Editors' note, September 4, 2014: This story updates a version published on January 8, 2014, with pricing, availability, and comparative analysis.
Back at CES in January, we were wowed by Sony's 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector. The product was essentially a projector mounted in a credenza, firing its massive 4K laser image (up to 147 inches) on the wall directly above it, rather than across the room -- the "short throw" in question.
Sony made no secret of the fact that this would be an ultraluxury device selling well north of $30,000, and estimated a "summer" retail date.
Now, unlike much of the vaporware concept devices that we see at CES, Sony is actually delivering -- but it's gonna cost you. The 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector will cost a whopping $50,000 when it hits later in September, and it will only be available to "consumers within the New York City metropolitan area."
One percenters in the New York area who are interested in the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector can order from Sony via phone (866-294-7669) or online.
What you're getting for $50k
Under the hood, the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector uses an SXRD laser projector to deliver its 4096 x 2160 image. 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, built-in speakers -- the whole nine yards. (The full spec sheet is available at Sony's site.)
When I saw the projector in action at CES, the demo clips from "Elysium" looked stellar. While I'm an avowed 4K skeptic, with a screen bigger than 150 inches, a 4K picture (with, of course, native 4K content) can actually deliver detail you can't see even on a 65- or 77-inch screen. It is, quite literally, a home movie theater.
Are there any alternatives for mere mortals?
If you're looking for short-throw alternatives that don't involving taking out a second mortgage, there are actually some options. The LG Hecto (introduced at CES 2013) delivers a 100-inch screen (albeit not at 4K resolution) for $9,000. At $1,800, the Philips Screeneo HDP1590 is much more affordable -- but we were left underwhelmed by its 720p image.
Meanwhile, we expect Sony's newest projector to be even more affordable. The Portable Ultra Short Throw Projector hasn't yet been priced, but with a screen size of just 23 inches, we can't imagine it'll cost very much.