For those unaware, after waiting out 2020 with the rest of the world, CEDIA bravely pushed forward with their 2021 Expo last year only to watch it decimated by another COVID outbreak and last-minute desertions by exhibitors and attendees. For many, this 2022 show will be the first time many of our industry colleagues have traveled to a convention since 2019.

Based only on the bumper crop of new projectors and screens they'll find, it should be most satisfying visit to Dallas. Our first-ever CEDIA Expo Best of Show Awards honors 11 products, each innovative in their own right. Premium laser projectors from the industry's top brands abound, and there are exciting models to demo across the traditional long-throw theater models and new UST laser TV projectors that represent a significant new opportunity for integrators. Even the rather staid screen category has some interesting new things to catch your eye, from motorized screens to a problem-solving masking kit that breaks new ground. Here's our list of CEDIA Expo 2022 Best of Show Award winners.—Rob Sabin

Da-Lite Sightline Floating Projection Screen

Da-Lite Sightline

Da-Lite figured out that it could eliminate 85% of its custom screen orders—and the extra time needed to produce and deliver them—by eliminating the need for custom black-drop. Instead, the Sightline screens come down to exactly the position you need on three or four aircraft cables with a range of up to 70-inches. There's no pre-planning to figure the drop distance; just just bring in the screen at the size you want and dial in the viewing height on site. Furthermore, Sightline installs are guaranteed to accommodate future projector upgrades that may call for a different drop. The visual effect is of a floating image in space, and before you ask: it barely moves at all, thanks in part to having no black-drop on top that could add air resistance. Da-Lite has the Sightline option available for their Tensioned Advantage materials in sizes up to 177 inches diagonal 16:9 and up to 182 inches diagonal 16:10, and for Advantage materials up to 184 inches diagonal in 16:9 and up to 189 inches diagonal in 16:10. View Product Details

Christie Eclipse 6DLP RGB Laser Projector

Christie Eclipse

This massive commercial projector designed originally with the Hayden Planetarium in mind is now available—at breathtaking cost, we might add—for high-end residential home theaters via respected integrator Nigel Archer of Absolute Ultimate AV out of Bradenton, Florida. It's hard to overstate Christie's accomplishment here in producing what is by far the blackest specialty HDR projector on the planet with the highest contrast. As previously reported, the Eclipse is a 4K-resolution, pure RGB laser projector capable of achieving close to full Rec.2020 color gamut and a 20 million:1 contrast ratio achieved with a clever 6-chip DLP system. One set of 4K chips is used as the primary display system, while a second trio of optically-coupled 1080p-resolution chips functions as the equivalent of a local-dimming backlight, modulating the light source to either deepen blacks or boost highlights in specific areas of the image to achieve otherwise impossible dynamic range. This CEDIA demo is sure to be among the most sought after at the show. View Product Details

Epson ProCinema LS12000 PRO-UHD Laser Projector

Epson LS12000

It would be enough to celebrate the reintroduction of a solid-state laser light source to Epson's most premium home theater projectors in new LS12000 flagship and step down LS11000. But more critically, these are Epson's first 3LCD projectors to offer four-phase, dual axis pixel-shifting, which puts all the pixels in a 3840x2160 UHD video frame on the screen using a technique similar to the most popular single-chip 4K DLP projectors. Other advanced features include HDMI 2.1 ports that accommodate 4K/120 Hz gaming with relatively low input lag, and (of course) Epson's "UB" UltraBlack technology to supress stray light reflections and deliver solid blacks and contrast. With its $4,999 ticket price, the LS12000 represents one of today's best values in home theater projection and presents a serious alternative to native 4K LCoS models. See Projector Details

