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Projection Roundtable

Experts from The Briefing Room sound off about current trends emerging in the corporate projector industry.

Projection Roundtable

Nov 17, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Jay Ankeney

Experts from The Briefing Room sound off about current trends emerging in the corporate projector industry.

projectiondesign F30

For this year’s Projection Roundup survey of industry opinion, the editors of Sound & Video Contractor turned to experts from 12 companies that routinely communicate important announcements to the industry through the Briefing Room as our knowledge pool.

We also consulted with several industry experts to identify three major categories of corporate/business projectors of wide import to the permanent installation world, and devised a series of questions intended to present a reflection of the current state of the projection industry that would be of relevance to as wide a community as possible.

These categories are: large venue (defined as projectors producing 5000 lumens and up), conference room (defined as projectors producing 3000 lumens to 5000 lumens, typically designed to have computer inputs and intended for corporate installations in conference rooms, boardrooms, or training centers), and compact business (defined as portable projectors under 6 lbs. and sometimes called “pocket projectors”).

Naturally, many people could come up with variances on these definitions, but they were developed to form the basis of a working consensus.

Survey participants included 3M Projection Systems, represented by division scientist Ernie Rodriguez; Barco, represented by Peter Taylor, director of sales and national sales manager for houses of worship; Canon, represented by Ricardo Chen, senior manager of technical marketing and planning; Christie Digital Systems, represented by George Tsintzouras, director of product management, business products; Hitachi, represented by product manager John Glad; InFocus, represented by David Woolf, VP of corporate marketing, and Dave Duncan, product manager for home and installation; Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, represented by James Chan, senior director of product marketing, and Wayne Kozuki, product manager; NEC, represented by Keith Yanke, director of product marketing for projectors and large-format displays, and Rich McPherson, product manager for projectors; Panasonic, represented by Dan Meehan, national systems integrator sales manager, Projector Systems Company; projectiondesign, represented by Gary Plavin, president of projectiondesign Americas; SIM2 Multimedia, represented by Massimo Valcher, business manager for cinema applications; and Sony, represented by Sander Phipps, senior product manager, and Andre Floyd, marketing manager.

To put the industry’s condition in context, Sanju Khatri, principal analyst, projection and large screen displays at the electronics industry market research firm iSuppli, provided some statistics from that company’s worldwide Projection Market Tracker for Q3 2008. That report indicates that, in 2008, the overall projection market represented $2,566,200,000 in sales, which is predicted to decline to $2,377,239,000 by 2012, probably due to the increased popularity of other large-format display technologies.

Please keep in mind that the iSuppli report includes several categories—such as digital cinema—that are not covered in this corporate/business projector roundup. Therefore, sales figures for each of our categories will be included in their specific section of our opinion survey.

Although participants were chosen by our editors, the selection of the responses is the responsibility of this author. Not everyone answered all questions, and not all of the responses could fit allotted space. A few typos were cleaned up, grammatical quirks reconciled, and in cases of repetition, the most lucid answers were chosen. Responses that were composed by several authors within a single company were, of necessity, combined, and all answers have been listed in alphabetical order of the company name.


ISuppli predicts sales for large-venue projectors will rise from $9,619,000 in 2007 to $34,265,000 by 2012.

What considerations should be paramount when choosing a large-venue projector?

Barco: There are many choices in the marketplace, and some lend themselves more toward video and some lend themselves more to data applications. Major factors to consider include screen size and ambient light. Brightness expectations have increased dramatically over the past 2-3 years as technologies like Plasma, LCD, and LED have become mainstream. Brightness is increasing by about 5ft.-6 ft. lamberts per year, and if these brightness expectations are not achieved, then the image is perceived as poor quality.

Another major challenge to consider is the projector’s feature set. For example, are you going to blend projectors? If so, can you adjust primary and secondary colors to color match the projectors? Are the projectors going to be controlled from a control system or over IP if a control system is not planned for? Can the projectors be serviced/repaired in critical applications or do they have to be taken down to be serviced? In a large church/auditorium with fixed seats, for example, this may be an issue especially if the projector weighs more than 120lbs., not uncommon in the very-high-brightness projectors.

