Blog posted by Ron Jones
This blog presents a preview of home theater video projectors, and related 4K video technology, that are expected to be introduced to the U.S. market at the upcoming CEDIA Expo (25-28 September 2013). Much of this information is based on what the manufacturers have already released during the European IFA trade show, now underway in Berlin, Germany. I plan to update this blog within the next few days with additional information.
HDMI 2.0 -
The HDMI 2.0 standard is finally completed and approved. The formal announcement was made at IFA and several consumer electronics manufacturers, including Sony and Panasonic have announced produces equipped with HDMI 2.0 inputs/outputs that are expected to begin shipping within the next couple of months. HDMI 2.0 is an important capability as it is widely viewed as necessary to make early 4K Ultra-HD products "future proof". The press release from the HDMI Organization provided the following high level overview for some of the new features enabled by HDMI 2.0.
- 4K@50/60, (2160p), which is 4 times the clarity of 1080p/60 video resolution
- Up to 32 audio channels for a multi-dimensional immersive audio experience
- Up to 1536kHz audio sample frequency for the highest audio fidelity
- Simultaneous delivery of dual video streams to multiple users on the same screen
- Simultaneous delivery of multi-stream audio to multiple users (up to 4)
- Support for the wide angle theatrical 21:9 video aspect ratio
- Dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams
- CEC extensions provides expanded command and control of consumer electronics devices through a single control point
HDMI 2.0 does not define new cables or new connectors. Current High Speed cables (Category 2 cables) are capable of carrying the increased bandwidth.
Sony is replacing their VPL-HW50ES
projector with a new VPL-HW55ES offering a few updates to the existing model. The new model is compatible with RF (bluetooth) based 3D glasses in addition to the IR 3D glasses, that used with the HW50ES. Also an optional wireless HDMI connection will be offered. The rated life of the projector's lamp has been increased to 5,000 hours. US prices are not yet announced, but the list price will probably be similar to that of the existing HW50ES (under $4,000).
Perhaps the biggest news from Sony is a new lower priced 4K Ultra-HD projector, model VPL-VW500ES. Price in Europe is 9999 Euros while the US price has not yet been announced, but it expected to be under $15,000. This compares to nearly $25,000 (MSRP) for the only native 4K consumer projector that has been available up until this point, the Sony VPL-VW1000ES
. This new model will have HDMI 2.0 ports and will accept 4K signals at up to a 60 Hz refresh rate. It is specified to provide 1700 lumens of light output (in brightest mode - i.e., uncalibrated) and uses a 265 watt lamp. It is rated to offer a dynamic contrast ratio of 200,000:1 and will use RF (bluetooth) active 3D glasses, instead of IR as used with previous Sony 3D projectors. The VW500ES is a little smaller and about 30% lighter than Sony only existing 4K projector (model VPL-VW1000). There is a rumor this new Sony 4K projector may be called the VPL-VW600ES in the USA.
Sony is also said to be replacing the existing flagship model VPL-VW1000ES with an updated model VPL-VW1100ES. Preliminary, unofficial, information is the VW1100ES will have HDMI 2.0 inputs and can accept 4K video signals at up to 60 Hz (instead of the 30 Hz maximum for the current VW1000ES). More details and the official information are expected to be coming out at the CEDIA Expo.
Back in the USA (i.e. not at IFA in Germany) Sony (USA) announced today plans to offer a hardware/software upgrade to existing VPL-VW1000ES projectors purchased and located in the USA. This upgrade will provide HDMI 2.0 ports along with HDCP 2.2 providing support for 4K video at up to 60Hz refresh rate and compatibility with Sony's FMP-X1 4K video player. The upgrade will also include a new lamp and the new Sony FMP-X1 4K video player along with a Sony Android tablet to operate the player. The upgrade can be accomplished at either the customer's home (within USA only) or at a Sony projector dealer. The upgrade must be purchased through a Sony authorized projector dealer and the price will be around $2,500.
Epson has announced several new international models for their home theater projector lineup. These all use 3LCD technology and equivalent models for North America are expected to be introduced at the CEDIA Expo later this month. The new international model EH-TW9200 (pictured below) should be equivalent to a new model Pro Cinema 6030UB offered in North America while the new EH-TW8200 should be equivalent to a new Home Cinema (HC) 5030UB in North America. These new models appear to be based on the same chassis as the current models they replace and offer only a few relatively modest upgrades. For example the new models will now offer use of CFI (for smooth motion) in 3D mode while the current models only offer this feature in 2D mode. The claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 600,000:1 (with use of a dynamic iris) has been improved with the new models. These new models support MHL allowing smartphones or tablets to play videos/photos directly to the projector.
Epson EH-TW9200 Projector (non-USA model)
Also a lower cost international model EH-TW7200 has been introduced which should correspond to a new model HC3030 in North America. This model offers 2000 lumens and a 120,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Finally, Art has already posted a review of a new entry-level 1080p projector from Epson, model HC2030
. Other than the price for the HC2030 (i.e., $999), the USA prices for the other new Epson projector is not known, but may be similar to the existing models they are replacing.
JVC did not exhibit their new projector line-up at the IFA show this year. They are saving their new product introductions for the CEDIA Expo. However, some information about the new JVC projectors has come out online from a few sources located in Europe. From this unofficial information it appears that JVC will be using the same chassis as for the existing models while providing incremental upgrades to the features and performance. More specific, the e-Shift models (all by the entry-level JVC home theater projectors) will now accept a 4K signal input and these projectors will then be able to display the 4K frames of the original 4K video at, what I like to call, 4K-lite resolution using two 1080p sub-frames with the 2nd sub-frame shifted 1/2 pixel both vertical and horizontal. Based on the unofficial information it appears that the new JVC projectors will offer a some improvement in the native contrast ratio and improved dynamic range as compared to previous models. It appears that JVC will be offering only HDMI 1.4 ports on their new projectors. The full details on the new JVC projectors are expected to be released at the CEDIA Expo where JVC has a press event scheduled for Sept. 26th.
I will be posting another blog later this month directly from the CEDIA Expo.