Projectors in Action: Mates of State music video

In their latest music video, indie band Mates of State grabbed a 3M MPro150 pocket projector and skipped around Manhattan, beaming images on unsuspecting passers-by. Surprisingly, no one was harmed during the filming of the video.

In addition to being a feel-good video, the band shows the amazing portability and flexibility of the 3M MPro150. It’s one of the few pocket projectors with internal storage. If the band had used another projector, they might have had to attach an iPod or other external device to store their video.

Watch Mates of State’s “True Love Will Find You in the End” video below.

Projector Central Reviews the BenQ SP890

Our friends at recently reviewed the BenQ SP890 presentation projector.

They praised the BenQ SP890’s brightness, contrast, and ability to double as a home theater projector with relatively few limitations.

The SP890 is not the first 1080p presentation projector, but it does have the highest contrast of any comparable projector. At 50,000:1, the difference between the SP890 and a typical 2,000:1 data projector is immense. As far as black level, there is no contest. Shadow detail is exceptionally well-defined and high-contrast scenes are presented accurately. Foregrounds seem to pop off of backgrounds, and there is a clear sense of depth in high-contrast material. Photographs in particular look striking and life-like. Even 1080p film content, which is notoriously hard to reproduce well on a data projector, looks vivid and three-dimensional. –

Check out the review here »

3D and Projectors: What the Future Holds

Update Sept. 09, 2010: LG has released the LG CF3D, the first 1080p 3D projector geared for home theater. LG solved many of the problems previously associated with 3D projection. LG’s CF3D – and a crop of new 1080p 3D projectors – can accept content over HDMI and play 3D in HD. Stay tuned to the Projector People blog to find out more about 3D projectors for home theater.

No doubt 3D has revolutionized the cinema experience. Avatar was the highest-grossing movie of all time. In the near future, Jack Black, Johnny Knoxville and even Sacha Baron Cohen will all pop out of a screen near you.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

But what does this mean for the future of 3D projectors and Home Theater?

We recently sat down with Chris Chinnock, a 3D analyst at Insight Media and board member on the 3D@Home consortium, an industry group dedicated to expediting 3D for Home Theater adoption.

Chris is an expert when it comes to 3D. In his talk with us, he used big words like “horizontal parallax”, “swept volume” and “spatial‐temporal multiplexed”. This guy lives and breathes 3D.

Basically, Chris told us the future of 3D at home is bright, but the present is a little muddy. There are currently no standards for nearly all components of 3D production and viewing. From mastering the content to syncing the glasses and display, multiple protocols exist.

Chris said “handshaking” issues are common.

The 3D@Home consortium expects 3D will revolutionize the projector scene, and we heartily agree. But for now and in the near future, 3D at home is for patient, early adopters.

“But My Neighbor Has a 3D Projector”

3D-ready projectors entered the market two years ago. They were designed mainly for educational purposes. Think of how cool 11th grade geometry would have been if you could have seen parallelograms and isosceles triangles rotated in the third dimension.

But these projectors are only 720p, and since they don’t have an HDMI input, can only receive content from a PC through a VGA or DVI cable. This can reduce the image quality to a lousy 480i. In a way, watching 3D at home today is like taking a giant technological step backward.

Chris predicts that 1080p 3D projectors will hit the market as early as this fall.

For now, you can view 1080p 3D images on a 3D-enabled LCD flat screen television (that is, if you have a 3D-ready Blu-ray and 3D content and the proper cables.) But again, the lack of standards is an issue. Panasonic 3D glasses won’t work on your buddy’s Samsung TV. And 3D Blu-rays won’t play on all manufacturer displays. That’s why you typically see 3D-ready TVs, Blu-ray players and Blu-ray discs sold as bundles.

Sony recently announced the release of its first 3D Blu-ray title, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It’s the first 3D Blu-ray available as a standalone disc. It will also work on any 3D TV, Sony said.

Small step for Sony. Giant leap for 3D Home Theater.