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Projection Roundtable

Nov 17, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Jay Ankeney

Experts from The Briefing Room sound off about current trends emerging in the corporate projector industry.

Canon: When it comes to large-venue projectors, a prime consideration is installation convenience. Large venues can sometimes present difficulties for placing such a projector. For this reason, lens options are important, as they will allow flexibility in placement for projector installation. Other features, such as an Auto-Winding air filter system and easy access to the projection lamp, can make maintenance of a large-venue projector easier and more convenient.

Hitachi: The adaptability of the lenses should be considered for large-venue projectors so you can adjust the image size depending on the size of your audience. You also want a projector that has a lot of connectivity options because you’re likely to have a lot of sources feeding into the projector. Another important consideration for large venues is ease of installation: Can the projector be mounted easily? Does it offer features such as lens shift, etc.?

Mitsubishi: What really is most important is the post-sale support and service that the systems integrator can provide with the projector. This is paramount because it’s not every day that you need to replace a large-venue projector, so you should partner up with the best systems integrator who can recommend the best projector that protects your investment for a long period of time until you’re ready for the next upgrade.

Panasonic: The top consideration for an end-user is total cost of ownership. End users should be taking into account what the cost of lamps and maintenance will require. They should also be concerned about the overall performance of the image quality and flexibility of control on the features of the projector solution.

Where would you recommend your top models should be mounted—directly in a meeting room or auditorium, or in a projection booth?

Barco: Rear screen is always an advantage due to noise and heat being outside the room and rear screen also improves the aesthetics of a room as a projector is not hanging in the room. A projection booth also assists with these advantages. Noise can be a big distraction especially with high-brightness units that generate a lot of heat and need a lot of cooling. Projectors with liquid-cooled engines can be quieter than those without.

Canon: It really depends on the size of the screen and space needed. In some venues, such as auditoriums, a projector may be mounted all the way in the back of the room. In smaller classrooms, however, a projector may be mounted hanging down from the ceiling. An auditorium-type setting may necessitate installation of a projection booth in the rear of the room.

Christie: As technology improves, projectors are becoming quieter. Manufacturers like Christie are producing projectors with filter-free designs and auto-sensing fan and temperature sensors that automatically adjust for the quietest operation possible. The projector can then be mounted closer to the audience without distracting them from the performance/presentation. That said, units are typically ceiling mounted with a zoom lens. Christie offers a wide selection of lenses (ultra-short lenses to ultra-long lenses) that offer flexibility to meet the requirements of the venue and desired location by the user. Christie solutions meet design needs, rather than needing to design the installation around the projector.

InFocus: The versatility of InFocus’ install lineup has allowed them to be very flexible. They are run in low-power mode and can be hung above many conference tables for a large, bright image. Others find their way into rear-projection applications, filling in a virtual background for a play, or a large display for a corporate event. InFocus uses them to provide wall-size screens for use in video conferencing as we connect meeting rooms around the world.

Mitsubishi: Most people put a projector in a booth because it’s too noisy to be installed within the audience’s space. But with Mitsubishi projectors, we are very cognizant of the need to have a low level of operating noise, and our projectors have consistently low noise levels. So, installing our projectors from the ceiling directly above the audience is not an issue. In addition, this offers our customers the flexibility of making the standard lens work, thus eliminating the need to purchase optional lenses. However, if the customer already has a projection booth, or a place where an existing projector is to be mounted, we do offer optional lenses to fit their particular installation.

Sony: Our largest projectors, which include the SXRD series (SRX-T110, 10K lumens), should be mounted in a projection booth.

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Projection Roundtable

Nov 17, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Jay Ankeney

Experts from The Briefing Room sound off about current trends emerging in the corporate projector industry.

Mitsubishi XD211U

How do you determine which output resolution to look for?

