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9/18/2006 Report from CEDIA - Zillions of New Home Theater projectors

By Art Feierman

New home theater projectors from less than $1000 to over $100K. Major price drops driven by the new 1080p projectors mean new price/performance in your home theater.

Report from CEDIA: New 720p Resolution Home Theater Projectors

Report from CEDIA: New 1080p Resolution Home Theater Projectors

After spending three days at CEDIA 2006 in Denver, I can report that there is an amazing amount of new home theater projectors announced and demoed this year! Better still, it looks like Projector Reviews will be receiving 10-12 of them for review before year end. Life is going to be busy. And there will be plenty more for us to review in the first quarter of 2007.

This is going to be a (relatively) brief summary of what I've encountered so far. I say brief, but since, there are probably 60+ projectors mentioned, it really isn't that short.

I've decided to split the report into three pages. After this overview, we'll look at the "lower" resolution projectors - almost all 720p which has been the standard high resolution for the past few years. . Then we'll move to the incredibly large number of 1080p resolution projectors (the highest HDTV resolution) in the next document. 1080p projectors will be broken down into two groups - those under $10,000 and those above. Sorry, no images on this first posting before I update, but I do have a number of product photos which I will add when I get home and update, on Tuesday!

Before I get started running through the brands I saw there and all their entries, a couple of comments regarding falling prices.

Home Theater Projectors achieve new levels of performance, and performance at every price point and resolution!

Most notably on the low end, 720p projectors are now available for under $1000!

Optoma is now shipping the Optoma HD70 for $999, which they showed here for the first time. It was not being demoed in their theaters. Not to be outdone, BenQ announced their W500, also 720p and also $999, however it is not shipping until late November or early December, I believe.

Some of the other hot new projectors for the masses, include Panasonic, showing the PT-AX100U. The Panasonic PT-AX100U replaces the PT-AE900U. The new AX100U offers 2000 lumens, up from 1100, as Panasonic is one of the first companies to address the important issue of providing a projector bright enough to handle moderate ambient light.

Sanyo wasn't present, and I have no details, but there have been rumors of a Sanyo PLV-Z5 to ship in October. The Z5 is likely to be the PT-AX100U's biggest competitor, just as the PLV-Z4 was the PT-AE900U's. As long as I'm talking about the top sellers, Optoma's HD72, likely the top selling DLP projector (the other two are LCD), in the class, has been replaced by the new HD73. Certainly the Panasonic PT-AX100U and HD73, will be under $2000, as should the rumored Z5.

The other point is this - just six months ago, the mainstay projector manufacturers were starting to talk about their future 1080p projectors, with the usual big name, high volume sellers mostly talking about MSRP's of around $10,000 and hinting at selling prices as low as $7500, $8000.

Boy, were they wrong! I counted at least 3 1080p projectors under $5000 MAP price (minimum advertised price) which tends to be about where projectors that are available online, sell for. (That's at least until prices start dropping.) In addition to that, a number more are announced to sell for $5999 to $6999!

Amazing, you can now go out and buy a 1080p projector for less hard earned money than you would have had to spend for all but a couple of the least expensive 720p DLP projectors that used the top of the line Darkchip3 720p DLP chip. The only two Darkchip3 720 projectors that I can think of selling for less than $4500, are the Optoma HD7100 (being replaced by the Optoma HD7300 (similar, but with outboard processing, and BenQ's PE-8720 (which I own). For those of you not familiar with the concept of outboard processing, most projectors contain all of their electronics in the projector itself. With outboard processing, most of the processing of the source material is handled by a separate box. That processor box sits with the rest of your electronics, and only a single cable connects the box to the projector (which also simplifies wiring. This happens because you don't have a bunch of different cables for different sources, having to run from your DVD player, cable/satellite box, game box, etc.

The first thing to note is that almost all the existing home theater projector manufacturers have announced and shown (not necessarily demoed) at least one 1080p resolution projector. Up until now, with the exception of a half a dozen high end projectors that have sported 1080p resolution, the entire market has consisted of "entry level" 480p and mainstay 720p home theater projectors.

If I had to guess, probably at least 40 1080p projectors were announced, in addition to plenty of new 720p resolution projectors. A few that I include were shown at the Infocomm show back in June. There were very few 480p projectors announced.

Certainly we're seeing, by far, the biggest roll out of new home theater projectors in industry history!

In no particular order, some of the highlights, by brand, starting with the 720p projectors, then the under $10,000 variety 1080p projectors, and lastly the over $10,000 1080p models..

I'll quote you MAP, where available (Mminimum Advertised Price) which usually represents the the online selling price. You will, no doubt, be able to buy most of them for a little bit less, even initially. For the higher end brands, and those lower end ones that do not allow sales over the internet, and only through select authorized local dealers, I'll be quoting list price (MSRP), when available. Please note that those projectors with MAP pricing all have MSRP as well, which is usually 20 - 30 percent higher.

Let's get started!

Report from CEDIA: New 720p Resolution Home Theater Projectors
Report from CEDIA: New 1080p Resolution Home Theater Projectors

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