This blog presents a preview of new projectors and a few related products that may be introduced and/or demo’ed at next month’s CEDIA Expo 2012. The CEDIA Expo is the most important trade show in the USA for the introduction of new home theater video projectors and related products. Also included below are some products that may come to the marketplace during the next few months, but the manufacturer does not have an exhibit/booth at the CEDIA Expo. In some cases the product information that I discuss below is based the preliminary information from the manufacturer while for some other products the information below is based on what appears to fairly credible rumors. In the following write-up I have tried to clearly identify the rumors from the more firm information.
Sony – Sony is expected (a strong rumor, but nothing official from Sony) to be replacing the VPL-HW30ES. The model number for the new projector has not been announced, but it rumored to be VLP-HW50ES (but other rumored model numbers are floating around the web). Not much is known about what new features or performance it has other than having a built-in 3D emitter (to provide sync with the active 3D glasses). Sony may also replace the VPL-VW95ES with an updated model. As for Sony’s 4K projector, model VPL-VW1000ES, I suspect there may be a modest reduction in the price (MSRP), with perhaps some small upgrades, for example to support some capabilities enabled by the next generation HDMI specification. In any case I suspect that any replacement model (i.e., if there is one) for the VW1000ES will probably not arrive until sometime in 2013. I would expect any new models from Sony to be evolutionary from the current models with only modest performance gains for the new models.
JVC – There has been no official information about what new models will be introduced by JVC, so the following includes some speculation (or perhaps an educated guess) on my part along with a few, what appear to be credible, rumors that are coming out of Europe. I can speculate that JVC will add a 4K signal input capability for their models that feature e-Shift, which provides what I call a ‘4K lite’ display capability. Also JVC has fallen behind the competition in 3D performance with their projectors exhibiting higher levels of 3D crosstalk/ghosting than projectors within the same price range from other manufacturers. This appears to be the result of JVC’s DILA (LCoS) micro-displays having a slower response time than LCoS based projector models from Sony, LCD based models from Epson and Panasonic, and virtually all DLP 3D projectors. We can hope that JVC will introduce a new generation of DILA chips that improve the 3D performance of their next generation of projectors. There are credible rumors coming out of Europe indicating that JVC plans to release 4 new models in their professional series (i.e., RS-series), and 4 corresponding new models in their consumer series (i.e., X-series). A new model is being inserted in the projector line-up that falls between the current RS45 and RS55 (pro-series) and between the current X30 and X70 (consumer series). The new model, as well as the new higher-end models, is said to include e-Shift, which will still be absent on the entry-level pro and consumer models. The new model numbers for the consumer series are said to be DLA-X35, X55, X75 and X95 (replacing this year’s X30, X70 and X90 models). The price for the entry-level models may drop a little and JVC is expected move from IR to RF for the projector-to-3D glasses sync. signal, perhaps using the new bluetooth based industry “standard” that is now being supported by several of the consumer 3DTV manufacturers. While JVC has been offering a commercial projector with native 4K resolution for some time, the current consumer models are limited to models with a native resolution of 1080p, with the higher end models equipped with ‘e-Shift’ to provide a pseudo 4K display resolution. Last year at the CEDIA Expo 2011, Sony became the first manufacturer to introduce a consumer projector with a native 4K resolution and while its likely that JVC will follow suit at some point by introducing their own flagship native 4K model, this does not appear to be going to happen this year.
Mitsubishi – A very interesting rumor, perhaps based on leaked information, has recently emerged from European sources indicating that Mitsubishi will be introducing a new native 4K projector at the CEDIA Expo. According to the rumor, the new model will be using native 4K LCoS (SXRD) display chips sourced from Sony. Presumably these would be the same display chips Sony is using in their own VPL-VW1000 projector. What makes this rumor especially interesting is the projected price for this new Mitsubishi projector is about one-half the current $25K price of the Sony VPL-VW1000 model. Mitsubishi is also rumored to be preparing a new 1080p SXRD based projector to be priced in the $4K price range. These rumors seem plausible as Mitsubishi’s current (but a year old) flagship projector, model HC-9000 uses 1080p LCoS display chips sourced from Sony and Mitsubishi has very recently reduced the dealer cost for that existing model which has resulted in a major decrease in the street price of the HC-9000. While this may simply indicate a new 1080p replacement model is on the way, it could also open the door for the introduction of a new 4K flagship model, since the rumored price for the 4K model is only a little more than the original $9995 MSRP of the HC-9000 (which is now selling on clearance for about one third that price).
