Sony 3D Projector

At last week's Sony press event, the company's ES A/V receivers weren't the only things on display. (For more on these feature-packed AVRs, see my report here.) Tucked away at one end of the room was a mysterious shape tightly draped in a black shroud standing several feet from a projection screen. What could it be?

As we all surmised, it was Sony's 3D front projector—actually, a prototype thereof. The Japanese engineers had completely covered it so that only its lens peeked out, which, like a burqa, prevented any of us from seeing what it looks like.

Unfortunately, very few details were revealed—no model designation, pricing, or availability other than "some time this year." We did learn that it uses Sony's SXRD imaging technology, which is a variant of LCoS, and it will be 1080p, though this prototype was only 720p. Also, it uses active-shutter glasses in conjunction with an IR emitter mounted above the screen.

The brief demo consisted of various nature clips played from a new BDP-S1700ES Blu-ray player and projected onto a 100-inch Stewart Studiotek 130 screen. As expected, the image looked quite dim, but surprisingly, it was also a bit soft, perhaps because it was 720p on a relatively large screen. (Have we grown so accustomed to 1080p that 720p now looks soft? I remember when 720p projectors looked nice and sharp, but I haven't seen one in quite a while.)

The 3D effect was reasonably good, though most of the motion was relatively slow, and the image was larger than any commercially available 3D flat panel, increasing the immersive quality. With a screen that does not preserve polarization, I was surprised that tilting my head even a little caused crosstalk to appear. I don't know why that is, but I intend to find out.

I have no doubt that Sony will solve most of the problems by the time we see it again, most likely at CEDIA in September. And I'm glad there will be another player in the consumer 3D-projector market.

Jarod's picture

Them sneaky guys at Sony. Very interesting. Glad to see more 3D front projectors that will be released.

Big L's picture

Aside from the dim and soft image, motion blur, and crosstalk problems, these people seem to be having a great time in a very bright room. Could their excited reaction have been triggered by an impressive performance of the unit during a "birds & bees" segement in one of the nature clips?

Alexander McFee's picture

I'm not a 5 star vid-geek, but have been into many aspects of film/video my whole life as a side bar to making my living in music. My question is: Why, if in the current theatrical projection model one only needs passive sunglasses-type glasses to view the 3D image, can we not have a projection from Blu-ray onto a screen, and have the theatrical experience with the passive glasses? No powered glasses (with flicker factor, movement artifacts) as with the LCD/LED/Plasma screens.

razorsharp's picture

@Alexander McFee Disagree that passive shutter glasses have less less flicker or crosstalk or motion artifacts. When set up properly, current shutter glasses provide nearly flicker-free performance and little crosstalk. With projection systems, passive glasses still require an active component, which is the switching polarizer usually mounted in front of the lens. Passive glasses also require a reflective screen surface to reflect polarized light back to the viewer, which are generally more expensive to purchase, somewhat delicate to maintain as well as some other minor usability tradeoffs. In a large system, the disposable passive glasses offer better cost benefits. Current direct-view displays such as LCD and Plasma would need a way to polarize the entire image in some way in order to get the discrete polarized light to each eye. So instead, these systems use the shutter glasses to synchronize the left/right video frames with the left/right shutters on the glasses.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Alexander, Razorsharp is correct for the most part. There is one projection technology that uses passive glasses without a special screen—Dolby 3D—but it is used only in commercial cinemas, not home-oriented products. The only way to use passive glasses with direct-view displays such as LCD and plasma is to alternate the polarization of each line in the image, which cuts the vertical resolution for each eye in half. It also adds a LOT to the cost of the TV. To get full resolution in each eye from a flat panel, active shutter glasses are required.