Projector Reviews

September 2014 Best Selling Business and Education Projectors

Let’s take a look at what the best selling projector models were in September in the US, in three different categories:

Retail Projector Sales – polled from retailers and web sellers
Pro A/V Projector Sales – polled from the Pro A/V channel
Distribution Projector Sales – best sellers reported by the major US distributors (both A/V and IT).

The top five lists found here were provided by Pacific Media Associates.  PMA has been tracking projector sales and trends going back to the ’90s.  When  I owned an early online projector reseller, I too used to report a breakout of our projector sales by model to them as many others did.  They continue to provide our industry with valuable information.

Please be aware that while some projector models show up on these lists almost every month, a one month snapshot doesn’t always give you a really good feel, as many top five models change from month to month.

Also PMA breaks out projectors differently rather than the same categories every month. For this reason, we decided that in this first report we’d look at two months of their lists.  You’ll also find August  2014 numbers, but the categories are different:

Mainstream Projectors
High End Projectors
Pico and Personal Projectors

The comments in the table are added by us, just a tidbit of basic info, perhaps resolution, brightness, or some special capability to help paint a more detailed picture.

September Top Projectors By Sales, Category

The leaders in the first group tend to be mostly low cost projectors.  All of these are under $600 business / education projectors except #5.

The BenQ (and one or two other home projector from time to time) may  generate sufficient monthly sales to sometimes make this list, despite home projectors being a relatively small market compared to business and education.

Best Selling Retail Projectors for Business, Education and Home 9/14
Projector Comments
 #1  Epson Powerlite VS230  3LCD Low cost SVGA 2800 lumens
 #2  Viewsonic PJD5134  DLP low cost SVGA 3000 lumens
 #3  Epson Powerlite 97  Workhorse XGA big features, net, wireless
 #4  Epson Powerlite EX3220  3LCD SVGA, 3000 lumens opt. wireless
 #5  BenQ W1070 A top under $1000 1080p Home Projector

The Pro A/V channel is more focused on higher end, but since education is a huge market, many of these are top sellers to school districts, and have appropriate networking and other features.

Full featured interactive projectors are primarily sold through this channel as well, and especially to boardrooms and classrooms, but do not sell in the kind of numbers that make a top 5 list.

Note that a top quality fully interactive projector costs about as much as 3 to 5 entry level projectors.

Best Selling Commercial Projectors through Pro A/V Dealers 9/14
Projector Comment
 #1  Epson Powerlite 97 3LCD XGA 2700 lm, network, wireless, pres w/mobile app.
 #2  Hitachi CP-X2530WN 3LCD, XGA 2700 lm, network, network/pres
 #3  Epson Brightlink 585W 3LCD WXGA ultra short throw, network/pres, wireless
 #4  Hitachi CP-AW3003 3LCD WXGA ultra short throw, network/pres, wireless
 #5  Epson Powerlite 98 3LCD XGA 3000 lm, network, wireless, pres w/mobile app

Distributors feed projectors to a variety of dealers, including both projector specialists, computer, and general electronics sellers.  This grouping tends to be dominated by low cost projector sales, under $600.

Best Selling Projectors for Business and Education – Distributor sales
Projector Comment
 #1  InFocus IN114a DLP, XGA, 3000 lm, 3D, low cost, basic feature set
 #2  InFocus IN112a DLP, SVGA, 3000 lm, 3D, lower res, low cost, basic feature set
 #3  Epson Powerlite 97 3LCD XGA 2700 lm, network, wireless, pres w/mobile app.
 #4  Epson Powerlite X17 3LCD, XGA, 2700 lm. low cost, opt. wireless for pres w/mobile app
 #5  Boxlight X32NST 3LCD, SGA, 3200 lm. short throw, networking

 

The breakout here by “channel” is not the typical way PMA provides us intel.  The next section shows August Top 5 picks using a breakout which tells us a lot more, and features a number of higher end projectors, as well as the smallest projectors.

By comparison, all of the projectors above sell for under $1000, and weigh between about 4 and 8 pounds (ultra short throw projectors do weigh more like 8-12 lbs.

August Business and Education Projectors: Mainstream, High End, Pico and Personal

Best Selling Mainstream Projectors 8/14
Projector Comment
 #1  Epson Powerlite 97  3LCD XGA 2700 lm, network, wireless, pres w/mobile app.
 #2  InFocus 112a DLP, SVGA, 3000 lm, 3D, lower res, low cost, basic feature set
 #3  Viewsonic PJD-7820HD  DLP, 1080p, 3000 lm, 3D, cross-over – sells to business/edu, and home
 #4  Epson Powerlite 98  3LCD XGA 3000 lm, network, wireless, pres w/mobile app
 #5  Epson Powerlite 99W 3LCD, WXGA, 3000 lm, network, wireless, pres w/ mobile app

As you can see above in the first two sections of PMA’s August report, several of the lower cost projectors also appear in August, as “mainstream” models.

