CEDIA 2006 Home Theater Projector Report: New 1080p HD Projectors
Dozens of Hot New 1080p Home Theater Projectors - By Manufacturer, With Comments:
As mentioned in the Overview, 1080p projectors are here - in force, and many at surprsingly low prices (starting at $4495)!
Panasonic, Epson and Mitsubishi are going to slug it out for the king of the 1080p LCD based projectors. Just about every other 1080p projector is DLP, either single or three chip, with the exception of a few LCOS projectors from Sony, JVC and Dreamvision. The catagory of most affordable DLP 1080p projectors will be dominated by Optoma and eventually (year end) BenQ. And Sony's Pearl, the VPL-VW50 - a 3 chip 1080p using Sony's SXRD (LCOS) technology, at only $4999, should also be a major player.
Panasonic Projectors: They announced and showed the PT-AE1000U, a 1080p LCD projector scheduled to ship before year end with a price not yet set, but if I had to venture a guess, probably around $6000, but we'll see! A physical unit was on display, but no demo, or working projector was present. Panasonic has set the specs of the PT-AE1000U at 1100 lumens and 11,000:1 contrast ratio, 10 bit processing and, of course, great placement flexibility with a new higher performance 2:1 zoom lens, horizontal and vertical lens shift. No word on lamp life ratings or noise levels.
I can't wait to see how well the PT-AE1000U performs compared to the 1080p DLP projectors, as DLP has previously dominated the higher end. Of course, Panasonic's PT-AE900U - their mainstay 720p projector for the last year, has been the industry's best selling home theater projector, so I expect the new Panny PT-AE1000U to be a serious contender in the 1080p segment of the market.
Epson showed their new 1080p, the Cinema Pro 1080p, which is 3 chip LCD of course. Epson only makes LCD projectors, as they are the world's largest manufacturer of the type of LCD's that go into projectors. They did not demo the Cinema Pro 1080p at the show, but it was displayed! The projector looks like their current Pro Cinema 800, but in addition to the increase to 1080p, it sports a new sharper lens and improved processing! IIt is cheduled to ship Q4, but no price set yet. Look for something in the $6000 range? (My best guess!) - but maybe lower- depending on how Epson reacts to pricing from Mitsubishi, Panasonic and others. Editor's note: Image shown is actually a Pro Cinema 800 which looks almost identical except for the longer, different looking lens barrel on the new Pro Cinema 1080. I believe an anamorphic lens solution will be made available for the Epson Pro Cinema 1080.
Optoma demonstrated their HD81 home theater projector, announced a few months ago at Infocomm, but this time they were demonstrating it in one of their theater rooms within the booth. The single chip DLP HD81 looked sensational, and they demoed it with an optional anamorphic lens (anticipated price $4000), allowing 2.35:1 - the full width of Cinemascope movies without letterboxing. They were showing Phantom of the Opera continuously, one of the most impressive (and talked about) demos at the show. Of course, without the lens it does 16:9 still showng the full movie, but with the letterboxing at the top and bottom. I really was dazzled by the image quality from a 1080p projector at this low a price point! The HD81 should be shipping next month. Optoma publishes a 1400 lumen brightness rating, and a contrast of 10,000:1. The HD81 is a two piece system (like their HD7300, with the projector, and a separate outboard processor from Gennum (under the Optoma name.
Gennum has been providing Marantz with processing, and theirs is considered excellent. The price includes both HD81 projector and the HD3000 processor box. That means a single HDMI cable handles all the signals from the processor (placed with the rest of your electronigs) to the projector. This saves much extra wiring, and resuting expense. Shown is the back input panel of the processor.
Of course, as mentioned in my first, brief word from Cedia, demoed their extremely impressive VPL-VW50, code named Pearl, a 3 chip SXRD (Sony's trade name for LCOS) home theater projector. It was the first 1080p home theater projector I saw demo'd at the show. I intended to get back to Sony's booth theater again for a 2nd look, now that I've seen so many others, but never found the time.. A breakthrough $4999 price for a 3 chip 1080p. It sports an unbelievable 15:000:1 contrast ratio, but does rely on dynamic techniques to achieve it. 900 lumens is the brightness rating. So, depending on how conservative Sony is, it may not be suitable for those with screens over 110". We shall see when we review it soon.
Sony also lowered their price for the "Ruby" the VPL-VW100, which has been on the market almost a year. It's now $7999 down from $9999. One key difference between the two is that the older home theater projector uses a Xenon lamp - with a $1000ish replacement cost, while the Sony W50 uses a standard UHP lamp with a typical under $400 cost - so overall cost including operational aspects, is far far less for the new projector.