In addition to the above projector manufacturers that will have exhibits/booths at the CEDIA Expo, there are a number of other projector manufactures that are currently not listed on the CEDIA web site as having their own booths at the CEDIA Expo, but that are either known or rumored to be planning to introduce new projectors (either this fall or sometime in the first half of 2013). Some projectors from these manufacturers may show at the CEDIA Expo at the booth of a distributor, at a manufacturer’s booth for a related product (e.g., screen manufacturer), or at an off-site location (e.g., at a nearby hotel).
Panasonic – It appears that Panasonic does not have their own exhibit booth on the CEDIA Expo trade floor this year. However, their new projector(s) may either show up at someone else’s both (such as at an AV distributor’s booth) or at an off-site exhibit. Panasonic has already provided their dealers with some information about their new PT-AE8000 projector. This is assumed to be the replacement for the PT-AE7000 model and is expected to be a modest update from that previous model. The new projector will be a 1080p model using 3LCD technology and will support 3D. Also the new projector is expected have a 2X zoom lens with lens memory, like its predecessor. The new model is expected to perhaps begin shipping perhaps as soon as September.
In June 2012 at the Infocomm trade show, Panasonic released info on a business model 1080p DLP projector using a hybrid LED/Laser light engine, model PT-RZ470. This new model is not expected to begin shipping until the first quarter of 2013. There is some speculation that a more home theater oriented variation may be in the works for 2013.
Acer - Acer is expected to introduce a new model K750 at the European IFA trade show (the week before the CEDIA Expo). The K750 is a 1080p DLP model using a hybrid LED/Laser light engine and should sell in the $2K price range, if it is offered in the USA. According to a product page for this projector (HERE -in Chinese) the K750 is rated at 1500 lumens output and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio.
BenQ – BenQ, back in June 2012 at the Infocomm trade show, announced two projectors using hybrid LED/Laser light engines (models LX60ST and LW61ST). Perhaps a BenQ model, that is optimized for a home theater application using a hybrid LED/Laser light engine, may be in the works for future release from BenQ (just speculation).
Optoma – Optoma is reported to also be developing a 1080p DLP projector with a hybrid LED/Laser light engine for introduction in 2013.
Video Processors – I expect to see at least two interesting video processors introduced and perhaps demo’ed at the CEDIA Expo.
Lumagen – Lumagen is a very well respected manufacture of video processors for the home theater market. Their Radiance series of processors are certainly among the best 1080p (and 3D) processors available today, providing superior video upscaling and a state-of-the-air color management system. Lumagen is rumored to be working on a 4K processor and they may have something to say (or show) about this at the CEDIA Expo this year.
DarbeeVision – DarbeeVision has been selling their unique Darblet processor thru a few dealers for the past several months. I’ve seen it in action connected to a Sony VPL-VW1000 projector and using a Blu-ray Disc as the source. This little processor is capable of bringing out fine details in the video image without the negative side effects associated with conventional edge and detail enhancement techniques built into most projectors.
Projection Screens – Several of the largest screen manufacturers (Stewart, Da-lite, Draper, Vutec, Elite, Screen Innovations, etc.) are expected to be displaying new and/or improved models at the CEDIA Expo. In a few cases the new screen models have already been announced, while in other cases the new models (or new screen fabrics) will be announced at the CEDIA Expo. Below is one new series of screens that has already been announced.
Stewart Filmscreen – Stewart is one of the largest American manufactures of projection screens for both commercial and consumer applications. They are also one of the most respected screen manufacturers, but their high quality comes at a price that has been beyond the budget for many home theater owners. Two months ago Stewart announced a new more moderately priced line of screens called CimaTM. The press release for that June 2012 announcement included the following:
“Our team set out to create the high-quality screen solutions for a broad range of basic applications, and the new CIMA™ line was born,” said Grant Stewart, President, Stewart Filmscreen. “The CIMA™ line maintains the exceptional screen performance that generations have come to expect from the Stewart Filmscreen brand, with unsurpassed screen uniformity and product fit and finish. Standard sizing with limited options allow for manufacturing efficiencies, meaning this product can be ordered and shipped in a matter of days. Now we can address the needs of a much broader range of applications, providing our dealers with expanded opportunities for Stewart product.”
The Cima series of screens are available in fixed frame and electric drop-down models and only two screen fabrics are being offered (i.e., Neve White and Tiburon Gray). Stewart will probably be showing the new Cima screens at CEDIA Expo along with their other more expensive product lines.
I may update this blog later this month if more information is forthcoming concerning new projectors to be announced/demo’ed at the CEDIA Expo. Then I will be blogging from the CEDIA Expo 2012 in September.