The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Infocomm 2009 – A few new home theater projectors announced

Greetings again!

I’m going to keep almost all of this piece to the home theater side of what was shown at Infocomm 2009.  There was far more action – as expected, on the business side, with many dozens of new biz projectors.  Hey, this is a home theater blog, so I won’t bore you.  I will add an article about Infocomm 2009 to the website late next week, discussing a number of the new business projectors as well as, in general LED light source projectors and 3D projector solutions.  3D is getting A LOT of attention in the commercial space, but I figure we are still a few years off before we see any real move toward 3D in our homes.

Where to start?  Hmm!  Vivitek, a not overly well known Taiwanese manufacturer was showing an LED lightsource based projector, the H9080HD.  I should have a review unit late July, and publish (hopefully) in the  first half of August.  Vivitek, while somewhat obscure in the US, is making a big play.  They were talking about building a line up of about 20 projectors (business, education, home theater, combined). If they do that, it makes them a major player, at least in the depth of their lineup.  Stay tuned!

For the Vivitek  H9080HD, I’ve seen conflicting specs on brightness – I’ve seen both 800, and  1000 lumens claimed, 100,000:1 contrast ratio, and 50,000 hour life on the LED light source.  Note, the LED based projectors tend to have very high contrast, and seem to appear brighter than conventional projectors with the same lumen claims, as might be expected with the higher contrast. (more pop and wow?)  The H9080HD sports a 1.3:1 zoom lens, and has vertical and horizontal lens shift!

This projector may prove to be extremely impressive.  However, with a price tag that will be well over $10,000 – they are talking $14,999 – it’s not for the faint of heart (or wallet).

There were other LED based projectors shown, more in the business side than home, as Infocomm is first and foremost a commercial trade-show.  projectiondesign, and Digital Projection both were showing impressive LED units.  the projectiondesign one was purely commercical application, but Digital Projection might well end up with a home solution as well.

BenQ showed their new W6000, and I’m also hoping to see a review unit from them in the next 4-5 weeks.  Fingers crossed.  I’m a fan of BenQ DLP projectors having owned a couple a few years back.  I like the W5000 and have great expectations for the W6000.

I’m especially excited about the W6000, as it provides something I’ve been screaming for, for years, which is lots of lumens.  The W6000 is rated 2500 lumens.  If it can deliver that even if only in its brightest mode, then it’s going to be killer for those wanting big screens, and especially sports fans who don’t like viewing their favorite game in the dark.

The W6000 will have to be considered as exceptionally bright for a home theater projector (figure only a few under $10,000 home theater models in the last few years are particularly bright – Panasonic PT-AX200U, Optoma HD81-LV and HD8000-LV, come to mind and that’s probably most of them).  Getting beyond that, it should be impressive in other ways, starting with black levels.  The W6000 claims a 50,000:1 contrast ratio, which certainly puts it in the “ultra-high” contrast projector class.  As to pricing, let me get back to you on that.  MSRP I believe will be $3999 (or $3995), but that doesn’t provide a good indication of what it will sell for.  I suspect it will be under $3000 street price, with the big question being how much under $3000?

BenQ also talked about an LED based home theater projector, but don’t expect that one until Q1 of 2010. (that’s their target).  The LED projector is designated the W30000 and would seem to be the logical replacement for the  current W20000.  LED projectors are coming out expensive, so it just may end up that the W20000 will remain in the lineup, with the W30000 costing a chunk more of your hard earned (insert favorite currency – Dollars – Euros, Yuan, etc.)

The W30000 claims 100,000:1 contrast and a 20,000 hour lightsource (LED).

As soon as I have a decent idea about pricing, on the new BenQ’s I’ll get back to you all, with more info.

Panasonic was closemouthed regarding what new home theater models they might have this fall, and Sanyo wasn’t much better.  With Sanyo, the indication is that we may not see new models, but upgraded versions of the existing.  Of course they have 3 home theater projectors in the current lineup, so we might see a new one or two, I just don’t have a good feel for what they will do next.  Keep in mind that there is another dynamic going on.  Internationally, Panasonic – or rather their parent – Matsushita is buying Sanyo.  How that might affect both companies’ future plans for home theater projectors will remain to be seen.

