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Bringing 4K Home

High-end home theater projectors have been facing an increasingly tougher marketplace lately, with three separate sales challenges.

Sony Draws on Digital Cinema Experience with New Consumer Projector

Recognizing that the home market is challenged and looking for ways to revitalize its business, Sony has added its first consumer 4K digital projector, the VPL-VW1000ES.

High-end home theater projectors have been facing an increasingly tougher marketplace lately, with three separate sales challenges. First, flat-panel sets have eroded a large amount of the old projector market share as they simultaneously gain bigger screen sizes, thinner cosmetics, and cheaper pricing. Second, many homeowners are moving away from the dedicated room concept to living room installs. Finally, the high-end of the projector space, $10,000 and above, has seen a lot of competition from fully featured, 1080p, 3D models at lower pricing.

Recognizing that the home market is challenged and looking for ways to revitalize its business, and showing that Sony is dedicated to the CEDIA channel, the manufacturer introduced at CEDIA EXPO last month the VPL-VW1000ES, its first consumer 4K digital projector. Sony stressed that this is not a reworked model from its commercial digital cinema division, but a dedicated model that utilizes a brand-new SXRD panel that has been specifically designed and built from the ground up for the consumer market.

With its unique “lens to living room” positioning, Sony is involved in all aspects of the creation of 4K material–from the filming, to the mastering, to the commercial distribution and projection, to disc manufacture, and now right into the living room. Sony is a leader in commercial digital cinema, having more than 9,000 4K projectors already installed. Its studies show that when sitting at/near three times the picture height, 4K’s significantly higher resolution and pixel density is demonstrably better.

During an exclusive CEDIA Daily preview of the projector at EXPO, Mike Abary, senior vice president of Sony Electronics’ Home Division, commented, “It will allow [consumers] to become totally involved in the viewing experience and much closer to the action on the biggest home theater screens, with images that deliver considerably more detail and fewer artifacts.”

The projector features 2,000 ANSI lumens, delivering twice the output of previous Sony home models and allowing it to drive screens up to 200 inches in size. Additionally, it features install-friendly options such as dual triggers, a 2.1 motorized zoom, longer throw distances, RS-232, and IP control interfaces. On top of the higher resolution, the projector also supports 3D, anamorphic 2D and 3D, native 4K, and includes the new Sony Super Resolution 4K “upscaler” allowing users to experience their existing movie collections. While the Blu-ray spec–and HDMI– support 4K, Sony said that current Blu-ray players would be unable to play native 4K material and would need to be updated much like when consumers migrated to 3D content playback.

The VPL-VW1000ES is part of Sony’s ES lineup that is available exclusively to custom installers and features Sony’s three-year Elevated Standard warranty. It is expected to ship by the end of the year, at a retail price “under $25,000,” according to the company.

JVC’s 4K Answer

JVC demonstrated its continued support and commitment to the front projector market by unveiling eight new frontprojection models at CEDIA EXPO last month, all of them 3D-capable. Among these new models are four new projectors that “display 2D HD content with full 4K precision.”

The new models–starting at pricing under $8,000–feature a new technology called e-Shift that can display images with 3840 x 2160 resolution from a native 2K chip. The new projectors in the Procision Series are the DLA-X90R, DLA-X70R, and DLAX30. The Reference Series includes the DLARS65, DLA-RS55, DLA-RS4800, and DLARS45. From the ground up, all projectors are 3D-enabled, feature a 2D to 3D converter, have a new parallax adjustment allowing the user to tailor the effect of the 3D image.

The projectors all feature a new lens memory function that stores custom focus, zoom, and horizontal and vertical lens-shift positions, allowing installers to set up a constant-height 4:3, 16:9, and 2:35 screen without needing to use an anamorphic lens system. Also, the top models in both series feature upgrades such as THX 3D certification, include advanced calibration allowing 1/16th pixel shift to precisely adjust convergence via 121 adjustment points, an upgraded optical engine for improved black levels and native contrast.