Tech News: The State of Projection

Twice a year we at ProjectorPeople.com take a moment to share with you our perspective on what’s new in the projection industry. In this article we will look at some of the current trends, from features to pricing, in business video projection.

Popular Markets – Where are Business Projectors Used?

Business projectors are as popular as ever in presentation applications, particularly in church, education, and business environments. Churches in particular have been empowered by lower projector prices to use portable projectors in smaller venues such as youth rooms, and in more intimate worship environments such as missionary outings.

Last year we mentioned that projector price decreases have also allowed for greater buying power to business owners in the service industry. We continue to see restaurants and sports bars employing big screen projectors as a way to entice visitors, and entertain them as they dine, drink, or dance. Major events such as the Super Bowl, Olympics, Oscars, and Title Fights are also big draws, which are a perfect pairing for a 200-inch big display. But lower prices on bright High-Definition widescreen (16×9) projectors and broader product options are the biggest drivers of sales in this segment.

Photographers use projectors

Photographers continue to be a growing segment of projector users, with more artists taking advantage of video projectors as a selling tool – either displaying slideshows to drive more photo sales, or as an extra for displaying real-time photos (or video) at special events such as weddings and bar mitzvahs. Widescreen (16×9) projectors are becoming more popular with photographers as well, as widescreen laptops have become the most common. (Photo: Brian Adams Photographics)

Specs and Prices

Brightness

Projectors for business continue to get brighter, with the lower prices and advancing technology taking projectors to their brightest lumen ratings ever. In fact, the brightness benchmark for lights-on-presentations is now at approximately 2000 lumens (up from the 1500 we reported a year ago). There are also numerous affordable options in the 2500-3500 lumen range as well, for those who require a larger screen, or who just want a punchier image.

Weight

Not too much has changed in the weight category this year, with the exception of a new category of projectors called “pocket projectors.” These new highly portable and stylish projectors are designed for portability only. They are not nearly as bright as standard ultra portable projectors. For example, the Mitsubishi PK20 weighs just 1.1 lbs., but produces just 25 lumens of brightness. Image sizes are also limited to 40-60 inches (on a good day).

The ultra-portable projectors you know and love remain in the 2 – 7 lbs. range, and continue to add brightness.

Resolution

As we have reported over the last several months, HD widescreen projectors are now readily available, and even more affordable. But there are still customers who still prefer a 4:3 image, like users in business settings – in particular those projectors managed through a local area network. For those users there is still good news in the pixel category. There are now many affordable SXGA+ (1400×1050) product options. In fact, SXGA+ projectors have dropped hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of dollars in the last year. Projectors are catching up to those high resolution laptops and desktop computer display resolutions.

Three Tiers of Portable Projectors

Entry Level Portables

NEC Projector
  • 2000 – 2500 lumens (SVGA, XGA)
  • Good for audiences of 20 people or less
  • Weight: 2 – 7 lbs.
  • Price range: $650 – $1,299*
  • Example product: Casio XJ-S30

    Mid Range Portables

  • 2500 – 3500 lumens (XGA, WXGA)
  • Good for audiences of 50 people or less
  • Weight: 2 – 7 lbs.
  • Price range: $899 – $1,799*
  • Example product: Optoma EP739

    High End Portables

  • 3500+ lumens (XGA,WXGA, SXGA+)
  • Any size audience up to 100+
  • Weight: 4 -10 lbs.
  • Price range: $1,799 – $3,500*
  • Example product: Optoma EP910

    Installation Projectors for Home or Office

    Conference Room Installation

    NEC Projector
  • 3500+ lumens (XGA,SXGA+)
  • Any size audience up to 100+
  • Price range: $2,000 – $8,000*
  • Example product: NEC NP1000

    Widescreen Installation Projectors

  • 3500+ lumens (WXGA, WXGA-H)
  • Any size audience up to 100+
  • Price range: $6,000 and up*.
  • Example product:Panasonic PT-DW5000U

    * Prices are approximations based on ProjectorPeople.com pricing on March 7, 2007

    Quick Tip: Want more pricing information? Use our handy “Projector Finder” tool and break-it-down your way.

    Projector Popularity Contest

    At ProjectorPeople.com we have our very own Top Ten list. No it’s not a series of clever jokes about projectors, it’s actually our top models sold from our last seven days of business. So if you ever wonder what other people are buying, this handy reference might be just what you need.

    On the Horizon

    How can manufacturers improve on the state of projection technology today? There are two noticeable voids between what the customer wants, and what is currently available. They are: wireless video capabilities (particularly HD) and content delivery to a projector over a local area network (LAN). Both of these features are closer to realization than they have been, but both are still potentially another year or two away.

    For wireless video transmission, some manufacturers are waiting for the standardization to materialize. Many are using the 802.11g protocol, which was not intended to handle video. Consumers are likely to want HD wireless video also, which may also delay adoption for manufacturers as well. There are signs that we are close to seeing HD wireless on the consumer market, however, as Sanyo demonstrated a HD WiFi via LASER at CES this year using proprietary WHDI technology from Amimon (read more here).

    Content delivery to a projector over a LAN is also getting closer to fruition, though users may ultimately realize that the network functionality that currently exists is really all they require. Currently projectors can be managed through a network, which essentially means that anything you can do with the projector’s remote control can be managed by a person with proper access on a given network. Projectors can set auto shut down times (a big time-saver on a business or school campus), sources can be switched (handy with novice users), and so on. Networked projectors also allow network administrators to receive emails when the projector is disconnected from the network (in case of theft), or for basic maintenance reminders (low lamp life, and so on). But users are still clamoring to access files over their projector without a computer which cannot happen without an onboard processor with the application installed.

    As we predicted last year, prices continue to drop, and lower priced units have more features and brightness than ever before. Low-resolution (SVGA) projectors are still alive, and are still inexpensive for very bright models. But the reports of SVGA’s death were greatly exaggerated. We still see numerous options in the SVGA category. Still, SVGA remains the lowest common resolution, and will probably be phased out sooner than later.

    In the coming year, watch for continued dedication to higher resolution projectors (HD, SXGA+) and for the prices on those units to dip slightly, then stabilize. Home theater projectors could see more brightness, while they continue to hold on to higher contrast ratios.

    Last Year’s Wish List:
    • More options in affordable high-resolution widescreen projectors. (granted)
    • PDAs and cell phones that can plug directly into a projector. (not granted)
    • Wireless full-motion video that works without producing artifacts. (not there yet)
    • Wireless projectors that don’t require loading proprietary software on each laptop (granted somewhat, easier installations with seamless downloads )
    This Year’s Wish List:
    • Content delivery to a projector over a LAN
    • Projector with full motion HD via wireless transmission
    • Projectors with an iPod dock or more with USB capability.
    • Longer lasting lamps

    Share Your Opinion

    Do you have a projection need that is currently going unfulfilled? Share your ideas with us and we will pass your thoughts along to our manufacturer contacts. Some great innovations have stemmed from our customer feedback!

    Still have questions? Call a Projector Expert today for the best advice and the best price on projectors for work and home.

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