Despite a handful of notable exceptions, the projectors and flat-screen displays introduced over the past 12 months were steadfast product-line upgrades. Nice, for sure, but nothing revolutionary. For the most part, new features on existing models have been par for the course when it comes to projection and display.
On the upside, the industry has matured quite a bit. Companies from InFocus to Epson to NEC jumped off the microportable bandwagon to focus on meeting-room projectors or portables with more brightness and features. Value projectors—those sub-$1,000 SVGA models everyone was talking about—are also being de-emphasized as margins and profits become increasingly thin for many companies.
Several significant new features became common for business projectors this year, including quick startup, quick shut-down (called "unplug-and-go" by several companies), auto-image setup and advanced color-correction modes. A few new models sported light sensors, which allow a projector to detect a room's ambient light and automatically make image adjustments. Security was another big theme, with password protection, time-out functions and onscreen company logo identifiers becoming more common, even on lower-price models.
Brightness also crept up, with 2,000 ANSI lumens becoming standard on portable models. The resolution ante was upped as well, with companies including Canon, Dell and Hitachi unveiling affordable SXGA+ projectors.
In the display world, Samsung made a splash when it unveiled its humongous 102-inch plasma display. This 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen, which is perhaps better measured in feet (4.2 feet high and 7 feet wide), has yet to make it beyond Samsung's testing labs, however. LG Electronics was one company that managed to ship a larger-than-life plasma: its 71-inch MW-71PY10, a $75,000 model. Big yes—and very cool.