Digital Projection Lamp-Free Projectors at CEDIA 2017

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Digital Projection brought a raft of new projectors to CEDIA 2017—and none had a lamp. Virtually all of them employ a laser-phosphor light engine, which have a lifespan of about 20,000 hours with little or no maintenance. (DP also uses LEDs in a couple of models, but they have lower light output.) In addition, all Digital Projection models are based on DLP technology.

At the low end of the cost spectrum is the E-Vision Laser 5000 (seen in the photo above). For $5000, you get a 1080p single-chip DLP projector with a peak light output of 5000 lumens and manual horizontal and vertical lens shift.

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Next up the food chain is the E-Vision Laser 4K. It’s a 4K/UHD single-chip model that’s available in two versions: HB (high brightness, 7500 lumens) and HC (high contrast, 4700 lumens). Either one will set you back $19,995.

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The HIGHLite Laser 4K 12000 pumps out—you guessed it—12,000 lumens. It’s a 3-chip design with 4K/UHD resolution using the TI pixel-wiggling chips for $44,995.

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At the top of the CEDIA heap this year is the Insight Laser 4K, which uses three digital-cinema DLP chips with true 4K resolution. It’s available in two versions: single laser (12,000 lumens, $99,995) or dual laser (27,000 lumens, $139,995).

Within a blacked-out area, Digital Projection was demonstrating three different models using a Kaleidescape Strato as the source. Unfortunately, none of the demos were displaying HDR.

First, I took a look at the Insight Laser 4K (single laser), which was firing onto a 16:9, 16-foot-wide Stewart SnoMatte 100 screen. The content included clips from Angry Birds and a Pink concert video. The colors and detail were excellent, but the blacks were not very good at all.

Next, I checked out the HIGHLite Laser 4K 12000 on a 10-foot-wide SnoMatte 100 screen. The blacks were better than those from the Insight, but still not great. Finally, I looked at the E-Vision Laser 4K HC on an 8-foot-wide SnoMatte 100, which had about the same black level—and obvious rainbow artifacts.

The HIGHLite and E-Vision were positioned so viewers could see them both at the same time, even though the two areas were separated by a black cloth. This allowed us to compare the two images. As expected, the E-Vision was not as bright, but the colors were pretty consistent between the two.

I was told that the projectors have four HDR LUTs (look-up tables) that can be selected based on screen size and peak light output, but they will be available only with HDR content. I really wish that Digital Projection had been able to demonstrate that; as it was, even the most expensive model exhibited relatively poor blacks and didn’t look nearly as good as the Sony VPL-VW885ES, JVC DLA-RS4500, or Wolf Cinema TXF-5000, all of which are far less expensive than the Insight.