ORLANDO – As with any major conference like InfoComm, there are bound to be a number of new products that are shown for the first time that catch one’s eye, while every so often, one finds oneself thrown for a curve for seeing something completely unexpected.
From the various audio, video, streaming products, to go with a few others ideally suited for houses of worship, on day one of the exhibit floor being open at the Orange County Convention Center on Wednesday, there were a number of notable projection products, along with a few outside the projection product line at those same booths, which showed a willingness by companies to bring forth products to best fit customer’s needs, based off customer feedback.
Among the new projector options rolled out for InfoComm, were a series of laser projectors, including a 4K option by ViewSonic. Understanding that there are churches that today still don’t see the need for a 4K projector, but like the benefit of a 20,000-hour laser phosphor light source, the LS850WU offers WUXGA resolution (1920x1200) using 5,000 lumens, as well as a 300,000:1 contrast ratio, with that model set to become available in October. A slightly more powerful model, the LS900WU, also with a laser phosphor light source, will become available next month.
For those houses of worship that are seeking a 4K projector, especially to be used within their primary space, the LS700-4K is a nice option, particularly for its ability to project in a 360-degree area, which could be helpful for a church interested in environmental projection. The company has slated the release of the 3,300-lumen LS700-4K to become available in August.
Aside from the ViewSonic, another interesting projector choice was found at the Casio booth, with their “lampless” projectors. While laser projectors are becoming rather common for the newest units on the market, one noted feature from Casio’s Superior Series projector, with its WUXGA resolution, had an ideal match for houses of worship: the inclusion of an ambient light sensor. For churches that are often using projectors in spaces that combat excessive ambient light, such a feature made logical sense. With the Casio’s sensor, it prevented a user from having to excessively and unnecessarily adjust the brightness. If the room was mostly dark, for instance, the setting would be kept down to avoid excessive electricity usage, but if sunlight quickly started to stream through the space’s windows, the brightness settings would adjust based off the sensor, in the midst of what is being projected, without a controller having to manually adjust such a setting, to keep the image as crisp and clear and possible.
For some churches, though, even with such sensors, a more powerful choice with higher lumens is a necessity, particularly for churches with larger worship spaces. Epson continues to move the bar a little higher in terms of lumens with its latest release, a 30,000-lumen projector, the EB-L30000UNL. This latest projector supplants Epson’s previous strongest model, the Pro L25000U, which has been on the market the last couple of years. The EB-L30000UNL projector is slated to begin shipping early next year.
For users who might not need such a robust projector in terms of lumens, Epson also released at the show, the Pro1070U, with it rated at 7,000 lumens. One of the benefits of a church going with this projector, is that if there are any lenses left from having been used with an earlier ProL series projector, this projector can work with those lenses. With that flexibility, it in turn saves money on buying additional lenses, often the result when purchasing a new projector.
Of the extensively various products that was seen up close on the floor, the one that took me by the greatest surprise was also at the Epson booth.
Interestingly enough, this Epson product has gone through multiple iterations over the years and have actually begun shipping over the last two years.
Think Google Glass. But with a valuable purpose for churches stressed over dealing with ongoing maintenance issues.
For church tech directors, most notably those who are tasked to have to travel between multiple campuses to fix issues large and small, upon seeing Epson’s product up close, it was easy to envision where a volunteer could be wearing the glasses, with an attached earbud, calling the tech director with the glasses, to discuss the maintenance issue with the off-site tech director, who can then immediately see what the volunteer is seeing.
From there, the tech director can verbally provide instructions on what needs to be tweaked to fix the issue, heard through the glasses, such as a disconnected wire that needs to be reattached to the right input connection. Or if the steps are a little more involved, the tech director could opt to take a screen capture of what is being seen by the volunteer, circle the problem connection, and write instructions in the still image, then send back that updated image back to the volunteer for them to follow those instructions. Or if the tech director is aware of the perfect YouTube video to explain the resolution, the tech director can send a YouTube link to the volunteer, who then can watch the video right from the glasses.
The plan is for these Moverio Assistant glasses to begin at $699 a pair, with the ability to call an “expert,” (selected and designate by the user) whether it be the church’s tech director, or an integrator, to be done through a subscription service, with various plans still being created, but slated to begin at under $30 a month.
Lastly, another notable unexpected product to be seen was at the Optoma booth. Well known for their varied projector options that are applicable for church installations, beyond the three new projector models for this year’s InfoComm that the company announced, it was hard to not get sidetracked by their 130-inch LED display, the FHDQ130, made up of 144 tiles. With a 1.5mm pixel pitch and incredibly vibrant colors to go with virtually nonexistent seams between each tile, the company’s Quad LED display offers one more option for churches that are torn between whether to go with projection or an LED wall. As explained by Brian Soto, head of product management for Optoma, the display was built to offer an all-in-one solution, as it incorporates the receiver card built in, scaler built in, inputs/outputs built in, to go with wireless control.
The move to this LED display by Optoma, noted Soto, came about from listening to their customers, and realizing that projectors by themselves could not always serve as the ideal solution in all scenarios, particularly those burdened with high ambient light.
Understanding the risk that comes with shipping the tiles to the user, and hoping that all the tiles arrive in perfect condition, Optoma eases that concern significantly, by ensuring that each shipment includes an additional three tiles, so that if a couple of tiles arrive with nonworking LEDs, instead of the church having to return the nonworking tiles for repair, while waiting for their return to complete the install, the additional tiles can be used to complete the install with no delay, as the damaged tiles are sent back and repaired without any need to rush the tiles back to the church.