Where Are the 4K Home Theater Projectors?
While 4K TVs proliferate, 4K projectors lag behind.
This opulent home theater, featuring a Meridian 810 4K projector, was designed by First Impressions Theme Theaters and installed by ISI Automation International.
August 14, 2013 by Grant Clauser

Are More 4K Projectors Coming?

Yes. No. Maybe.

I received no comment from any makers of LCD projectors, so the assumption is that 4K LCD projectors are not in our near future.

Texas Instruments would not commit to any 4K future. In fact, none of the DLP projector makers I talked to said they had plans to offer consumer 4K products soon (aside from the one SIM2/Christie product), though one manufacturer said that Texas Instruments’ forecast to them put 4K projectors at least another two years down the road.

JVC, which makes their own LCOS projectors as well as supplies LCOS light engines to several other manufacturers, told me not to expect any surprises at this year’s CEDIA Expo. UPDATE: JVC’s David Walton sent a follow-up statement saying CEDIA attendees will be “pleasantly surprised with what JVC will be showing in the area of 4K projection.”

More than one manufacturer told me that they would offer more and/or cheaper 4K projectors if their technology partners who make the image chips offered such an option, so the ball is in someone else’s court.

That leaves Sony. When asked what Sony’s 4K projector lineup down the road would look like, Floyd responded, “I would definitely come to CEDIA.”  When I asked if 4K projector prices will be coming down soon, he paused for a minute, then offered an intriguing, “I don’t think it will be very long.”

Until Then?

So what does the home theater enthusiast do in the meantime? You’ve been hearing about 4K flat-panel TVs for more than a year. You see several models in audio/video showrooms and are told that 4K is an important new feature, but you want a theater, something with a screen over 100 inches wide. What do you do?

“Users should look for the best product for the application,” says SIM2’s Fabiano. Is resolution the most important factor? Many home theater professionals will likely tell you that it isn’t. The difference between a 4K image and a 1080p image, when viewed from 10 feet on a 110-inch screen is going to be difficult to discern, especially when you’re viewing upconverted 1080p material. 

The message from many manufactures is that you don’t really need 4K for a home theater of typical size. If you can’t see it, then what good will it do you? Truth be told, we haven’t heard a lot of complaints about the poor picture quality of 1080p projectors. Unfortunately, until we have a wider selection of product to choose from and compare, then we can’t really say with any authority if the resolution matters. People also said that when 1080p projectors first started to challenge 720p projectors. What lesson was learned then?

“Assuming you’re working with high-quality source content, there are three main considerations regarding overall picture quality: image brightness, accurate color representation and stellar contrast ratio,” says DPI’s Bridwell. Those picture factors haven’t changed over the last several years, no matter what the resolution.

Let us know if 4K projectors are important to you? Will you hold out buying a new projector until there are more 4K models? Do you believe 4K makes a difference in picture quality?

Also Check Out:
Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player Coming July 15
Watch Four 1080p Shows at Once with Planar 4K TV
Theater Renovation Heats up Once-Frigid Room with 4K Images
Get Your Fill of 4K Indie Films with REDRAY
A Bargain Price Ultra HD TV: Is it Worth It?
Sony’s New 4K Ultra HD TVs Start at $4,999

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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