Show Reports

CEDIA EXPO 2013 Show Coverage

ARTICLE INDEX

Chris Eberle, Senior Editor Reports

Well it is Wednesday and after a van ride with many stops, I finally arrived at the Colorado Convention Center for the Press Preview. I had a bit of time to speak with SI Screens, Epson, and Darbee. I'll be covering their booths tomorrow and Friday but they had a few things to show me. SI is debuting curved screens at this year's show along with a white material that is closer to reference quality than their Black Diamond surface; and it's available in the Zero Edge model. If you recall my review of the Zero Edge from a couple of years ago, you know that it's an extremely cool format that makes your projection screen look like a giant high-end TV. It looks almost as good with no image showing! I'll grab some snaps at their booth tomorrow.

Darbee is delving into security and medical applications this year with their image enhancement technology. In consumer video, they still offer the Darblet at around $319, and a model that eschews 3D for around $279. More on that in Friday's coverage.

Finally, I spoke a bit with Epson to learn about their new models. They showed four at the preview, including a high-output model that pumps out a searing 6000 lumens. I've included the photos of the four new projectors below.

Chris Eberle Report #2

JVC Press Conference

Thursday morning began with JVC's annual press breakfast. After a lovely meal, Karl Bearnarth, Senior Marketing VP and Gary Klasmeier, Product Engineer introduced the new line of 4K capable projectors. The question on everyone's mind was, are these true 4K displays? Unfortunately, the answer is no. JVC is still using e-shift3 technology to simulate 4K. The big news is that they are now offering displays that ACCEPT 4K signals. And they'll do it at up to 60p which is another breakthrough. Their demos, sourced from Red-ray players, looked stunning. Other enhancements include all-new imaging devices that reduce the pixel gap from .5 microns to .3. Not only does this increase clarity, it bumps up light output by 10 percent. And with a new grid polarizer part, light scatter between pixels is reduced for better intra-scene contrast.

The new models are split into two lines, Reference Series and Procision. The Reference Series is topped with the RS6710 shown above at $12,499. For that princely sum you get a 5-year warranty, along with a spare lamp, 3D emitter and two pairs of glasses.

Moving down the price ladder, we have the RS67 at $11,999. All you're giving up there is the longer warranty and spare lamp. As you go lower in price, you lose features like the glasses/emitter.

The sweet spot is the RS4910 at $5,199. Also added to the colorspace options are Adobe RGB, for photographers, and x.v.Color. Contrast is also increased with a new iris control algorithm. And you can control your new projector from your iPhone or tablet with two-way communication.

Epson Home Cinema Projectors – The Value And Performance Leader

My first stop on the show floor was at Epson's large booth. Not only are their projectors prominently displayed, they have demo theaters nicely equipped with surround audio and an excellent viewing environment. Starting next month, they're introducing three new models in their Pro Cinema line and an entirely new line of Ultra-Bright models aimed at multi-use rooms that have some ambient light.

First up is the Pro Cinema G6900WU.

This projector puts a claimed 6000 lumens and has interchangeable lenses. It also has a lens shift lock to guard against image shift due to vibration. It has a split-screen feature that allows viewing of two sources at once, and includes a ceiling mount, cable cover, and spare lamp in the package. Also in this line are the G6550WU at 5200 lumens, and the 4855WU at 4000 lumens. They are priced at $7,499, $5,999, and $3,799 respectively.

There are also some new value-priced offerings.

The 5030UB is an update from last year's 5020UB. It's pretty much the same hardware but a firmware upgrade and tweaks to the auto iris bump up the contrast to a claimed 600,000 to 1. Also added is frame interpolation for both 2D and 3D. The 5020 only had that feature in 2D. The 6030UB is functionally the same projector with the addition of a black case, a spare bulb, and a ceiling mount. Both the 5030 and 6030 are THX certified for both 2D and 3D as well. If that isn't enough, you get two pairs of glasses too! The 5030UB starts at $2,599. For an extra $300, you can get the 5030UBe which adds the wireless HDMI feature.

Offering great value is the Pro Cinema 4030. For a mere $2,499, you get a claimed 120,000 to 1 contrast ratio, 2000 lumens of brightness; plus two pairs of glasses, a spare lamp, ceiling mount, and cable cover.

