By Bob Lewis, Video/Visuals-Bauer Audio Visual
[Editor's note: We thought Bob Lewis' introductory comments at the meeting were so informative and complete that we asked him to transcribe his presentation.]
When I started in the video projection trade, there were a couple of light valve makers, GE and Eidophor, and a group of smaller manufacturers like Kaylart and Amphicon, that used a hairy 42KV picture tube set in a monster telescope-type Schmidt mirror. Color was uncommon, and we learned to expect some type of failure between setup and show. We'd fire up the system up the day before the show so it would break down in time for us to fix it before the closed-circuit telecast started.
Well, video projection is a little different now. Here is an overview; the basic types of video and computer projectors are:
Most systems use individual RGB light sources, though LCD's and DLP's can be single chip in some smaller units.
Infocom, the trade show for presentation systems, has a 'shootout' with a side-by-side comparison of most of the video projectors for sale today. With a total of 123 projectors/monitors/LCD panels in 14 categories, there was a lot to compare. In certain cases, where LCD's went head-to-head with CRT's, the old technology outperformed the new.
The hottest new development was the Digital Light Processor. Texas Instruments is the inventor and only supplier of the DMD (Digital MicroMirror Devide) that makes it possible. This chip has hundreds of thousands of tiny mirrors that pivot on a center post. The pivoting varies the light, and 3 panels are converged for full color. Electrohome and Sony were among the companies that demoed DMD. There are several smaller units being sold, for instance by Polaroid and InFocus. The hit of the show was Rank's Digital Projection with their 2000 plus lumen projector. The process is much more light-efficient than the mechanisms inherent in LCD's. The LCD's are supported in a window frame matrix of control wires, which cuts out most of the light. More lumens are reflected using the denser micromirrors. The Digital Projection's pictures were the best I'd seen anywhere in years, including any movie house.
In general, the new LCD technology is getting better. Usable pictures start at about $5000 and mostly top out at $100,000 if you include lenses, etc. There is competition within each of the price groups, with the most at $5-$10,000. Ultimately, the price point will leave a half-dozen brands like Sony, Proxima, NEC and others to compete for the mid-priced market - which for a while, is the busiest. Some companies have reported financial losses this year. Profits for them are down by half, for the 2nd quarter, compared to last year's. This is because the market is getting fulled by more players who are breaking up business into smaller segments.
For instance, besides the general Data/Video projector for the conference room, there are at least 9 other categories:
More than price, the application is the main basis for choosing certain equipment. Each situation has a different group of reasons for determinging the appropriate projector.
Most applications want a unit that can handle basic desktop computers and a video source, ideally into a line doubler. The quality of the video really shows up on large screen, and the noise reveals itself in low-end material especially.
The future format of video is ATV - Advanced Television, which in a way is already here in that it is similar to some images that we get from our computers. The lines increase and aspect ratio goes to a 9-unit high by 16-unit wide picture (Compared with a normal TV's 3x4).
The choice of equipmentand integration into a system is based on various factors:
Just as it used to be with your hi-fi, building the system around your application has a lot to do with the other equipment that goes into the system.
More Information: Many trade magazines have had reviews of Infocom presentations and of related display equipment, such as Video Systems, Communications Industry Report, and AV/Video.
Of course, we at Bauer Presentation Services offer expertise in event and permanent systems.
Bob Lewis, one of the founders of the Boston video scene, former ITVA/New England President, and long-time SMPTE member, is at Video/Visuals-Bauer Audio Visual. He can be reached at 527-7800.
We would like to express our thanks and appreciation for the hospitality and excellent presentations that he arranged for our meeting at Video/Visuals-Bauer AV.