If you’re in the market for a portable projector, it’s your lucky year. A downtrodden economy that has corporations postponing big fleet purchases, coupled with the very incremental gains in weight and brightness of current-model projectors that hardly make it worth spending thousands of dollars to upgrade from the previous year’s editions, have slowed projector sales and forced manufacturers to drop prices precipitously. The result: portable projectors have never been more affordable.
“It’s a buyer’s market,” says Peter Putnam, president of Roam Consulting, Inc., in Doylestown, PA, and the widely acknowledged expert on projector technology. “If you’re a presenter, this couldn’t be a better time to buy a projector. You can probably spend between $2,000 and $2,500 and get a nice XGA projector.” It gets better: Putnam says manufacturers can’t turn around and raise prices again when things pick up so he anticipates these price cuts will be permanent.
Several years ago it was easy to justify buying a projector every couple years because the leaps in technology were so remarkable. For the same weight, you could get a projector with hundreds more lumens, or you could get the same brightness in a package several pounds lighter. Now, those improvements are much more incremental. “I think we may be getting closer to the day when we plateau as far as lightness and brightness,” says Putnam.
That’s a problem for manufacturers, because it’s tough to justify spending $3,000 for 200 more lumens or to carry one less pound. Witness what happened with the three-pound projectors first unveiled at Infocomm 2000. These ultra-lightweight models were predicted to fly off the shelves, despite being priced at a premium and having fewer lumens than heavier models, because it was believed everyone who carried projectors on the road would want the most lightweight product they could by. As it turned out, buyers were unwilling to sacrifice such core features as lumens and zoom. They held onto their four- and five-pound models and the sale of three-pounders stagnated. Then prices started to fall on all portables, so if you’ve been postponing a projector purchase due to price, now’s the time to buy.