What happened to the golden days of the projector?

If you hark back to the days when there were so many rumblings on the debate over HD and 720p, you will know the era I am talking about. That was the time when projectors were held in high esteem due to the large displays they could produce dwarfing the tiny TVs of its time. Times have changed since 2008 and we now can find monster screen sizes of up to 75 inches and all can be had under $2k.

Did you notice that today, that there is hardly any mention of projectors? Let alone the big names you used to hear such as Epson, BenQ and many others. Surprisingly they are are still around but not in the same force as they were back in those days. TVs, especially LCD ones including the large panels (50 inch) at that time were fairly expensive. I remember that I purchased a 42 inch 720p TV at that time for $1400 and that was during a Black Friday sales event. Can you imagine now! For that price accounting for some inflation, you can acquire an even higher resolution TV of 65 in for that price.

You can now see why projectors have felt on the wayside. They typically targeted an audience who wanted a screen bigger than their home TVs of that time. Projectors naturally allowed them to extend the projection beyond 50 inch to as much as the entire wall, say 130 inch. This was good business for projector companies and they all clambered to support the new HD+ at that time which was 1080p.

However, projectors also played an important part in business. Companies used the projectors to project large displays to people in meetings since TVs at that time were not as large. If you go to companies now and enter their meeting rooms, its almost always furnished with a 60 in or 75 in LED TVs. It is no brainer and common sense to pick up a large TV from the shop for their meetings room without having to dim the room to see the display as with projectors. Like all markets that come and go, the companies who manufacture projectors needed to change their business model. But then again, you simply cant produce the volume you have been producing to a diminishing market not matter whatever business model. This is where sometimes the progress in technology can help. Although the progress of LED TVs have killed the bigger screen market for projectors, there are some available niche markets at play here.

You will notice that projectors are albeit offered today by the same companies who dominated the business ie. epson, benq, optima etc. However, they needed to target areas that cannot be completely fulfilled by physical displays. The technologies of projection have unfortunately been stymied by the very lack of such niche markets. Few years back, we saw tiny projectors that appeared as stand-alone or even offered as extra to cameras but they have fallen on the wayside. Whats the point of projecting your smartphone images or videos when you have Chromecast and that large screen idling in your living room. Still there are markets of upper 80 inches where projectors clearly have an advantage over physical displays. Namely on price and size of projection. However, you may ask yourself, in what event would you project displays in upwards of 100 inches. It is in fact, in the humble home where folks are fortunate enough to have a basement or a room large enough to project displays of that size.

For business productivity, there are other technologies that seem very novel and could potentially win fans such as the Epson Brightlink 575i interactive projector which offers hand gestures for your presentation. Still the future looks bleak for the projection market and maybe that is why you can grab a projector for cheap now days. Just go to Espson, Amazon and you will see what I am talking about.

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