On the other hand, the High end break out immediately below has a whole different class of projectors, that sell from under $2000 to $5000+.

Best Selling High End Projectors  8/14
Projector Comment
 #1  Epson Powerlite 1945W 3LCD, WXGA, 5000 lm, network/ wireles/pres/app
 #2  Epson Powerlite 1940W 3LCD, WXGA, 5000 lm, network/ wireles/pres/app
 #3  Epson Powerlite G6450WU 3LCD, WUXGA!, 4500 lm, multiple lenses adv. networking, wireless, pres/app
 #4  Optoma EH501 DLP, 1080p, 5000 lumens, 3D, networking, opt wireless
 #5  Sony VPL-FHZ55/W 3LCD, WUXGA, Laser projector w/20,000 hr “lamp” networking

4500 and 5000 lumens will handle a small auditorium with little difficulty.  10-12 years ago, 2000 lumens was the standard for those large 15 to 25 foot screens. In “the old days” though, the really bright projectors (2000 lumens back then) almost all had interchangeable lens options, and lens shift, and sold usually from around $10,000 to $20,000+. And, of course they were lower resolution.

Today’s “commercial” projectors seem to come in two flavors as you can see here.  Take the three Epsons.  The first two are “low cost” commercial projectors – under $2000.  They have loads of features, including advanced networking, lens shift, etc., but no interchangeable lenses, so they have less placement flexibility perhaps not enough as one might need in an auditorium or for rental and staging.  The Optoma in this list, is similar to the first two Epsons, in that regard.

Then there’s Epson’s G series: The G6450Wu.  That’s more of a traditional commercial projector with six lenses to choose from and truly loaded with features.   That Epson, and the Sony Laser, are well over twice the price of the other three, and can cost far more, if you opt for an expensive specialty lens.

Just a comment between the Sony FHZ55 and the Epson G6450Wu.  The Epson will provide far more brightness for slightly less money.  That’s a big trade-off in exchange for the long life laser light engine of the Sony, and typical.    If the projector will be used heavily, the laser projector may even save money in the long run.  Still, it’s nice to see a “solid state” light engine projector make the top five list, typically the much higher cost limits sales.

From a “get a grasp on reality” standpoint relating to sales –  there are, I believe 7 Epson G series projectors, several (including the G6450Wu)  are direct competitors to the Sony.  Overall, therefore, the multiple similar Epsons combine to far outsell the Sony.

The other take-away though, is that this Sony FHZ55 is probably the first really successful laser projector in the commercial class.  That’s a good thing.

Solid state light engines no doubt will dominate in a few years when their costs are significantly reduced, and some “issues” to be worked out.

Meantime, while the value proposition aspect still favors the high power lamp based projectors, the Sony certainly can do battle in overall performance with many competitors, even if the best of the competition do offer more bang for the buck.  It comes down to what “your” requirements are.

Best Selling Pico and Personal Projectors  8/14
Projector Comment
 #1  AAXA P4X Pico, DLP, WVGA (low res, wide), 80 lm, media player, battery
 #2  Optoma ML750  Pocket/Personal, DLP, WXGA, 700 lm, media player
 #3  AAXA P300 Pico Pocket/Personal, DLP, WXGA, 300 lm, media player, optional  battery
 #4  AAXA P2 Jr. Very low cost Pico >$200, WXGA DLP, 55 lm, battery, media player
 #5  ASUS S1 DLP, WSVGA (low res, wide) up to 200 lm, battery, media player

 

Pico and Pocket Projectors – so far, the brightest personal projectors – those over 500 lumens, typically do not have battery options, but four of these five do.  These LED projectors are extremely small and light, but no match in brightness to conventional lamp based projectors, but then, we’re talking from under 1lb to 3lb here.  Note most of these have power bricks.  The larger projectors in this group are powerful enough for serious business presentations, to smaller groups.

OK, that pretty much covers the winners.

Interesting, very interesting.  Time to digress:

Every year Projector Reviews manages to review a total of roughly 20-30 business, education, commercial and Pico/Pocket projectors combined, out of perhaps 500 projectors on the market. So, it’s rather interesting, that we’ve managed to review most of the projectors in these lists above.  In some cases, we’ve reviewed a “sibling” projector – same series, but perhaps a different resolution, or different lumen count but almost identical.

It’s really mostly in the Pico / Pocket projector class that we missed a few.  We did the #1, an AAXA, and the older version of their P2 Jr.  We also did a less powerful Optoma ML550, but not the ML750.  We’ve reviewed an ASUS, but not that one.

Anyway, we seem to have a knack of picking to review, what later prove to be the top sellers out there.

Coincidence?

Stay tuned for the October update, which should publish first week of December 2014.   -art