Barco: That’s dependant on sources available now and into the future. How many Picture-in-Picture windows are to be displayed concurrently and what resolution is required to do this while not degrading quality of image? With the advent of HD in the home, this quality is expected in the meeting room or church auditorium. Barco is shipping the LX-5, a 10-megapixel projector whose native resolution is 4096×2400. This allows for 4 WUXGA sources to be simultaneously shown, unscaled in native resolution.

Canon: If you’re showing PowerPoints or graphics, then something like an XGA resolution is fine. If you’re looking to display content that has more detail, then SXGA+ would be a good way to go. Today, a lot of new installations tend to be widescreen, so to accommodate a full 16:10 aspect-ratio picture, you would want to use a WUXGA-resolution (1920×1200) projector.

Christie: If video is shown, then standard-definition vs. high-definition signal sources will require different minimum projector resolutions—for example, XGA (1024×768) vs. 1080p (1920×1080). If data is being displayed, then the data source needs to be considered and matched for best image performance. Lastly, the distance that the audience is situated from the screen needs to be considered, because too low of a pixel count will mean the viewer will see a highly pixilated image. For example, an HD (1920×1080) display has over 2.6 times the pixel density as compared to an XGA (1024×768).

InFocus: When choosing the output resolution, we have to take a look at our source content that will be used today and over the months to come. If the projector’s primary mission is to display video, then you must take a look at what types, HD or SDTV? If it is going to be a multipurpose application where video and computer data will be shown, a high resolution such as SXGA+ or higher can be used to display all the sources natively without any scaling.

Panasonic: We would advise an end user to consider the need of their projection requirements to determine the output resolution. For example, edge-blending capabilities, which are found in Panasonic’s PT-DZ12000U, can help churches or other large venues with their output resolution by blending images on multiple screens without any additional equipment.

What kind of connection is required to accommodate different source inputs and which do you find most useful?

Barco: A huge recommendation would be to always put a scaler/switcher on the front of the projector or display, especially if there are any unknown sources that may be connected such as a guest’s laptop, for example. Brighter projectors often mean larger screens, and if the scaling of the source to the native resolution of the projector is not good, then the image quality issues become very apparent. Good scaler/seamless switchers can be purchased for under $5,000 and they can very well handle most resolutions and aspect ratios to the native resolution of the display device.

Canon: Today, projectors tend to have a control system and really only one cable running into the projector in order to minimize cost. Usually, you run one cable to the projector, and then in the back, you have a controller box made by a manufacturer of AV equipment; every device will connect directly to this controller. This controller will actually scale or select the input, so you really don’t have to worry about the projector when it comes to cabling.

Christie: Although analog RGBHV and 15-pin VGA connectors are still very commonly used, many are starting to favor the image quality from digital connections like DVI.

InFocus: The most versatile connection is the 5 BNC input. When implemented correctly, it can display almost any analog source. Since it is used on all major signal switching and routing hardware, it allows direct connections between the products—no adapters or breakout cables needed. There is also the security of it being a locking connector.

Projectiondesign: This is dependent on how you interconnect your source material to the display. Our preference would be DVI or high-resolution BNC for ease of connectivity and maximum bandwidth.

SIM2: Most new sources can be easily managed with HDMI due to the fact that we have a proprietary fiber-optic-based remote-input box. In some cases, HD-SDI sources are to be preferred due to the inherent nature of the source or the existing cabling network of the installation.

Sony: For computer signals, analog RGB is the most economical to use, but DVI/HDMI inputs provide a simple digital interface for systems that come equipped with those connections. For HD, HD-SDI is the easiest to use, but DVI/HDMI connections are becoming prevalent on certain playback devices as well.

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Projection Roundtable

Nov 17, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Jay Ankeney

Experts from The Briefing Room sound off about current trends emerging in the corporate projector industry.


ISuppli says sales for conference-room projectors will rise from $513,755,000 in 2007 to $725,256,000 by 2012.

What considerations should be paramount when choosing a conference room projector?

3M: Enough lumen output (true ANSI), excellent connectivity (especially Ethernet and USB), minimum resolution of XGA, ease and flexibility of installation (our short throw/off-axis technology is a nice benefit), total cost of ownership (including lamp and life-cycle reliability), and finally, low acoustical noise.

