HP rolls out its first digital projectors

The new HP will sport a new product line this fall with a series of five projectors targeted at the mobile market.

Hewlett-Packard Canada Ltd. of Mississauga, Ont., released this past Monday the company’s first ever projectors, the xb31 and sb21. The xb31 model is three-pounds and has 1,500

lumens, while the sb21 is 2.2 pounds and has 1,000 lumens. Both models incorporate the Texas Instrument’s Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology.

With the Compaq merger, HP inherited three Compaq projector models, which will eventually be rebranded HP sometime in 2003, said David Varricchio, category business manager for imaging and printing at HP Canada.

HP will offer DLP-based projectors and wants to stay away from LCD-based projectors because the later technology is maturing. Since HP’s primary target market is the mobile professional, DLP technology can offer the smallest form factor possible without compromising picture quality, he said.

“”With DLP technology the blues are blue and the reds are red and it is important for streaming video. DLP technology has enabled projectors to get down to 2.2 pounds,”” Varricchio said.

The sub-three pound projector market is forecasted to grow almost 130 per cent annually between 2001 and 2004, according to Stanford Resources’ Projection Displays 2001 report.

From HP research, the audio/video channel currently does 70 to 80 per cent of all projector sales in Canada. Varricchio, however, predicts a shift will occur in the next three-to-four years where the audio/video channel will split projector sales 50-50 with the VAR channel.

“”End users want to deal with very few suppliers,”” he said. “”They want to deal with suppliers who have a total complete solution offering,”” he added.

According to Varricchio, the VAR channel will have several margin opportunities with projectors. Training, networking, consumables (the bulbs cost about $600 to replace), rentals (average rental income for a projector is $400 per use) and between 10 to 20 per cent margin on the product itself.

Price will also be a factor in HP’s product offering. Since HP is a new player in this area, they are offering an entry-level projector that will break the $3,000 price barrier.

Some online resellers such as Insight today carry luggable projectors for under $3,000, but in 2003, Varricchio anticipates the price to be close to $2,000.

“”Do I see everyone having one today? No, but as prices come down (projectors) will be part of a total solution with a notebook,”” he said.

Varricchio added that to equip a sales team of seven or eight people doing three to four sales calls a day one projector would be a challenge.

“”Most sales reps have PowerPoint presentations and are relying on customers to have a projector (on hand), which is not good,”” he said.

Sound and sound quality will not be a factor in this new lineup of projectors from HP. Varricchio said that 95 out of 100 projector users are not using sound. “”For those with multimedia presentations, I do not know if any projector has (good enough sound). You would have to make a trade off with size,”” Varricchio said.

“”We will do with projectors what we did with digital cameras, which is come form no where to because a leader,”” Varricchio said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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