The annual CES in Las Vegas is no longer a prime venue for either consumer or commercial projector introductions, but you might not have known that given the surprising range of product seen out on the floor or in various demonstrations. Most of it was focused on the portable/lifestyle and UST (Ultra Short Throw) categories, but there were a couple of other standouts as well. Here's a brand-by-brand rundown of what we found.
Acer introduced the B250i projector, a compact (8x8x3 inches) and lightweight (about 3 pounds) 1080p-resolution portable that drives 1,000 ANSI lumens of brightness from an LED engine and delivers in excess of full Rec.709 color gamut. Intended for consumer, business, and education applications, it offers the usual wired and wireless connectivity options and the convenience of auto-focus. But its most distinguishing characteristic is probably its "Studio Sound" audio system, which is bolstered here by a pair of internally chambered 5-watt speakers assisted by both third-party Waves Maxx Audio processing and Acer's own TrueHarmony technology. The B250i is expected to go on sale in April at a price of $699.
Chinese TV manufacturer Changhong has plans to introduce its CHiQ brand to the U.S. market later this year with the introduction of two unusually-styled 4K/UHD ultra-short throw laser TV models with a circular, disc-shaped chassis. The premium model C8UT boasts a three-laser RGB design said to deliver 120% of the BT.2020 color gamut, and is spec'd to deliver 450 nits of light (lumen specs were not available) and an image size of 80 to 150 inches diagonal. Estimated retail is approximately $7,000. A more affordable 4K/UHD option, the A5U, uses a single laser, delivers 350 nits, and should come in closer to $3,000. The company is in the early stages of establishing U.S. distribution, but hopes to have these models available to consumers in the 2nd quarter.
Elite Projector, the new projector division of Elite Screens, was in town demonstrating its new MosicGo outdoor UST projection system, which comes with an Elite-branded lightweight LED DLP ultra-short throw projector, a Yard Master 2 outdoor screen with a fast-folding frame and legs, and a short tripod stand to put the projector at just the right height for the screen. Two versions are available at $999 (MosicGo Lite) and $1,299 (MosicGo Sport), with the latter offering an integrated battery for up 3 hours of movie playback on a charge or up to 20 hours of run time on the projector's wireless internal speakers.
Elite also demo'd its Aeon CLR2 ALR material, which uses a similar optical structure to its AEON CLR UST screen, but modified to allow it to accept light directionally from a traditional short-throw projector as well as an up-close UST projector. The model shown was a tab-tensioned motorized version in a 103-inch diagonal size that sells for about $2,799.
Epson was on hand in Vegas demonstrating its just-announced EF-100 lifestyle projector. One of several portable, solid-state projectors now trickling into the market, the EF-100 distinguishes itself with its 3LCD display technology rather than the more commonly found DLP imagers in this category, and more notably, a powerful 2,000 ANSI lumen laser light engine rather than the traditional LED light source. Priced at $999, it'll be available this month. The projector also comes with two remotes, one a Bluetooth/IR hybrid that operates the projector and the included Bluetooth-operated Android WiFi streaming dongle, the other Bluetooth only to operate the dongle if it's used with any other HDMI capable projector.
ForMovie is a consumer brand from Appotronics, the inventor and supplier of the ALPD laser light engines used today in many consumer and commercial laser projectors. The company showed it's own version of a laser-driven 4K UHD family-room UST projector offering 1,700 ANSI lumens of brightness, Rec. 709 color, HDR compatibility, and a built-in four-channel sound system. Projected on a fresnel ALR screen in a mostly light-controlled demo room, its image looked very impressive, showing both excellent color accuracy and good contrast with Hollywood-produced movie-based trailers. It's expected to be offered in the U.S. market late in the year (Q3 or Q4) at an estimated price of $2,500.
Hachi showed the Hachi Infinite, an impressive compact tabletop projector that turns any flat surface into an interactive touchscreen. A CES Innovation Award honoree, this LED projector throws an image of up to 100-inches on a wall for conventional viewing of content, but when standing on a desktop or table, the 8.5 inch tall device throws its image on the resting surface and accesses two embedded cameras that allow it to detect when and where a hand has touched the projection. Its Android operating system allows the loading of any Android mobile app, such as video games or conventional document and spreadsheet apps, which can then be operated on the large projected image as if it were the display of a smartphone or tablet. Additionally, Hachi has developed a variety of educational and lifestyle apps. The Hachi Infinite comes with a Bluetooth remote, and is expected to be available in March for $999.