Christie: When choosing a projector for a conference room, the following should be considered: ambient light, contrast ratio, screen size and location, budget, lens options, and lens-shift capability.

Hitachi: The size of the room and size of the screen always need to be considered, because this will help determine what brightness you need from the projector. If there are any obstructions in the room, you could go with an ultra-portable projector, but those models are typically not as bright. As with large-venue applications, connectivity and maintenance are important criteria. Obviously for Hitachi, the growing adoption of 3LCD display technology is an exciting development. We’re also looking forward to seeing further development of wireless technologies for projectors.

InFocus: Options that allow the flexibility to accommodate a variety of room configurations. These include the availability of optional lenses, assignable audio, and an extensive choice of video connections.

Panasonic: For projector solutions in conference rooms, one should consider the distance between the projector and the participants and ambient operating noise. The projector solutions from Panasonic include a liquid cooling system that cuts down on the noise, allowing for fewer distractions during a presentation.

SIM2: More and more, conference rooms are also dedicated to multimedia content sharing, and with the broadening of high-definition sources, to remain limited to a standard low resolution/high brightness compromise could be a costly constraint. Scalability and installation longevity seem to be the keywords now for system integrators and their customers.

What light source are you using today, and what do you think about using LED or lasers as a light source? Generally, what technology trends do you find most interesting in conference-room projectors?

3M: Today, we are using high-pressure mercury lamps (best lm/watt efficiency). The future is certainly going to migrate to LED technology, but it will take some time for maturity. 3M is working on various LED technology programs that will eventually get the lumen efficacy good enough for the mainstream market.

Canon: LEDs in lasers today don’t offer enough light, although they’re reasonable for very small portables and in areas where you have a limited amount of light. In a corporate boardroom or meeting room, where there might be windows or the lights may be on for note-taking, an LED laser projector would not be bright enough for this application. You would probably have to stay with mercury-type lamps, or the standard lamps that are used today.

Christie: LED still has to expand its range in brightness to meet the needs of a conference room. We will see the most growth for LED in home-theater markets. Laser is still a large unknown, with many challenges including FCC approvals for front projection.

Hitachi: Hitachi uses Metal Halide lamps. LED and lasers are a thing of the future. There is lots of research being done regarding both LED and lasers. The problem is that LED does not produce enough light yet for conference rooms or large venues. With lasers, there will have to be some standards set before they become a reality.

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Projection Roundtable

Nov 17, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Jay Ankeney

Experts from The Briefing Room sound off about current trends emerging in the corporate projector industry.

Barco SLM R12+

InFocus: In the 3000 lumen to 5000 lumen range, InFocus offers both DLP and LCD projectors. We are exploring the feasibility of LED for future projection solutions. In the immediate future, we are looking at the ability of DLP to provide higher lumens and extend its benefits (24×7 capabilities, no filter maintenance, five-year optics warranty) to more applications.

Mitsubishi: Our projectors use UHP type of lamps, because these lamps provide the best efficiency. LED seems to be a very interesting technology, especially since it has a longer life than traditional projector lamps, as well as the ability to operate at a cool temperature and eliminate any waiting times for a traditional lamp to warm up or cool down. It should be interesting to see how LED technology competes with traditional lamp technology when LEDs are able to generate brighter lumen output.

NEC: Presently, NEC uses NSH lamps and continues to look at all light sources in the marketplace. NEC views LED and laser as possible light sources for projectors, but realizes that reaching the brightness levels that conference rooms require is still a few years out. A technology trend NEC sees as most interesting is the adoption and capability of networking, both wired and wireless, and how it will move forward.

Panasonic: Panasonic’s projectors use AC Lamps, which are manufactured by Panasonic. AC lamps are more stable than DC lamps, and less of their output is lost than that of DC lamps. AC lamps only lose 15 percent to 20 percent of their output, while DC lamps can lose up to 50 percent.

