CEDIA 2011 -- Home Theater Projectors
September 13, 2011,
CEDIA, the home theater industry's chronically ill-timed trade show, just wrapped up in Indianapolis yesterday. This is the show where vendors typically unveil not-quite- ready new products to be delivered in the not-too-distant future just in time to miss half of the fall buying season. And to boot, the vendors are always forced to sacrifice their Labor Day weekend scrambling to get ready for it.
But this year something exciting happened. Several manufacturers said, "Why wait for CEDIA? We want to get OUR show on the road NOW!" So we had more new home theater projectors announced in July and August than we've ever seen. This is great news because it allows channel sales activity to start early. Dealers and resellers can do order/inventory planning and vendors can get shipments moving so buyers can get their hands on the latest home theater projectors earlier in the football season. Everyone wins. We wish all vendors could get their new home theater projectors announced in July and August.
This year's summer releases included the Sony VPL-HW30ES, a 3D-enabled 1080p SXRD projector which started shipping in July for $3,699. The Panasonic PT-AE7000 was unveiled in late July, and will begin shipping in another two to three weeks. Reviews of the Sony HW30ES and Panasonic AE7000 have already been posted. We have also posted a shootout covering the differences between the two.
Meanwhile, Optoma announced a trio of new 3D 1080p models in August, including the entry level HD33 at only $1499 which is already shipping (see HD33 review here). The Optoma HD3300 at $1999 and the top of the line HD8300 at $4,499 should be available momentarily. We plan to have a review of the HD8300 done within three weeks. (The HD3300 is essentially an HD33 packaged for a different sales channel.)
In August we got an advance look at the new Mitsubishi HC7800D, their new mid-range 3D 1080p projector priced at $3,495. The 3D on this unit is clear as a bell and a pleasure to watch. You can expect to see the HC7800D come to market around November, and we plan to review it next month prior to release.
Also in August,Runco announced and began shipments of the LS-1, an extremely low priced (by Runco standards) 1080p single-chip DLP projector. This unit retails at $3,995. The LS-1 incorporates the ISF™ (Imaging Science Foundation) calibration suite for optimal performance in various rooms and lighting conditions. Runco's offering of a 1080p projector at this price point will provide opportunity to reach a larger consumer base than the company has targeted heretofore.
Finally, the folks at Epson tipped their hand a week before the show and pre-announced three new 3D-enabled 1080p models using their new 480 Hz D9 panels. The most aggressively priced unit, the Home Cinema 3010, delivers full HD 3D with two pairs of 3D glasses and an emitter for only $1,599. It is rated at 30,000:1 contrast and 2200 lumens, and is scheduled for shipment next month. There is a fascinating dogfight shaping up between the Epson 3010 and the Optoma HD33 as the only two 3D capable 1080p home theater projectors around $1500.
Epson's Home Cinema 5010 and Pro Cinema 6010 are the higher performance models, rated at 200,000:1 contrast and 2400 lumens. The differences between them are related to marketing channels. The Pro Cinema 6010 is packaged for the custom installer. It includes ISF Calibration for customizable settings, an extra lamp, a ceiling mount, a third year of warranty, and a cable cover for flexibility in installation.
The Epson 5010 will be more widely available through online resellers, and is a less expensive package designed for the DIY home theater enthusiast. Pricing on the 5010 and 6010 is not yet finalized, but the price of the 5010 will be under $3,000 and the price of the 6010 will be under $4,000. These models should be available in November.
The two Home Cinema models will also be offered with wireless capability. Those models will be known as the 5010e, to be priced under $3,500, and the 3010e, which will be $1,799.
Epson still plans to release the 1,000,000:1 contrast, reflective LCD based Pro Cinema 610000 that was announced last year. Currently this model, which is not 3D-enabled, is scheduled for shipment prior to year end. Epson says plans for the Home Cinema 21000 and 31000, also announced last year, have changed. There is currently no plan to release them in the United States in the near future.
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