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Epson Bows Sub-$3,000 1,080p Front Projector

4/03/2007 01:02:00 PM Eastern

New York — Epson unveiled for the press here a pair of 3LCD front projectors with native 1,080p resolution, including a home cinema model with a $2,999 opening price point.

The PowerLite Home Cinema 1080, which will see broad retail distribution starting April 9, is being billed as the industry’s first native 1,080p 3LCD front projector priced under $3,000.

It joins the PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 ($4,999) 3LCD model that Epson unveiled prior to International CES for the CEDIA distribution channel of custom installers and systems integrators.

Like the Pro Cinema 1080, the new PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 boasts a 12,000:1 contrast ratio and 1,200 lumens of brightness.

 

Epson’s Aaron Marinari with the $2,999 PowerLite Home Cinema 1080.

Epson is incorporating its proprietary C2Fine technology to increase the black level performance of the projector, ranking it among the better front projectors at handling true blacks, according to Kevin Miller, front projector specialist/consultant and Imaging Science Foundation calibrator.

Miller, who was working with Epson to demonstrate the PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 for the press, had downgraded 3LCD technology in front projection in past product reviews for its black-level weaknesses.

Miller said he has “totally changed his mind,” after seeing the new Epson models using the C2Fine system. “They’ve gotten over that [black level] challenge,” Miller said.

To assist in installations, the projector packages a 2.1x zoom lens using Fujinon optics, enabling the projection of up to a 100-inch screen size at projector placements as close as two feet, out to 22 feet from the screen. Image sizes of up to 120 inches are possible, Epson said.

“Not all of us has the luxury of having exact center line installations, so for that we offer vertical and horizontal lens shift,” said Aaron Marinari, Epson America senior product manager. “It’s important to maintain image quality, so by shifting the lens optically using a 14-segment lens design, we don’t lose any image quality and it prevents the flaring you sometimes get with less capable lenses.”

Inputs include HDMI version 1.3, making it one of the first front projectors in the market with such capability, according to Marinari. It will be able to reproduce x.v.YCC enhanced color spectrum software when such sources become available.

Epson will use the PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 to maintain its market share position, by offering a 1080p model that can compete with competitors’ 720p models that are now appearing for around $1,000.

Marinari said Epson will support the product roll out with an online and print advertising campaign targeting both enthusiast and general media publications. The first print ads start to appear this month.

Epson will also promote the use of the projector among video gamers, who can appreciate the ultra-high resolution capabilities to present a truly immersive game-playing experience, Marinari said.

Epson, he said, holds the No. 1 market share position in the worldwide front projector market – including both business-to-business and home theater distribution.

The PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 is expected to see distribution through a wide range of retail outlets. The company can work with dealers that may have demonstration issues on their selling floors, Marinari said.

“It’s amazing though in that the volume of the [front-projector] buying today is to the enthusiast audience making purchases through the Internet,” Marinari said.