3D and 4K projectors

posted on Sunday, 18th September 2011 by Steve May

projectors  3D 

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New 3D and 4K projectors look good for business

Expect the latest crop of projectors, unveiled at CEDIA EXPO and IFA, to inject some significant energy into the largely moribund home theatre market. 3D and super-sharp 4K are jaw-dropping technologies and should prove a gift when pitching to new and ongoing clients - as well as providing a great excuse to revisit old jobs.   

My experience with the five new 3D Epsons (EH-TW9000, EH-TW9000W, EH-TW5900, EH-TW6000, and EH-TW6000W) has been limited to short viewing sessions in an IFA dark room, but the EH-TW9000 in particular looks excellent value. And it comes on the back of a strong run of 2D models. However, I'm not sure how many pros though would be willing to trust on the wireless HD technology now included in the W-suffixed models. For what it's worth, early reports suggest artifact free delivery.

I've had more time to date with Sony's latest 3D offerings, the entry-level VPL-HW30ES and step-up VPL-VW95ES, and both really impressed. The latter is genuine rival to JVC's D-ILA offerings, with improved colour management tools and contrast-boosting Dynamic Lamp tech.

Like the top-end Epsons, the VPL-VW95ES has an integrated IR transmitter built into the lens barrel. In smaller installs this shouldn't need any augmentation, as it quite efficiently bounces sync codes off the screen to Active Shutter 3D eyeware. However, in medium and larger rooms it's well worth hardwiring a secondary sync transmitter or two.

The cheapest Sony doesn't boast an integrated beamer but it uses cat 5 to interface with a standalone transmitter. This is quite a neat solution that should prove easy enough to accommodate. The VPL-HW30ES punches well above its weight when it comes to picture performance and I can see this model proving extremely popular.

4K2K creates new opportunities

Of course, the big story is the advent of 4K projection. I enjoyed a behind closed doors session with the 4K JVC DLA-X70R before its announcement at CEDIA, and can confirm it's a significant upgrade on what we've seen before. With no massive price premiums attached to any of the brand's new line (which also includes the upmarket 4K DLA X90R and Full HD 3D DLA-X30), specifying these looks a no-brainer. Grab them while you can; I suspect they'll be back-ordered in no time.

The flagship Sony VPL-VW1000ES is a significantly bigger beast than JVC's 4K debutants, and has an inflated price tag to match ($25,000). It also needs Sony's dynamic Iris3 technology to deliver a comparable contrast ratio. But there's definitely a market at this price point for those seeking a genuine digital cinema experience. It'll be interesting to see how it compares in a shoot-out with the much cheaper JVC 4Ks.

The cable issue

There's been some discussion in our Linkedin forum about HDMI cable runs for 4K projectors; for the most part I expect existing runs should be fine and any proven current cables will work. Remember that there is no native 4K video content, so all upscaling will be done within the projector's silicon.

But there is a caveat. One source of content which should not be overlooked is digital photography. Both professionals and hobbyists have been shooting at more than 8mp for some time and these projectors will provide the first opportunity to see this work on a big screen at better than Full HD resolution.

Consequently, it's probably time start to thinking about digital cameras as valid source components, alongside Blu-ray players and media servers. It's my guess that there're some high-end photographers who might suddenly have a good reason to invest in a 4k media room…

 

 

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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