EPV Screens DarkStar Max UST-FR Floor-Rising Projection Screen

DSMAX USTFR Angle cedia best

Lenticular ambient-light rejecting (ALR) screens for ultra-short throw "laser TV" projectors are a critical element that make these systems a viable TV replacement, but the prospect of a large, permanently-mounted screen in a living room or den may prove a long-term detriment to adoption. To address this, Elite helped pioneer rollable lenticular materials for ceiling- and wall-mounted motorized screens that can hide away. The new DarkStar Max UST-FR is a potential game changer that could find considerable favor with integrators. The free-standing, 100- or 120-inch floor-rising screen comes up from its housing with the push of a button; "scissor-backed" cross-spring risers raise and lower the material, with no fear of injuries thanks to an anti-pinch feature that stops the screen from retracting if it detects curious fingers. The Max UST-FR can live atop a low-boy credenza, but notably, also has the potential to be built into cabinetry that can hide both the screen and the projector out of sight when not in use for an "instant theater" effect. And the tension-mounted CLR ceiling-light-rejecting material is EPV's highest grade UST screen, offering 95% rejection of overhead light and a dark gray 0.5 gain surface that vastly improves contrast in bright light while providing an ultra-wide viewing angle. See Product Details

Hisense PX1-PRO Trichroma Laser Cinema UST Projector

Hisense px1 pro 1 cedia best

Hisense helped pioneer the Laser TV category and capped it several generations later with its TriChroma L9G projector/screen bundles introduced last fall. The platform uses discrete RGB lasers to achieve color gamut that exceeds Rec.2020 for highly saturated and more natural reds and greens at a time when only a few TVs can claim the same, and even while most HDR content remains restricted to the less expansive DCI-P3 color space. The PX1-PRO honored here was released in January as a follow-up to the L9G series, using a similarly high-performing light engine but with some key concessions. Notably, the PX1-PRO is a standalone piece that offers motorized adjustable focus, so users can enjoy sharp images from 90 to 130 inches and their integrators can mate it with whatever appropriate UST ALR screen they prefer to sell. With a few less lumens than the L9G, it's geared more toward dark-room theater applications but can still do double-duty as the family TV in moderate ambient light. Best of all, its typical street price of $3,299 puts it squarely in the territory of many less-sophisticated single-laser models and represents tremendous value in this fast-growing projector segment. See Projector Details

JVC DLA-NZ9 D-ILA 8K Laser Projector


JVC's flagship DLA-NZ9/RS4100 laser projector debuted at last year's CEDIA and finally shipped in early 2022, breaking new ground in the premium home theater category that has yet to be challenged. The projector and its step-down siblings all start out with critical carryovers from JVC's last series of lamp projectors, including the deep native blacks of the company's LCoS-based native 4K D-ILA imagers as well as the proven efficacy of their Frame Adapt dynamic HDR tone mapping. But the NZ9 is notable for being the first projector with not only full-bandwidth, 8K-compliant HDMI 2.1 inputs but also a new 240 Hz version of the JVC e-shift technology that puts all the pixels in that signal on the screen without truncation. And JVC continues to evolve the entire NZ series, making additional noise at CEDIA with the announcement of yet another free firmware update that, among other things, further enhances the Frame Adapt technology, and the debut of a limited-run special edition of the NZ9 with 50% higher native contrast. See Projector Details

LG Electronics HU915QB Laser UST Projector

LG HU915QB 1 CediaBest

LG debuted the first tri-laser UST living room projector to reach market in 2019 with its HU85LA, and their new flagship HU915QB trumps it with even better performance in a projector designed with serious theater applications as well as bright room viewing in mind. LG's unique approach eschews the more common discrete RGB laser configuration with a red-blue-blue plus phosphor design that still avoids the need for a color wheel but also minimizes laser speckle common to RGB engines while delivering high 3,000 ANSI-lumen brightness. Perhaps more critically, the HU915QB offers improved dynamic tone-mapping for HDR, and by far the most sophisticated calibration options you'll find among the new generation laser TV projectors—including auto-calibration facilities with Calman calibration software. It's a solid attempt at bringing state-of-the-art performance to the UST category. See Projector Details

