InFocus Corporation has raised the ante in the high-performance portable projection market with the release of the LP530. This is the industry's first 2000 ANSI lumen projector in a truly portable package--5.7 lbs., or 6.5 lbs w/ expansion module. The LP530 made its debut at Infocomm (June 13-15, 2001), and is scheduled to commence shipment almost immediately. InFocus' estimated street price is $4,999.
Following on the heels of the LP530 is the Optoma EzPro 755, also rated at 2000 ANSI lumens and weighing 6.8 lbs. Optoma says shipments will begin in the September/October timeframe. MSRP is $7,995, but it will sell on the street for well under that.
LP530 vs. EzPro 755
The InFocus LP530 and the Optoma EzPro 755 are closely matched in several of their key technical and performance specifications. Both have light engines featuring a single XGA resolution DLP chip and a 270-watt SHP lamp with a 2000-hour lamp life. Both have a 1.2x manual zoom and focus lens. Both will compress up to an SXGA signal. Both are HDTV (1080i/720p) and DVI compatible. Both have monitor loop-through.
However, there are some notable differences as well. The LP530 has a 400:1 contrast rating, while the EzPro 755 is rated at 800:1. (Note that these are manufacturer's claims and not independently verified numbers.)
Audible noise on the LP530 is 39 dB, compared to 32dB on the EzPro. In practical terms, this means that the LP530's noise level is noticeable but not overbearing, and the EzPro is almost silent. However, both the LP530 and the EzPro 755 have a conservation mode (Optoma calls it "Eco Mode") that reduces brightness to 1600 lumens while quieting the fan down somewhat and extending lamp life. The fact is that 1600 ANSI lumens is still plenty of firepower. So we suspect many users will opt to run in conservation mode.
The LP530 has one 3-watt speaker on board, while the EzPro has two. Finally, the EzPro 755 will accept a 480p video signal, and the LP530 will not.
The LP530 has an expansion module that snaps onto the rear of the unit to give it dual computer input, video input, and RS-232. With the module in place the LP530 weighs 6.5 lbs. Without the module you can connect a single computer source only. Weight drops to 5.7 lbs. So mobile presenters who only need a single computer source may opt to travel 0.8 lbs lighter by leaving the expansion module at home.
The LP530 also has Faroudja deinterlacing on board. Faroudja is a great name in video processing and well-known in the high-end home theater world. The use of the Faroudja chip should give the LP530 some additional video quality that it would not otherwise have. Bear in mind however that the LP530 is not intended as a product for the home theater market. Accordingly InFocus did not bother to demonstrate the LP530's video capability in the most flattering of circumstances at Infocomm. The signal was poor and ambient light washed out much of the contrast in the image. Viewers came away not having a clue how the LP530 would really perform if optimized for video.
Mobile presenters who want to pack a lot of light in a small package can order the InFocus LP530 today and expect delivery in July. A 2000 ANSI lumen XGA projector in a form factor as little as 5.7 lbs, and priced under $5,000, is a price/performance breakthrough that many will want to take advantage of forthwith.
The Optoma EzPro 755 is an alternative solution that won't be available until sometime in the fall. But if you don't need a new projector immediately, the wait may reward you with a projector that offers better on-board audio, higher contrast, and nearly silent fan noise.