Projectors Under a Grand

By Heather Baldwin

One of the great barriers in the projector industry – the $1,000 price point – has just been broken by two manufacturers, InFocus and Epson. Both companies recently announced $999 products that they hope will make projectors affordable for a broader range of customers, particularly in these tough economic times when every dollar spent is carefully scrutinized. And if you don’t like these units, just wait. Now that the $1,000 barrier has been broken, other manufacturers are likely to follow suit.

Epson was first off the blocks with its PowerLite S1, a 1200 ANSI lumen SVGA projector with a 400:1 contrast ratio. Because the projector is likely to appeal to first-time owners, simplicity is the name of the game. Presenters can set up the projector with color-coded connections and a few buttons on the control panel. Once they press the power button, a verification tone lets them know immediately that the power is on, and in about six seconds the projector’s image appears on the screen. Basic image adjustments can be made in seconds with features such as digital keystone correction (+/- 15 degrees) and by using a newly designed series of menus that are accessible with one push of a button on the upper panel of the projector.

“The PowerLite S1 represents the best value we’ve ever offered in a new projector in terms of price-to-performance,” says Aaron Marinari, product manager, Epson America. “A product such as this truly represents a breakthrough in our industry and demonstrates that projectors are no longer just expensive presentation tools or rare PC peripherals you’d normally only find in select offices or classrooms.”

One week after Epson announced its $999 PowerLite S1, InFocus Corp. said it had lowered the price of its X1 DLP projector from $1,299 to $999. The 6.8-lb. X1, first announced in October 2002, displays 1100 ANSI lumens and has a whopping 2000:1 contrast ratio, which means blacks and whites are exceptionally sharp. When it was launched, InFocus executives said the projector targets a critical new market segment for the projector industry: the multi-use category. Customers in this category, according to InFocus, include small- to medium-sized businesses, small office/home office users and educators who want a projector designed for high performance both at work and at home.

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