Increasingly LED (light emitting diode) and Laser based projectors with 20,000+ lamp hours are dominating new releases from most manufacturers. They are expensive to start but typically repay the investment based on savings in replacing just one or two UHP bulbs.
Selecting LED or a Laser projector is not that simple.
LED are generally only capable of less than 500 ANSI lumen output. Typically they are based on single DLP (digital micro mirror), 1280x800 WXGA resolution, ultra-portable projectors, and occasionally on three separate DLP chips for red, green, and blue, that increases cost.
Laser uses a LED based laser that sequentially illuminates a single DLP chip or three separate (red, green, and blue) lasers to illuminate three DLP or LCD chips – there is also a hybrid method not addressed here. Laser can achieve higher 2000 to 4000 ANSI lumens and project up to 1080p images – although the cost effective models will still be WXGA.
Lets look at some of the current offerings in Australia starting from the top down.
Sony has a 3LCD laser VPL-FHZ55 with 4,000 lumens and 1920x1200 (WUXGA) resolution. At around AU$7,000 it is a little expensive for home theatre. These are selling well in retail display (can be used to project edgeless images side by side) and upmarket boardroom use. They use about 25% less energy than a UHP lamp.
LG has a different take using a 1080p, laser projector LG HR938T and a special 100” screen to produce an amazing $9,000 short throw unit.
BenQ was one of the first to commercialise laser projectors calling them BlueCore and have two 2,000 lumen models - the LX60ST (XGA $2899) and LW61ST (WXGA $2999). BenQ also has a 550 lumen, GP10 LED (720p $999) for home use.
Panasonic has a “Solid Shine” DLP range including PT-RW330 and PT-RW430 (both WXGA, 3500 lumens), well as the PT-RZ370 and PT-RZ470UW (1980x1080 versions).
Casio and Viewsonic projectors are distributed in Australia by Marc Murray’s Just Lampless – based at idyllic Noosaville. . It has a comprehensive range starting from $1500. I interviewed him at the Integrate 2013 tradeshow and his knowledge of the issues was impressive and prompted me to do this overview.
It is time to look at lasers - not literally of course. I hope this is an illuminating article.