A Pearl to compliment Sony’s Ruby?

June 10, 2006

Sony RubyI really try to stay way from rumors here; typically rumors in the consumer electronics world even if they contain partial truth, rarely turn out to be exactly as first described. And even though I’m going to indulge this one, I do not recommend letting this un-proven bit of whispering through the grapevine, deter you from any already planned purchase.

The last time the source of what I’m about to report was this sure he was right, we scooped the first details of InFocus’s ScreenPlay 7210, more than two months before the product was officially announced at CES 2005. (relevant press release at bottom of linked page)

Alright, enough with the disclaimers, I’ll get to the point. The Sony VPL-VW100 (aka Ruby) has unquestionably generated quite a bit of interest with font projection enthusiasts and rightfully so.

With its 1920×1080 (1080p) resolution, 1080p input via HDMI and 400W Xenon lamp, the VPL-VW100 offers some of the most impressive front-projection specifications available in the 10k and under range.

Warning crossing over into rumor territory: But what about those of us that aren’t quite ready to take out a second mortgage for the privilege of viewing 1080p images, on our front-projection screens? Well apparently Sony is working on a third SXRD projector, internally code named “Pearl”.

Not much is known about the Pearl right now, other than: The lamp most likely won’t be Xenon based, a UHP lamp would be a much more cost efficient solution, which is what Sony is reportedly aiming for. In that same vein it’s likely that motorized zoom, focus and lens-shift as well as the Ruby’s sophisticated auto-iris system, will also be omitted on the Pearl.

The above changes alone could reduce the price of the pearl substantially versus the VPL-VW100, how much so remains to be seen. But with VPL-VW100’s already selling for 8k or less, it stands to reason Sony would want to better that price.

A side benefit to using the more common UHP based lamps is lamp replacement cost. Currently the Xenon lamps used in the Ruby sell for upwards of 1k, not exactly a budget lamp replacement, but UHP lamps can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to around $650 (your mileage may vary).

Of course, by the time this mysterious, secret project from Sony hits the streets, it’s very likely that 1080p DLP projectors will be available in the same (or near) price range.

The DLP comments are based on how the market has played out for the last 5 years or so. XYZ whiz bang product is released; 9-10 months later variants or second generation models offer 80-90% of the performance for 60-70% the cost, rinse repeat.

Needless to say, the later half of 2006 and into 2007 should be very exciting times for front projection, home theater fans.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater Projectors