4K Projector Tracker

Evan Powell, March 9, 2017

2017 is the year projectors in native 4K resolution will hit the market in volume. You can now use our Database to track the roll-out and production status of all 4K projectors by type and resolution. The term 4K in common use refers to a class of projectors that are about 4 times the resolution of Full HD 1920x1080. As a category of projectors, they generally use in the range of 8 to 10 million pixels to create the picture, compared to the 2.1 million in Full HD. 4K projectors come in several different actual resolutions and aspect ratios as described below.

Bookmark this page for links to the current and pending production status of all 4K projectors by type, as follows:

4K DCI Projectors

The Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) 4K format is 4096 x 2160, or about 8.8 million pixels. This is slightly higher in resolution than the UHD format, which is about 8.3 million pixels. Projectors using native displays in the 4K DCI format will use a pixel matrix of 4096 x 1716 to display a 2.39:1 Scope format movie, and a matrix of 3996 x 2160 to display 1.85.

DCI's 4K spec has the same vertical resolution as 4K UHD, but is about 7% wider. It has an aspect ratio of 1.90 compared to the standard 1.78 in Full HD and UHD. Sony is using the 4096x2160 format in its line of 4K home theater projectors, and JVC introduced it with its first native 4K home theater model. In addition, 4K DCI is a standard format for the larger digital cinema projectors being made by Barco, NEC, Christie, Digital Projection, and others.

A variation of the 4K DCI format is 4096 x 2400, or about 9.8 million pixels. This is higher resolution in both horizontal and vertical dimensions than UHD, and it also has a unique aspect ratio -- 1.71, or slightly less widescreen than standard HD 1.78. Projectors using this format are rare in the marketplace at the moment, and they are only being made with native resolution 4096x2400 LCoS chips.

All projectors in 4096x2160 format
All projectors in 4096x2400

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4K UHD Projectors

The Ultra High Def (UHD) resolution is 3840 x 2160. This is a 16:9 aspect ratio format, the same as Full HD projectors and flat panel TVs. 4K UHD projectors create the picture on the screen using about 8.3 million addressable pixels. They may achieve this either by using imaging chips that have native 3840x2160 resolution, or they may use the new 4K DLP chip which has 2716x1528 mirrors along with a pixel-shifting process that produces two discrete pixels for each mirror.

A key benefit of the single 4K DLP chip design is that all three color channels are always in perfect convergence, whereas any slight misalignment in any 4K three-chip light engine may affect image acuity. Currently manufacturers are making 4K UHD projectors using either DLP or LCOS chips. To isolate the list of projectors to one technology type, open the Technology dropdown list and select the technology you want.

As with DCI, the UHD format has a variation that expands vertical resolution from 2160 to 2400 lines. This 3840x2400 format has an aspect ratio of 16:10, which is the same as 1920x1200 WUXGA. They are typically using a variation of the 4K DLP chip that is native 2560x1600 mirrors, with pixel shift that generates about 9.2 million addressable pixels. These are high performance commercial projectors for industrial use, and not intended for the consumer or home theater marketplace.

All projectors in 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 format
All projectors in 4K UHD 3840 x 2400 format

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4K-enhanced HD Projectors

This category includes JVC's 4K "e-shift" projectors and Epson's "4K-enhanced" projectors. These projectors accept and display 4K video signals, but they use either native 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 chips, which have aspect ratios of 16:9 and 16:10 respectively. These projectors use pixel-shift technology to substantially increase the apparent resolution of the picture beyond what is normally achieved with native HD imaging devices.

This technology is more effective with video than graphics or data presentation. When displaying native 4k video subject matter, such as that from a 4K Ultra Resolution Blu-ray disc, it is often difficult to distinguish the resolution of the pictures made by these projectors from those of native 4K projectors when viewing them side by side. Moreover, when viewing standard HD 1080p video there is no practical difference between the upscaling that these projectors do and the upscaling done by native 4K projectors. However, when the subject matter is not video, but rather complex graphics or data-based text or financial documents, the resolution advantage of a native 4K projector over these models is more apparent.

One key benefit to displaying 4K video with this unique process is that prices tend to be lower. Another is that most of these models have Lens Memory, a key feature of interest to many videophiles who want to set up CinemaScope screens with constant image height. Automated Lens Memory is not available on many other 4K projectors.(See all 4K-enhanced HD projectors with Lens Memory)

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Two New 4K Sort Options
Added to Database

1. Pixel Shift Technology. Several manufacturers are using pixel shift technology to boost resolution of the picture on screen. JVC first introduced this technique in 2013 using native 1080p D-ILA chips to produce a picture that looks very close to 4K in resolution. Under the marketing brand e-shift JVC has released 25 models with this technology. (see JVC's 4K enabled home theater projectors). Since then it has been adopted by others, most notable by Epson, which to date has also released 25 models using both 1920x1080 and 1920x1200 3LCD chips (see Epson's 4K-enabled pixel shift projectors) The latest development has been with the release of the new 4K DLP chip which ups the game by doubling the native resolution of the chips and enabling projectors to create pictures with a full complement of 8.3 million pixels.

We have added a 4K Pixel Shift sort option to the database. By selecting this option you will get a list of all projectors that are 4K enabled and using pixel shift technology. See all current pixel shift projectors. This are presented by First Ship Date so you see the newest ones first, but you can re-sort the list by popularity or other parameters.

2. 4K Compatibility. There are projectors on the market that are "4K Ready," having the ability to accept and display native 4K signals, but using standard resolution chips without pixel shift. As an example, NEC has released a line of 4K Ready projectors using WUXGA, WXGA, and even XGA panels. The advantage is that the picture on screen will always look better when there is more information in the source signal, but the overall cost of the projector is reduced. For many applications this is a highly cost effective way to get top picture quality for the money.

We have added a 4K Compatible sort option in the Database. By selecting this feature you will see all projectors on the market that have the ability to receive 4K resolution signals. There are at this writing over 140 projectors that are 4K ready.

ABOUT PROJECTOR CENTRAL DATA RESOURCES

ProjectorCentral's Projector Database is updated daily. As of this writing it contains over 1,650 projectors currently in production, and about 9,500 models announced, in production, or out of production. Almost all projectors in the database are linked to our Projection Calculator, which will give you throw distance data and estimated screen illumination for each model. This is the most comprehensive resource for projector information in the world.

Reader Comments(1 comment)

Posted Mar 27, 2017 10:55 AM

By Douglas Call

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Glad to see you guys have stepped up to the plate to provide better access to new projector technologies. I also noticed a whole series of new native & pixel shifting Ultra Short Throw projectors are coming out in 2017.

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