Sub-$US1000 data projector on the horizon

Sub-$US1000 data projector on the horizon

A data projector priced under a grand? It's a notion that sounds as fanciful as a sub-$US500 PC did a decade ago. But PCs have hit that price point, and with entry-level DLP projectors now costing well under $2,000, the $999 projector could appear in 2003 or sooner, say analysts and projector vendors here at Infocomm.

More than 500 exhibitors and some 20,000 attendees are expected at the premier trade show for the display and audiovisual systems industry, which finishes this week.

"There's no question that within a year and a half or so there will be sub-$US1000 projectors," said Bob Hana, vice president and general manager of NEC Solutions' Visual Systems Division. "Then we'll see more models sold in general office supply stores -- and many more units sold for home use."

Sweta Dash, director of LCD and projection research at i-Suppli/Stanford Resources, also expects to see sub-$1000 projectors, "most probably in one year". "But just because it is $999 doesn't mean people will be buying it," she cautioned.

A $999 projector, she said, might have SVGA (800x600) resolution and 1000 ANSI lumens brightness, sufficient for a small meeting room. However, it's likely it wouldn't be as lightweight as more expensive portable projectors.

High-end products were the focus of the Infocomm announcements.

Leading projector vendor InFocus announced at the show the LP70, a 1.1-kilogram projector that fits in the palm of the hand and delivers 1100 ANSI lumens of brightness and XGA (1024x768) resolution. Its estimated street price at its scheduled September ship date will be $US3,199, InFocus said. It's an example of the higher price that a full-featured, lightweight model fetches.

InFocus chairman and chief executive John Harker said he was sure a $999 projector is possible, but won't be pinned down on when InFocus might ship one at that price.

"Everyone is saying, 'let's get to $999', but I want to make money doing it. It's going to be a while."

Some vendors are already edging close. BenQ recently announced a limited-time offer of a 2.3-kilogram Acer 7763P projector with SVGA resolution and an 800-ANSI lumens lamp priced at $1,288.

NEC's projector announcements at Infocomm focused on new features, including ImageXpress technology that lets presenters hook up notebook PCs using wired Ethernet or 802.11b wireless networks. NEC also introduced its 3D Reform technology, which supports vertical, horizontal, and diagonal keystone correction, giving users greater flexibility in placing their projectors.

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