“Content is king, especially when it comes to 3D, and right now there’s just not very much 3D video material out there, either live-broadcast or prerecorded.” –

How 3D Technology Works: It’s All In Your Head

To “see” in 3D, a slightly different image must be delivered to each eye. This is traditionally done with special glasses. To your brain, these ever-so-similar overlapping images create the illusion of depth.

Anaglyph images and glasses are the most basic way to deliver a 3D effect. Chances are everyone has seen the red and blue glasses made popular during earlier attempts at a 3D revival.

3D anaglyph glasses

These work by filtering an image composed of two almost identical superimposed color layers. Anaglyph technology is still used today and will work with any TV or projector. However, it provides the poorest 3D image quality.

Many of today’s cinematic 3D experiences are delivered via polarizing systems. These send the projector’s light through polarizing filters that force the light waves to oscillate in two different directions, one intended for the left eye, the other for the right. A special polarization preserving screen is required.

Filters on the glasses allow the lenses to passively pick up the light (read: image) meant for each eye. The brain combines the two images and tada! 3D.

Color is improved and cross-talk (when one eye picks up an image meant for the other) is virtually eliminated with the polarizing method compared to anaglyph. However, the image’s brightness is greatly reduced since each eye only picks up half the light from the screen. Some theaters use two separately polarized projectors to compensate for this.

All the 3D-ready projectors available in the commercial and residential market today use active shutter glasses to deliver the third dimension. Chris expects this will be the standard for all 3D DLP projectors in the future.

In this setup, the image on the screen alternates rapidly between scenes intended for each eye. The glasses respond by opening and closing the corresponding lens. (When the right-eye image is on the screen, the glasses shut the lens of the left eye.)

Active shutter glasses are more expensive than those required for the other technologies. Currently, they run at about $99 and may not work on all manufacturers’ displays. However, Xpand recently released universal shutter glasses. As more competitors enter the market, we expect the cost of active shutter glasses to drop soon.

With active shutter glasses, cross-talk is nearly impossible. However, the image is significantly dimmer than its 2D counterpart.

So far, all 3D DLP projectors use the DLPLink protocol to sync the glasses and the screen. We predict this setup, in which a white light is beamed from the projector to the screen to the glasses, will become the standard for 3D projection.

Preparing Your Home Theater for 3D

The 3D@Home consortium predicts that 100% of DLP projectors will be 3D-ready by 2014. We’re positive that by that time, standards will have been developed and the kinks associated with current 3D technology will be worked out.

What can you do to ready your Home Theater setup in the meantime? Since the active shutter technology seems the most likely to stick, we highly recommend investing in a high-quality screen, like the Black Diamond series. It’s also wise to stock up on high-quality HDMI cables and invest in HDMI-enabled devices like Blu-ray players.


We’ve received several inquiries about 3D recently (and we hope you’ll continue sending your questions in!) Here are some common 3D FAQs:

Do I need a 3D TV to play 3D content on my PS3?

Yes. Sony recently released a 3D firmware upgrade for the PS3. To watch 3D playback, you will need a 3D TV, as well as 3D content and HDMI cables.

What’s all this about HDMI 1.4 and 3D, will my HDMI 1.3 cables work?

That depends. The latest HDMI cable release, version 1.4, includes the capability to transmit a 3D signal. However, some higher quality HDMI 1.3 cables will also work if they support a firmware upgrade. The HDMI consortium has banned manufacturers from specifying the standard (ie. 1.3, 1.4, etc.) on their cables. Rather, manufacturers should display the cable’s features (3D ready, High Speed, etc.) All Projector People’s Comprehensive HDMI cables are capable of transmitting a 3D signal.

Can I watch 3D on my current 120 or 240 hz television?

Again, maybe. If you bought a high-end TV within the past few years, there is a very small chance it is 3D-ready. Jot down your model number and call the manufacturer.

Can I watch 2D DVDs and Blu-rays on a 3D display?

Yes, all 3D displays on the market today are backward compatible. They provide excellent 2D images.

When will we get more 3D content?

