Call it a rumor, smoke and mirrors, a future product, and toss in some educated guesses, but it seems almost certain that Epson will have a shiny new 3D projector to roll out at CEDIA and, in Europe, at IFA. Of course such a new Epson projector will be 2D first as well as 3D, which is typical of all the other 3D projectors.
I've been digging, but I can't even get an Epson model number! (I could guess, but why bother.) What I've got for you is better than, but not drastically so, then when Panasonic put out a 1 line press release at Infocomm that they would have a new 3D projector. (Of course just two weeks ago, those guys showed it to us press). With Epson, so far, just a rumor or two.
Word would have it that Epson's first 3D projector will sport the same 3LCD panels as the Panasonic, running at 480 hz, which will use active glasses for 3D content. (Panasonic has been using Epson LCD panels in their projectors, for as long as I can remember.)
Let me say first, there can't be just one 3D projector from Epson. Epson has two distribution channels, Online dealers and big box houses, and their very similar Pro Cinema projectors, sold only by local installing dealers. So, no doubt there will be one Home Cinema version, and one more expensive Pro Cinema model with a longer warranty.
What sounds interesting are two things. First, that the Epson 3D projector could be even brighter than the Panasonic. Well, kudos to both of them, as many of you know, I consider most of the 1080p 3D entries so far, to not be bright enough for a truly satisfying experience. Looks like a great CEDIA coming up next month, for 3D projectors.
So, let's think about that brightness issue. I think Epson and Panasonic have been using different lamps for years (at least). Typically, every time the two of them bring out new projectors at CEDIA each year, it seems the Epson entry is at least 20% brighter. The whys don't matter so much as the end result.
If, the rumor of even more brightness than the Panasonic, proves true, then I'd have to speculate that the Epson 3D capable projector would likely best the Panasonic's 2000 lumens with at least 2200. More likely, though, I'd figure 2400, maybe even more. 2600 wouldn't be out of line. If Epson maintains the same average brightness advantage they have in most past years, they are likely to fall somewhere in that range.
The other item in question, is price. All I'm hearing is a vague, Epson will aggressively price their new projector... So what does that mean?
Well, we already know that the Panasonic will have a US. MSRP of $3499. What isn't known is where they will set MAP (minimum advertised price). I've been speculating between $2499 and $2999, but figure $2799 or $2999 most likely. I still don't know what the new Optoma 3D projectors - the HD33, 3300 and HD8300 will list for?
I suspect that Optoma, Epson, and Panasonic are all trying to guess where each of the others set their MAP or Street prices. While the higher end of our new 3D projector market, looks to be dominated for now by projectors using LCoS technology, DLP and 3LCD look to slug it out in the high volume ranges under $3500. I think it's great that we will have several 3D projectors this fall that are much brighter than the higher priced models we've seen to date.
Finally, Epson has traditionally priced their UB model just slightly above the equivalent Panasonic (ie. 8700UB at $2199, PT-AE4000 at $1999.
Personally, I think Epson's idea of aggressive pricing is typically to set their price, a smidgeon higher than Panasonic, but well below pricing from JVC and Sony. Epson normally can rationalize charging a few bucks more than Panasonic, just for the much better warranty.
I expect Epson to have their usual 2 years parts and labor, with 2 year replacement program. (Panasonic, btw, is normally 1 year, but never has had any replacement program, although Panasonic often runs a 2nd year as a promotion). Now, should Epson decide to price below the Panasonic, I would be surprised.
Ultimately though, I believe Epson, Panasonic, and Optoma, are all sort of waiting to see what the other will do. There have been times, in past years at CEDIA where price changes were actually made "on the floor" as one company might surprise others who, finding themselves less competitive than they thought, immediately adjust. Now that would be fun!
Back to the inevitable Epson 3D ready projector. I really haven't heard anything else of use, either, except perhaps the projector may be able to put up two images side by side. Now that would be very cool. I wonder if that's practical, say for two gamers to "share" the projected image. I'll leave that one for my two gamer bloggers. Myself, I could definitely see doing side by side images, say of having a football game on one side, and my computer with all my fantasy football numbers on the other side. or... well, use your imagination too.
What will this Epson look like? I haven't a clue. Since it will be 3LCD, though, if we consider the Panasonic entry, we might provide guidance, I can say that the new Panasonic though prettier than the AE4000, is about the same size. With that in mind, I have no reason to expect this new un-named Epson 3D and 2D projector, to be any larger than the existing Home Cinema 8700UB. If it is brighter than the Panasonic, though, you never know.
What I'm curious about, is whether it will have motorized lens features. The announced, but never shipped Epson projectors with reflective panels last fall, were supposed to be motorized. I have not one single reason to even guess that Epson's 3D projector will have motorized lens functions, just musing.
So, in summary. Epson's apparently got a 3D capable projector in the works to be shown at CEDIA. No real details, but it looks like we're going to finally see the LCD crowd get into the 3D game. Once Panasonic announced, it wasn't hard to assume that Epson would have one as well. Should be a real shooting match. While I was pleased that Panasonic announced theirs to be 2000 lumens, I like even more, hearing that the Epson will be even brighter. My own two cents has been that if you want to enjoy some 3D, you should have at least 4x the brightness that would please you for 2D, because... (there I go again).
OK, I've rambled long enough. If I hear anything else, I'll report back. (anyone got a picture of it?) -art