BenQ was doing private showings by invitation of their W10000 projector . This home theater projector is still a couple of months off, (before year end) and they had the only the first engineering sample to demo. There were definitely some flaws, but they have plenty of time to correct them, before release. Rumor has it they are working with ISF, the organization of professional calibrators, so the final product should be most impressive. Expected MAP price around $5999, although not official yet. 1100 lumens and 10,000:1 contrast. The W10000 looks like the existing PE8720 projector
Mitsubishi demo'd their new 1080p, the HC-5000BL, an LCD home theater projector with a set list price of only $4495. To my knowledge that makes the HC-5000BL the least expensive (based on MAP pricing) 1080p projector at the show. They had it in their booth, but not in the usual blacked out inside demo room, but in a partially enclosed area, so there was too much ambient light to really say how good it might be. It was most dissapointing that it was not in a "theater". Some other highlights:1000 lumens and 10,000:1 contrast ratio, power zoom and lens shift, 5000 hour lamp life in low power, and a 2 year warranty. If it looks as good when we review it, as it does on paper, Mitsubishi's HC5000BL is going to be one hot seller, especially considering that it is the least expensive 1080p home theater projector so far announced.
Sharp demonstrated their new XV-Z20000, an impressive 1080p projector projector, rated at 1000 lumens, and a mind-boggling 12000:1 contrast ratio. The XV-Z2000 has a MSRP of $11,999 and is scheduled to ship in October! In the past, Sharp projectors have been known for particularly excellent black levels. The demo I sat through in their theater, assures me that Sharp has done it again. For the price, one of the best demos I saw at the show. The big question is can it command it's higher price against a number of much lower priced 1080p projectors.
Planar, a new entry into the home theater projector market, based in Oregon, announced two 1080p projectors, although one won't ship until spring of 2007. Planar has been around for over 20 years, and has been a display specialist focusing primarily on vertical markets - displays for medical use, and other vertical markets. I understand that Scott Hicks, the former president of InFocus is over at Planar now. Planar is a sizable company - publicly traded, that also recently purchased Clarity, one of the best known names in large scale videowall displays, for many uses, including "command and control centers (like NASA), graphics imaging, etc.
JVC showed an impressive future projector for very early next year (January-February time frame). They had a private showing in a rented theater in the Denver Performing Arts center. It is a 3 chip D-ILA (LCOS) home theater projector rated at an amazing 10000:1 contrast ratio. Now there are more than a few projectors with 10:000:1 contrast ratings, but virtually all use dymamic techniques frame by frame, adjusting the lens iris, dimming and brightening the lamp and other techniques to get that high a contrast ratio. JVC reports that they are doing none of that, which means no chance of noticing those dynamic enhancements as scenes change - a good thing, a very good thing. With a tenative price of $8000, it should be a major contender. Extremely impressive. The second 1080p projector they demo'd is shipping in Q4 2006. This one is also D-ILA (LCOS), slightly brighter, and $15,000, but only sports a 2500:1 contrast ratio. JVC chose not use use fancy, frame by frame dynamic techniques, to enhance contrast and black levels, claiming a more natural picture than those that do, but sacrificing a bit of black level performance.
InFocus did not have a new 1080p home theater projector to announce, either single or 3 chip. They did launch a new 720p projector but I'll get to that later.
Yamaha, was another of the few companies without a new 1080p projector, although they did introduce a new 720p resolution model I'll cover later.
1080p Home Theater Projectors with List Prices over $10,000
Marantz showed their VP-11S1 a single chip 1080p with a $19,999 sticker price. They had a theater room, and this new Marantz projector was impressive, as expected. (We reviewed their 720p VP12S4 last year.) They also dropped the price of the VP12S4 from $14,499 to $10,999. The new VP-11S1 looks just like the 12S4, and is available in a black or off white finish.
Whoa! Earlier this year we reviewed SIM2's C3X, a truly superb high end 3 chip 720p home theater projector that sells for $19,999. At CEDIA, SIM2 launched their new 3 chip DLP Grand Cinema HT5000. They showed it statically in their booth, but the projector was featured in Texas Instruments DLP booth's theater. There are single, and dual lamp versions.
One word - magnificent. I can't wait to get one in for review. The sticker shock, however limits this new 3 chip SIM2 projector to the rich folk, and the semi-rich fanatics who will sell their souls, their family, etc, just to have this projector. There are basically four versions - single and dual lamp configurations with either onboard, or the "Link" versions with external processors. Not for the faint hearted, as the base model - single lamp, without outboard processor is priced at $49,995.
SIM2 also showed their Scope, a manual ($8995) or motorized ($11,995) anamorphic lens system, allowing movies originally shot in 2.35:1 super widescreen Cinemascope to be viewed with no letterboxing
I immediately advised the folks at SIM2 that I was very interested in reviewing it, adding that I would like to have it at home for long term testing - for about 3 years. They seemed amused!
