Looking to stimulate a new product category where good enough specs are perhaps enough to generate sales, LG announced its new HS102 "ultra mobile projector" and will begin shipping in Korea. The unit will sell for about $550 with a very interesting set of specifications that got us thinking.
Senior Analyst and Editor
The HS102 shares specs with 2007 vintage pocket projectors that began showing up on the scene in January 2007. These include Toshiba (TDP-FF1AU), Mitsubishi (PK10) and Boxlight (Bumblebee).
The LG prototype we saw at Projection Summit this past July was running on 100W of input power, for 1.5 lumens per watt efficiency, but with a two hour battery life today we think they got that number way down. LG claims 2000:1 contrast with 150 lumens brightness and includes a built in Divx decoder for movie playback via USB connection to a storage device. The company also said it offers switchable 4:3/16:9 ratios to serve as a crossover home/business use projector.
LED illumination is empowering a whole new class of projector and addressing the high cost of ownership in the product category where the price of some projectors actually is lower than the cost of the replacement lamp. Insight Media’s Matt Brennesholtz wrote in our July issue "According to Luminus’ Christian Hoepfner, the company has shipped "several hundreds of thousands of [LED] devices" to customers. He said that while their luminance (lumens/mm2) has improved by a factor of about 2.5x since Luminus introduced these high-brightness devices in September 2006, the system output has improved by a factor of more like 4x. He attributes the system improvement to both improved optical designs and improved matching of the LED and DLP drive schemes."
Interestingly, product planners at Dell went the other way with their recent LED projector offering. The M109S from Dell is a 0.8 pound LED lit DLP that has no battery option, runs on 47W of power and offers a stated brightness of 50 lumens. The unit sells today for sub-$500 (for more details see Oct-08 issue of Mobile Display Report, p. 33., or go to Dell.com)
While the LG HS102 projector is not HD quality, has moderate lumen output, and does not offer other fancy features, it does provide an interesting set of specs that may just catch on with users. With its 2 hour battery life, combined with Divx and other storage based multimedia playback it’s quite portable and the need for a laptop just isn’t there like it was before. The device also offers a very good value proposition. It’s low cost, good looks and use of LED illumination means no lamp filament to blow out keeping the cost of ownership low over the long term. To many, this was the Achilles heel of projection and LED overcomes this issue nicely. We’ll see if LG is on to something with this model and if this combination of "good enough" specifications, price and features truly does stand out in a crowded marketplace.