The annual Integrated Systems Europe trade show—known as ISE—is Europe's version of the United States CEDIA Expo and InfoComm show rolled into one. In fact, it's owned and hosted by a joint venture of CEDIA and AVIXA, and it's the biggest professional A/V show in the world for integrators. It's also a critically important venue for the projection industry and functions as a first look for many new projectors prior to InfoComm in June.
This year's ISE, which took place last week in Amsterdam, was the usual spectacle of light and sound we've come to expect, and most of the major projector manufacturers were on the floor. Attendance was said to be down a bit thanks to Corona virus fears that caused a few cancellations from the Far East, but there were still big crowds to sidestep and plenty of impressive projection displays. Among these was the projection mapping demo cooked up by the organizers, which turned the front of the RAI convention center's Elicium Center into a giant screen every evening. A tall kiosk set up across the parking lot housed the five 50,000-lumen Panasonic PT-RQ50K projectors used to fire up the 62 x 170 foot image, along with the Green Hippo Boreal+ server. LED lighting completed the effect. The photos below tell the story. They're followed by an alphabetical booth-by-booth rundown of what we found on the show floor.
Laser-based projectors are now the favorite choice for large venues, theme parks, and live events, and at ISE 2020 Barco continued to strengthen its laser-phosphor portfolio with the addition of two new 3-chip DLP models, the UDM-4K15 and UDM-W15. As their names suggest, both projectors are rated for 15,000 lumens, with the former delivering true 4K resolution (3,840 x 2400 pixel) and the latter Full HD (1,920 x 1080 pixel) resolution. Due for shipment in Q2, these models join the existing 22,000-lumen models already represented in the UDM series. Performance features of these interchangeable-lens projectors also include 2,200:1 contrast, 95% brightness uniformity, relatively low noise levels (49 dB), and the ability to reproduce over 100% of the Rec.709 color space. In addition, the lighter weight (under 50kg/110 pounds), compact size, and 360-degree positioning capability should make them more appealing choices for mobile venues and tight spaces. As with other UDM models, the new projectors are also 3D-ready, and can be used in multiple projector arrangements.
Also new at Barco are 4,000-lumen 4K and WUXGA models for the F70 series due in Q2 (also offered in 5,000 and 8,000 lumens) and a pair of WUXGA projectors in a new G100 series at 16,000 and 20,000 lumens in WUXGA resolution scheduled for Q4. And a new remote monitoring service being rolled out, called Barco Insights, should be valuable for rental & staging shops who need to track usage and health of a fleet of projectors. Compatible models, iincluding the above will have cellular transceivers built right into the projector to insure steady communication without the need for an on-site WiFi connection.
Finally, in an off-the-floor meeting room, Barco officials demo'd a model SP4K pure RGB laser projector against a UDM-4K model, another 3DLP projector that uses a laser-phosphor light source. Along with the cost savings associated with laser phosphor, there's less issue with classic laser speckle with the RGB technology. On the other hand, the wider color gamut associated with RGB was easily seen in the demo and explains why it's the preferred approach for color-critical digital cinema applications.
BenQ showed up in Amsterdam highlighting a range of recently introduced projectors, including the LK953ST (4K UHD) and LU951ST (WUXGA), the former of which was active in portrait mode for a neat projection-mapping display that put different colored and patterned flight suits on a suspended skydiver figure. The 5,000-lumen BlueCore laser-phosphor models each feature a 0.8 short throw ratio lens with 1.1x zoom and extensive 60% vertical/23% horizontal lens shift. The short-throw option allows close-up projector placements to avoid shadows from presenters or viewers in boardrooms and public signage displays. Indeed, short-throw, in the form of new projectors and new ST lenses being introduced, was a subtle theme of the show as manufacturers seek to insure installers and end-users they have solutions for the retail, museum, education, and business applications where this approach holds the most promise.
