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Tech Roundup: Projectors 2021

While LED and other flatscreen technology sometimes get the spotlight, development continues in projectors, sometimes with an eye towards value, clarity and ease in the corporate and education spaces, sometimes with an emphasis on dramatic or unique imagery for entertainment, or blistering refresh rates for gaming.

In September, Barco debuted a new arsenal for the company’s themed entertainment customers, the Barco XDM and XDX. Drafting off their many years of digital cinema product development and expertise, the XDM and XDX are RGB and Native 4K and achieve greater than 98% of the Rec. 2020 color space. The XDM-4K25 and XDX-4K40 have 25K and 40K lumens respectively; both are rated for 40,000 hours. Both models feature the Barco EcoPure smart power options to produce 101/W. For maintenance, individual laser plates can be replaced to restore brightness level.

The BenQ LK936ST 4K short-throw golf simulator projector is a response to a growing market that needs ease of setup and a sustainable price. The 4K 5,100-lumen, HDR laser projector is pitched for home or business use, where it can double for gaming. Its laser projection system turns on instantly with no warm-up or cooldown. Utilizing a dual color wheel system to generate RGBY hues, it covers 92% of the Rec.709 color gamut. As BenQ explains. conventional laser projectors can cause color aberrations, disrupting the feel of the fairway, but BenQ teamed up with color experts to develop an exclusive Golf Mode that eliminates the problem. This quick setting corrects purple fringing by referencing the blue and green colors from popular golf software, letting golfers immerse themselves in the lush greens and vivid blues of their favorite courses. In addition, the LK936ST offers seven other professionally tuned picture modes to optimize the viewing experience for home theater, gaming, or any other scenario, while its upscaling technology upgrades the resolution of all projected images to 4K. The projector utilizes a IP5X-rated sealed optical engine; the lens is 0.81-0.89 short throw ratio lens, with large H/V lens shift, H/V keystone and corner fit, and digital shrink and offset for a crisp, edge-to-edge picture. HDMI inputs, plus networking and audio I/O, provide easy interoperability.

The Canon XEED 4K6021Z is a compact, lightweight high brightness, native 4K laser projector, with dual Display Port connectivity. A LCOS laser delivers 6,000 lumens of brightness at 4K 10-bit 4:4:4, while still weighing in at 19kg. Despite the high brightness, Canon says its projector has been packed into a lightweight body, meaning it’s suitable for flexible installations. Using Canon’s LCOS reflective panel technology, this device claims a very high aperture ratio with virtually no gaps between pixels to create fine, detailed images free from the ‘lattice effect’, particularly useful for museums, design, and creative installations. A simple spigot lens fitting is compatible with seven interchangeable lenses, including the RS-SL07RST 4K standard zoom lens, which offers 1.76x motorized zoom and +/- 73% vertical lens shift. This lens can project images up to 600 inches and can even project onto curved surfaces; maintaining focus in the center of the image when peripheral focus has been adjusted. The XEED 4K6021Z can be installed in any 360-degree orientation, which, combined with its compact size, is ideal for challenging or creative environments.

Primarily designed for affordable, DCIcompliant cinema projection, Christie introduced a duo of RGB pure laser projectors with 4K resolution in October–the Christie CP4415-RGB and CP4420-RGB. The 15,000 lumen CP4415 is designed for screens up to 18m wide; the 20,000 lumen CP4420-RGB is suitable for screens up to 20m wide. Both models feature a Real|Laser RGB pure laser illumination light source capable of providing over 50,000 hours. The projectors incorporate Multi-Laser Pack Devices (MPDs) to produce a wide color gamut greater than 95% of Rec. 2020 coverage.

Continuing the legacy of its M Series first launched in 2007, Christie has also released its Christie M 4K25 RGB pure laser projector in September. RGB pure laser technology reportedly delivers twice the color of the original M Series for vibrant, bright images that approach Rec. 2020 color volume, a color standard closest to what the human eye can see. The 25,000-lumen 4K UHD resolution projector comes with TruLife+ electronics, which features electronic color convergence (ECC) so that users can correct imperfections and individually adjust red, green, and blue via remote. The manufacturer’s intelligent lens system (ILS1) is said to make swapping lenses easy for rental and staging, and offers motorized zoom, focus and offset via remote. Existing Christie owners can use their M, J and Crimson Series lenses, as well as the M Series rigging frame, with the M 4K25 RGB for added cost savings.

