The 2019 InfoComm Show, held last week in Orlando, Florida, presented a nearly overwhelming array of new projectors and screens from nearly 25 different brands. Many of the show highlights can be read about in our write-up describing the winners of our first-ever InfoComm Best of Show Awards, but as usual, there's nothing quite like the spectacle of display manufacturers showing off the biggest and most impressive images and technology the industry has to offer. Here's a brief run-down from the show floor, listed alphabetically by exhibitor.
Among other things, Barco, best known for its high performance rental & staging projectors, was in Orlando showing off the UDM-4K22, a new 4K UHD, 21,000 lumen 3-chip DLP model that will offer a more compact chassis in this lumen class than the company's well-established UDX series. At around 110 pounds (final weight to be determined), it's expected to be the lightest projector in its brightness class when it ships in the 4th quarter. It was being demo'd in a clever projection-mapped display in which the top half was projected by one of Barco's single-chip DLP models while the UDM-4K22 handled the lower half, allowing showgoers to see how well Barco's 1DLP models handled colors against the 3DLP design.
Also in residence at the Barco booth was Dynamic Projection Institute, an Austrian firm that sells a clever, digitally-operated motorized mirror attachment that sits in front of the lens of a large-venue projector to allow images to be moved up, down, right, or left to reach angles not in the projection range for a statically-mounted projector. Showgoers were drawn to the booth by pictures of a spaceman or fish floating along on the wall of the convention hall behind the Barco booth, far above the floor. The system is sold as a multi-piece solution, with the head accompanied by the processor and software to control it.
Canon was on hand with representative projectors across its lines, including both LCoS ReaLis and single-chip DLP models. Among these was the new ReaLis 4K6020Z, an impressive 6,000-lumen projector with native DCI 4K (4096x2160) resolution.
As expected, Casio was highlighting its new Superior Series projectors, including the series flagship XJ-S400UN hybrid Laser/LED model honored with our Best of Show Award. Also shown were new Advanced Series and Ultra Short Throw Series models.
Christie Digital, another giant in the rental & staging category, was showing off its ProjectorCentral Award-winning D4K40-RGB "Roadie," a remarkably small and lightweight (for its class) 3DLP projector that blasts 40,000 lumens while hitting more than 90% of full Rec.2020 color. Christie used two of these with a single blended image to light up an enormous 30-feet wide by 12-feet tall screen for an incredibly bright and vibrant image in fairly high ambient light.
Another booth highlight was a demonstration of the new Mystique auto-blending system now available as on option for six projector models in the HS series. A combination of PC-based software works in conjunction with a camera to greatly simplify and speed image blending between a pair of projectors.
Screen-maker Da-Lite showed some new screen materials, none more imposing than the 220-inch diagonal displayed prominently in the booth of parent-company Legrand featuring its new Parallax Stratos 1.0 ALR material. This material allows for seamless ALR screens up to 16-feet tall in either fixed frame or motorized styles. It was demo'd on the company's Wireline Advantage ceiling drop-down configuration. Also new was the Parallax Pure 2.3 material for Da-Lite's optically-based ALR line, shown in a 110-inch diagonal fixed frame.
Dell had on display at InfoComm a gorgeous-looking blended system featuring two of its S718QL 4K ultra short throw projectors producing a single wide image in high ambient light. This 5,000-lumen laser projector, which we tested in 2017, remains one of the few dedicated 4K UST models in the market today.
There were two key highlights worth crowing about at the Digital Projection booth, the first being the INSIGHT 4K HFR 360 high frame rate projector we awarded with a Best of Show designation. This is the world's first projector capable of simultaneously delivering three 3D renderings each in full 1080p resolution from the same projector.
The DPI demo allowed three users to don head-tracking glasses and simultaneously collaborate on tasks in a space-station simulation; three flat-panel monitors showed (in 2D) what each viewer was seeing through the glasses.
DPI also showed off two early prototypes of what it's calling the Satellite Modular Laser System, which uses a projector head containing optics linked via fiber optic cable to a laser-light engine. The benefits, of course, are ease of installation for the projector heads versus a traditional large-venue projector, and an enormous reduction of noise in the proximity of viewers thanks to the engine being tucked away. The company will offer two different projector heads to handle different situations and brightness that's customizable up to 60,000 lumens.
