Among the biggest developments to come out of the recent CEDIA Expo 2011 was the introduction of a pair of technologies that set the bar anew for super-high resolution video presentation.
Both Sony and JVC announced the introduction of the first so-called “4K” projectors for the home theater market. Both systems were based on liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) imaging chips but that’s where the similarities ended.
Sony introduced its VW1000ES home theater projector that uses the company’s three-chip SXRD LCoS technology. Each chip features a 4,069-by-2,160 native resolution level, similar to 4K projectors the company has been supplying to commercial movie theaters. The resolution level is said to be more than four times that of 2K (Full HD 1920-by-1080p) projectors.
Slated to ship in December at a price to be announced, the projector will present 4K images in both 3D and 2D.
It produces 2,000 ANSI lumens of brightness, a 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and is said to deliver significantly improved black-level performance using Sony’s Iris3 technology. It is suitable for up to 200-inch screen sizes, Sony said.
The VW1000ES projector includes an exclusive 4K up-scaler that will convert more conventional SD, HD and 3D material for 4K playback. Sony executives, however, said the company is at work on a number of supporting components that may soon offer native 4K material for the home.
The company’s motion picture units were said to have already amassed a sizeable library of native 4K material for commercial 4K projectors used in movie theaters.
The projector will display Full HD 3D movies, as well as 2D and 3D anamorphic programs. For Full 4K 3D, an integrated IR transmitter is included to send signals to the projector’s TDG-PJ1 active-shutter 3D glasses.
For installation flexibility the projector offers dual triggers, a 2.1 motorized zoom, expanded throw distances, an RS232 interface, control over IP and compatibility with leading home-automation systems.
In explaining Sony’s decision to add a 4K home projector at this time, Mike Abary, Sony Electronics Home Division senior VP, said CEDIA dealers and installers “can’t exist without” innovation in products.
“It’s important that we use innovation to empower, and, most of all, to excite consumers,” Abary said.
JVC, meanwhile, introduce four 4K projectors based on its three-chip 2K level D-ILA imaging chips and a new up-conversion system called e-Shift that boosts 2K images produced by the D-ILA chips to the 4K level.
The four 4K models are said to produce up to 3,840-by-2,160 pixel resolution and two almost identical models models are carried in the company’s professional systems group’s Reference series and mainstream consumer electronics group’s Procision series.
JVC said the e-Shift system shifts the image vertically and horizontally by a half-pixel to produce the extra pixels while removing stair-stepping artifacts and other imperfections that tend to muddy fine details in digitally processed images.
Like Sony’s projector, all four JVC models were designed to present both 2D and 3D video, but the e- Shift system does not apply to 3D content.
JVC’s four 4K models are all THX 2D and 3D certified and ship in November.
They include in the Reference series the DLA-RS65 ($11,995 suggested retail), which offers a 120,000:1 native contrast ratio and the DLA-RS55 ($7,799), offering an 80,000:1 native contrast ratio. In the Procision series there is the DLA-X90R ($11,999), offering a 120,000:1 native contrast ratio, and the DLA-X70R ($7,995), offering an 80,000:1 native contrast.
JVC is including two pairs of active-shutter 3D glasses and three-year warranties with the top-of-theline 4K projectors in both lines.
With the two companies’ announcements, the floor of CEDIA Expo was abuzz with discussion about who would be next.
On the audio side, Onkyo and its sister Integra brand have had multiple A/V receivers with built-in 4K up-conversion circuitry waiting for the first consumer level displays to appear.
Many other projector companies are use DLP-based solutions and Texas Instruments, which manufacturers the industry’s DLP chips, as 4K chips available for commercial movie theater products, but so far there are no plans for a residential-based application.
Alberto Fabiano, Sim2 USA executive VP, questioned the need for a non-native approach.
“We are a DLP company, so if Texas Instruments isn’t going to give us a 4K chip, we aren’t going to do it. They would be willing to give us the one that they are making now for commercial theaters, but it would take a $2 million investment in a new light engine,” he noted. “Do you know how many units we are going to have sell to for that investment?”.
Asked if Sim2 might consider adding an up-converting system for a 2K DLP chip, similar to JVC’s e-Shift technology, Fabino said, “We don’t really need it,” pointing to the high quality of its existing Mico, Nero and Lumus projectors.
Fabiano said he applauded Sony’s approach to marketing a 4K model “that is really geared to custom installation distribution at a higher price.” He pointed out that the prevailing trend is for big name manufacturers to cut projector performance, prices and margins to appeal to wider audiences.
Meanwhile, JVC also introduced at the show four other D-ILA projectors offering FullHD 1080p resolution.
These included three 3D-capable FullHD 1080p projectors with pricing ranging from $3,495 to $4,995, and omitting 3D glasses.
JVC Professional also introduced the DLA-F110 (shipping in September at a $7,495 suggested retail) custom-specific projector featuring a white cabinet.
All models feature 2D-to-3D up-conversion circuitry.
All eight new JVC projectors also include lens offset focus and zoom memory features to simplify installation.