The Digital Projection Satellite Modular Laser System (MLS) offers a small number of simple building blocks that will allow users to address a wide range of applications, from single projector installs to complex, multi-channel domes, caves and simulators. One goal of the system is to make high-end imaging accessible to the wider AV market, at a cost-effective price point. The Satellite MLS will be developed around WUXGA, Native 4K and 8K resolutions and will also incorporate Digital Projection’s MultiView technology. The keystone of this system is the separation of the light source, with its associated power and thermal management, to a remote location, which enables a small, compact projection head that only contains the minimal optical and video processing. By separating the projection head from the light source and linking the two by robust and flexible fibre-optic cables up to 100m long, Digital Projection’s latest innovation offers the installer many more options, particularly where space and access are restricted. Given the modular design of the system, there can be a one-to-many, or many-to-one relationship between the light sources and the projection heads.

The Digital Projection INSIGHT 4K HFR 360 Multi-View 3D projector allows multiple viewers to have a unique viewing experience relative to their changing positions–from a single projector. Aside from visualization applications and virtual rides in theme parks, this technology applies to museums, with the ability to enable a virtual tour or interactive with an artifact with a personalized, high-resolution view for each user. The Digital Projection INSIGHT Laser 8K, was a world’s first when it originally debuted in 2018. Developed in collaboration with Delta Electronics, it provides an ultra-high 8K resolution (7680 X 4320) of 33-million pixels with 36,000 lumens of solid-state laser-phosphor illumination—obviously pegged at resolution-critical, immersive visualization and large-venue applications. The INSIGHT Laser 8K utilizes DLP technology incorporating 3x 1.38” DarkChip DMD chips. On the software side, it carries DP’s proprietary Smear Reduction Technology, as well as the companies ColorMax technology to ensure color accuracy and black levels. These technologies produce accurate imaging characteristics, suited for matching projectors in tiled or blended applications. A capable selection of zoom lenses, providing extensive lens shift, ensures integrators installing the INSIGHT Laser 8K will have complete flexibility with respect to projector placement in both portrait and landscape. A companion controller software is ideal for use in large installations or where projectors are in multiple locations in a building; the software can dramatically reduce the time required for setup and configuration from a single network-enabled PC.

The new Epson EB-PU2010B 3LCD Laser Projector builds on the success of Epson’s extensive high lumen displays. The projector offers pro-level features and installation tools many previously unavailable in this lumen range, such as builtin NFC function to reduce installation time of multiple projectors; read and write setting information using Epson’s mobile app; and easy access to automated tools for projector stacking and tiling with an optional clip-on external camera. The EBPU2010B is designed for discreet placement in installations to maximize space it is equipped with a high native contrast ratio, HDR support and scene adaptive gamma correction for more realistic images and easy-to-read presentations via Full HD WUXGA resolution with 4K Enhancement and 3-chip 3LCD technology. The EBPU2010B joins Epson’s existing line of Pro Series interchangeable lens projectors and pairs with Epson’s lens family, including a zero offset .35 ultra short-throw. An optional clip-on external camera requires no angle of view adjustment and gives integrators access to powerful automated tools including auto color calibration, screen matching of multiple projectors, tiling assists for edge blends, and the stacking assist function. Users can also manage projector status via the Epson Projector Management app for Windows.

In February, Maxell Pro AV announced the expansion of its laser projector lineup with the 4K ready Maxell MP-WU8101 3LCD laser projector. The new 10K 3LCD projector is designed for digital signage applications as well as large lecture halls, conference rooms, auditoriums, and museums. The MP-WU8101 projector comes 4K ready— designed with 4K signal input on HDMI, HDBaseT, and Display Port input terminals. Available in both black and white and with 360-degree rotation installation options, up to 12 projectors can be combined and are supported with features such as the Projector Blending Tool 3 and Edge Blending and Warping for large and curved surfaces. The MP-WU8101 laser projector comes with Perfect Fit 2 to ensure that projection edges are independently lined up for each display. Additional standard features such as Wireless Presentation Compatibility allow for transitions between presentations while eliminating close shared spaces and touch points.

