One of the most fun things about CES is getting to see the kit that I'll never end up owning. Normally, this "wild and crazy" stuff of $30,000 HDTVs and other setups don't make it to print - most of us will never be able to justify that expense. However, I know that several of you have been looking into HDTV projectors - and it looks like Panasonic may well have an answer for you.
The big news of the day was the launch of the company's behemoth, the 1080p (model PT-AE1000U) projector. I got to sit down with the product manager, David Wiswell, to discuss the technology behind it. It sports a 1,100 lumen lamp (made by Panasonic itself) as well as an 11,000:1 contrast ratio. To see the unit in action is marvelous - but it comes with the downside of a $4,000 price tag.
Of course, for that you're getting something designed from the ground up - the system even uses a prism rather than mirrors to enhance fidelity. The projector is designed to replicate the experience of a theatre, and quite a bit of the technology used in the projector is meant to turn the sharp lines of digital content into the smooth look of a film. I would say it definitely succeeds - but it also looks like it would play a great round of FEAR...
For those of us who balk at spending $4,000 on a projector, there is a model more towards the mainstream. The 720p projector is $2,000 USD, so much more along the lines of what someone might spend on an expensive HDTV. Of course, the beauty of a projector is its size - you can make it look a lot bigger than a TV of equal cost. The 720p also sports a 2,000 lumen lamp, making it very watchable in a room that has lighting in it (though not bright lighting).
All in all, there are a couple nice options for the true Home Theatre enthusiast this year. We'll look forward to seeing if any of you are going the route of an HD projector setup - let us know in our forums