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Introductions at InfoComm

University Business, Jul 2009

A short distance from EduComm, THE expo floor at InfoComm offered plenty of ways to spend stimulus dollars.

Solutions offering 3D capabilities were grabbing attention. Whereas current 3D installations require two carefully aligned projectors, a one-unit solution is now available in projectors from Sharp, Mitsubishi, and ViewSonic, which all come under the Texas Instruments DLP umbrella. Sharp displayed a prototype BrilliantColor model, while Mitsubishi’s XD600U, with 4,500 lumens and a 2,000:1 contrast ratio, will be available in the third quarter. The PJD6381 from ViewSonic is an ultra-short-throw model offering 2,500 ANSI lumens and a 2,500:1 contrast ratio that will be available in August for $1,249. While the projectors might be useful for engineering or biology programs, where seeing an object in three dimensions can aid understanding, there isn’t much presentation content available yet. Also, separate mechanical glasses are needed to actually see the effect, so schools will have to find a way to deal with the additional cost and management before plunging in. Fortunately, the projectors have a menu option for traditional 2D images, so they can help “future proof” a room, avoiding the need for costly equipment upgrades.

The 3D Virtual Grey line of screens from Da-Lite provides support to traditional 3D installations. The screen material offers 99 percent polar retention, resulting in crisper 3D images in conjunction with old-fashioned cardboard polarizing glasses.

The projection company Vivitek is making an aggressive push into the education market with five-year warranties on units and one-year warranties on lamps. Its short-throw models will be available in October. The D520ST ($699) and D525ST ($799) both feature 2,600 lumens and a 2,300:1 contrast ratio and can deliver images from 23 inches to 300 inches diagonally. Short-throw projectors are useful in small spaces but also in conjunction with interactive whiteboards, as the presenter is less likely to cast a shadow. Vivitek is also one of the companies offering LED projectors, which eliminate lamps but still offer bright pictures and some energy savings.

“Energy consumption is starting to matter,” says Heather Gareis, of Epson. Many projectors now use less than 1 kilowatt of energy in standby mode. Gareis says that although devices are starting to be a factor in LEED certification, there is not yet an Energy Star rating for projectors. Epson was showing three new models in its PowerLite line. The Epson PowerLite S7 ($549) features 2,300 lumens and SVGA (800x600) resolution. Both the PowerLite 79 ($649) and W7 ($749) offer 2,200 lumens, but the PowerLite 79 features XGA resolution while the PowerLite W7 offers WXGA resolution (16:10 aspect ratio) and is fully compatible with widescreen notebooks. All three models should be available in October and qualify for Epson’s Brighter Futures program, which offers special bundles for education along with extended warrantees and support.

Flat-screen plasmas may be ideal for digital signage on campus, but in the classroom a projector and a quality screen are often a better solution, says David Rodgers of Elite Screens. Projectors and screens have a longer life than plasma displays, and come in a wider range of sizes.

Elite Screens’ new Osprey Dual Motorized Home Cinema Projection screen features a dual-screen format running native 2.35:1 and 16:9 screens that work in tandem with the push of a button while maintaining a centered image coordinated to the projector’s lens memory. It utilizes the company’s MaxWhite FG fiberglass-backed front projection material that resists the curling effect caused by temperature variations in the multiple layers of other non-tensioned projection surfaces.

SMART Technologies introduced the SMART Podium ID422w. It’s the company’s first widescreen interactive pen display and has 40 percent more interactive workspace than the ID370. The Podium ID422w has high-definition resolution, a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a 22-inch display. It connects to a computer and a projector and outputs everything done on the pen display to a large screen so audiences can see. It will be available in early fall with an education price of $2,839. —Ann McClure