LAS VEGAS -- Forget giant flat-screens -- why not just turn your wall into the TV?
That's always been the promise of home theater projectors, which offer screen sizes far larger than any consumer-priced LED and plasma TVs. But projectors always come with a caveat: they need to be mounted, often on the ceiling in the rear of the room. That presents plenty of wiring challenges, ranging from electrical to audio-video connectivity -- not to mention the aesthetic challenges involved, even if you're ready to crack some drywall.
Those problems disappear with Sony's 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector, which was unveiled this week at CES. The projector is housed in an attractive credenza that will look at home in a minimalist, modern environment. Push it against a bare wall, and the unit shoots an image on the wall directly above it, rather than across the room -- the "short throw" in question. The result is a 4K image that can be sized up to a whopping 147 inches diagonally.
Now, I'm an avowed 4K skeptic, but with an image at that size, you can really -- finally! -- actually see the improved resolution (assuming, of course, you're using a native 4K video source). In the short demo I saw, clips from "Elysium" looked stellar, with detail you probably wouldn't see on a 65-inch 1080p TV. It was, quite literally, a home movie theater.
Under the hood, the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector uses an SXRD laser projector. Otherwise, it seems to have the same sort of spec sheet you'd expect on a flagship Sony TV (four HDMI inputs, Triluminos display, 3D support -- the whole nine yards).
Unlike the endless parade of vaporware you usually see at CES, Sony is actually pledging that we'll see the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector by the summer of this year. The catch? It'll retail for "approximately $30,000 to $40,000."
If you're not Mark Cuban, that will certainly induce sticker shock. But the good news is that other short-throw projectors are hitting the market, including the LG Hecto (introduced at CES 2013) and the Philips Screeneo. Those (non-4K) models retail for less than $9,000 and $2,000, respectively.