Seiko Epson’s global and U.S. presidents came to New York City this week to take the wraps off of new EcoTank inkjet printing technologies, but in the process revealed that their printing expertise will soon be leveraged by unnamed manufacturing partners for the production of organic light emitting diode (OLED) flat panel displays.

The global president also revealed that it is possible that Epson’s 3LCD Reflective projector technology, that produces a high contrast image, will appear in a native 4K Ultra HDTV product in the near future.

Commenting on plans to apply Epson’s inkjet technology for OLED panel production, Minoru Usui, Seiko Epson Corp. global president (pictured at left), told HD Guru that “we are not going to make OLED panels ourselves, but we will supply our technology to companies that do make them. We think we can make a big contribution to that industry. We can’t give any details yet, but we think there is going to be a whole new world of OLED that will be coming out quite soon.”

The revelation came during an Epson media event where the company unveiled the industry’s first five “EcoTank” inkjet printers in the U.S. market. The printers use refillable ink reservoirs instead of cartridges to reduce the cost of color printing while delivering up to two years of printing without refills.

More on Epson’s next-generation display technology plans after the jump:

Meanwhile, the company continues to develop a native 4K Ultra HD projector solution based on the 3LCD Reflective technology (Liquid Crystal on Quartz)  it introduced last year in the laser-light-engine-based LS10000 projector with pixel shifting technology.

Usui and Epson’s U.S. president John Lang (pictured at right) told HD Guru the company sees room for growth in the high-performance segment of the home theater front projector market, where the company holds significant market share.

“The home projector market has actually grown a bit,” said Lang. “Because of the power of the lumen levels now, you don’t have as much of a problem with the ambient light situation. You used to have to have a totally dark room, but that’s not the case any longer. You can watch a football game on a  big screen using one of our projectors in most rooms, and sports is what a lot of people are using projectors for today.”

“In every single projection category, our core display technology is capable of bringing out the very best of what is available in the market, and that is what we are striving for,” Usui added.

Usui explained that for high-end digital cinema, it’s necessary to create extremely high contrast images because when you are watching cinema you are in a completely dark environment, where high contrast levels are necessary.

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“What is necessary is to create reflective panels to get to that very high contrast, and we are doing this,” he said, referencing the company’s LC10000 projector that uses 1080p Liquid Crystal on Quartz microdisplay chips to reflect light as an advancement over transmissive LCDs. The projector uses pixel-shifting technology to generate 4K Ultra HD-like sub-pixel resolution.

“It is possible we will see a native 4K 3LCD Reflective projector in the near future,” said Usui.

Shifting the conversation to the business and corporate projector space, he added, “in office environments you need a projector that’s bright enough to perform well in rooms with ambient light. So, what I want to say to you is that in every single projection category our core technology is capable of producing the very best of what is available in the market.”

Although at one time Epson produced 3LCD microdisplay panels for sale to other projector manufacturers, Usui said Epson abandoned that OEM segment of the business, because other manufacturers were using 3LCD in more expensive projectors while using single-chip DLP models for more mass market-oriented product lines.

“We are looking to change society by bringing out the best possible products and what we were finding in our OEM business was our competitors were using DLP for entry products and keeping 3LCD at the top of the range. What we wanted to do was produce the best products across the whole range,” Usui said. “Today, we place a lot of emphasis on producing the 3LCD panels for our own products for the very high-end models on down to the low end. We want to control the whole process ourselves and in particular produce the panels we use ourselves.”

“If you compare 3LCD against DLP, you will see that 3LCD is much brighter. The reason for that is we use three panels against their one panel. Where the difficulty is coming is to produce three LCD panels at a reasonable cost and still have high levels of brightness and high levels of reliability. That places a lot of emphasis on the production side in order to achieve that,” said Epson’s global president. “DLP projectors are relatively easy to produce. Our emphasis is on focusing on our technology and having it achieve its maximum potential and using that to help solve the issues of our customers in the market.”

During the event, Epson unveiled three new 3LCD home cinema projectors including, two 3D-capable 1080p models in the $799-suggested Home Cinema 2040 and $849 Home Cinema 2045. Both models feature white and color brightness levels of 2,200 lumens, improved image processing, and frame interpolation to reduce motion blurring. It’s the first time the combination of technologies has been available for less than $1,000.

Other features in both models include: a mono speaker and two HDMI ports, one of which is MHL-enabled to support streaming media sticks.

The 2045 model steps up with Wi-Fi-based Miracast to display the visual content from Android mobile devices and laptops. Also included is Intel WiDi that mirrors visuals from WiDi-equipped laptops.

Epson also announced a new $649 Home Cinema 740D, which will be available in September with 720p resolution, 3,000 lumens of white and color brightness, split screen capability, a mono speaker and HDMI port.

By Greg Tarr


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