A number of compact, education and corporate models were also on display at BenQ. The brand new EW800ST (WXGA) and EX800ST (XGA), for example, are short-throw versions of the EH600 Android-based Smart Projector we recently reviewed, again addressing the need for affordable short-throw models for boardrooms and classroom. They offer 3,300 lumens and a 0.49 and 0.61 fixed short-throw lens, respectively. Both have the same built-in browsing and sharing capabilities as the EH600 (10800p) and its EW600 (WXGA) and EX600 (XGA) sister models.
Last year Canon announced the development of its new XEED 4K6021Z Laser projector, a model similar in nearly all respects to its acclaimed XEED 4K6020Z. At ISE 2020, the final production version of this model took center stage, touting it's major difference over the 4K6020Z— the inclusion of dual DisplayPort inputs (in addition to existing HDMI, Network, USB, Wireless, and HDBaseT inputs). As with the 4K6020Z (which remains in the line), the new 4K6021Z utilizes three 0.74" LCoS imagers and a laser-phosphor engine to provide 4K HD resolution (4,096 x 2160 pixels) at up to 6,000 ANSI Lumens, with 4,000:1 contrast (full on, full off), and 10-bit color. Canon claims it covers the entire sRGB color space (almost identical to the Rec.709 space) and is compatible with HDR content. It also features built-in edge-blending capabilities and a DICOM simulation mode.
Several new large-venue laser projectors were announced by Christie at the ISE 2020 show, along with a variety of LED micro-tile displays and control technologies. The Christie Crimson HD31 3-Chip DLP laser projector features 31,500 center Lumens (or 28,000 ANSI Lumens) brightness, a 2000:1 contrast ratio,and can project Full HD res (1920 x 1080p) video at 60hz with a 120hz option. It also includes BoldColor Technology and built-in warping and blending features, is compatible with Christie M and J Series lenses, and can be upgraded with optional Christie Link and Mystique technologies. Notably, it replaces the Crimson 25, with 24,000 ANSI lumens, at no increase in price. The Crimson WU31, with WUXGA resolution, will also be available.
Also making its ISE debut were the Christie Roadie 4K40-RGB pure RGB laser projector and the Mirage SST projectors. As its name implies, the new Roadie is a ruggedized model ideal for mobile venues. It features a stronger internal frame, integrated carrying handles, 220V power, and omnidirectional orientation. Its image quality is hard to beat, as its RGB laser engine helps it to not only achieve 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution, 40,000 ANSI Lumens, and a high 5000:1 (FullOn/FullOff) contrast ratio, but also up to 95% of the Rec.2020 ultra wide gamut color space—an ideal combination for HDR projection. The Mirage SST is a tethered model designed for high-end applications including planetariums, dome theaters, and amusement parks. It features 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution at up to 120hz, with an optional license enabling up to 480hz projection at 2K resolution. The fiber-coupled projection head helps to reduce the size of the projector, and allows its solid state RGB pure laser engine to be positioned and cooled remotely. The end result is increased design flexibility and outstanding image quality, with 35,000 ANSI Lumens brightness, 5,000:1 contrast ratio, and wide gamut color reproduction approaching the full Rec.2020 color space.
While there were several large-venue projectors on display at the DPI booth, none were new to this show. However, of special note was an 8K resolution projection display made possible by using four Satellite Modular Laser System projector heads (each covering a quarter of the screen with 4K resolution blended images). This system, set for release later this year is similar to the Christie Mirage SST mentioned previously in that it allows for individual RGB laser light sources connected via fiberoptic cables to be housed and cooled remotely from the compact projector head. Separately, DPI also showed how a single laser source could be used to drive two separate images with different heads, and how multiple sources could be ganged to create a brighter image from a single head. In combination with DPI's MultiView display technology (also shown in another area using separate Insight 4K HFR 360 projectors enabling up to six viewers to see 3D images on a common screen), the Satellite system opens up possibilities for brighter laser driven projection displays with reduced heat and size footprint.
