Ramping Up to InfoComm

On Thursday, May 14th I attended the Sapphire Marketing Road Show in New York City. This road show gave attendees a chance to see the products and technologies offered by some of Sapphire Marketing’s clients. It also served as a useful warm-up to Display Summit and InfoComm 2015, coming to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Florida on June 15 – 19.

Of the 18 Sapphire Marketing clients at the roadshow, a half a dozen names will be very familiar to Meko Display Daily readers. These included Crestron, Digital Projection, InFocus, RPVisual, Scalable Display Technologies, Silicon Core and Stewart Filmscreen.

Digital_Projection_Insight_Laser_4K_resize.jpgDigital Projection Insight 4K Laser Projector. An LED version is coming to InfoComm

As a projector person I naturally gravitated toward the largest booth in the show, shared by Digital Projection, Scalable Display Technologies and Stewart Filmscreen. It had to be a big booth – Digital Projection was showing off its 12K lumen Insight Laser 4k projector plus several other projectors including a two projector blend using Scalable Display blending. Neither the space nor the screen was that big but when I asked Chuck Collins, Digital Projection’s VP of sales, if they were running the Insight Laser 4k projector at full power, he said yes. The area wasn’t that dark and a low gain Stewart Filmscreen screen was being used with the projector. The high brightness on the small screen gave good colorimetry and contrast even in the presence of significant ambient light. Collins said that Digital Projection would have new projectors to announce at InfoComm. One he said I could talk about: an LED version of the Insight 4k projector. While this will have only 2000 lumens output, it will have nearly Rec. 2020 colorimetry. It will also have 50,000 hour LED life, compared to the 12K lumen Laser/phosphor version on display which “only” had 20,000 hour life. No word on price of the LED version but the laser/phosphor version has a $100,000 MSRP. Sounds like something a studio or post house would want.

Digital_Projection_iVision_50_resize.jpgDigital Projection iVision 50 with a 0.3:1 throw ratio lens

The other projector that caught my eye was the iVision 50 lamp-based projector with 2560 x 1080 resolution, 21:9 aspect ratio and 2000 lumens output. The unit had an ultra-short throw lens with a 0.3:1 throw ratio installed instead of a conventional lens. This combination was being pitched as a home theater projector and, indeed, it did look good. At an MSRP or $20,000 for the projector plus an additional MSRP of $10,000 for the short throw lens, it should look good, of course.

Another big display at the road show was from Crestron. Not only did they have a large booth, but two gentlemen from Crestron gave hour-long tutorials. First, Dan Jackson gave a talk titled “IT Standards for AV”. He focused on how Professional AV is changing and is focusing on topics such as reliability, remote monitoring and networking that come more from the IT world than the AV world. It is adapt or die: AV people must learn the parlance and technology of the IT world to survive into the future. The second talk was by Justin Kennington and titled “DM 3.0: A digital Standard for Every Room.” While Kennington promised up front his talk would not be about Crestron boxes, in fact that was most of the talk. One thing that impressed me was the Crestron commitment to 4K. As they introduce a 4K/UHD product or plug-in board, they have been discontinuing the equivalent 2K/HD product. Since the newer 4K products are 100% backward compatible with the discontinued 2K products, if a customer needs a replacement 2K board that has been discontinued, they ship him a 4K board. That small portion of the customer’s system is then 4K capable and when it is time for a total system upgrade to 4K, well, they had a start already.

Since my colleague Chris Chinnock was also at the road show and has written an article on Crestron for Meko’s subscription clients that give a better overview of what was said, I won’t go into any more detail on the company.

Of course, Sapphire’s customers will not be the only people at InfoComm. Just this morning I got press releases from Ricoh and Gefen, competitors to Digital Projection and Crestron, respectively. Ricoh, whose projectors are in the $1K price range rather than the $100K range, will be introducing seven new projectors at InfoComm for a variety of conference room and education applications. Gefen will be “showcasing a range of new products at InfoComm, fully aligned with its mission of offering a seamless integration of advanced signal management solutions”. Like Crestron, Gefen is highlighting 4K, HDBaseT 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 products.

Should be an interesting week for Pro AV people and the IT people who seem to be taking over much of the Pro AV market. – Matthew Brennesholtz