Pacific Media Associates has announced their Buckaroo winners for best-of-show products exhibited at InfoComm International 2011. The Buckaroo Awards recognize those products in the front projector category that lead the herd by enabling projection of attractive images in a broad range of situations.
Although data-capable front projectors using digital imager chip technology such as 3LCD, DLP, or LCOS date from 1994, the industry has made large strides in technology, yielding improvements in brightness, resolution, color gamut, and a host of other features and performance measures. Industry growth has attracted numerous major brands, further spurring innovation and continued improvements in price-performance that have led to market expansion. But as is typical of maturing markets, competitive pressures have forced manufacturers to take measures such as expanding the boundary of the key measure of performance — in this case brightness — and specializing in narrower and narrower segments.
The high-tech market information company Pacific Media Associates (PMA), founded in 1992, has created a worldwide team of projector experts to measure, analyze, and forecast the projector market. PMA currently divides their coverage of the market into three brightness ranges — New Era (sub-500 lumens), Mainstream (500-4999 lumens), and High-End (5000+ lumens).
In 2011, PMA picked a Buckaroo award winner from each of these three categories.
Optoma ML500 - In early 2006 PMA identified the emerging New Era projector range, which at that time comprised a few, mostly quite dim, models using LED illumination, but with a likelihood of evolving to become models that had the brightness, resolution, and other specifications to make them attractive for volume sales. Although there have been numerous models, with varying resolutions, using either DLP or LCOS imagers, the recently-introduced and cost-effective WXGA DLP chipset, combined with bright LEDs, has garnered most of the design wins. At InfoComm the PMA team was most impressed with the 500-lumen Optoma ML500 model. While a few other manufacturers have achieved this brightness level using this combination of technology, Optoma did so in a package weighing under 2 1/2 lb. that contains the power supply, and is so thin it can be tucked into a laptop bag nestled against the laptop or even in a large purse. Its comprehensive set of inputs (including HDMI) and supported media, plus its built-in Personal Media Player and MS Office document viewer, enable it to display a wide range of signals or content types. It is compact and offers a low carry weight, at a list price of $699.
Casio Laser & LED Hybrid Light Engine Signature, Pro, and Short-Throw Family - Casio earns a Buckaroo award for catching the "greenness" wave, by taking a risk with new technology and staying the course through a few initial bumpy months. PMA gave them an award last year for innovation, but this year they deserve another one for recognizing the nature of their initial success and rapidly expanding into a much broader line. How frequently most UHP-type lamps need to be replaced continues to be a subject for debate, but environmental-sensitive educators embraced the idea of a long-lived alternative, and Casio moved to capitalize on that idea. Educators can now choose from a pair of short-throw models based upon hybrid illumination, and other types of buyers can choose from Casio's expanded family of hybrid products aimed at the sweet spots of resolution and brightness (up to 3,500 lumens).