Originally Posted by Lostonmountain
The point is that if projectors are not cheaper than the TV's what is the point for most people who aren't going to be able to do more than around 100" (huge screens are a different ball game). My house is 1400sq ft. not an unreasonable size these days...nowhere could I go more than 100" (16:9).
Well first things first, projector's aren't supposed to be cheap TV alternatives, projectors are for making huge screens in home theaters. It just so happens that decades of development and competition have led to some really great machines that mean you can make a better-than-TV setup for less than a TV. So what is the point? The point is to be able to make a huge screen, if that happens to be cheaper than a TV, that's a happy accident. Frankly I'm amazed projection systems are cheaper than TVs myself.
I'm looking at around $3000 for a good 80" TV a projector that seems, from reviews, to have as good a quality but could give me a 100" picture is around $1000 or so depending on specific features I want. The projector of course has it's problems like not working in a light room (which is why I was looking at one that did work well in a light room and had a good lag rate but alas it says it will overheat if angled more than 5deg). I can't imagine I'm the only person who could fit in a 55" set or could project around 100" and would go with the 100" if it was reasonable in price. The 3K price point is just an approximation...say one comes in at $4k that would be a good starting point after they have sold the initial high cost units, then you see the price start to come down as they expand the market and ramp up production, then the competition sees this and bang you have a nice market for this so called "niche" product. Based on sales of prior tablets (of which I had one) a fair number of people thought the iPad wasn't going to be that big a deal or more a niche product for a few Apple fans (I bought one, I'm certainly no Apple fan), they were wrong.
There's a couple things to consider, first, with TVs or tablets, those are built and sold in the tens of millions. Projectors are built and sold in the tens of thousands, so there are a lot fewer units sold to recoup R&D costs. On top of that, tablets and TVs are sold based on specs one-upmanship. 4K TVs exist, and are cheap because the TV makers have run out of other features to distinguish their model from others. Their specification arms race has backfired to the point where nobody pays attention to them (1billion:1 contrast anyone?) so they have to resort to new features, like 3D, "Smart" TVs, and now 4K, to convince people to buy/upgrade.
Projectors are sold to a more educated community (not a "smarter" one, but one who has, by the nature of front projection, needed to do more research), a community that understand the requirements and implications of 4K a bit better, but also contrast, and how to really compare machines. So there isn't the specs arm race that you see in the big box store market, so there's less incentive to add "meaningless" features.
Regarding the "niche" comment, the comparison to the first tablets (or first anything) is not a good one, because the first 4K machines aren't the first projectors. It's more like SLI or CrossFire Gaming rigs. 4K may remain niche like those things since it's not really needed for 99% of the public. That said I don't think 4K will remain niche in the projection world, I think eventually it will just take over like 1080p did, and 720p before it, I believe it is inevitable. But until there is more content, there won't be a lot of demand for it.
What is so different about projectors that they can't be done at the approx. 3K price point? I mean specifics not "they can't do it" I want to know what components are going to make it cost so much? Is it because they are just coming on to the market and there is no competition or what maybe they need high resolution bulbs (just kidding) or something?
I disagree with a number of folks here in that I don't think there are really any significant technical challenges to projector design to overcome for 4K. I actually believe you could put 4k chips into (higher end) 1080p light engines and have great results. That said....
The first big challenge is probably getting good yields on 4k imaging devices. Each projector (other than single chip DLPs) need 3, 4k imaging devices. Each imaging device is approximately 8 million pixels each around only .75" in size. I imagine until the manufacturing process matures, the yields on these chips is relatively low making the actual cost of the chips relatively high (for reference Epson has still not succeeded in making 1080p LCoS chips with sufficient yields to field a product, let alone 4k).
On top of that, given that the resolution is doubled, the assembly tolerances have also at least doubled, so the manufacturing costs are higher.
But here's probably the biggest thing. Given the above, a 4k machine will necessarily be more expensive than a 1080p one, and thus the early adopters who are willing to pay that premium are going to expect something special with 4K, so the first companies to make 4k machines (Sony) are pulling out all the stops, which drives the cost up to the levels we see with the VW1100, VW600, etc.
Could somebody make a cheap 4K machine? I'm sure they could, but right now the only company making 4K chips in volume for the consumer is Sony, and they're not going to provide them to anyone else. Remember it's really just Sony, Epson, JVC, and TI that make imaging devices for all projectors. Until someone like Epson gets good yields and decides to start selling 4k imaging devices, we're not going to see cheaper 4k projectors. There are rumors that 4K DLPs are coming but surely like every other advance those will be in the $20k+ 3chip machines for the first year or two before they filter into less expensive machines.