Epson continues to be the value leader in the sub-$5,000 projector market. Look for reviews in the next few months as these projectors become available.

NextGen

I always enjoy seeing Bob Dolatowski at NextGen each year at the Expo. He inevitably has some neat new gadget to show me and this year was no different. He's been working on a simple, low-cost universal remote for a while now and it's finally available for purchase.

This remote will control up to four devices and works via RF with NextGen's Remote Extender line of products. It also functions as a traditional IR unit. Programming is simple and intuitive, and it can easily learn commands from your OEM remotes. I was able to play with the sample and it seems quite rugged and well-made. Considering the price of even a basic Logitech Harmony, NextGen's wand offers terrific value at only $69.

Planar – New 4K Offerings For The High End

As owners of the Runco brand, I was hoping to see some 4K projectors from my favorite high-end projector maker. Instead, I got a look at some truly stunning 4K monitors and amazing video wall products.

Planar's Marketing VP, Jennifer Davis, started me off with a prototype computer monitor. 32-inch screens are just starting to appear from Sharp and Asus, but Planar is going one better with a 39-inch display. Another thing that sets this panel apart is its layer bonding technology. The outermost layer is actually bonded with the LCD panel instead of sitting apart like typical screens. Eliminating the air gap does wonders for the screen's clarity and sharpness. This monitor looked truly breathtaking with both video and computer content.

This Clarity matrix video wall looked amazing with its six 60-inch screens mounted together. The bezels were 1/16th of an inch making the panel gaps a mere 1/8th inch. It looked amazing. Planar sells this as a complete system with mounting, trim, and a separate rack that houses all the power supply and video processing components. That takes all the heat away from the panel themselves. And only a low-voltage line needs to be run to the video wall itself.

These architectural tiles come in 21-inch square, plus 46 and 55-inch rectangle sizes. The system is called Mosaic. The tiles can be arranged any way you wish. Then a sophisticated software program processes the layout so all the video connects properly. It was quite mesmerizing to watch!

I saved the best for last. This is the 84-inch UHD monitor. It also uses Planar's bonding technology for the highest possible clarity. The only other 84-inch panel on the market is Sony's and it doesn't look as good. I found it hard to tear myself away from the images being shown. It starts at $22,000. While that may seem high, you won't think so once you've seen it in action. If that weren't enough, it's also a full touch screen! It was fun watching people write their names on it.

Sony – Leading The Way to 4K? TVs & Projectors

Sony is all-in with 4K. Not only do they have the only native 4K projector on the market, they have introduced two TVs that break price barriers with one model selling for $5000. They can also deliver native 4K content with their media server (picture below) and are the first vendor I've seen supporting HDMI 2.0.

This is the XBR-65X900A. It's a top-of-the-line TV with HDMI 2.0 so it can accept 4K native content from Sony's media server. It's hard to see in the photo but the side-mounted speakers are very sleek with exposed drives in black. And they sound pretty good too!

This is the newest addition to Sony's 4K projector line, the VPL-VW600ES. At $15,000, it represents a significant price drop from last year's VPS-VW1000ES which sold for $25,000. Speaking of that projector, it's now sold as the VPL-VW1100ES for an eye-popping $28,000. And they haven't left early-adopters out in the cold. If you own a VPL-VW1000ES, you can upgrade it to an 1100 for $2,000.

This little saucer-shaped device is Sony's 4K media server, the FMP-X1. It sells as an add-on with any Sony 4K product for $1000. Sony is busily remastering many of their films in 4K and when they're available, you'll be able to download them to this device. Like the latest Sony 4K displays, it is HDMI 2.0 compatible.

Sony hasn't abandoned good ol' 1080P just yet. This is the KDL-55W900A and it looked superb with the demo material running on it. It has a nice thin bezel as you can see along with a high degree of clarity. The screen does pick up a fair amount of reflections but the tradeoff is a very bright and sharp picture.

Finally, here's something for the successful hedge fund manager who has everything.

This is the SRX-T615 4K projector. You would most likely find this in a commercial cinema. You can see from the man standing in the left side of the frame how truly massive this projector is. The lens is at least six inches across! With multiple UHP lamps, this tank-sized prototype can put out a searing 15,000 lumens.

Tomorrow, I'll have more coverage of Darbee, Digital Projection, Kaleidescape, and a few others. Stay tuned!