Projectiondesign: Projectiondesign uses Philips UHP VIDI lighting technology. As the LED technology evolves, we see future potential with the reductions in packaging and cooling attributes that make LED more efficient and environmentally friendly.

SIM2: For projectors, LED could be a real option only for small screen applications and surely for rear projection. But we are not thinking to widely incorporate it on professional projectors before brightness output and power consumption improve. Theoretically, lasers are more promising for high brightness applications. However on the UHP side of the business, there is still room for performance increase and cost effectiveness, at least in the mid-term.

Sony: Ultra high pressure lamps are typically used today. They are the most economical. LED and lasers are still a ways away for this application.

Is a 16×9 output an important criteria?

3M: Yes, projectors today must gradually match the resolution of the next wave of laptops (mainly 16×10 widescreen). The business segment will adapt quicker due to the need for maximizing screen content. The education market will follow suit.

Christie: Widescreen is definitely a consideration as more applications and hardware manufacturers design the resolution around widescreen formats, including 16:10.

Hitachi: 16×10 (not 16×9) is very important, because most laptops are made in 16×10 format.

Mitsubishi: Yes, this is definitely an important criterion. Newer computers have migrated to this screen format already, and videos are going wide in digital format. So given this growing density in source resolution, users should consider 16:9 support in the projectors they install to future-proof their installation.

Panasonic: With most high-definition television programs and almost all feature-length films today being shot in 16×9 format, customers look to manufacturers to provide those same capabilities for their own uses.

Projectiondesign: We believe 16×9 and 16×10 are important for the purpose of facilitating the presenter to display their content at its native rate. Because of this reason, projectiondesign produces wide UXGA projectors to match today’s 1920×1200 Windows and laptop resolution.

Are you finding large flatpanel displays competing with your projection choices? If so, which?

3M: I believe that flatpanels will have their own place in the business and retail market. The predominant segment will be the consumer market due to the focus on video optimization. Larger sizes (50in. and up) will still require high energy consumption, will be very heavy, and will require special costly installations. Also, having the versatility of projection sizes with a single unit is a feature which will always be essential.

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Projection Roundtable

Nov 17, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Jay Ankeney

Experts from The Briefing Room sound off about current trends emerging in the corporate projector industry.

Canon: If it’s a small room, a flatpanel display 50in. or 60in. might satisfy your needs. In some of the bigger conference rooms where you need a larger screen size, you’ll need to take a look at the cost of getting a large-screen display. If you require a screen of approximately 100in., about 6ft. wide, a projector that will display those specs will cost less than $10,000. If you were trying to get a flatpanel display to cover that same area, it would probably cost you about $80,000. So, in that sense it really depends on the size of the screen. If it’s a small room, a flatpanel may be just fine. If it’s a bigger room, then you need a projector, which would be the right choice based on cost.

Christie: In small conference rooms where a large image typically isn’t required, flatpanels compete because of price and familiarity with the technology as well as the “sexy” factor that plays to the emotions of a buyer. However, if a 3000 lumen to 5000 lumen display is required, then a screen size 8ft. diagonal (or above) is required to accommodate the higher brightness levels. This puts flatpanels outside the realistic size and price range for most conference-room installations.

Hitachi: For a while, large flatpanel displays offered some competition, but the issues of affordability and long-term reliability have led most users back to projectors. Even as prices fall, projectors are still more affordable than flatpanels.

InFocus: Flatpanels have had a run at being used in smaller conference rooms and group meeting places. I think the user base is finding out that with the resolution and size (less than or equal to 60in.), they do not lend themselves to easy collaboration in groups of four or more. Once you are three to four feet away, it’s hard to impossible to read the content.

Mitsubishi: In smaller conference rooms that have 60in. or smaller screens, flatpanels are definitely considered a strong alternative to a projector. But in bigger rooms, such as auditoriums, flatpanel displays are complementary to projectors as auxiliary displays. Flatpanels complement our projectors, where in some environments both a projector and flatpanel are offered as visual presentation aids. In general, a projector is a visual presentation aid that offers much more flexibility when compared to a flatpanel display device since it provides much easier portability from conference room to conference room. A projector also has a lower overall cost-per-square-inch, meaning that you can get much larger images for a lower price.

