Sony's 147" Ultra-Short-Throw 4K Projector (and why they need to make it) [TOP 15 of 2015]
The following article, originally published on January 30, was AkihabaraNews' 15th most popular of 2015. And seriously, although we first met Sony's 4K short-throw projector over a year ago, we still haven't seen anything sexier...or more expensive for what it is and how it does what it do. We have great want.
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With Great Resolution Comes Great Price
It’s been more than a year (CES 2014) since Sony first announced their beautifully designed, laser-powered LSPX-W1S ultra-short-throw 4K projector. We saw more at a spring press event here in Tokyo, and the Euro-debut took place in September at IFA Berlin; the projector went retail in the U.S. that same month.* And now, announced just yesterday, Sony’s made the projector available here in Japan.
U.S. Dollars: one fair to middling luxury car, or $50,000.
Japanese Yen: the theoretical equivalent, ¥5,000,000
*We have yet to discern a real reason why Sony keeps dropping their flagship debuts in the U.S. rather than here at home. PS4 was the same.
Those who watch currency fluctuations will recognize the $7,000-$8,000 discrepancy there, which means that if shipping costs aren’t too extravagant, American buyers would do well to order from Japan. Then again, if you’re in the market for a $50,000 projector, chances are you’re not too worried about exploiting the ¥/$ exchange rate.
So, the complete system includes 4 speakers (40W + 40W (at 8 Ω) that encase the central projection unit, and in its entirety it measures 270cm/8 ft. 9 in. long x 26.5cm/10 in. tall x 53.5cm/1 ft. 9 in. deep (in person it actually feels smaller - watch the video below). It’s very nicely finished in aluminum, but the ensemble still hits 113 lb 8.6oz (51.5kg).
The LSPX-W1S needs only 17cm/6.5 in. of horizontal clearance to produce the full 147” viewing area, and even when butted directly against the wall, it’s still good for 106”. Brightness is rated at 2,000 lm across a maximum resolution of 4096 x 2160.
Naturally, the projector is compatible with pretty much every input known to civilization, and extra speaker outputs are included for those who just need more.
Sony’s also poured in 3D capability and a raft of special features like Picture Position Memory, Reality Creation, and the much lauded color-enhancing TRILUMINOS display tech. Additional cleverly acronymed features abound, but we really don’t need to describe the whole host because...well, honestly, if you need much more than “147-inch short-throw 4K projector made by Sony,” your trees are obscuring the forest.
World’s #1 Reason for a Plain White Wall
We really wish we could tell you more - we would so love to give this thing a spin and churn out a 4000-word review. Alas, while Sony has no problem sending us $3,000-$5,000 worth of high-end camera kit (α7S mirrorless, AX100 4K Handycam), we don’t see the LSPX-W1S arriving by Kuroneko anytime soon.
That being said, however, we have seen the LSPX-W1S in action, proper up-close and personal-like. At the aforementioned demo in their Ginza showbuilding last March, Sony’s projector played a starring role in the Life Space UX home of the future installation. It was a bit beyond impressive (Gallery here; Raw Video and UTMTTS video discussion below).
Clearly this big pretty appliance is an extreme luxury, and it’s easy to scoff at a $50,000 home projector. It’s also easy to dismiss Sony’s $1,000 E Ink reader or $1,250 high-res Walkman that, like the subject at hand, will only ever be purchased by a tiny handful of humans. But there’s another way to look at these things...
For all Sony’s shortcomings and fiscal issues, we’re talking about a full-spectrum electronics maker that can afford to lose a few billion dollars in a bad year because that loss has the context of $75 billion in overall revenue (fiscal year ending March 2014). So you see, they aren’t just cranking out these unicorns for the hell of it - no, this looks like R&D, and to their great credit, they’re doing it in real time with quality, albeit extravagant retail products.
Their high-res audio tech is going to make its way into all Sony’s music players, the E Ink tech is already in one of Sony’s amazing smartwatch prototypes, and who knows, maybe someday this projector tech will fit inside our pockets or any number of Sony products (Sony's got a lot of projection ideas, see video below).
Trickle-Down Economics is a largely discredited and effectively nonexistent market phenomenon, but it has a powerful analog in tech development: what Sony’s doing here is Trickle-Down Techonomics**, and it’s fiercely real and macro-practical.
Okay I’m done writing now someone please give me 5 million yen already.
Raw Video of the LSPX-W1S in Action:
Life Space UX Feature Section (begins at 4:38):
**Trickle-Down Technomics©®™ is a registered, copyrighted, reserved, exclusive trademark of Anthrobotic Services: Research & Multimedia