Draper was at the show promoting its range of LED and LCD video wall infrastructure solutions, but the key projection-related highlights included a display featuring the Silent Partner projector enclosure we awarded with an InfoComm 2019 Best of Show Award. Also being shown, in the company's thin-bezel Profile + frame, was Draper's flagship TecVision CS1200X ALR ambient-light-rejecting material. The 1.2 gain ALR material occupied the right half the frame (as shown below), while the other half was mounted with Draper's XT1000V matte white material designed for rooms with controlled light. In the high ambient light of the show floor, the contrast between the two materials—no pun intended—made for an impactful demonstration.
The key new product shown at the EIKI booth was its EK-355U LED projector, a 5,500-lumen version of the 4,500-lumen EK-350U we awarded just prior to InfoComm with Best-of-Show honors. Both projectors are 3LCD models that use Philips's advanced ColorSpark HLD LED light engine to achieve much greater brightness than typically possible with LEDs while retaining good color rendition. EIKI showed off the EK-355U in bright ambient light with a standard white screen to great effect.
Elite ProAV, Elite Screen's commercial division, focused its booth on its full family of ALR screen materials and frames. Among these was the new Saker Tab-Tension CineGray 5D motorized screen honored with a ProjectorCentral Best of Show Award, one of a few rollable ALR solutions available today.
Also of interest was the Kestrel Free-Standing Electric CLR floor-rising motorized screen (shown above), which was loaded with the company's StarBright UST ceiling-light-rejecting material, whose multi-layer structure rejects up to 95% of overhead and off-axis light for ultra-short-throw projectors. The 100-inch diagonal frame design uses "scissor-backed" cross-spring risers for smooth motion in and out of its cassette, and its non-invasive standalone design makes it a good choice in locations where permanent installation is undesirable.
Among the highlights at the Epson booth were its three ProjectorCentral Best of Show Award winners: the LightScene EV-100 accent lighting projector, the PRO L10 series of large-venue projectors, and the Moverio Assist remote assistance solution. Additional eye-catchers included a live demo featuring the previously announced Pro L30000U, the company's 30,000-lumen flagship large-venue projector featuring (of course) a 3LCD design and WUXGA resolution with pixel-shifting for 4K Enhancement.
Epson also announced and demonstrated the Brightlink Interactive 1485Fi interactive ultra short-throw projector (above), a 3LCD, 1080p, 5,000-lumen, laser-driven whiteboard display with some interesting new features. To begin, while the projector offers 16:9 native aspect ratio with a 100-inch image, it has an option for a widescreen 16:6 image at 120-inch diagonal. Also, Epson focused on simple installation, including an auto image alignment function that uses stick on magnetic discs to show the projector where the corners of the screen are, and one-step auto-calibation for touch and interactive pen use—no need for the usual multipoint calibration process. The BrightLink 1485Fi and a companion model Brightlink 1480i (which accomodates upgrades from earlier BrightLink models by attaching to their existing mount) are expected to ship in October.
FujiFilm is known for the high quality lenses it makes for the broadcast industry, but is jumping into the projector market with the PF-Z5000, a 5,000-lumen, compact laser projector with a unique rotating lens. The biaxial rotation capabilities on this ultra short-throw 0.34 lens allows a wide range of different projector body and lens positions to accommodate both the usual and unusual circumstances. You can project in any of six directions including everything from a conventional set-up in front of the screen for an image from 70 to 300 inches, to ceiling or floor projections, portrait projections, and both front and rear projection options. The body of the projector can also be placed either horizontally or vertically, as it is in our photo showing it set up in a wall shelf to accommodate a floor projection.
The tremendous flexibility of the lens and its remarkable broad lens shift capability for a UST projector (+/-82% vertical, +/-35% horizontal) allows large-scale projections from the floor onto nearby walls, so the projector can remain low and unobtrusive in a retail or museum space. You can read more about this innovative projector here.
Another fascinating display technology was on display from Hypervsn, a UK-based firm that markets a holographic LED fan-style projector for advertising applications. Hypervsn offers a complete software/hardware solution using either of two sizes of four-vane fans, which can be used individually or combined to create large displays. The massive demo display at the company's booth, for example, used an array of 60 of the smaller 56 cm projector ($2,400 each; a 75 cm version at $2,700 is also available, but combined-projector displays benefit from the closer proximity of the smaller unit).
