InfoComm 2013 Report
The annual InfoComm trade show is now underway in Orlando, Florida. I expect Art to be tweeting his observations (follow HERE) from the show and perhaps posting some info later on his blog (HERE). I am only at the show for Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning and during my limited time at the show I will attempt to visit the exhibits of the major projector manufacturers. I plan to update this blog at least a couple of times while the show is underway.
InfoComm, as far as projectors are concerned, in focused on the business and education market and not on the home theater market (for which I’m most interested). While only a few projectors intended for the home theater market are generally included in the manufacturers exhibits at InfoComm, some of the new business projectors being introduced are expected to include technologies that will subsequently find their way into consumer home theater oriented models. The new home theater projectors are typically not introduced until the CEDIA Expo in late September.
One case in point is the use of LEDs, lasers and hybrid designs for the projector’s light source are starting to become more common this year in business projectors, while all but the very few home theater projectors that are using LEDs are still using the traditional UHP lamps.
Day1 Report -
SONY – I’ve visited a few vendors on my first day at InfoCom. Sony was my first stop and the had there new laser powered business class projector, Model VPL-FHZ55 on display. This new model includes edge blending so that a large image can be projector using multiple projectors with only a portion of the overall image being projected by each projector. The Sony display included 3 of the VPL-FHZ55 projectors (see photo below) with the 3 projected video images stacked one above the other on a curve screen. This new projector model uses a blue solid state laser to excite a phosphor target that then emits a ‘white’ light. This simple design allows the laser/phosphor assembly to replace a convention UHP lamp with only modest changes (e.g., a different power supply) to an existing projector’s design. This new laser projector is rated at 4000 lumens of light output, but when questioned a Sony rep at the show said this would be at a color temperature of around 9000 degrees kelvin. This means when calibrated for 6500K, the standard for video (eg, HDTV) the lumens output will be lower (no info on how much lower). The rated life of the laser is 20,000 hours. The big news is going from Sony’s lamp-based version of this projector (i.e., model VPL-FH36) to the laser-based VPL-FHZ55 only adds about $1500 to the retail price. I expect this same laser technology to show up in future Sony home theater projectors, with the first of those probably announced at this year’s CEDIA Expo in September.
EPSON – I really didn’t see anything major in the way of news from Epson, but I’m not really all that familiar with their extensive product line of business and education class projectors. Epson is sticking with conventional lamp-based projectors (at least for now). I did note that Epson has added a HDBaseT interface to a few of their higher-end models. I plan to put out a future blog specifically to discuss the HDBaseT AV networking technology.
CHRISTIE had some really large screen displays using their 4K digital cinema class projectors (first photo below) as well as a more modest display with their single DLP chip business class projector (2nd photos below).
MITSUBISHI was displaying their “Zero Lamp” DLP projectors sold under the LaserVue name. These use a LED/Laser hybrid light engine. See the photos below.
DA-LITE SCREENS was showing a number of different models for front and rear projection screens from their extensive product line. I did note a small display showing the front and rear projection screen materials that they are recommending for 4K projection (see photo below)
DAY 2 Report
BenQ had the new W1500 up and running in a demo room. This new model has essentially the same video performance as the popular W1070, but adds wireless HDMI connectivity, and a few upgraded features including a wider range zoom lens. It is arriving at US dealer this month. No decision has be made to sell the W1400 in the US, but it be sold later this year in Europe. The W1400 is essentially the same as the W1500, but without the wireless HDMI. The retail price on the W1500 is $1799. Other news is BenQ is planning on bringing out the W7500 in a few months as the replacement for the popular W7000. Perhaps this new home theater projector will be introduced at the CEDIA Expo in Sept. It is expected to use a later generation DLP chip than the current W7000.
OPTOMA was displaying several of their business/education class projectors, but no home theater models. Nothing new for me to report there.
4K DLP? - I heard from one DLP projector manufacture that TI is expected to begin sampling a consumer 4K DMD chip in 2014 with production quantities in 2015. If this information is correct, and I assume it is, then we should see the first 4K UHD projectors coming out during 2015.
SAMSUNG had lots of flat panel displays including wall sized displays created by an array of smaller LCD monitors with very narrow bezels. Several other manufacturers also had such multi-panel large displays. No projectors were seen at the Samsung booth.
BLACKMAGIC – is a new manufacturers of pro and semi-pro video cameras. Of interest was their display board (first photo below) listing a new 4K camera for under $4,000 (without lens). They were only displaying their 1080p camera (2nd photo below).
HDBaseT Association had a small display booth showing some the hardware now supporting this standard for AV distribution. Several projector manufacturers are now including HDBaseT interfaces on their business or educational class projectors. Also there are manufacturers offering ‘extenders’ that convert between HDMI signals and HDBaseT (running over Cat5e or Cat6 cables). There was even one, not let released, consumer class AV Receiver on display.
I plan to create a future blog to provide more details about the HDBaseT technology and products.
SCREENS – I also stopped by the booths for Elite Screens and Stewart Filmscreens, but did not note any specific new products that would be of particular interest to home theater owners (but I could have missed something in the few minutes I spent at each of the manufacturer’s booth).