At the beginning of the year, I wrote about Texas Instruments’ DLP technology for affordable 4K projectors, and the company’s DLP 0.67″ digital micromirror device (DMD) was expected to be found in 4K projector in the second half of 2016. So I went on Amazon, and I could find lots of “4K UHD projectors” with prices starting at $599, but if we look into details we may find some of those are “4K projector” with a 1280×800 resolution… And many of the ones selling in the $2,000+ range don’t list their native resolution with many able to handle 4K input, but actually projecting at 1920×1080 as can be seen in the table below.
The most honest companies promote those models as “projectors with 4K Enhancement”, but if you want a true 4K projector, the cheapest option is probably Sony VPL-VW350ES that goes for close to $10,000 on Amazon. CNET has a review of this model, and finds it to be very good with “excellent 4K content”, but “for most 4K current sources and all 1080p material, its resolution advantage over 1080p projectors is negligible”. I’m writing about 4K projectors today, as I’ve come across an article on Nikkei Technology about Canon 4K600STZ, the “world smallest and lightest” 4K projector based on laser technology, and capable of delivering a brightness of up to 6,000 lumens.
I guess miniaturization is still in its infancy for such technology, as the projector weights 26 kilograms and measures a good 624 x 559 x 201 mm. The projector features Canon’s Aisys 0.74″ 4K-LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) 4096×2400 panel, and the company managed to reduce the size by combining it to a new laser light source. The architecture of the new system is described in the diagram below.
6,000 lumens brightness was achieved on some laser modules only, and it’s likely the final product may have a lower maximum brightness. The light source can be used for about 20,000 hours, and up to 40,000 hours if brightness is adjusted lower.
This type of 4K projector is mostly targeted at the enterprise with applications such as digital signage, projection mapping, CAD (computer-aided design), training simulators, etc… Canon 4K600STZ is scheduled for release in April 2017 at a cost of around ¥8 million (~ $71,000 US).