Maxell raised a few eyebrows at InfoComm by appearing exclusively under its own name. The company appeared at ISE in February announcing that the projectors being sold by its Hitachi unit would be rebranded, and this was the first show in which no Hitachi products or signage could be found at their booth. Visitors who stopped by declaring "I didn't know Maxell made projectors!" were treated to a bit of Maxell history; the company is known for its consumer audiotapes back in the day, but today provides electronic components to various commercial markets; it delivers a commanding share of rear-view cameras to the auto industry, for example. Showgoers could also sit for a photo on a set that recreated the classic Maxell "Blown Away Guy" image from the iconic tape ad.
That said, there were a few other booth highlights beyond the 6,000 lumen MP-WU5603 laser projector that we recognized with one of our Best of Show awards. One particularly interesting demo involved the 8,000-lumen MP-WU8801 WUXGA 3LCD laser projector equipped with an ultra short throw lens firing at a piece of plane glass coated with a special film. With the flip of a switch, the projector powered up and the see-through glass became a rear-projection screen. With another flip of the switch, it went back to being see-through. The effect could make for an engaging retail window display. Maxell hopes to offer the projector and film as a package by end of the year. Also on display was the previously announced MA-XL1 Lecture Capture Solution being fed by the MP-TW4001, a 4,200 lumen UST laser projector. The MA-XL1 allows universities to record lectures and enjoy whiteboard collaboration between two equipped locations. Capabilities for additional locations are expected to be added soon with the integration of Zoom software later this year.
NEC showed off their ProjectorCentral Best of Show-winning PX1005QL 4K, 10,000 lumen laser projector with a demo that used a UST lens and displayed four separate 1080p images on a single large 16:9 screen (below).
But the newest projector announcement was for the compact and incredibly quiet (for its class size) 6,000 lumen P605UL laser projector that debuted on the eve of the show. The company also showed a pretty cool projection-mapping display driven by the 8,000 lumen NP-PA803UL.
Optoma had a number of new projectors to show, including two that we recognized with our Best of Show award. The new flagship ZK 1050 10,000 lumen 4K laser projector was demo'd to great effect with a pair of them blended to light up a 17-feet wide by 5.5-feet high screen at the back of the booth (below).
Meanwhile, the CinemaX P1, a 3,000 lumen, 4K, ultra short throw laser projector with a built-in soundbar and streaming platform, was demo'd in a more advanced version than was seen at CES in January. Some new features were demo'd as well, including a cool app that allows you to use your phone's camera to frame out the screen and automatically align the image—a task that can otherwise be challenging with UST projectors. Optoma still expects to have the P1 out later this year.
Other Optoma highlights included the new ZU720T, said to be the world's first 7,000 lumen laser DLP projector available with a fixed lens; the 8,500-lumen ZU860 WUXGA laser projector; the ZK507, a 4K laser model at 5,000 lumens; and a new entry-level laser series with WUXGA resolution at 4,500 lumens (ZU406), 5,000 lumens (ZU506T), and 6,000 lumens (ZU606T).
We honored two Panasonic laser projectors with InfoComm Best of Show awards, the recently reviewed PT-VMZ50U at 5,000 lumens with WUXGA resolution, and the 4K resolution, 20,000 lumen PT-RQ22KU. But the biggest thing in sight at their booth was the massive (and yet, the world's smallest for its lumen class) PTRQ50KU, a 50,000-lumen, 4K, 3DLP large-venue projector blasting an image on to a 250-inch screen in bright ambient light. A non-working prototype was shown at ISE in February, but InfoComm attendees got to see it in action. It's due out at end of the year and the list price, if you're wondering, is $325,000.
Other new projectors featured, all laser models, included: The 16,000 lumen PT-MZ16K, a 3LCD model with WUXGA resolution, and two sister models at 13,000 and 10,000 lumens; the PT-RCQ10, with 4K-equivalent resolution (thanks to pixel-shifting) and 10,000 lumens, along with an 8,000-lumen sister model; and the PT-LRZ35U (below), an RGB LED projector with 3,500 lumens and WUXGA resolution.
The PT-LRZ35U and the WXGA version PT-LRW35U are unusual among commercial projectors for offering HDMI-CEC control, which allows for automatic power-up when the projector sees a signal from compatible sources. Finally, a new lens for the company's 1-chip DLP projectors, the ET-DLE020, is said to be the first UST lens with powered optical zoom. It'll be available in December.
Peerless-AV showed off its full line of projector mounts including the Best of Show award-winning PJR250 heavy duty mount designed for easily handling of large-venue projectors up to 250 pounds. Another highlight (shown here) was the PJR125-POR, specifically deisgned for portrait orientation with today's laser projectors.
