Infocomm 2017 – Overview of New Projectors and Trends

Greetings from hot and humid Orlando, where this year the big trends are 4K UHD projectors, laser projectors, and ultra short throw ones, some are all three.  There probably are more new projector models shown than the past two, or even three years combined.  From just a handful of laser projectors six months ago, under $5000.  There will soon be dozens, many dozens.

Infocomm was filled with business and education focused projectors with the 4K UHD chip, with even some starting, I believe, as low as $1500.  These of course are all from the projector manufacturers that use DLP chips rather than 3LCD.  Boy there are lots of those manufacturers.  Most of those are names you know, such as Optoma, BenQ, Vivitek, Viewsonic, InFocus (although they didn’t have any but I believe there will be announcements from them later this  year (nothing definitive).

In most cases, the magic starting number for manufacturers of laser projectors is 5000 lumens, but definitely saw some less powerful (and a bit less expensive.

On the high end of my travels – I don’t typically look at projectors over $25,000, Sony has a new model, maybe two.  I will have to check my notes and press releases when I get home.

NEC and Panasonic both, I believe were showing use of an aspherical lens so that they can project inside a dome.

Epson had a large projection mapping display (look for a FaceTime Live video, I hope to shoot later today.  What makes it interesting, is they are mapping in real time.  the screen is mostly straight, but the couple feet are moving in and out, so they are basically adjusting to the changes in aspect, to keep the image looking the same.

Ricoh expanded their lineup nicely.  We’re bringing in their newest ultra short throw projector for review, that’s a specialty of theirs.

Dell’s primary product of interest was their Ultra short throw 5000 laser 4K UHD projector I already blogged about.  It looked really good, and has a great feature set.  As to HDR, many companies including Dell, are not working with HDR content input, but taking standard content and “HDRing it, expanding its dynamic range.  That makes sense, because in all but very high end content, (such as for museums and perhaps some scientific content, don’t expect much HDR in the business and education world anytime soon.  (That’s very different from the home market where almost all Blu-ray UHD movies are in HDR.

Epson launched, seven, I believe, new big laser projectors, filling out their lineup between 6000 and 25000 lumens.  Of note is their new L1755U, which at 15,000 lumens, will run on 120V, not needing 240v here in the US.  They have the advantage that 3LCD projectors are normally more efficient, draw less power, than a similarly bright DLP.  I’ll take Epson’s word on that, no one has time to look at the power consumption of every really bright projector.  But, it makes sense.

Optoma was prolific in showing new models. mostly a mix of 4K UHD, combined with laser (and some of those USTs (ultra short throws).

Still don’t get the impression lamps are going away, especially with many lamp based projectors claiming 4000 and 5000 hour lamps at full power and up to 10,000.  True, they dim faster, but, in the real word it’s extremely unlikely that most of today’s 20,000 hour lasers will get anywhere near that usage before being seriously obsolete.

Switching back to solid state, Casio had new models, all, naturally sporting their LED/Laser hybrid light engine now in it’s fifth or sixth generation I believe.  Casio has been making affordable Lamp Free (their trademark) projectors for 7 years.  And theirs start at under $500 while lasers finally will be starting around $2000 (for a WXGA).

I’ll have to double check this, I’m 90% certain NEC (if not, Panasonic), was showing the first 3LCD laser projector with a sealed light path and no need for a filter.  OK, this wasn’t anything near an entry level projector, but I expect we’ll be seeing more of that in upcoming years.

One last thing, saw more projectors with the ability to split the screen into quadrants to show four sources at once.  There’s nothing particularly new about that – we did a video of an Epson interactive projector, perhaps 3 years or so ago, demoing the ability.  Epson and a couple of others showed a direct connection between projectors to place, perhaps two UST projectors side by side, letting the projectors themselves process the source material and stretch it across both.  They can do a pair handling a 177″ diagonal screen, with basically “no muss, no fuss.”  But then, this will certainly be a trend for large board and conference room sand university lecture halls and large labs.  Especially for interactive projecting.

That’s all I have time for right now, back for day 3.  This is mostly 3 hours or so of walking the show to see what I’ve missed. Then the flight home where I’ll be writing a bit more (but I’m pretty burned out – 16 meetings plus press conferences in the first 2 days.

OK, stay tuned.

PS  Nikki is taking her review of the Optoma ZW300UST live on Monday, that’s the first of the 4K UHD ultra short throw laser projectors (one of many such reviews to come) we’ve reviewed!  It’s impressive. Won a top award for value in our recent 2017-2018 Best Education Projector Report.

 

 

News And Comments

  • This is the first print acknowledgement that to spend the bucks for laser is a waste of money: the unit will be obsolete long before the laser life is up. This is a serious cost differential.