“Lampless” Projector Update

In our latest BLOG we take a look at the development of “Lampless” projectors.

As all of our customers will know, buying replacement lamps for your projector or RPTV is a necessary evil. Who really wants to fork out an average of $200 replacing a consumable? Whilst at Projector Lamp Genie we try to soften the blow a little by offering a range of lamp types…

OEM – Manufacturers original lamps, highest quality – 90 day warranty

Diamond Lamps – Use original bulb, 3rd party housing, identical spec to original, typically 25% or more cheaper – 120 day warranty

Genie Lamps – Compatible lamps, typically lower specification and life expectancy than OEM or Diamond but very low cost often 75% cheaper than the OEM – 90 day warranty

…we also know that there is keen interest, from users, in the progression of “Lampless” projectors. In terms of “commercial” projectors (those used in business, education, home cinema etc.) these have been around for 3 or 4 years using a combination of laser, LED and hybrid lighting engines which work by enclosing and manipulating electrons and forcing them to emit light at a certain frequency. These types of light source have nothing to wear out and have quoted lifetimes of 10,000 – 100,000 hours which effectively means a lifetime as other components in the projector are likely to fail before the light source.

So what’s stopping them? There are three major issues: cost, brightness and the fact that the audio visual (AV) industry hasn’t yet got behind the technology.

The cost argument is really one between upfront investment and lifetime cost. Whilst a “Lampless” projector may sell for a few hundred $ more than its traditional rival, not having to buy a new lamp every year at $200 a time will result in net savings over the projectors lifetime, despite the higher initial outlay. Also, as volumes increase prices will reduce and the cost argument for “Lampless” will become even more convincing.

The brightness issue is more critical. The technologies are still in their infancy and brightness is hard to come by. A traditional projector used in a meeting room or classroom typically has a brightness of 2,000-3,000 ANSI lumens which enables an audience of up to 50 people, to see what’s on the screen with the lights on. The new technologies are struggling to get to this level without the user having to spend tens of thousands of dollars. According to Rich McPherson, Product Manager of Projectors for NEC Display Solutions of America, the technology is “roughly where projectors with high pressure lamps were 15-20 years ago.” Whilst this may be true, we don’t expect it to take anywhere near that length of time for the new technologies to catch up (Casio and Acer both have LED/Laser solutions at 2,000 ANSI Lumens) and we think that it will only be 2-3 years before brightness will no longer be a major concern.

The final, and perhaps most mystifying reason is that the audio visual industry – the manufacturers, distributors and resellers that take new products to market – has not yet got behind “Lampless” projectors. Why is a little hard to fathom out. It is highly likely that most if not all of the traditional projector manufacturers (Epson, NEC, Sony, Barco, Christie, Sharp etc.) are working on developing “Lampless” projectors and perhaps the distributors and resellers are waiting until this happens before taking the products to their customers. Whatever the reason the age of the “Lampless” projector is not with us quite yet and so Projector Lamp Genie are likely to still be in high demand for the next few years.

Andy Brymer – 22nd Jan 2014

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