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CEDIA 2019 – Day 2: More Home Theater Projectors, Screens and the Kaleidescape Movie Servers

Day 2 at CEDIA included stops at EPV – Elite Screens professional line, Screen Innovations, Digital Projection (high end commercial and home theater projectors), several home automation stops including Lutron Google/Nest, and Brilliant. My last stop was at Kaleidescape. I also spent about two hours checking out the speakers in multiple sound rooms and talking to speaker companies at their booths.

I’ve taken multiple short videos today, including at JVC, Kaleidescape, and Elite’s newest Dark Star ALR screen which is a motorized "roll-up screen for working with UST projectors/laser TVs.

As some of you know we are moving Projector Reviews interstellar HQ from San Clemente California to the town of Osprey Florida (next to Sarasota, south of Tampa/St Pete.) Almost all of my old home theater gear stayed with our former house/HQ, so I’m shopping audio for both a living room “home theater” (going with a UST projector), and a small testing room/home theater (converted bedroom). Both rooms now need proper sound systems.

Epson L500: A rather spectacular image considering this is under full trade show lighting, on a 120” screen! There’s even good detail in the dark areas in the upper right. Wow!

Before I get into the various stops I made on day 2, I wanted to cover one company I saw at the end of day 1, and that was SIM2 the Italian high-end projector company. They set up inside one of the Sound Rooms at CEDIA. Their demo rocked sonically, but the picture is the story. They had a double stack of native 4K DLP projectors – the Dual Nero 4. One of those projectors – is a mere $35K, but purchase the stacked pair, and you’ve found a bargain “only” $60K. I’ve seen a lot of incredible demos over the years, of course prior to a few years ago none were 4K, and none were HDR.

They put on about five minutes of scenes from the movie Lucy – 4K content. The source, was a Kaleidescape, server, so I believe the content has a good deal less compression than 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. The screen was a 169” diagonal Vutec, if I recall correctly. Simply stated, this was single best looking projector demo I have ever seen. I’m not even sure if anything else I’ve seen comes reasonably close. It was shown in a black box room, all black surfaces, so, was essentially completely blacked out, but I view a lot of projectors in my home theater which gets very close in terms of getting that totally dark when I want it to.

Outside the SIM2 viewing room

I thought about whipping out my iPhone X, to take some pictures, but that thought lasted about a second, as there was no way that camera could even begin to capture the range of the Nero 4’s picture in those scenes. I guess you’ll have to buy a pair to see if I’m bullshitting you. (I’m not!) SIM2 also announced their new Laser TV, the 4K XTV. (It is a 4K UHD pixel shifter), not native-like the Dual Nero 4. They showed it more briefly, I’ll reserve judgment.

Here’s an update, I learned at the Epson booth: Yesterday I reported the pricing of the L500 package which included either a 100” or 120” diagonal ALR UST screen, at $4999 and $5999. Today I learned that you can buy it without the screen, and get a $1000 credit towards a different screen if you want. That’s great for the folks like me, who want a motorized, not a fixed wall screen. OK, enough, let’s talk about today’s products – projectors, screens and a 4K movie server like no other.

Day 2: My first new meeting was with Elite Screens in their EPV booth.

First I had to revisit LG, and Epson, to take a few more pictures. After that, I arrived at EPV, With my old online projector company, I was one of their first and largest dealers, in the early 2000s. I still own one Elite screen - an ancient “insta-theatre” portable 80” screen that was once very popular with presenters who were road warriors, carrying around 10-pound projectors plus portable screens.

I mention that because those “insta-theatre” screens pull up out of a base you set on the floor... This new hot product I looked at in the Elite EPV booth, the Power Max Dark Star UST-FR, is also a screen that rises up from the floor – except that in this case, it is a high quality motorized, and tension-tabbed (to keep the screen flat), ALR (light rejecting) screen – suitable for living rooms and other “common” rooms that can’t be fully darkened. When the screen is loosened up, it looks very much like that old manual screen but much longer. We’ve posted a video I took at the EPV booth, showing the screen opening and closing.

A distant shot of the EPV Dark Star UST-FR, to show how bright the trade show floor is.  There’s a closer look at the screen itself, below.

The screen on display was 120” diagonal, and as you can see from these images, it had a little problem handling brighter content, like sports, on the trade show floor, with full lighting. In a normal family room, you’ll enjoy sports all day long with a fair amount of ambient light, or at night turn off most of the lights and enjoy great movies, with good dark scene handling.

In the both these images, the projector paired with the Dark Star, is the LG HU85LA. The combination looks great, which also makes me wonder how the Epson L500 will do since it should be significantly brighter than the LG.

The 120” diagonal Dark Star UST-FR is being projected on by the LG HU85LA UST projector.  You can see the base that the screen retracts into, at the bottom.

This 120” screen looks to be the hottest new thing for this new category of Ultra Short Throw home theater projectors that use laser light engines. These projectors -- usually referred to as Laser TVs – are letting folks finally enjoy 100” and larger screens in those regular, non-home theater rooms. At this time, the Elite is one of two screens I’m looking closely at for our new “living room theater, aka “media room.”

When they start shipping in Q4 2019, the anticipated prices are $3999 for the 100” diagonal and $5999 for the 120”. Elite is shipping one of the pre-production screens for me to review. BTW I think it’s black case that opens for the screen to rise up, needs a little cosmetic work, but then, it’s pre-production and they took a suggestion or two to heart. (we’ll see). The reason for the “cosmetic work” is that people spending for a motorized screen instead of a fixed wall one often choose it because of what should be called the “partner effect” in the old politically incorrect days, it was called the “wife effect.” Well, my partner/wife, agrees, she doesn’t want a large “black hole on the wall of our new living room when the projector is turned off. So the screen case has to be reasonably clean looking.

I can definitely see pairing this screen with the new laser TVs including the LG HU85LA, the just announced Epson L500 (shipping Q1 2020), or the brand new Optoma P1 (arriving for review this coming week). Or, for that matter, any of the other new UST 4K capable projectors hitting the market shortly. Stay tuned for my review of the Dark Star UST-FR. Looks like I will have at least 2 UST projectors in house when the screen arrives. Sounds like fun for me. BTW the other screen I’m considering is the SI Solo Pro screen a motorized UST ALR screen that is the typical mount to ceiling or high on your wall. Rise-up, lower down – doesn’t matter where the screen enclosure is, as long as the screen performs.. I’ll pick what I conclude is the better suited screen for my room.

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