ESPN 3D launched in June on various carriers including AT&T U-verse, Comcast, and DirectTV. DirectTV also plans to air at least 85 live 3D sporting events in 2010. DirectTV 3D pay-per-view and on-demand channels should be available Summer 2010. Discovery, IMAX and Sony plan to launch entertainment, sports and nature content in 2011.

We Want Feedback

Have you had success with 3D in your Home Theater? If so, we want to hear your stories. Tell us what works, what doesn’t.

Do you have questions about 3D? We’re here to help. Send us your questions and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Easy Digital Signage: “If you can put together an iTunes playlist, you can do this.”

We were recently visited by Brian from Mitsubishi who demonstrated his company’s very cool, and very simple, digital signage system.

Digital signage is a form of electronic display that shows information, advertising and other messages. You may have seen digital signage screens at the grocery store, the mall or the doctor’s office. Digital signage is a great means for relaying information and enhancing customer experience.

When Brian demonstrated Mitsubishi’s setup, he used a school’s digital signage system as an example. The screen flashed the school calendar, a principal’s message and footage from a recent award ceremony. You could see how effective something like this would be for education and small businesses.

Check out the video below or on our YouTube page.

In the past, setting up digital signage was a time-consuming and expensive process. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars and days of training.

The entire Mitsubishi digital signage setup – player, LCD screen and software – starts at $1,449 and set up is so easy, even Brian can do it! (Note, this is the same man who had to ask his son to set up his iPod.)

Check out our digital signage packages here»

“Anybody who can put together a PowerPoint slide show can do this.”

~ Brian from Mitsubishi

Real quick, let’s go into the components of the Mitsubishi digital signage setup. They are:

  • Digital Signage Player: Technically, this is called a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer.) It’s basically an 80-gig computer that runs your digital signage system. Unlike a PC, it doesn’t have an operating system, which means it won’t crash. This player is used widely throughout Asia, Europe and the United States, including on the monorail systems in Las Vegas. It plays graphics, text and video clips.
  • LCD Display: Mitsubishi’s monitors are available in 32-inch (720p), 42-inch (720 and 1080), 46, 52 and 65-inch (1080p) displays. All monitors are commercial-grade and backed by an impressive 3-year warranty. You can hook up more than one monitor to each digital signage player. All monitors hooked up to the player will display the same message.
  • Software: The software allows you to program the videos and messages that appear in the different zones on the monitor. The software is available as a free download.

“Think of this as digital signage with training wheels.”

~ Brian from Mitsubishi

The Mitsubishi digital signage system can run 24/7, but to keep the warranty valid you must turn it off for one hour per week. So what’s that? 24/6 plus 23/1?

Brian said most of his customers are either digital signage newbies who appreciate the simplicity and affordability of the Mitsubishi application, or business owners who found other means of digital signage too cumbersome and costly.

Granted, the more expensive digital signage setups do have more bells and whistles than Mitsubishi’s. For example, they can be hooked up to inventory trackers and promote overstock items. However, most schools and small businesses don’t need all the fancy extras.

How to Quiet Vuvuzelas During World Cup Games

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail.

There are two distinct sounds associated with World Cup games. The first, the long exuberant cry of the commentators when someone scores:


The second, the monotonous drone of thousands of vuvuzelas. We can’t quite replicate the sound in print. If you must hear it (or really want to annoy those nearby,) you can play it on the vuvuzela Wikipedia entry.

Despite complaints from players that the vuvuzela interferes with communication on the field or concerns the noise could cause hearing loss, World Cup officials refuse to ban the horn from the stadium.

Fortunately, for those who find the angry-hive-of-bees sound particularly brain-piercing, Consumer Reports offers the following tips for drowning out the horn on your Home Theater setup:

  • turn the treble all the way down
  • on a more advanced system, try tweaking the equalizers
  • if you have surround sound, lower the volume of the left and right speakers (which carry crowd noises) and turn up the volume of the center speaker (which carries the commentators’ voices)
  • if all else fails, press the mute button

Read the Consumer Reports article here >>

Do you silence the vuvuzela, or just cope with the noise?