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Home Theater and other Projectors at CES 2014

Greetings projector fans, This will be the first of several blogs about projectors, and also other cool stuff that I saw at CES.   In this first blog, I'll talk about home theater projectors and home entertainment projectors seen there.  This is the first blog, I'll touch on a number of projectors but follow up with individual blogs on many of them.   As those other blogs get posted, I'll link to them from this one.

BenQ GP20 Projector - LED light source, 700 lumens, MHL, designed for today's Millenials - many of whom stream, rather than have satellite or cable sources.

For the most part, I'll deal with the smaller LED projectors (there are a bunch of new ones) in a separate blog, but will mention one or two that are appropriate to address in this particular Home Theater Projector blog.   Of course, most home theater projectors tend to be announced at CEDIA, which this past year was in mid-September, in Denver, Colorado.   Those of you who follow our site, or my blogs, know that most of the projectors (under $30,000) announced were from three companies: Epson, Sony, and JVC.   The traditional "big name" DLP oriented companies, such as Optoma and BenQ had little new to show at CEDIA. In truth, there were very few projectors even on the show floor.  Most full spectrum manufacturers that had booths, didn't even have demo rooms for projectors, and often not even static displays. Still there was some interesting things, that were new to me.  Two of the most obvious were from BenQ.  First of theirs is the new BenQ W7500 projector.  This is the new improved version of the W7000, which was one of my definite favorite DLP projectors around the $2000 price point. The new W7500 projector from BenQ looks almost identical to the older version, but has improved contrast, 3D, 2000 lumens and a modest improvement in lamp life.  BenQ only had a static display of that projector, but I'm told I'll be getting a BenQ W7500 review projector in the next couple of weeks.  Looking forward to it.  (I have owned 3 different BenQ home theater projectors in the past.) The W7500 should prove to be the brightest of the ultra-high contrast DLP home theater projectors in the $2000 - $3000 range, where it will be the brightest serious DLP home theater projector to take on the Epson Home Cinema 5030UB. BenQ also launched a small LED projector called the GP20.  The GP20 is a very reasonably bright 700 lumens.  Thanks to being able to plug in an MHL stick into the HDMI port, you can stream from Netflix and other sources for movies, TV, and a lot more.   Just pick up this small projector, move it from room to room, plug it in, and fire it onto the wall, or a screen if you have one.  Drag it outside for those family summer movie nights.   Thanks to MHL, you can stream, so that like many millennials, you won't need a satellite or cable box! The BenQ GP20 was operating in the BenQ booth, and looked rather good, projecting a smaller image - I seem to recall the projected image being around 50" diagonal, in a room with a fair amount of ambient light!  We'll be reviewing the GP20 projector too! Stay tuned for reviews of both new BenQ projectors.  And check out our more in-depth blog on each of these projectors. Next up:  LG!

The new LG LED projector line-up, including a 1080p projector

What you say?   LG has projectors?   In reality, LG has occasionally shown projectors over the years, but mostly LG stayed out of the US market until the last couple of years with a few LED projectors - mostly pocket sized.  We reviewed one about a year ago.  Nice. This time, though LG is showing an expanded line of LED projectors, including one they claim is the very first 1080p portable LED projector, the 1000 lumen PF85U.   I'm not sure what their definition of "portable" is, as this isn't the first 1080p LED projector, MHL, even DTV (digital tuner) and Miracast, in a really small package, it's certainly more portable and more "smart" equipped than any other lower cost 1080p projector I can think of, even the Viewsonic PJD7820HD and Optoma HD131Xe, which are not LED, and physically larger.  I'll be doing a more in-depth blog in the next 24 hours, that looks a bit more at the PF85U. Other new LG projectors shown include the PB63U, a 500 lumen pocket projector, with LED light source, a media player and WXGA (slightly higher than 720p) resolution!   Then there's the retro looking PG65U, same resolution and 500 lumens, 100,000:1 contrast and MHL. Moving up the food chain from the PB63U and PB65U is the PA77U, with 700 lumens, the same WXGA resolution, and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. Looks like LG fully intends to be a dominating manufacturer of small LED "powered" projectors. sony-4k-04_concept_project_02-1280x960Sony!   Sony had projectors in use for digital signage - as you can see in the pano shot of their booth below, taken with my iPhone, but the only real projectors for us folks were in their concept lifestyle room.  Most notably is their ultra-short throw projector that's maybe 20 inches high, about 8 feet long, and sits flush against the screen wall.  (It's probably less than 24 inches deep, btw.) The projector is 4K, and it uses a laser light source.  Definitely one of the most talked about products at the show.  It looked pretty darn good, on a wall with more than a little ambient light.  It can project screen sizes up to 147" diagonal!   And of course, with 4K, you can sit closer than you would, with a 1080p projector for even greater immersion!  I can't wait to review the Sony Light Space UX  projector… Speakers are built into this long, sleek console, but this projector isn't ready for primetime, yet.  Pricing?  Nothing definite yet, but I believe someone hinted at around $30K!   Oh, did I fail to mention that it's native 4K?  It is!!!

Sony 360 degree booth - using projectors, but I'm not that steady on my iPhone pano mode, so it doesn't look like a very good semi-circle.

Sony did not show their two true 4K projectors that were launched at CEDIA, the VPL-VW600ES (coming back here soon for the full review--we've done an in-depth blog already, based on having a pre-production version for many weeks), and the flagship VPL-VW1100ES (read our blog on it here), a $27,999 4K projector that is pretty mind-blowing.


Sony projector kitchen lamp - projects downward. Note user dragging windows - how about one browser for each person having lunch.

That's not all from Sony, as they "Expressed" themselves with other projectors in the same room, shown here is a light over the dining room table that can project separate info to each person sitting there.  The person in the picture is dragging different screenfuls to different seats!  How about projecting the news from a browser, or a really big game, while eating lunch! The same room with the 4K projector and this lamp, also had ceiling lights that fit into recessed lighting, but stick down about 8 inches, and have a projector to project on to the ceiling.  Also a long mirror with three internal screens.   We're definitely talking a smarter home automation collection of projector related products! Finally, Sony showed an ultra-short throw projector, that's laser powered.  I believe it was claiming 2800 lumens.  This one looks like it's suitable for the classroom/boardroom market. Let's see, who else?  Vivitek, who also is shipping us a projector to review around month end.  I'll call this one a home entertainment projector, it's model number is the Vivitek H1185HD.  It's claim to fame:  2500 lumens, up to 5000 hour conventional lamp, SRS WOW surround sound audio, and is, of course, 1080p, and both 2D and 3D capable. Of great interest to me, and coming in for review is the newest of the LED projectors from Vivitek.  In this case, the just announced Qumi 7.   800 lumens, 2D and 3D, (including 2D to 3D conversion.  Weighs in at 3.1 pounds, but no separate power brick. Epson I should note, did not have a booth on the floor this year, just meeting rooms.  They announced everything for the home at CEDIA, and focused on their new line-up of wearable tech, including health bands, and 2nd generation Moverio glasses. Panasonic showed one projector.  It was about the size of a small steamer trunk, as in "huge".  I imagine it weighs in at around 100 pounds.  4K, they showed it in a dark demo room and looked killer, but no one could tell me how bright, or when it would ship, or what it would cost.   Ok, folks, I do believe that's enough writing for one blog.  More to follow, including more detail on many of the projectors mentioned here. Happy CES!   It's not to late to get a new projector in time for Superbowl!  -art

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