Leica’s Cine 1 is a laser projector that sits inches from the wall
Today Leica – yes, the camera company – announced its first ultra-short-throw (UST) laser projector at the big IFA show in Germany, capable of producing a 4K image up to 100 inches with the Dolby Atmos sound.
This isn’t Leica’s first foray into digital projectors, which it once sold under the Pradovit brand. It’s also collaborated with other projector makers, including this obscure UST model from last year.
The announcement was light on details, so my colleague Jon Porter went on to demonstrate an early Cine 1 prototype on the Leica stand. Here’s what we learned from Ross Slavov, head of product management in Leica’s new smart projection business unit, about the company’s current thinking on specifications, pricing and delivery dates, which Slavov warned. could change before the exit.
The first thing to know about the Leica Cine 1 projector is that there are actually two in development, both using Leica lenses. One can put out around 2500 lumens to project a 100-inch 4K 60Hz image at a distance of 30cm (almost 12 inches) from the display wall, while the other can put out 2100 lumens to project an 80-inch image at a distance of 15 cm (nearly six inches). Leica notes that each projector is tuned for each display size and does not recommend moving them closer or further from the wall. USTs look best with Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) screens, which Leica will also be happy to sell you for around $1,800 for a large screen or around $1,600 for an 80-inch screen.
The 100-inch Cine 1 model is expected to sell for $7,900, while the 80-inch projector will likely cost around $6,900, according to Slavov. Yes, it’s expensive for those specs, but it’s Leica.
Leica partnered with Hisense for the triple RGB laser light engine, which is something of a trend as the originator of the laser TV. It uses a DLP chip from Texas Instruments. The latency is around 30ms, which is good for some casual games.
As for ports, the prototype has three HDMI ports in total (one HDMI 2.1 port with eARC), one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0, an integrated TV tuner and a common interface slot. The US version will “probably” run Android TV. Leica hopes the projector will come with Atmos 4.2 certified sound.
Remember that all of this is current company thinking and, therefore, subject to change. Leica is targeting a release in the second quarter of 2023 for Europe, the third quarter for China and the fourth quarter for the United States.