The Biggest Most Bestest Country In the World!
Yup, the U.S. of A. Love it or leave it, we're the country everyone wants to break into, not out of. Although if I ever end another sentence in a preposition, I'll agree to be expelled. People from other countries used to say the streets of America were paved in gold. Now they think there's a home theater in every house.
That may be true, as long as the loosest definition of a home theater is a video iPod with at least one working ear bud. True hang-it-from-ceiling and shine-it-on-the-wall theaters aren't quite as ubiquitous as we the members of the enthusiast community may have led you to believe.
The sales of the top five home theater projectors in the over $3,000 category for the first quarter of 2006 are just a scrap over 9,000 units. Take into account the Christmas shopping season and we're looking at maybe 50,000 projectors a year for the top five models. I have no idea how many front projectors are sold annually across the board, but if you throw out the ones businesses buy for their Pointless Power Presentations, it's probably close to 500,000 a year and growing. I know, a half million home theater projectors a year sounds like a lot, but that's not even enough to cover the undocumented workers streaming across our borders in search of free over-the-air high definition signals.
In the number one spot is Sony's VPLVW100 – a.k.a. "The Ruby." Although this $10,000 three chip SXRD (LCoS derivative) projector is the least luminous of the projectors on the top five list, and while it comes with a staggering $1,000-every-2,000-hours (or 25 cents per sit-com episode) lamp replacement program, it's still the finest, non-flickering 1080p picture you're likely to get for the money. For all the hoopla over the projector, however, Microsoft is probably selling more Xbox 360 game consoles in one day than Sony sells Rubys all year.
Other standouts in the pack include the SIM2's ectoplasm-bright Grand Cinema C3X 3-chip DLP projector. In 4th place in spite of its hefty $20,000 price tag, the big SIM2's sales volume confirms what I've seen at shows, an outstanding picture (particularly from the deathly quiet and $3,000 less expensive lower-powered version which is also more family-room friendly).
Two single chip DLP projectors made it into the top five at price points that make it easy to understand why. Both Runco's $5,000 CL420, in fifth place, and Mitsubishi's $4,000 HD4000, in 2nd place, are obviously making a lot of home theater aficionados very happy for not much pain.
It's not exactly a pollo in every pot yet, but the new generation of digital front projectors is really is starting to catch on. While the cognoscenti still claim front CRT projectors produce superior pictures, superiority is clearly not noted in areas of hanging weight (9" guns may weigh over 200 lbs), noise (big lights, big fans), Deep-Space-Nine light control and the endless (and thankless) job of reconverging the guns which need it seemingly whenever your guests arrive.
Who's getting the big picture?