Ricoh was in Orlando promoting its range of projectors from portables to UST to traditional conference room and large-venue up to 12,000 lumens, at WUXGA, WXGA, and XGA resolutions. Among those being promoted was the company's popular PJ WXC1110 pico projector, a super-compact WXGA (1280x800) DLP model with a 600-lumen RGB LED light engine and short throw lens that fits easily in a briefcase or backpack and has been a favorite among travelling sales warriors. [BAN1]
At the Screen Innovations booth, another ProjectorCentral honoree, the new Solo 2 retractable screen motorized screen was on display mated with the SI's ST material designed for ultra short-throw projectors. But showgoers also marveled at the motorized furniture holding the UST projector, developed in conjunction with Aegis AV Cabinets, that hides the projector and can move it out from the screen to effect a larger image size than might be possible with a simple table-top mount.
Other highlights included announcement of a new low-voltage power option for SI's 5 Series motorized screens (for screens up to 160-inches diagonal), and an impressive demo of the Zero G rollable display with a 160-inch diagonal, Slate 1.2 screen. The Zero G rolls smoothly down from its hung housing, allowing as much as 16 feet from the bottom of its case to the top of the image before the screen unrolls. That leaves nothing but thin cabling between the case and the top of the screen for a floating-image effect. The backing on SI's Slate 1.2 material is also fully opaque, so sunlight from a window or other lighting behind the screen won't affect the image.
Along with an enormous Crystal LED video wall that mesmerized showgoers, Sony showed four of its projectors at InfoComm including both of our Best of Show designees, the VPL-FHZ75 3LCD laser projector and the VPL-GTZ240 SXRD laser projector, a specialty model for the simulation market. Also on hand was the 12,000 lumen, WUXGA, 3LCD, laser-driven VPL-FHZ120L (below) and Sony's popular and affordable VPL-PHZ10 3LCD projector, a Projector Central Editor's Choice from 2017.
Stewart Filmscreen was in Orlando showing its Luxus ceiling-mount motorized screen, a fresh redesign of what had been its popular general-purpose corporate Model A Electriscreen, in a commanding 180-inch diagonal size. Unlike the old Model A, the Luxus is serviceable in the field, where the roller assembly can be changed out if needed—it's no longer necessary to take the screen down and send it for service or maintenance. The freshend cosmetics also include stylish aluminum endcaps (the main body is available in either black or white). The tab-tensioned screen can be ordered with a variety of materials, including perforated for acoustic transparency.
At InfoComm, ViewSonic showed its ProjectorCentral Best of Show honorees including the LS700-4K, a highly-affordable single-chip DLP 4K laser model geared for home theater or conference room use, and the LS900WU, a 6,000 lumen WUXGA commercial laser projector that's also offered up at an attractive price. Also on hand was an advanced prototype of the X1000-4K, an ultra short-throw projector with built in soundbar intended for home theater that ViewSonic demo'ed in a smaller version at CES.
Like similar UST home theater models from LG and Optoma also announced at CES for later in the year, ViewSonic is using an LED light engine rather than laser, and expects to come in at a much lower $1,799 price point. The tentative specs call for 1000 ANSI lumens of brightness, 4K UHD resolution, and 125% of Rec.709 color space. It was shown with a 100-inch ambient-light rejecting screen intended for UST projectors. Expected delivery is in the October/November timeframe. [BAN2]
Upon entering the Vivitek booth at InfoComm, showgoers couldn't help looking up and noticing the impressive, perfectly edge-blended display on the hanging, two-tier screen that stretched unbroken (included curved corners) above three full sides of the booth. It took nine of the company's 18,000-lumen DU9800Z and seven of its DU7195 8,000-lumen laser projectors (all WUXGA resolution) to make it happen, and it was by far the signal largest unbroken projection anywhere on the show floor. Among the new products being promoted and demo'ed were two ProjectorCentral winners, the DK1000Z 10,000 lumen, 4K laser projector and the affordably-priced DH3660Z, a 4,500-lumen 1080p laser model. One surprise was the announcement of a new 4K lamp-based projector—the only lamp-based projector we saw being demonstrated at the show. The DK2688 (below) is a single-chip, UHD-resolution DLP rated at 4,000 lumens and 50,000:1 contrast, and offering lamp life in Dynamic Eco mode of up to 4,000 hours.