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Optoma Unveils Sub $1K HD DLP

Denver, Colo. Video display manufacturer Optoma will announce at CEDIA what it is calling the world’s first high-definition DLP front projector positioned to sell for under $1,000.

The company is also showing here it new HD81 1080p DLP home theater projection system, which recently began shipping to dealers at a $6,999 suggested retail, and the latest version of its Big Vision in-wall display projection TV.

At CEDIA, the company will use the “mass retail” HD70 and the custom-focused HD81 to show high-definition front projection from both the retail and custom installed market perspectives.

Model HD70 ($999 suggested retail) is slated to ship at the end of September into large national and regional consumer electronics stores. The company said it already has commitments from such accounts as Circuit City and Best Buy to carry the product.

Optoma is working with select retail partners on “short-throw custom on-shelf displays” that will allow shoppers to see the quality of the picture in well-lit sales environments. One major retailer was said to be working on special displays that would produce a worthy demonstration live, inside stores, Optoma said.

The HD70 features native 1280-by-720p native resolution, using Texas Instruments’ full DarkChip 2 DLP technology. Brightness is listed at 1,000 ANSI lumens and the contrast ratio is said to be 4,000:1. It will include a VGA input and capable to allow purchases to use it as both a home theater display and a data projector.

“The HD70 is optimized and designed to open up a whole new market for front projection,” said Jon Grodem, Optoma’s senior product manager. “We’ve had an incredible response from virtually everyone who’s seen it from the retail side of the world.”

Optoma views the model as ideally suited to video gamers using new high-definition consoles including the Xbox 360 and forthcoming PlayStation 3 devices, and is exploring opening distribution to video game specialty accounts.

Optoma expects a majority of the sales to go to consumer looking for do-it-yourself setup and installation, but it also recognizes that more and more retail chains are getting into the value-added installation business, and the projector offers a good opportunity for that business as well, he added.

The HD81, meanwhile, is a two-piece 1080p projection system that includes a native 1080p DLP .95-inch DMD with DarkChip 3 technology and video enhancement processor.

The two-piece design places source inputs, video processing and other circuitry into an outboard box which connects to the projector unit via a single HDMI cable.

The process incorporates BrilliantColor technology to delivery a high color saturation level, and sharp detail reproduction.

The system will upconvert sub-1080p signal sources to full 1920-by-1080p resolution using a “studio-grade” video/color enhancement processor and motion adaptive HD de-interlacer.

The circuitry delivers an advanced three-stage process flow (decoding, image enhancement, color reproduction enhancement), enabling personalized adjustment settings at each stage. Scaling is performed using Gennum VXP solutions technology.

The system also features an active 17-step, auto-Iris function to boost the contrast ratio from 6:000:1 to 10,000:1. Brightness is listed at 1,400 ANSI lumens with a 300W lamp

Other features include 10-bit color per channel color processing and a 7-segment color wheel.

Inputs include three HDMI plus external HDMI expansion, two RBGHV/component (BNC) video, two RCA component video, three S-Video, three composite, a VGA (RGB/YPbPr/SCART), two RS232, two 12V triggers, and one IR port extension.

Meanwhile, Optoma will also show its Big Vision BV3100, 100W-inch custom in-wall DLP rear projection system, which it is rolling out through a staggered distribution starting on the West Coast and moving East. The system is available to authorized installers that have been pre-qualified by Optoma.