatched a plan that as Mae grew out of baby gear or friends gave back lent out gear (see my post about the argument for sharing baby gear here!) that we would put the money in a jar until we saved up enough to buy a projector. We sold all the baby gear (and some patio furniture) over about 6 months. Knowing we were saving up for the projector helped ease some of the emotions related to letting go of the baby phase.
The wall bed is a perfect substitute for a projector screen. We pull out the projector, put it on the kids plastic art table, plug it in and connect it to the laptop. Set up takes about 5 mins and it has to be put away at the end of the night to make room for the bed. It's a real treat for everyone and the minor set up doesn't bother us. We are used to a little inconvience ;).
Ideally the projector would be mounted from the ceiling but we didn't want to deal with concealing cords and drilling a concrete ceiling so for now this portable set up is working for us. If I was to design our perfect small space I would plan ahead and ceiling mount the projector with all power cords concealed. This is the projector we bought. It was recommended by a friend who works in the film industry so we trusted him and are really happy with the quality so far. I am not an A/V expert but I would think there are comparable projectors. I do know that we tried a couple really cheap versions and none worked well enough to be worth watching. I think with projectors you get what you pay for. We are still learning how to use it and experimenting with picture size, in these photos the picture looks small because it's wide screen but other movies are larger.
One down side we have found with late summer bedtimes, is that Trevor and I rarely pull out the projector for ourselves. We have to wait until the kids are fast asleep or they get excited or try and watch from their room (a clear sight path to the screen). I'm sure in the winter we will get more use out of it. Summer is for getting outside anyway!