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http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/cybernews/story/0,1870,134999,00.html?

 

Plasma TV too pricey? Get a projector

The multimedia projector is leaving the boardroom and increasingly making its way into homes here

 

By Steve Dawson

 

HOME owners who want to have giant screens but baulk at spending between $10,000 and $20,000 on a plasma television set can always opt for the next best thing - a multimedia projector.

 

 

By simply projecting TV images onto a pull-down screen or a white wall, viewers can get theatre-quality pictures as large as 2.5 m from corner to corner.

 

And the price of installing one of these gadgets? Between $3,000 and $7,500.

 

'This trend is definitely picking up, especially since the price of projectors has dropped, making it more affordable for the general consumer,' said Mr Andrew Koh, computer-peripherals assistant director at Canon Marketing here.

 

'In fact, we saw a surge in sales during the World Cup finals.'

 

Agreeing that there is a growing trend of people buying projectors instead of giant television sets, Mr John Ng, an assistant division manager at television and projector maker NEC, noted that since last year, its projector sales to households here had trebled, with strong demand from ordinary consumers.

 

Japanese projector maker Toshiba has also observed the trend of people buying them for domestic use.

 

According to Mr Chin Tong Wah, Toshiba's assistant marketing manager for domestic sales, the main advantage of using front projectors is that the screen size can go beyond the 61-inch limit currently available on plasma screens.

 

'In fact, most users of front projectors would be looking at a screen size of at least 100 inches,' he said.

 

When buying a projector for television viewing, it is a misconception that users need to get the top-end models with the best resolution.

 

As TV resolution is rather low, a VGA (video graphics array) projector with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels is sufficient, Canon's Mr Koh said. Such models are available for around $4,000.

 

What is crucial, though, are bright lamps.

 

As people are used to watching TV with the lights on, insufficient projection light will result in images that appear washed-out.

 

Users may also need to change the projector lamp, which can cost between $500 and $1,000, after 1,500 to 2,000 hours of viewing.

 

But with improved light technology, the Philips bSure projector will be the first model to carry a lamp with a 6,000-hour life when it is launched later this month. And the price of a replacement bulb is expected to be between $600 and $800.

 

But buyers should note that these gadgets are merely a way of projecting images - there is no built-in TV tuner or stereo sound system.

 

But Ms Serene See-Tow, a sales and marketing manager at electronics company Philips, feels that this does not pose a problem in today's homes.

 

'Most homes already have a decent sound system that can easily be hooked up to the projector. For the picture, a video recorder or cable-television box, both of which are now common household items, will do,' she said.

 

One more thing to note: Most projectors weigh less than 7 kg, so picking it up and taking it to a friend's home for that movie or big match could make you the most popular guest of the evening.

 

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