Samsung Freestyle Portable LED Projector

Samsung Freestyle

This modest projector, sold commonaly as "The Freestyle," made a splash at the 2022 CES in January and is now making its CEDIA debut in Dallas. The underlying technology amounts to a relatively common LED light engine typical of small portables, though with more image and calibration adjustments than we normally see. But Samsung really earns its recognition here with the Freestyle's swiveling, cylindrical form factor and accessories combined with its unique marketing approach. At a time when small lifestyle projectors and UST laser TVs are the fastest growing segments of the consumer segment, the company is demonstrating what can be done with projection beyond throwing cartoons up on the wall for the kids. They promote the Freestyle as a secondary display for viewing recipes on the kitchen wall, as a giant computer monitor for the office, as an art-project facilitator that can cast an image on a tabletop via an adapter that lets it hang from a conventional bulb socket like a pendant fixture, and as a multi-colored mood light with the included diffuser head. Oh yeah, it's also a smart speaker. Whether these ideas catch on over the long term is anyone's guess. But Samsung gets kudos for a bold attempt to expose and re-invent the category for a legion of consumers who may never have given projection a second thought. See Projector Details

Screen Innovations Solo 3 Motorized Projection Screen Series

Screen Innovations Solo 3 indoor cedia best

Of course, the word is right there in the brand name, but we remain repeatedly awed by how Screen Innovations continuously...innovates. That's not always easy to do in a category as staid as projection screens, but the new Solo 3 series manages to surprise with its well thought out design that leans in part on SI's recent work in the motorized shade category. Two distinct products, targeted for indoor and outdoor use, make up the Solo family. Shared among them is a unique option to install the cannister deconstructed; the lighter weight makes for much faster and easier work. The new design also features removable fascia, which permits unparalleled access for material swaps, readjustments, and programming. To simplify programming, both also take advantage in select wired models of an interface dubbed Moab, the "Mother of all Boards." It allows all forms of wired communication, including Dry Contact, 12v Trigger, IR, Relay, and RS485, and provides for ultra-fast limit setting and easy motor configuration changes; no PC or external hardware required. Solo 3 Indoor screen options include surface or in-ceiling mounts, and the Solo 3 Outdoor offers a first-ever solar-powered option along with SI's usual wireless lithium battery power. See Product Details

Seymour-Screen Excellence Retro Masking System

Chris Seymour demos the Retro Masking System

Chris Seymour of Seymour-Screen Excellence has engineered some of the world's best ALR and acoustically transparent screens, but the new Retro Masking System is a decidedly less complicated, if no less noteworthy execution. Motorized masking systems for 2.4:1 'Scope-style screens are one of those finishing touches that provides both the best viewing experience with 16:9 content as well as that wow-factor that makes clients happy and impresses their friends and family. The problem is that these systems are costly and usually customized to each individual manufacturer. Existing add-on systems, on the other hand, have been strictly manual, typically in the form of magnetic panels that attach to the screen. The Retro Masking System, or RMS, fills a niche with an affordable, motorized system that attaches to existing fixed screen frames up to 288 inches wide across a broad range of brands. Once in place, the black masking material can be rolled down on either side of the frame with the flick of a button from the included remote, or moved up or down via automation. Cost? Just $1,295.

Sony VPL-XW7000ES SXRD Laser Projector

Sony XW7000ES cediabest

Sony's recent home theater line update includes three new models, none brighter or more advanced than the $28,000 VPL-XW7000ES. The projector starts out with a new late-generation UHD-resolution LcoS SXRD chip, then takes advantage of Sony's X1 Ultimate for Projector video processor, trickled down from the company's $80,000 VPL-GTZ380 flagship, to provide more granular executions of key Sony features than seen in previous models. Dynamic HDR Enhancer and Object-Based HDR Remaster provide real-time frame-by-frame treatment to boost highlights and deepen blacks with a finely finessed HDR tone-map, while the additional processing power enhances the efficacy of Sony's database-resourced Reality Creation scaling and noise reduction. A new Advanced Crisp Focus (ACF) lens, based on the company's successful ARC-F technology with a floating aspherical front element for crisp images out to the edge of the frame, fills out the package. All-in-all, the VPL-XW7000ES represents Sony's latest and most advanced engineering in a high-performance, cost-effective package suitable for most premium theater rooms. See Projector Details


Post a comment

Enter the numbers as they appear to the left