Viewsonic projectors: now powered by lasers

Adam Oxford

Viewsonic has been busy showing off its latest display tech in London today, the highlight of which is a large black box that brings together two technologies which will always be close to PC Gamer's heart: projectors and lasers.

The new Pro 9000 is a 1920x1080 affair capable of creating an ad hoc display up to 150 inches in size, but instead of a hot, power hungry and ultimately short lived incandescent light bulb inside, it uses a combination of lasers and LEDs to produce a 1600 lumen beam .

Viewsonic reckons the Pro 9000 uses around half the power of a traditional home cinema projector. It's still not what you might call eco-friendly, though - it's rated at 186W compared to 300W or more for rivals, but mere double digits for a modern large screen LED TV.

Still, early days and all that. As far as picture quality is concerned, there doesn't appear to be any difference between this and older projectors.

That's because inside the Pro 9000, the DLP chip which produces the picture is the same TI DarkChip 3 DMD that's used throughout the industry. Instead of a bulb and colour wheel, however, there's an array of somewhere between 20-30 blue lasers (they're getting back to me on the precise number), which are fired through a green phosphor colour wheel and mixed with light from red and blue LEDs to create the RGB spectrum. Apparently it's capable of producing contrast ratios up to 100,000 to 1 and 84.1% of the NTSC gamut.

The advantages are clear: apart from the cost, heat, noise and energy use of traditional projectors, traditional lamps also start to burn out from day one. Instead, this is rated for 20,000hours of video and shouldn't suffer from brightness degradation. It also powers on and off pretty much instantly, and is cool to the touch.

It is, however, going to cost over £1500. Ouch.

Apparently, Viewsonic is shelving its plans to produce low cost tablet-like devices in order to focus on bigger, higher tech and ultimately cheaper screens - an ambition I can't find fault with. So if the projector is still a bit outside your budget, today's announcements also included a gorgeous looking 10bit IPS 27inch monitor with 2560x1440 resolution.

Dubbed the VP2770, it isn't cheap, but it's not hugely expensive either. £459 plus VAT is a reasonable price for a 10bit 27incher, especially as it boasts a grey to grey response time of 5ms. That would make it not just colourful, but fast too. First impressions are good too - almost enough to make me regret a recent screen investment with another manfacturer.

Microsoft reckons that 27inches will become the default screen size over the next few years. I'm certainly not going to argue with that.

It's not all good news from Viewsonic, mind. The company line is that the PC as we know it is on its way out and it's placing all its confidence in streaming tech and cloud based computing. Still, so long as it carries on making high res screens and laser powered projectors they can have any strategy they like.

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