Hisense showed a variety of Laser TV ultra-short throw models in Vegas, most notably a prototype of its TriChroma laser version, the 100-inch model 100L9, that has dedicated red, green, and blue lasers to achieve what's said to be full Rec.2021 color gamut (that is, full Rec.2020 plus the HDR gamut extension). Also of interest was a UST screen outfitted with acoustic actuators behind the screen that turn it into a distributed-mode loudspeaker with a wide radiation pattern. Mated in a home theater demo with flat sound-radiating panels on the ceiling and side walls, it delivered an effective and engaging surround-sound experience from an essentially invisible speaker system.
JVC had nothing brand new at CES, but was exhibiting its 4K native/8K pixel-shifting DLA-NX9/RS3000 D-ILA LCoS projector on a Screen Innovations Slate ALR screen. Also being demo'd was the LX-NZ3 4K UHD DLP projector announced at CEDIA.
Tucked away in Texas Instrument's DLP demo room was a fascinating and potentially groundbreaking specialty projector from the projection-mapping gurus at Lightform. The LF2 is a small, LED tabletop DLP projector which integrates a front-panel camera. The camera and integrated computer and scanning technology work in conjunction with the company's Creator design software to allow any artist, consumer, retailer, restauranteur—anyone really—to do sophisticated, small-scale projection mapping in 3D without the usual arduous labor required to manually draw light paths and object boundaries. The LF2 has 1080p resolution and 1,000 lumens of rated brightness. It's expected to sell for $999 and ships in February. A standalone processor/camera hardware kit that brings the same new-generation Lightform processing to any projector, the model LFC Kit, is shipping now at about the same price full retail but discounted for now to $798 via the company's website at lightform.com.
Panasonic's commercial projector division had a sizable presence at the company's giant CES booth. Showgoers were greeted with a big 400-inch diagonal screen lit up by four PT-RQ50K large venue laser projectors, a new model shown earlier at InfoComm that recently began shipping. This 3-chip DLP, native 4K laser projector is the smallest and lightest in its 50,000-lumen light class, and will be employed at the upcoming Olympics among other venues. Panasonic was playing 8K content from one of its pro digital video servers.
Also impressive was a proof-of-concept demo in which a conventional ping-pong ball was projection-mapped in real-time...while being volleyed. A 30,000-lumen Panasonic projector was equipped with an infrared sensor, a camera, and a processor that sampled the image at 1,950 frames-per-second. The technology allowed the projector to simultaneoulsy spotlight the surface of the ball in various colors while it moved, and also paint visual effects on the screen behind the ping pong table, such as light trails streaming behind the projected representation of the ball.
At CES, VAVA demonstrated its family room laser-driven UST projector which, at $2,799, is currently the most affordable of the 4K UHD-resolution laser projectors available in this product class. Rated at 2,500 ANSI lumens, it's equipped with an Android streaming platform, an impressive Harman Kardon sound system as well as a versatile Bluetooth system that can be set to receive music streams from a mobile phone or tablet, or to transmit movie sound to a wireless speaker or headphones. Keep an eye out for ProjectorCentral's review of this model later this month.
ViewSonic introduced or showed off a variety of LED-driven portable lifestyle projectors at CES including the previously seen M1 Mini, M1 Plus, and M2. A key new addition to its X series projectors is the X100-4K, a full-size LED-driven home theater projector. Spec'd at 2,900 LED lumens (1,200 ANSI lumens), it offers UHD resolution using DLP's XPR technology and a RGBB LED light source. The X100 has a 1.2x manual zoom lens with a 3.3- to 10.4-foot throw range and boasts a healthy +60% vertical, ±25% horizontal lens shift capability. A pair of built-in Harman Kardon stereo speakers are on-board as well, as is streaming and Alexa/Google Assistant voice control. The projector is also unusually quiet (rated at 20 dB in Eco mode) thanks to a well-crafted ventilation scheme. ViewSonic estimates March or late spring 2020 availability at a price of $1,699.
XGIMI was at CES demonstrating three smartly-designed portable, tabletop lifestyle projectors, all LED driven DLP models. All three offer a similar, column-like form factor that looks a lot like a standalone speaker till you get up close and see the projection lens. Designed for impromptu viewing off a high-capacity internal battery, the models include the MoGo (210 ANSI lumens, 540p resolution, $399), the MoGo Pro (300 ANSI lumens, 1080p resolution, $549), and the Halo (600-800 ANSI lumens, 1080p resolution, $799). All are spec'd to throw a 76-inch image from about two meters (approx 6.5 feet), all feature auto-focus, and all come with a pair of built-in Harmon Kardon speakers and an Android operating system.