Missing at CEDIA 2015: Runco

On occasion, a new projector will surprise me, but perhaps the most surprising thing at CEDIA was the absence of Runco.  Runco, originally founded by Sam Runco, industry legend, was the first company to get involved in creating home theater projectors.

Over the last 20 years or so, Runco established itself as the premier line of home theater projectors in the world, or, at least one of two, including the Italian SIM2 projector manufacturer. Runco’s lineup, however has been larger, and goes up higher than SIM2 ever has.

In the US Runco projectors have always been very high end, with typical prices in the $30,000 to six figure range.  Oh, Runco has made a few under $20,000 projectors, but count them entry level.  For example, a few years back they did have a projector around $5999, I believe, but it was still a 720p projector in a world where there were already 1080p home projectors in the $2000+ range.

Runco has best been known for their extensive lineup of 3 chip DLP projectors.  Their “entry level” models, however have been single chip DLPs.  Runco also until a few years ago, produced a second brand – Vidikron – sold through a different group of dealers.

A number of years ago, Runco was purchased by Planar, best known for flat panel displays.  I believe Planar was purchased earlier this year.  And so it goes.

So, where was Runco at CEDIA?

Nowhere!  But Planar was there.  I got into a brief conversation with them about Runco, and it’s absence from the show.  The short version was something like this:

To us it seems that the future for large screen displays is shifting to panels and other technologies, away from projectors.  We will continue to make top quality projectors, and our dealers will continue to sell them, but for this show, we’re showing flat panels…

Runco_D73d-Projector

A huge Runco D73D projector – dual engines for passive 3D, this beast sells for $49,999 and weighs 100 lbs.

 

Now to appreciate their point, you have to think in terms of high end projector pricing.  Visio was showing a 120″ diagonal LCDTV with a price over $100,000.   If you are selling an $8000 projector, or even Sony’s new top of the line 4K projector, which can easily handle screens beyond 150″ diagonal, projectors seem like a relative bargain.  But when your typical projector is still 1080p, and upward of $50,000, and with offerings over $100,000, these super expensive “largest LCDTV of the hear” prices don’t seem so expensive.

So, maybe Runco – Planar, is right, that in a few years, when hundred inch plus LCDTVs are priced under $40,000, that might put a serious dent into the higher end of the projector market, it may well be that the very high end is already threatened by these huge Visio, Panasonic, LG, etc. flat panels.

So, I can understand the reasoning, but for one thing.  When I asked if they would finally bring out a true 4K projector, the answer I got was no.  Hard to imagine a $50,000 or 80,000 projector in a couple of years that’s still only 1080p, when today’s true 4K projectors start at $9999 MSRP.  -art

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