Last week, Canon introduced something we haven’t seen in awhile—projectors based on an entirely new imager. Canon has always made quality multimedia projectors built with some of the best optics and coatings technology in the industry. In the past couple of years, REALiS projectors have featured LCOS (Liquid Crystal On Silicon) panels from JVC. Now, for the first time, Canon has developed its own LCOS imager components and new projectors based on it.
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The two projectors are the REALiS WUX10 and the REALiS SX80, based respectively on their new WUXGA (1920 x 1200) and SXGA+ (1400 x 1050) LCOS panels. According to Canon, their top-of-the-line WUX10 is the world’s first WUXGA projector using LCOS.
The REALiS WUX10 is rated at 3200 lumens, 1000:1 contrast, weighs 10.8 lbs. and is scheduled to be available in October 2008 at $12,999 MSRP. The REALiS SX80 delivers 3000 lumens at a contrast of 900:1,weighs 11.5 lbs. and is to be available this month at $3,999 MSRP.
Heavyweights in LCOS projection right now are JVC, with D-ILA and Sony with SXRD imagers. Both of these technologies are geared toward high-end home theatre with 1920 x 1080 resolution. Unlike these home theatre projectors, however, the Canon projectors are aimed at multimedia applications in corporate and educational settings and include additional ease-of-use and connectivity features.
What you will notice in comparing these multimedia projectors to home theatre projectors from Sony and JVC is that the lumens are a lot higher and the contrast is a lot lower. This tradeoff comes from optimizing the engine for a bright presentation in a partially or fully lit conference room. Home theatre engines, on the other hand are designed for the lowest possible black level in a totally darkened room with best contrast. Consequently, lumens suffer.
But the real novelty here is the underlying LCOS reflective LCD panels, which were developed by Canon. The REALiS WUX10 incorporates a 0.71-inch WUXGA panel, reportedly the world’s first LCOS panel of its size to achieve such a level of resolution. The REALiS SX80 features a 0.55-inch SXGA+ panel. Compared with LCD imagers, LCOS panels have less of the "screen door effect," due to a higher pixel fill factor.
Since Canon has been previously sourcing its LCOS panels from JVC, we wonder what, if any, incremental performance value Canon can add to the technology. Perhaps, it is only security of supply that it values. But looking at Canon’s track record gives us a clue. Canon has been strong at providing the whole supply chain in many product lines related to optics and imaging, including copiers, printers, digital cameras, video cameras and projectors. We see Canon’s move here as another step in completing its own supply chain for projection.
The new WUX10 and SX80 projectors include user-friendly presentation features such as instant off, auto focus, keystone, input select and color correction. An Ethernet connection is provided for centralized control and monitoring of multiple projector units with industry-standard controllers. PC-free presentations, digital photos and video can be shown from the USB connector.
Both projectors feature Canon’s AISYS (Aspectual Illumination System) Optical Engine. AISYS equalizes the light from the projection lamp and maximizes the performance of the LCOS panels to achieve high brightness, contrast and image detail in a compact form factor. They also feature newly developed Canon 1.5x powered zoom/focus lenses that incorporate new lens coatings and famous Canon optics.
Canon will be demonstrating their new line of projectors next week at InfoComm in Las Vegas. Insight Media will be on hand for a first-hand review as part of its extensive team coverage of the show. Expect more on this subject and all of the happenings at InfoComm in the next issue of Large Display Report.