Panasonic: We are finding that flatpanels do compete with our projector solutions. This is typically the case in small room applications. In small rooms, one may choose a flatpanel because a projector just can’t be supported. Also, some of Panasonic’s projectors that do not include HD capabilities cannot be supported by those small rooms that may include HD cables and components.

SIM2: When mid-dimension screens and high brightness are important, flatpanels become more competitive. However several other issues are now entering the equation, aside from the color and picture quality required in some applications. One of the most important is the “green factor.” Power consumption and environment preservation clearly indicate, for example, that projectors are better when compared to large-screen flatpanels (especially plasmas).


ISuppli expects compact business projectors for sales and presentations will dip from $688,763,000 in 2007 to $667,782,000 in 2012.

What considerations should be paramount when choosing a compact business projector?

3M: Overall size/weight and performance are key. We call it the lumen efficacy/cubic centimeter equation. 3M is now working on a new technology that gives us the best solution using LED technology. Instant on/off features and low acoustical noise are also key elements for success.

Hitachi: Determining whether you need a short-throw or long-throw projector is important. Easy maintenance, reliable performance, and connectivity also need to be taken into account. If you’re planning on traveling, you’ll need a projector that’s durable enough to be carried around.

InFocus: In this format, two considerations predominate—portability and ease of use. To that end, InFocus is the only projector manufacturer to offer DisplayLink USB connectivity between the PC and our IN1100 or 3100 series projectors. This eliminates the need for a VGA cable, as well as the need to remember which function keys to push on the PC. Embedded software on the InFocus projector takes care of all the synchronization. We believe this will save up to 15 minutes of every meeting by eliminating the guesswork associated with setting up the projector.

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Projection Roundtable

Nov 17, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Jay Ankeney

Experts from The Briefing Room sound off about current trends emerging in the corporate projector industry.

Hitachi CP-XW625

How do you balance weight vs. cost vs. brightness?

3M: You don’t. Each criteria must be weighted equally for market success.

Hitachi: If you’re a traveling businessperson, weight will be a more important factor. At the moment, brightness doesn’t seem like a huge issue, because you can get sufficient brightness from almost any compact business projector.

InFocus: Most customers use mobile projectors in small groups (three to eight people) on screen sizes between 60in. and 80in., so 2000 lumens-2500 lumens is perfect for this application.

Mitsubishi: Weight is for the convenience of the presenter, but brightness is for the overall effectiveness of the presentation. Cost is usually affected by weight more than by brightness because technology has improved in such a way that lamps are more efficient, whereas smaller components tend to command a price premium. However, if their presentation sites are varied, they won’t know how bright, how many windows, or if there are no curtains in the presentation room. Then the presenter will need a brighter projector.

What criteria give a portable projector the necessary road-worthiness and survivability?

3M: Robust design using a single imager approach is essential for road warriors. LED illumination will enhance the safety and reliability of such projectors.

Hitachi: Weight, having a usable carrying case, simple connections, and wireless connectivity.

InFocus: Most people use their mobile projectors with notebook PCs, so customers need to look for three big categories of features: Is it easy to connect to my notebook computer? Does the image quality match the colors on my PC? Does the resolution match my latest computer?

Mitsubishi: Portability—size and weight and durability of the projector. A small projector is roadworthy—it’s easy to store and carry, and easy to protect. Durability—our small business projectors use DLP technology with a closed light engine that is relatively impervious to dust, so it can handle various presentation environments.

NEC: Those that use mobile projectors typically need to setup and tear down their projector and move on to the next meeting quickly. Because of this, a true mobile projector should be able to display an image seconds after it has been turned on, as well as cool down very quickly without damaging the lamp, therefore shortening the life of the lamp.

Sony: Shell material (metal vs. plastic) and features like recessed lens and input connectors. These help the compact business projector from getting damaged when it is being carried.

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