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Lasers, Lasers, Lasers Rule the Roost at InfoComm 2019

Rob Sabin, June 20, 2019
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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.

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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.

Barco-UDM-4K22

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.

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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.

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Above: DPI's INSIGHT 4K HFR 360 displays three simultaneous full 1080p 3D images for different viewers. Below: A peek through the glasses.

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.

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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.

Draper Profile + ALR Demo3

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.

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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.

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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.

FujiFilm-FP-Z5000-2

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).

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Comments (2) Post a Comment
Frank Farago Posted Jun 24, 2019 8:18 AM PST
Wow, so as an old fan of all thing Fuji and Fujifilm, I was interested learning about the new line of FUJIFILM projectors.... Unfortunately as of 24 June 2019.... FUJIFILM is not even listed as an existing projector manufacturer when you try to find the brand in the drop-down list on the "Find a Projector" page. Oh well....
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 24, 2019 8:19 AM PST
Frank, they do not yet have distribution in the United States for this new product -- the first and only projector they have yet to offer. So far, they've shown it at the ISE show in Amsterdam earlier in the year and again at InfoComm, but the company is in the early stages of setting up a sales operation.

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