The NEC Display NP-PX2000UL is a high-brightness (20,000lm) single-chip WUXGA DLP projector with RB laser. It’s pitched at higher education, corporate, museum, theater, house of worship, and digital signage applications. NEC believes that that the RB laser (red assist) light source can bring a single-chip DLP to near 3-chip quality, but obviously at a fraction of the cost. No word on whether it eliminates the single-chip rainbow effect. The sealed optical engine is important for maintenance cost and downtime. NEC is also positioning it beyond traditional large-format applications in the house of worship, staging, and museum verticals, whether that’s edgeblending, projection-mapping or collaboration. Geometric correction supports a wide range of angles and projection surfaces.

In October, Optoma introduced its Optoma ZX300 and ZW350–two new compact XGA and WXGA laser projectors designed for K-12 classrooms, corporate environments, and small to medium-sized venues. These entrylevel projectors complement Optoma’s line of affordable laser projectors for the corporate and education channels. Featuring 3,500 lumens and a 300,000:1 contrast ratio, the Optoma ZX300 and ZW350 carry a 30,000 hour (in Eco mode) DuraCore laser light source. Equipped with 1.1x and 1.3x optical zoom, respectively, 360-degree and portrait mode operation, auto keystone, as well as a compact and lightweight footprint, the Optoma ZX300 and ZW350 are easy to install and easily transportable from one classroom to the next. IO includes HDMI and VGA, plus RS-232. Additionally, the ZW350 features an RJ45 port for control LAN via Crestron, Extron, PJ-Link, or Telnet.

Panasonic’s 1-Chip DLP laser projector line-up includes the Panasonic PT-RZ790 Series for museums and exhibition spaces and the Panasonic PT-FRZ60 Series for high school and university classrooms. A clear, bright display in a well-lit classroom and minimal noise are essential for an ideal education environment. Similarly, exhibition designers use natural or tailored lighting to enhance their displays, and require quiet projection to welcome visitors into a calming atmosphere. The Panasonic PT-RZ790 Series and PT-FRZ60 Series 1-Chip DLP laser projectors are engineered for these environments, serving high-visibility images under lights with almost no noise. Additionally, Panasonic’s 3-chip DLP laser SOLID SHINE projector line-up includes the Panasonic PTRQ35K (4K) and PT-RZ34K (WUXGA) with their light, compact designs (up to 60% the size of the current comparable projector) and improved cooling systems; Dynamic Digital Control counters red-laser sensitivity to temperature by digitally regulating light output and operating parameters of a dedicated cooling system. The projectors are suitable for live events in stadiums and theatres, as well as a range of projection mapping applications. This new product also includes improved cooling systems.

In October, Sony Professional Displays and Solutions announced two new midrange WUXGA 3LCD laser projectors, the Sony VPL-FHZ85 and VPL-FHZ80, both of which aim to combine bright images, flexible installation and advanced features. The VPL-FHZ85 is the smallest and lightest projector in the mid-range series, capable of 7300 lumens of brightness (8000 lumens center); the VPL-FHZ80 comes in at 6000 lumens (6500 lumens center); 4K/60P input is supported. Both projectors utilize Sony’s Reality Creation real-time signal processing, mapping, and analysis technology, as well as the new Reality Text feature. The projector’s design can accommodate a range of lenses, enabling a vertical lens shift of 70%. Wallmounting is available and the USB power supply which Sony says enables “wireless presentations, auto power on capabilities, auto input selection, and a data cloning feature”; uses can copy a projector’s settings on a USB to transfer to other, additional projectors. The Bright View functionality maintains colors in brightly lit rooms; the Ambiance feature automatically measures the brightness levels in a room, further calibrating the Bright View feature. Both models feature an automated filter cleaning system and efficient cooling. The projectors are planned for January 2022 release.

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