High Five with Nick Rogers of PMA

By Tom Allen
Nick Rogers
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Nick Rogers is the president of PMA Research, a market information company specialising in large-screen displays – especially projectors. PMA was founded in 1992 and provides worldwide market data on all projectors – from 1 lumen up to 50,000 lumens – and flat-panel displays in a quarterly sell-in or monthly sell-through service. Nick previously managed Hitachi’s European projector business.

1. What do you consider are the five most important market developments in the last five years?
The projector industry is maturing and developments have moved slowly. Some years ago display quality was most important, but it is accepted now that almost every display will be perfect. Quality and reliability have risen in past five years, to the point where it is a given. Interactivity is also significant, bringing projectors into classrooms all over the world.
Portability has taken off, with thousands of pico projectors on the (fast-growing) market. There are more than 20 models from the major manufacturers, weighing less than 500g and boasting up to 1,000 lumens of brightness.
Lamp life has always been a projector issue, although the problem has been exaggerated to promote replacement lamp sales and by manufacturers of LED-lit products. 4,000 hour lives are now normal, with some products reaching 6,000 hours or more. As most projectors are only used for a few hours each week (except in schools), the need for replacement lamps is a thing of the past.
I hesitate to mention 3D, as it is falling in popularity, but the format works particularly well on projectors with the advantages of a large screen and without FPD trade-offs. So my fifth choice would be the nearly-100% digitisation of cinemas, to the point where 35mm film distribution is stopped in favour of electronic distribution only. The transition has not only improved the image quality but allowed cinemas to show alternative and live content.

2. What will be the five hot topics over the next five years?
Easy – projector or flat panel? Until recently, economics demanded that any image over 60″ had to be from a projector. However, with FPD prices plummeting, that crossover is now above 100″. Labour costs for installations are rising though, so wireless or CAT-5 connectivity are becoming more attractive options.
In terms of projectors, edge blending and video mapping will be significant, as will solid state lighting. LEDs and lasers have only seen real volume in pico projectors and some education products – but this is changing. Laser-lighting is replacing the Xenon lamp in cinema projectors and will find their way into embedded projectors in cell phones and other power-sensitive applications, because they are efficient. LEDs are finding their way into the domestic and automotive markets with enormous volumes and are changing the economics of LEDs in projectors.
Green issues, like power consumption and hazardous material use, are coming to the fore. Purchasing decisions are being taken more and more based on the ‘green’ pedigree of a product.

3. What are the five most interesting upcoming technology developments that you can see?
Lower-cost solid-state lighting goes hand-in-hand with the trend to higher brightness and higher resolutions. In pico projectors this will be made possible by increases in LED and battery technologies.
I mentioned connectivity in the previous section, but there is a long way to go – useful and simple wireless connectivity that can handle video and HDBaseT to carry AV signals over buildings with CAT5 cabling.
I also think that ‘true’ multitouch interactivity and flexible displays will be big news. Products like large electro-luminescent displays that can be pasted onto surfaces like wallpaper!

4. What are five things you/your company stand for?
PMA Research specialises in projectors and other large-screen displays. We hold 25 years of data on every projector ever made on an SQL database. PMA’s strengths are the accuracy of our data and forecasts; integrity; worldwide coverage; and above all, our clients value the support we offer.

5. What are the five most important things or people in your life?
My dog, my cats, my computers, my grandchildren and my family – but not necessarily in that order (my wife added a glass of wine)!