Epson was showing their new Ensemble HD versions, but I won’t go into that here.  I’ve just posted an Ensemble HD mini-review on the website, and will do a blog on them tomorrow.  Suffice to say, the primary news is that there are now Ensemble HD systems featuring their newest home theater projectors, the Home Cinema 6100 and Home Cinema 6500UB.  Oh yeah, lower prices, too.

Optoma was there with their little Pico PK101 which we recently reviewed, and a number of new business projectors, including some high powered DLP’s (at least one was rated 5000 lumens).  There was also some 3D buzz, but nothing concrete to report on.

Samsung, was talking about their new SP-A600, a low cost DLP.  See my previous blog for some info on that one.  Yes, I’m still trying to land an SP-A800 or even better the new SP-A900 for review.

Let’s not forget InFocus, who was recently purchased by a company owned by one of the founders of eMachines (computers).  InFocus didn’t have a booth, but was showing new product at their hotel suite, across the street.  Looks like InFocus is going to focus on the higher part of their home theater line.  So you can expect products like the X9 and X10 to disappear, without models to replace them.

They showed one new Home Theater projector, and they are apparently very serious about it.  Gone is the fancy “flying saucer” shaped design, with InFocus opting for a more traditional look that is more box like.  This allows them to share the cabinet with projectors designed for the business side, and that reduces cost and price.  The forthcoming home theater projector should be truly impressive.  As many of you know, the InFocus IN83, despite rather mediocre black level performance, is a favorite of mine – it’s bright and has exceptional picture quality when it comes to color accuracy and “film-like” look and feel.  Despite the blacks, it’s one of my favorite projectors to watch.  The new projector, however, finally has a dynamic iris (as well as a manual one).  That should make it competitive in terms of black levels with all but the most exceptional.  If they can maintain the great picture, plus a dramatic improvement to black level performance, then it should be one helluva projector!    This one is high up on my “must review” list.  If I recall correctly, review units are a couple of months out.

Well, that’s enough for now.  I’ll be sorting through all those thumb drives, and CD’s that I was given at the various booths, with all the press releases, and specs, and likely have a second blog, with more products, in a couple of days.  Hang in there!  -art

News And Comments

  • tzaylor

    Hey I just came across your blog. Looks like I’ll be keeping an eye on this site! Do you have any links or articles about 3D projection? I can’t wait for home application! Thanks!

    ************************
    Greetings

    I’m just starting to look at 3D. I’ve been following the progress for a couple of years now. I do expect to review at least 3 3D setups this fall. It looks like I’ll get a shot at the projectiondesign, the Digital Projection, and at least one other. I’m now arranging for 3D optimized screens, and 3D content, to make it all viable.

    Still looks like probably at least 2 full years before it’s even remotely viable in the home. We shall see. Some standards are needed. Will we need 120fps capable projectors or will we need 240fps. With LCDTV and plasmaTVs as the primary drivers of the move into the home, well, 240 is already a reality.

    Whether we’ll need active, or passive glasses is a big question too. Many 3D solutions were shown at Infocomm, some using active, some passive.

    Whatever it ends up as, it will be fun getting there, and hopefully the powers that be will get it right. As many know, right now, DLP projectors are handling 3D with a single projector, while 3 chip devices like LCD and LCoS are typically using dual projectors. As Col. Klink would have said: Verrrry Interrresting! -art

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  • taylor

    Hi! I’m hoping that passive glasses are the eventual mode for 3D application. I was snooping around frye’s electronics and they had a samsung tv set up with some active glasses showing Coraline in 3D. However the shutter timing was off and there wasn’t much of a 3D effect.

    One thing i have noticed at 3D movies is a dimming effect as well as a bit of sheen from the polarized lenses. I wonder if ‘active’ optics would have an advantage there.

    As I start building a few components for home theater, would you recommend a polarized screen, just to be prepared?

    • http://www.projectorreviews.com/members/lisasonfeier/ Lisa Feierman

      Hi Taylor,

      Sorry, nothing really to add. I’m just starting to get involved in 3D. I have a couple of 3D optimized screens coming in, in a couple of months and am trying to get in some content, and be able to start playing, and testing. As to your active shutter glasses, usually when that happens, you just have to reset the shutters, there’s usually a button to do that on all the active glasses I’ve seen.

      As to dimming and sheen, as I’ve said, just getting started, have nothing to add, I haven’t gotten that far yet. -art

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