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AV Wrap: Projector Makers Go Head To Head

By Matthew Lentini | Wednesday | 23/11/2011

November is shaping up to be the month of projectors with major manufacturers like Panasonic and Mitsubishi all unveiling devices that mesh the latest projector tech in the lead-up to the new year.

BenQ is tipping its projector line-up in the green direction with a slate of 'SmartEco' releases in early 2012.

Rolling out later this year and into the new year are three new short throw DLP projector models, the MX850UST, the MW851UST, and the MW712. The up-and-comers are aimed at reducing costs through energy efficiency and reduced maintenance costs.

Panasonic, on the other hand, has put its money into home AV this month with two new releases for the home theatre with a premium 3D model and its little brother.

The top-tier 3D model, the PT-AE7000E, features full HD resolution shot from a 2,000 brightness lumen bulb that delivers a contrast ratio tipped at 300,000:1. The new projector uses transparent LCD panels running at 480Hz in front of the bulb in a bid to reduce cross-talk in the stereoscopic 3D.

The little brother to the 3D model comes in with a much brighter bulb at 2,800 lumens of brightness, but the contrast ratio dips to 50,000:1. The PT-AR100E LCD projector still runs in full HD, with quality control features like automatic light and colour sensors.

The 3D model has recently hit stores and retails at $4179, with extra 3D glasses tipped at $169 a pair. The PT-AR100E, on the other hand, is being held back until December, priced at $3079.

Mitsubishi has gone into the corporate side this month with installation models for the boardroom that add unique functionality to the bill.

Its newly-released short-throw projectors focus more on practicality than the eco-friendly angle of BenQ's upcoming line-up, with smart features for the office presenter.

The XD360U-EST and WD380U-EST ($2490 and $2990 respectively) each boast 6000 hours of battery life and an array of connections from HDMI and VGA to USB and LAN, but more importantly offer projection best suited for presenters.

The WD model can project a two metre image from 64 cm away, so when ceiling mounted allows a presenter to stand directly in front of the screen without crossing the light beam.

Network compatibility, a 10 watt in-built speaker and the ability to push out more than one audio source at a time (ideal for microphones) make these models very office-centric (especially when taking into account the lack of full HD resolution).

Mitsubishi has also recently released a couple of portable projectors with similar connectivity in a more compact design that shaves a kilo off the weight. The XD550U and XD560U ($1690 and $2190 respectively) are similarly geared at the office presenter.

ViewSonic has also recently released new projectors, this time in the ultraportable form factor with lamp life up to 20,000 hours. These all-rounders, the PLED-W500 and PLED-W200, support 3D picture input at up to 120Hz over short-throw distances, in a body that weighs as low as 420 grams.

These versatile projectors start at $899, though ViewSonic has recently sweetened the deal on its PJD 5 Series of projectors by throwing in a free bonus lamp before the new year hits.

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