The Art of Home Theater Projectors

CEDIA Wrap Up – Home Theater Projectors: Runco, and SIM2

Greetings,  Well, to date I’ve mostly ignored the higher end projectors such as Runco, SIM2 and Digital Projection.  So far I’ve covered home theater projectors from  Sony, JVC, Epson, Mitsubishi and other well recognized brand names.  In this blog I’d like to do a quick look at what’s going on with the really high end brands.  Most of them seem to have been releasing projectors over time, not just at CEDIA, so I want to provide a little structure of what the product lines look for each of the brands.

SIM2 Mico 160 3D single chip projector

MICO 160 Projector from SIM2

SIM2 surprised me.  Last they now seem to have 30 projectors or more, starting at under $7000.  I put together a “short” page on SIM2 projectors that touches on five  or six different key projectors in their line-up, including 3D capable entries at a wide range of prices. Check out SIM2 for 2011!

Let’s discuss Runco here:

Runco – Runco wow’d the press at their press conference (including me) with the brightest 3D I’ve seen to date.  Would you believe 3D on a 213 inch screen?  And it was so bright, that I’d say it easily was brighter than, say, any of the JVCs or Mitsubishi 3D capable projectors doing a 100″ diagonal screen in 2D.

How bright was it?   Well, Runco showed us this way:  In 2D, on the 213″ screen, the projector was producing over 100 ft lamberts!   Even with a 75% loss (and if I understand the way they are handling their 3D dual lens projectors), they have a theoretically 50% maximum output to the eye in 3D.     Imagine – 50 ft-lamberts – when last year’s JVC RS60  on my 100″ screen calculates to the high side of 2 ft-lamberts in 3D when measured last year, and the Sony and Mitsubishi competition was only an extra ft-lambert or so brighter.  All well below the 12 ft-lambert standard used as a minimum for 2D.  I’ve already mentioned how I don’t understand how SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and TV Engineers) could have approved an under 3 ft-lambert minimum standard for 3D, unless they simply recognized that, at the time it was set, that was the best the hardware could do in a theater.  Still, that’s not encouraging.

BTW, Runco was very interesting, as they were not using polarization, but doing things with dichroic glasses.  I’ll sort out the technologies later as I have a chance to do some reading.  I’m pretty sure Ron will be blogging on that.  The thing is, I’m not sure what the best possible output (in brightness), 3D can produce to the eyes, compared with 2D, but let’s just say, that if you’ve got 10,000 lumens, and a really large screen, you still will have very bright 3D.  Hallelujah!

That Runco comes with a hefty six figure price tag, but Runco offers 3D capability at a $60,000 price point too.

For CEDIA there were two additions to their lower cost LifeStyle series.  Runco introduces their lowest priced projector yet, at just $3995  The Runco LS-1 is a single chip DLP projector .  The LS-1 also supports their anamorphic lens system.

Something different for Runco is their LS100D.  This consists of an ultra-short throw projector and 92″ screen combination, designed so that the projector only needs to be as far back as 18 inches from the screen.  It can be mounted above or below.  Runco sees this as a very efficient design for many rooms.  Consider your bedroom, for example.

Who really  wants a projector sitting over your head while you are in bed.  Most impressive was the sharpness. We’ve seen several ultra-short throw business projectors, but the convergence of the LS100D was far better than most, and I’d say better than the best of the business models.  Nice and crisp.  The LS100D MSRP, including the 92″ screen is $19,995.

I expect to be reviewing the low cost Runco LS-1 this fall, based on conversations with them.  -art

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