Last week we focused in on the latest trends in the business projector market. This week it’s the turn of home cinema.
So just what do we expect from a home cinema projector in 2017? Read on for a closer look at some of the latest trends.
Advancements in 4K technology
4K projectors are without a doubt the hottest thing in the home cinema projector market at the moment.
Manufacturers from around the world have long worked to deliver 4K resolution at an affordable price point but it’s only recently become a realistic option for the home.
At 4K UHD resolution, you get a massive 3840 x 2160 pixels. That’s 8.8 million pixels, four times the number displayed by a Full HD projector.
To deliver images of this quality genuine 4K projectors use 4K native panels. The results are incredible; they show true 4K content as it’s meant to be seen in all its crisp, detailed glory.
But there’s something else going on in the home cinema market just now too: ‘pseudo 4K’. The fact is that despite leaps forward, genuine 4K home cinema projectors are still expensive and not everyone can stretch to the top end of the market. Enter pseudo 4K.
Known alternatively as enhanced 4K or upscaled 4K, depending on the projector manufacturer, pseudo 4K delivers near-4K resolution without the hefty price tag.
In practice what this means is that these projectors will process 4K sources using Full HD 1080p panels and shift each frame of an image up or down by half a pixel. You won’t be able to see any of this happening as you watch. All you’ll see is an almost-4K image.
Compare the pictures side by side with those of a genuine 4K projector, however, and you will see a difference. These pseudo options aren’t quite on the same level, but they’re truly impressive and almost had our experts here fooled. They have filled a very clear gap in the market for something that is better for 4K sources than Full HD, without the 4K UHD price tag.
That said, we have to reiterate that 4K projectors really are coming down in price to a realistic level. Who would have thought just a couple of years ago that we’d be able to get our hands on a 4K home cinema projector for around £2,000?
And yet here we are looking at one of the latest additions to the market, the Optoma UHD550x, with its 4K UHD resolution and a price tag of £1,669.00 + VAT.
It looks like even buyers on a budget will be in the market for true 4K quality in the near future.
The Future’s Bright
Back in the day, the majority of home cinema projectors boasted brightness levels of around 1,000 ANSI lumens, but the rise in home projector use and variation in consumers’ home environments has prompted many brands to turn up the lights driven by consumer demand.
It’s still important for home cinema fans to keep out as much light as possible, but with more and more high brightness projectors on the market, and their reduction in price, it means more flexibility for buyers – especially if you don’t happen to have a blacked-out basement room available.
The thing is, real-world brightness is not just about spec-sheet brightness. We know this sounds contrary, bear with us!
Increasing the brightness levels of a projector also has a big impact on the level of visual contrast it’s capable of delivering. For many of our customers, achieving a better image is a challenge and not a problem they can work around just by blocking out more ambient light.
Contrast in projectors refers to the difference between the blackest black and the whitest white in an image. The depth of the blackest black is dependent on the ambient light in the room due to the fact that these blacks are simply an absence of light. However, by purchasing a brighter projector you can increase the brightness of your whites and colours, therefore boosting the apparent difference between light and dark and making the latter appear darker.
Take the Epson EH-TW6700 for example. This Full HD resolution device is a relative steal for just £1,022.00 + VAT but it still offers an impressive 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness. The TW6700 may have what seems to be a low contrast ratio of 70,000:1, but for many lighter environments, this may actually produce a “better” image than a less-bright, higher-contrast ratio model.
We’re big fans of the Epson range and the 6700 would be a great entry to a home cinema setup delivering remarkable black levels, great contrast and brilliant colour saturation.
Pass the Source
Our final home cinema trend is actually one that’s still finding its feet in 2017: laser and LED projection technology. This cinema-led technology is now an option for home cinema users, but it’s still very much at the top end of the market.
Manufacturers have already taken note of the positive response from home cinema fans so far, so we reckon we’ll be seeing more lamp-free devices on the market soon – and at a lower price point too.
Consumers want low maintenance, high quality projectors and laser light source devices deliver this. High-intensity laser and LED devices run cooler than their lamp counterparts and they’re notably more energy efficient. Crucially however, they have the intense light needed to deliver a sharp, clear image for the big screen.
Our in-house experts and home cinema enthusiasts alike have been wowed by the colour accuracy and brightness delivered by the LED powered BenQ X12000. This projector is unique in the home cinema market and represents a real technological breakthrough for home users. You can read more about the amazing 4K resolution and the uncompromising, IMAX-level colour accuracy here.
The Epson EH-LS10500 is one of the best laser light source options, delivering the combination of enhanced 4K images and excellent contrast levels with absolute blacks. This delivers a remarkable 1,000,000:1 due to the dual laser light source being able to completely switch off the light to the panel and deliver an immersive cinema experience.
It’s undoubtedly at the top end of the consumer market, but it does signify a nod towards accessibility, and hopefully represents a step in the right direction for one of the industry’s best developments to date.
If you want to find out more about the home cinema projectors we offer please speak to one of our experts on 0808 274 4783 or send us a message.