Home Theater Projectors
News and Updates

January 12, 2004

Hi folks,

Well, another Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has come and gone, having just wrapped up in Las Vegas this weekend. The show itself was huge. Traffic on the exhibit hall floors exceeded everyone's expectations. Frankly this is the first show in quite a while where it was tough to get from A to B without having to elbow your way through the crowd.

As far as video systems go, this year's show was primarily oriented toward plasma TVs, LCD TVs, and rear projection TVs. Having just seen a roll-out of a number of new projectors at CEDIA in September, there wasn't a lot of new projector release activity at this show. However, there is some news to tell you about.

First, BenQ released several new items. The PE8710 will be an upgrade to the current PE8700. The PE8710 incorporates the latest HD2+ DLP chip with 2500:1 contrast, and a 7-segment color wheel with 300 Hz refresh rate. That compares to the 8700's HD2 chip, 2000:1 contrast, and 6-segment, 240 Hz wheel. The 8710 will replace the 8700 at the same estimated street price of $5,999, making it the lowest priced HD2+ machine on the market. It is scheduled to ship in April.

BenQ also debuted a lower priced widescreen DLP unit featuring the 1024x576 Matterhorn chip, which will be marketed as the PE7800. Rated at 800 ANSI lumens and 2000:1 contrast, this product has a 6-segment, 5x color wheel. It will commence shipment by the end of this month at an estimated street price of $3,999.

Finally, first-time home theater enthusiasts in the economy budget range will want to know about BenQ's PB6200. This XGA-resolution machine is rated at a very bright 1700 ANSI lumens and 2000:1 contrast. It is HDTV compatible and features picture-in-picture and a 3000-hour lamp in eco-mode. But best of all it will hits the streets at the end of this month at a mere $1,599.

Epson used the CES show to debut two new products that are scheduled to ship in February. The Cinema 500 and Cinema 200, both 1280x720 widescreen LCD products, will form the core of Epson's new limited distribution home theater projector line, along with the lower priced and lower resolution Epson Home 10 that will be more widely available on the Internet.

The Cinema 500 is rated at 1000 ANSI lumens and up to 1200:1 contrast. It features horizontal and vertical lens shift, HDMI (HDCP) digital input, a 1.5x zoom lens, and onboard Faroudja DCDi video processing. It will retail for $4,999 and will be found in selected specialty home theater retailer showrooms beginning in the February/March timeframe.

Epson's Cinema 200 is a less fully-featured version of the 500. Lens shift, HDMI (HDCP), and Faroudja DCDi have been removed from the configuration. The 200 is a bit brighter (1300 ANSI lumens), and lower in contrast (800:1), than the 500. It is being released in the same timeframe, and will retail for $2,999. The TW100 is being discontinued along with the release of these two new models.

The Epson Home 10 is already in production and will be reviewed this month on ProjectorCentral. This entry level machine retails for a trifling $1,299 and features 852x480 resolution LCD panels.

The Optoma H76 was being demonstrated at this show, and it looked a lot better than it did at CEDIA in September. So rumors of its demise were premature. The company is still not quoting a firm shipment date, but don't be too surprised if you start seeing them this quarter. Meanwhile, the H30, Optoma's entry level unit, is shipping now. This SVGA resolution unit is rated at 2000:1 contrast and is the least expensive home theater projector to feature a DLP chip and 4x speed color wheel.

InFocus is adding to their home theater line with the Screenplay 4805, to be available sometime in the second quarter. However, we don't have any specs on hand for this unit at the moment, and the press release was a little shy on details. We will update the database this week as soon as we get more data on this product.

As noted last week we have several reviews scheduled for January. The Sony HS20, the Epson Home 10, and the Hitachi Home 1 are in review at the moment. We will also be taking another look at the updated Philips bCool XG1.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Las Vegas, NV