DNP's multi-layer SuperNova ambient-light rejecting (ALR) screen technology was found enhancing images throughout the show, including an impressive 100-inch diagonal projection in bright light at the Canon booth that looked remarkably like a flat-panel display. At its own booth, the big news was introduction of the SuperNova Infinity UST screen, which completely eliminates the 120-inch diagonal maximum size restriction that's been in play up to this point; its modular, tiled construction allows screens of virtually any size. Despite the modular construction, however, it's a totally seamless design, as demonstrated live with the 180-inch diagonal screen constructed for ISE and fired up with a 15,000-lumen projector and UST lens hidden at the base of the barrel visible in the image. The joint lines between sections are just 0.3 mm (or 1/85-inch), and essentially invisible. The screen is said to support full HD, 4K, or 8K resolution, and its available with a 50 mm/2-inch velvet frame or as frameless, bezel-free solution.
In addition to a couple of impressive projection-mapping displays at the Epson booth—including one that allowed showgoers to interactively control the "fabric" colors and patterns on a small sofa—booth visitors were treated to several new projector products. Among these was the Pro EB-L30000U, Brightlink EB-1485Fi (known as the Brightlink 1485Fi in the U.S. market) , and EB-805F—as well as a new zero offset ultra short throw lens (ELPLX03). The EB-L30000U increases the luminance of Epson's laser-based Pro L-Series to 30,000 ANSI lumens, up from last year's 25,000 lumens on the L25000U. It's laser phosphor and 3LCD engine provides 4K-enhanced (pixel-shifted) resolution and well over 100% of Rec.709 color space coverage. Paired with the new ultra short throw lens ELPLX03, this projector can be positioned extremely close to a wall or screen while providing a brilliant, sharp display that can overpower ambient lighting conditions. The new BrightLink EB1485Fi, first shown at last-year's InfoComm, is an ultra-short throw, laser-phosphor, interactive projector designed for conference rooms and classrooms. It features WXGA (1366x768) resolution and 5,000 lumens output with 10-bit color processing, as well as blending and tracking capability that enables a pair of projectors to create a much larger screen while enabling live graphics and hand written additions to screen content.
The EB-805F is an ultra short throw laser projector aimed at the signage industry. It's all-black body makes it easier to hide, and can be rotated to provide a 130-inch portrait or landscape display. It features a bright 5,000 Lumens output and Full HD 1080p resolution utilizing a laser phosphor and 3LCD engine. Also on display: the EB-W70, which is version of the company's recently released EF-100 compact laser projector that is also intended for retail signage.
Last year at ISE and then InfoComm, Fujifilm showed a prototype version of its new laser-phosphor FP-Z5000 projector, a 1-chip DLP model designed for conference rooms and creative signage applications. This year, final production models were on display in a choice of white and black bodies. The FP-Z5000 features Full HD 1080p res, 5,000 lumens, 12,000:1 full on/full off contrast, and an innovative rotating lens that has to be seen in action to be appreciated. The lens has two separate axis of rotation: the base of the lens (near the Fujifilm name, see photo) can be rotated to three different positions, while the head can be rotated in a full 360 degree circle. This allows the projector to be mounted next to a wall while illuminating the ceiling or floor, or behind a wall or ceiling with just the top of the lens sticking out. In addition, all positions allow for very wide vertical and horizontal lens shift. Watch for ProjectorCentral's upcoming review.
There was nothing brand new on display at the JVC booth, but the company showed its DLA-VS4600 in action as a visualization projector. This specialized 4,000-lumen laser-phospor model uses a trio of the company's 0.69-inch D-ILA 4K LCoS imaging devices and offers features like a 120 Hz frame rate, frame-encoded dynamic laser control, and enhanced IR control for improved night vision-goggle simulations.
