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Market Booms for Short-throw Projectors

Aug 12, 2008 12:00 PM, By John W. DeWitt

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Sanyo PLC-XL50

Sanyo PLC-XL50

Short-throw and ultra-short-throw projectors appear to be proliferating, providing an option for implementing digital signage, educational applications, and corporate displays in tight or otherwise awkward spaces. The increasing use of projectors such as the Sanyo PLC-XL50—touted for the past year as the world’s shortest-throw projector, whose optical engine can project an 80in. image from a 3in. distance—is driving a compound growth rate of 60 percent annually in the market for short-throw projectors, according to a recent report from Pacific Media Associates.

The market-research firm recently released a report forecasting that the worldwide market for short-throw and ultra short-throw projectors will grow to 844,000 units by 2012, up from 80,000 units in 2007—a compound growth rate of 60 percent per year. According to the firm, short- and ultra-short-throw projectors may be placed quite close to a screen or projection surface compared with conventional, standard-throw projectors.

The short-throw projector forecast is part of Pacific Media Associates’ quarterly Market Outlook, which includes quarterly by-model manufacturer censuses of more than 60 countries, and detailed updated forecasts.

“Current demand for short-throw projectors is being driven by their use with interactive whiteboards in the education market, particularly government-funded projects in Europe,” says Michael Abramson, vice president of projector research at Pacific Media Associates. “However, they are also finding other uses in situations where space is at a premium or there are other constraints that would prevent conventional projectors or flatpanel displays from being used.”

Pacific Media says the short-throw market was pioneered by manufacturers including 3M and NEC. Now numerous manufacturers are scrambling to meet demand, “with a dozen brands in the market or with announced intentions to enter the market.” Typically, specifications on short-throw projectors include XGA or Wide-XGA resolutions with brightness ranging from 1500 lumens to 3500 lumens.

According to Sanyo, shortening the projection distance of the PLC-XL50 required development of a new large diameter aspheric (non-spherical) lens and high-precision aspheric mirror technology. The company also developed a new optical engine to enable the 80in. projection from about 3in. away.

“The proprietary optical and cooling mechanism technology used in the PLC-XL50 allows both vertical and horizontal projection. The new optical engine was created with a high-precision aspheric mirror combined with a distortion correction mechanism lens, enabling large magnification without distortion—even from ultra-short distances,” according to Sanyo’s product announcement. “To allow projection either vertically or horizontally, a special cooling mechanism was also essential. The resulting solution is a one-way flow system consisting of an air intake and exhaust mechanism on the main body of the projector—thus allowing optimal positioning of the main components.”

Another recently introduced short-throw projectors is the Epson PowerLite 400W, which can project an 87in., 16:10 image from 3.4ft. away. Epson says this is the world’s first WXGA 3LCD projector to feature short throw distance. The PowerLite 400W targets display applications for widescreen computers and interactive whiteboards, providing 30-percent larger images than standard 4:3.

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