Also shown was their previously announced single chip 1080p DLP home theater projector, the HT3000 for $15,000.
Announced an incredible seven new 1080p home theater projectors.
I just have to put it this way - Runco has an "entry level" (for them) 1080p projector, the single chip Reflection series model RS-1100, It's pricing starts at "only" $11,995, so it may be entry level for them, but pricey, none-the-less!
A more expensive "Ultra" version adds lens shift and more lens options. At the other extreme, the top of the line of Runco's Video Xtreme series projector is almost ten times the price at $115,000. Runco is a major proponent of supporting the full Cinemascope 2.35:1 with their CineWide, and Autoscope. Their projectors using optional or standard (depending on the model) anamorphic lenses to eliminate all letterboxing, and to allow use of 2.35:1 screens. Matched with the proper "super" widescreen screens with motorized masking, you can view your content - anywhere from 4:3 to 2.35:1 with no visible letterbox. All seven Runco projectors are ISF certified. Runco's Video Xtreme series includes the other five new 1080p projectors, two of which are single chip models. Runco is working with THX to have their projectors certified, and has already been the first projector manufacturer to receive a THX certification for a home theater projector.
Both Runco - and Vidikron (immediately below) are touting their CineWide anamorphic lens solution with Autoscope.
For those not familiar, Vidikron is one of the Runco divisions (acquired in 2002). Vidikron's lineup is typically not as extensive as the main Runco lineup, but is similarly focused on the high end market, and also sells through trained higher end custom install, home theater resellers. Vidikron couldn't match Runco's 7 1080p projectors, but still managed four new 1080p projectors, the 70, 85, 110, and 120, with the 70 and 85 being single chip and the others - 3 chip projectors, of course. The more deluxe 85 and 120 offer outboard processors, while the other two have internal processing. MSRP of the Vision 70 is $11,995, the Vision 85 is $16,995, the Vision 110 is $39,995 and the flagship Vision 120 is $44,995
projectiondesign (they do not capitalize the P), demo'd their Action! Model 3 1080p, a single chip DLP projector with outboard processing, that claims 2500 lumens and a 7500:1 contrast ratio, for $24,995. This projector was the first 1080p projector ever demonstrated, a full year ago. At that time a very pre-production unit was in Texas Instruments DLP booth at the 2005 CEDIA show.
I have to dig through my notes, but I believe they were also showing the Action! One 1080p, a 1080p version of their extremely small Action! One, which has been shipping for more than a year, with 720p resolution. I will update.
Not to be outdone by the competition, DPI again showed, and demoed their new dVision 1080p, their single chip DLP 1080p entry into the market. This dVision projector has variable output from 500 to 2500 lumens, making it one of the brightest home theater projectors around. Contrast is rated up to 6000:1. The dVision 1080p uses a Silicon Optics Realta processing powered external processor, with a single cable from the processor to the projector. Six lens options and power lens shift help provide maximum flexibility for this under $25,000 home theater projector.
On the 3 chip DLP side, Digital Projection showed their HIGHlite Reference 1080p. This is their commerical lineup, though some rich folks might consider that with brightness from 5000 to 14000 lumens, they need one for unusual environments, or for the ability to use the projector on huge screens or with plenty of ambient light. How much will it set you back? The answer is, a mere $105,995, but at least that price includes a standard zoom lens.
For more traditional home theater environments, consider the DPI Titan 1080p-250. This new member of the Titan series offers up to $2000 lumens, and 5000:1 contrast ratio. The 250 stands for the 250 watt Xenon lamp. A 500 watt lamp version will also be available. Sorry, not sure of the price, but, this is definitely a "big bucks" projector. It looked great in their booth! Like virtually all of the high end 3 chip models, there is an optional anamorphic lens solution for full 2.35:1 Cinemascope viewing without letterboxing and maximum resolution.
Dream Vision, a brand better known in Europe than the US, introduced their Cinema Ten'8, a three chip 1080p D-ILA high end home theater projector. Unfortunately, I never did get to chat with them, so can tell you nothing yet about pricing or first ship date, but can tell you that it claims 600 lumens and a 2500:1 contrast ratio. As they say the chip's are D-ILA (JVC manufacture), and 600 lumens, those are the same basic specs of the new JVC, I don't know if there are any differences between the two projectors.
OK! That covers all the new 1080p projectors that I was able to find at CEDIA. As noted only a handful are shipping right now, including the Optoma HD81 and the SIM2 HT3000, but a couple dozen more will be shipping between now (9/16) and year end, with many scheduled to ship by end of October.