One of the breaking news stories at last year's ISE show was the decision by Hitachi to rebrand its projector line under the Maxell nameplate, essentially splitting its booth between non-projector Hitachi products and Maxell-branded projectors. This year, the Maxell booth stood on its own, showcasing a wide array of existing projectors and introducing an exciting new line of 3LCD-based portable laser models: the MP-JW4011E, MP-JW3511E, MP-JW3501E, MP-JW4001E, and MP-JU4001E. The first four MP-JW models feature WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution and between 3,500 and 4,000 Lumens, while the top-of-the-line MP-JU4001E delivers WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution and 4,000 Lumens. All five models also feature 10-bit color processing and manual focus and zoom lenses: 1.2X for the JW-40001E and JW3501E, 1.4X for the MP-JW3511E and JW4011E, and 1.6X for the MP-JU4001E. Other notable features across the line include a 16W speaker, a wide array of video and data inputs (including 2 HDMI) and a powered USB type A input that allows the projector to be used on its own with streaming devices or USB drives.But the most important characteristic across all the models is that they share the same highly compact form factor and similar weights (approximately 3.6 kg/8 pounds) which Maxell says makes them the smallest and lightest of any 3LCD-based laser projectors. The breakthrough? These are the first laser-phosphor models that we've seen utilizing a solid-state yellow phosphor chip instead of the usual spinning-wheel phosphor that's found in nearly all other laser-phosphor projectors. By eliminating the spinning wheel, Maxell achieves both unusually compact size and, in combination with a user-controlled light output adjustment, lower fan noise.
NEC showed several projectors either just shipping or due a bit later in the year. Notable was a new high-brightness, large-venue model, the PX2000UL. It's a 1-chip DLP laser projector featuring an R-B two-color laser, WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution, and up to 19,000 ANSI lumens with 10,000:1 contrast (Dynamic). It's compatible with five optional bayonet lenses, all of which allow for significant vertical and horizontal lens shift, motorized zoom and focus, and keystone correction. According to NEC, the addition of a red laser to accompany the usual blue laser, in association with a long-life phosophor wheel, allows for better color and helps to achieve full coverage of the Rec. 709 color space. In addition to a wide array of connectivity options (including DVI-D, HDBaseT, and HDMI), the projector also includes manual wall-color correction, a DICOM simulation mode, built-in edge blending functions, and 3D capabilities. It's set to begin shipping this month or early next.Other new models slugged for delivery in the coming months include the PA1004UL, an interchangeable-lens model in the 10,000-lumen class, and the P506UQL, which brings a 5,000-lumen, 4K option to NEC's P series family. Another model, the UM383WL UST projector featuring a high-power HLD LED light engine, was announced to the U.S. market on the eve of the show.
As expected, the Optoma booth was filled with projection solutions, as well as a wide array of LED flat panels and a second, larger offering in the company's developing line of large LED wall panel displays (a 163-inch two-piece model was added to the 130-inch all-in-one display introduced last year). Among several new or recently shipping models was the UHD42 home entertainment projector (which will be known as the UHD50 in the U.S. when it ships in the March/April timeframe). This compact bulb-based model features 4K UHD resolution and up to 3,200 ANSI lumens, but it's claim to fame is that it's said to be the first gaming projector that supports a 240 Hz refresh rate (with 1080p content, and assuming the source has the graphics capability to deliver such a signal). Input lag is said to be around 16 ms. It's also HDR and HLG compatible, and features a 1.3x zoom lens with vertical lens shift and an onboard 10W speaker. U.S. pricing hasn't been announced, but it's expected to be available overseas for 1,249 Euro, or about $1,400 U.S. An alternate model, designated the UHD30 for both markets, will offer a different zoom and only a single HDMI port vs. the two found on the UHD42/50, and will be offered for 999 Euro, or about $1,100 U.S.
