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Portability could be the key to a renaissance in the digital projector market.
Despite a challenging first quarter, the digital projector market is seeing growth in emerging portable product categories. For the 2013 first quarter, PMA Research reported worldwide digital projector shipments of 1.95 million units, down slightly year-over-year compared with 2.07 million units sold.
However, PMA also reported elevated sales of pico, personal and high-end projectors. Pico and personal projectors of sub-1,000 lumens had double-digit shipment growth compared to the same period one year ago.
While pico projectors are portable, they are different than portable projectors. They are more compact and weigh about six to eight pounds.
Jeff Volpe, ViewSonic's president of the Americas, attributed this year's positive growth to the emerging category of portable solid-state and pico projectors.
"This is an exciting and growing category because the solid-state is lampless and allows the total cost of ownership to be reduced," said Volpe. "The portability and reduction of heat based on the solid-state technology is of value to people from an energy usage perspective."
According to ViewSonic Product Manager Roger Chien, this trend is budding due to the increased need for portability for traveling professionals.
"We see that the trend is growing," said Chien. "They need something light and portable but can give a large display when they are on the road."
Dave Duncan, product marketing manager of InFocus, believes there is a necessity today for mobile projectors.
"A lot of people are buying mobile products," said Duncan. "We do a lot of business with pharmaceutical businesses. When they present wirelessly door to door, they need a mobile solution."
Due to cutbacks in budget for government and education, the sales of mainstream projectors were slow compared to 2012's first quarter, according to PMA Research. However, Wide XGA, and 1080p commercial and home entertainment projectors seem to thrive.
Along with ViewSonic's laser/LED hybrid light technology and solid-state projectors, Volpe believes there are advantages to 1080p technology for home theater and education markets.
"When you see a project in standard definition it's nice and big, but when you see it in 1080p it's almost immersive because of the clarity and contrast," said Volpe. "Clarity of fonts and text in the business environment, or quality of video in a projection environment with 1080p makes significant difference in the quality."
According to Volpe, with the price of DLP and DMV chips decreasing, ViewSonic produced a reasonably priced 1080p projector. "From its PJD7 line, the 1080p PJD7820HD projector costs $700, the price of what a lower-screen-quality XGA projector cost several years ago.".
"With the price of chips coming down, we were able to put a 1080p on the market at $700," said Volpe. "Those combined elements of screen performance and price is really attractive to those looking to acquire projection technology."
NEXT: Projectors In The Classroom