2003 Annual Design Review Equipment Best of Category

VPL-CS5/CX5 LCD FRONT PROJECTOR

“Nearly a landmark product in its category because of a sophisticated minimalism,” is how juror Gadi Amit summed up Sony’s sleek projector. “The tendency in this genre is to celebrate the technology by overdetailing with buttons or fins. This does the opposite, which is a bold statement because it’s a relatively expensive object [$2,200-$3,400, depending on the model].”

Designed by Takuya Niitsu, of Sony Corp. in Tokyo, for easy portability or installation, the projector measures a compact 11 1/4 x 2 5/8 x 9 inches and weighs slightly less than six pounds. Just a few frequently used buttons are mounted on the top panel of the polycarbonate cabinet; the remaining controls and connectors are tucked into a compartment, and the lens is concealed behind a protective cover, which automatically retracts when users switch on the power. On the back, the Sony logo glows when the projector is in use. “The minimalism of the controls contributes to a sense of well-being for the presenter,” Michael Wiklund noted. “Visually, I think it’s interesting that the projector has such a flat, expressionless face. It looks pleasing because it doesn’t look mechanical.”

The discreet surface belies fancy capabilities, however. Users can tilt the projector by pushing a button on the unit or via remote control; an auto keystone correction function squares images even when limited space forces presenters to site the projector off-axis. Settings may be pre-programmed so that the projector automatically adjusts itself when powered.

The VPL-CX5 model is USB-compatible and includes a Memory Stick media slot for the display of PowerPoint slide shows, digital photos and mpeg video clips without a PC.
Julie Lasky

Q&A WITH TAKUYA NIITSU

The VCL-CX5/CS5 looks different from any other projector. What inspired you to design such a minimalist form?
As I researched other projectors on the market, I found that they all looked like office equipment without much design appeal. Thus I designed VCL-CX5/CS5 with a different approach. Thinking about the environments in which projectors are used-clean and tidy conference rooms-I imagined one that melts into the interior as if it were a part of it.

Was it hard for you to persuade Sony’s marketing department or anyone else at the company to accept this style?
I did not have to persuade anybody.

How were you able to make this projector so easy to use?
I carefully studied which buttons are used most frequently and placed only a few in a visible position, which makes this model look easy to operate. A power-operated tilt adjuster sets the projector’s shooting angle, and keystone distortion is automatically corrected according to the tilt angle. Settings are retained in the memory. The polycarbonate, ABS and magnesium materials are strong and lightweight-ideal for portable use.

What was the biggest difficulty of working on this project?
I tried to avoid making the projector’s simple design look boring. The engineering group had a lot of difficulty in realizing this product.

    

BIO Born in Japan,Takuya Niitsu majored in product design at Tama Art University and joined Sony in 1980. Since then, he has designed products from VCRs to video camcorders to audio components. His work includes Sony’s KE-42/50XBR900 plasma television, which won an honorable mention in the Consumer Products category. The VPL-CX5/CS5 is his first projector.
CLIENT | DESIGN Sony Corp., Tokyo: Takuya Niitsu, designer
MATERIALS | FABRICATION Die-cast magnesium, ABS, polycarbonate plastic
SOFTWARE Adobe Illustrator

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