Also on display was the UHZ65UST, the European version of the CinemaX P1 4K ultra-short throw projector, mated with the Optoma-branded ALR101 100-inch diagonal UST ALR screen. Optoma said the company has begun offering this as a discounted projector/screen bundle in Europe and plans to do so shortly in the U.S. as well.Some notable commercial projectors were also on display in Optoma's booth, including the ZU720T, an exceptionally compact 7,000-lumen WUXGA laser projector set to ship at the end of Q2. New UST models for education and boardroom applications were also shown, including the laser-driven, 5,000-lumen ZH500UST, and the ZH420UST—an update to the ZH400UST that adds built-in warping capabilities. The company's brightest projector offering, the 10,000-lumen ZK1050 first shown at last year's InfoComm and now shipping, was a prominent booth highlight as well.
ISE has always been one of Panasonic's favored venues for new projector announcements, and this year was no different as the company debuted two new 3DLP large-venue Solid Shine Laser projectors—the PT-RQ35K and RZ34K—and introduced two new models in its 1-chip DLP projector series—the PT-RZ790 Series for Events & Exhibition and the PT-FRZ60 Series for Higher Education.
The PT-RQ35K (4K res) and RZ34K (WUXGA res) are both fairly compact for their abilities. To achieve its higher resolution, the PT-RQ35K features Quad Pixel Drive technology (a two-axis pixel shifting method). Both projectors achieve 30,000 lumens brightness, and Panasonic claims that the new laser engine, containing one red and two blue lasers, expands color gamut by 114% over the current RQ32 projector. Another useful feature found on both is Near Field Communication (NFC), which enables rapid setup with mobile devices and networks just by holding the mobile device against the projector.
The new PT-RZ790 and PT-FRZ60 are both laser-based 1-chip DLP models featuring WUXGA resolution and 7,000 ANSI lumens with 10,000:1 contrast. They can also accept 4K UHD input from HDMI and DigitalLINK devices. With its high brightness and interchangeable lens compatibility, the RXZ790 is an ideal lower-cost solution for museums and other large venues, while the PT-FRZ60 features a fixed 2.0x optical zoom lens and may be a more affordable choice for classrooms. It also features a powered USB outlet for streaming dongles, while the PT-RZ790 supports the new Panasonic Smart Projector Control App for iOS and Android. Coolest feature of this app? It can autofocus the projector using the mobile device's built in camera.
Also being promoted at Panasonic with a targeted focus on the education market was the PT-MZ16K WUXGA, a 16,000-lumen 3LCD laser projector announced in 2019 that began shipping at year-end. Two sister models, the PTMZ13K and PT-MZ10K are also available at 13,000 and 10,000 lumens respectively.
Screen Innovations was on hand promoting their usual mix of ALR screens, but the company's big announcement was for an innovative add-on for the Janus shade controller the company introduced last year. The Fontus Codec adapter, a small dongle about the size of a pack of gum, converts the usual 485 5-conductor communication/power configuration usually required for advanced shade control down to two conductors. A Fontus at the controller end makes the conversion, and another at the shade converts it back again to 485. As a result, it allows full control plus power in retrofits where the previous shade was serviced only by a two-conductor power cable, or simplifies new installs by allowing the use of almost any available two-conductor wire for shade runs, including speaker cable or other common low-voltage wire found on most install trucks.
There was a great deal of activity at the Sony booth this year, where in addition to its popular large Micro-LED display, the company showcased its extensive projection lineup with several new models. Most prominent was the VPL-FHZ131L, a 13,000-lumen WUXGA (1920 x 1200) projector utilizing three BrightEra LCD panel imagers. With its laser-phosphor engine it's said to achieve 100% of the sRGB color space. You can fit it with a variety of Sony's interchangeble lenses, including the new VPLL-Z4107 short throw lens that it was demo'd with at the show, or if you want lens memory functions you can use the optional VPLL-Z4111 zoom lens. Additional features include edge-blending functions and a wide range of inputs and control options. The the VPL-FHZ101L and VPL-FHZ91L share similar form factors to the FHZ131L, as well as interchangeable lens compatibility, and nearly all performance features, and offer up to 10,000 and 9,000 lumens respectively.
