CES gave projectors their chance to shine
(Image credit: Future)
I travelled to CES 2023 mostly to check out new TVs, but as I roamed the vast, crowded halls, I kept bumping up against a related product category: projectors.
The best 4K projectors now come in a range of flavors, including long throw, ultra short throw, and portable versions, and all of these were represented at CES. To be honest, I was surprised by the number of brands with projectors on display at the show. We clearly are living in an era of big-screen TV, with no shortage of options for getting cinema-size images at home.
While I didn’t see all of the projectors at CES, I did have a chance to spend quality time with most of the ones listed below. The range is weighted equally between DLP-based ultra short throw and portable models, with JVC’s long throw DLP projector thrown in for good measure due to its gaming capabilities – and affordable price.
(Image credit: Future)
1. AWOL Vision LTV-2500+
The AWOL Vision LTV-2500+ ($3,499) was set up in an open booth with bright lights beaming overhead. Even so, the image it put out had good brightness, contrast, and color saturation given the challenging environment.
A big part of that was due to the projector’s triple-laser light engine (one each for the red, green, and blue primary colors) which delivers 2,600 lumens light output and 107% coverage of the Rec.2020 color space. (AWOL also sells a similarly featured 3,500 lumen model, the LTV-3500, for $5,499.) The LTV-2500+ uses an all-glass lens for crisp focus and can beam images from 80 up to 150 inches.
One feature of the LTV-2500+ (and LTV-3500) that’s not found on other ultra short throw models is 3D support. While new movies on 3D Blu-ray are few and far between, there still are 3D fans out there with the best Blu-ray players and disc collections, and the company added that feature in reaction to user requests. (AWOL includes active shutter glasses with the projector.)
The LTV-2500+ also handles both the HDR10 and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats, and Dolby Vision support will be coming shortly, added via a firmware update according to a company rep I spoke with at CES. Beyond that, the projector ships with an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max for streaming and has an HDMI eARC port for connecting an external soundbar. It also looks to be a good option for gaming, with a specified input lag of 30ms with 4K sources and 17ms with 1080P ones.
(Image credit: Future)
2. Hisense L9H TriChroma Laser TV
Hisense had a full range of new projectors on display at CES, including an 8K and several 4K ultra short throw models plus a new laser-driven portable. The one that caught my eye was the L9H TriChroma Laser TV, no doubt due to its triple-laser light engine with exceptional brightness (3,000 ANSI lumens). Like the AWOL UST model, the L9H is specced to deliver 107% coverage of the Rec.2020 color space and features Dolby Vision high dynamic range support out of the box.
For 2023, the Hisense Laser TV range is making a change from Android TV (ugh …) to Google TV. This interface upgrade will make using the projector just like navigating a regular smart TV, except in this case one with a 100- or 120-inch screen. The new ambient light rejecting screens that come with Hisense’s projectors have also been upgraded, going from negative gain to 1.0 gain for improved brightness.
Other L9H features include Wi-Fi 6e support for high-bandwidth streaming, AirPlay 2, and a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner for viewing next-gen digital TV broadcasts in the US.
(Image credit: Future)
3. Leica Cine Laser TV
Just off the main Hisense booth was a dark space housing another impressive ultra short throw projector demo, this one by renowned German camera maker Leica. The company’s new Cine 1 Laser TV is a collaboration with Hisense, and like the Hisense L9H, is a triple-laser model, but one with 2,500 lumens light output. Also like the Hisense it features the Google TV smart interface, has a built-in TV tuner (though one that’s not ATSC 3.0-capable), and comes with 100- or 120-inch screen options.
Being a camera company, you’d expect that Leica would get involved in the lens design for the projector and that’s exactly what happened. I gotta say, the image being projected in the company’s booth did look perfectly crisp. Leica Image Optimization (LIO) processing is also onboard to improve image quality, and there’s that beautiful perforated aluminum with red dot casing that echoes the elegant design of the company’s cameras.
The Cine Laser TV will be available in Europe this spring, and arrives in the US later this year at a starting price of $8,295 (for the 100-inch model).
(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
4. Samsung The Freestyle (2023)
Samsung’s The Freestyle is currently our top portable projector choice owing to its clever and versatile design, which allows for a wide range of indoor and outdoor projection applications. It’s also an affordable portable projector option considering all the cool things it can do, including streaming from apps using the same Tizen smart interface found in the company’s TVs.
For 2023, a refreshed The Freestyle will gain Samsung’s Gaming Hub for cloud-based gaming via apps such as Microsoft Xbox, Utomik, and Amazon Luna. And a New Edge Blending feature allows for two separate Freestyle projectors to combine and create an ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio display (shown in the above picture) with automatic keystone adjustment. Game on, Samsung.
(Image credit: Future)
5. Formovie V10
The portable projector space is getting increasingly crowded, with laser-based 4K models offered up by loads of manufacturers both known and unknown. When dropping by the Formovie booth to check out its excellent Theater projector, the world’s first to support Dolby Vision HDR and one with a high-performance Bowers & Wilkins Dolby Atmos audio system built-in, I encountered an intriguing new portable model that had recently launched: the V10.
The V10 is a 4K projector with an LED-based light engine that is specced for 2,500 ANSI lumens light output and is capable of beaming images from 60 up to 150 inches. Its specs also list a 240Hz refresh rate with HDMI 2.1 connections and 12ms input lag when gaming. Streaming with the V10 is via the Android TV smart interface.
While all those specs look good, especially on the gaming front, the real reason why you’d buy the V10, which is available and priced around $2,000, is its looks. With a natural wood top control panel and fabric mesh-covered case, this is one the nicest looking portable projectors I’ve yet seen, and one totally worthy of a prime spot in your living room.
(Image credit: XGIMI)
6. Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro
I didn’t get a chance to check out the Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro in person – at the CES event I attended where it was supposed to be presented, an Xgimi rep was there but the MoGo 2 Pro strangely was not – but given the our positive experience with the Mogo Pro, as well as the company’s track record of delivering high quality portable projector designs, I’m sure it will be one of the better models coming out in 2023.
Specs-wise, the MoGo 2 Pro is a lightweight (2.2 pounds) 1080p model with HDR10 support. Image size is said to extend up to 200 inches, which means you can use this thing to project onto the side of a freakin’ barn. Most important, the Mogo 2 Pro looks cool and features the company’s Intelligent Screen Adaptation technology (version 2.0), which automatically aligns the image to be a perfect, and perfectly focused 16:9 rectangle no matter where you place the projector.
The MoGo 2 Pro will be available “soon.”
(Image credit: JVC)
7. JVC LX-NZ30
JVC’s LX-NZ30 is another projector I didn’t get to check out in person, in this case because CES is too damn big and spread out over the Las Vegas strip as well as the main convention center. But I wanted to include it in this list because JVC has yet to make a bad projector and the LX-NZ30 looks to be a great option for both movie-watching and gaming.
The LX-NZ30 is a 1080p DLP design that uses four-way e-shift to achieve 4K on screen resolution. According to JVC, it “supports up to 1080P/240Hz input with latency as low as 6.25ms.” Along with its HDMI connections it features a DisplayPort 1.2a input for direct connection to a PC. The LX-NZ30 has a laser light source with dynamic dimming for improved contrast, and it offers flexible setup options including horizontal and vertical lens shift and a 1.6x optical zoom.
The LX-NZ30 will be available in late March for $3,499.
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Senior Editor Home Entertainment, US
Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.