For lower brightness applications such as classrooms and conference rooms, Sony introduced the VPL-PHZ12 with 1920 x1200 WUXGA resolution. Its imager is based on three 0.76-inch LCD panels and powered by a laser-phosphor engine that provides up to 5,000 lumens brightness. It also includes a 1.45:1 zoom lens and a 16 watt speaker. While fairly lightweight and portable at 19.2 lbs, it doesn't compete in those last two areas with the VPL-CWZ10 (WXGA res, 1280 x 800). This laser-phosphor model also delivers 5,000 lumens output but is more compact and only weighs in at 12.6 lbs, (which Sony claims is the lightest in its class). Despite its small size, it packs a 1.6:1 zoom lens with +/-37% vertical lens shift, a 16 watt speaker, and compatibility with Crestron Roomview.
Notably, Sony has added to all its new models the Intelligent Setting feature it introduced in the VPL-FHZ75 we reviewed in 2019, which speeds installation by providing presets that adjust brightness, fan speed, color, energy use and other parameters based on the projector's intended environment.
Stewart was showing off both its existing Phantom HALR ambient-light rejecting material, and had a great-looking demo of its brand new Balon Edge UST ALR screen fired up by Sony's 4K UST projector. A lenticular screen that rejects overhead light, it offers 0.55 peak on-axis gain and an 85-degree half-gain viewing window. Stewart's published test results show near-perfect color reflectivity.
ViewSonic prominently displayed its new LS860WU laser projector in a projection-mapping demo that placed different pattens and colors inside the outline of a ViewSonic logo screen. The 5,000-lumen, WUXGA laser model began shipping at the end of 2019 and uses a single DLP imager and 1.1x zoom.
Still, despite the demo and the strong emphasis on laser projection elsewhere around the show, ViewSonic reps were very bullish on LED technology as the better choice for solid state projection long-term, and made clear that it's only a matter of time before new advances push LED light output where it needs to be to compete effectively with laser for many applications. That focus on LED was evident in one darkened area of the booth where the company showed its X series home theater projectors, which now number three models. The X1000-4K, the previously announced UHD ultra-short throw projector/soundbar combo first shown a year ago at the 2019 CES, is now expected to ship later this year in the 3rd quarter; current specs call for about 1,100-1,200 ANSI lumens or up to about 2,800 LED lumens. We expect it'll be the only one of the new UST living room projectors using an LED rather than laser light engine. Similarly, the X100-4K, a traditional long-throw installation projector, will offer slightly higher brightness, about 2,900 LED lumens and up to 1,300 ANSI lumens when it is also released in Q3. The X10-4K, a portable lifestyle projector rated at 2,400 LED lumens (1,000 ANSI), was released last year and reviewed by ProjectorCentral in July. All these models have in common an integrated Android-based streaming platform and WiFi capability.
Speaking of lifestyle projectors, other models shown at the ViewSonic booth included the new M2 projector, a 1080p portable which was shown at InfoComm last June but only began shipping in December, and an enhanced version of the M1 Mini pocket projector we recently reviewed. The new M1 Mini+ will add on-board WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity in the same way the M1+ did for the classic M1 pico projector.
Vivitek was on hand at ISE filling in its projector line with a couple of models, among them the recently released DU7295Z, a 9,000-lumen laser projector that offers interchangeable lenses but saves money within its usually pricey lumen-class by sticking with manual zoom, focus, and shift controls. But front-and-center at the booth was a live demo of the upcoming NovoProjector, a "smart" version of the company's DH3661Z that integrates Vivitek's NovoConnect wireless sharing platform as well as an Android-based operating system with built-in apps for viewing spreadsheets and documents. AirPlay and Chromecast capabilities are also expected to be on-board for sharing from mobile devices. Otherwise, specs are similar to the 3661, with 5,000 lumens from its laser light source and a 1.5x zoom lens.