Is It Time To Go Laser?

LED Laser and hybrid projectors have been with us for sometime and initially promised much more than they delivered as regards colour fidelity which was pretty appalling. They usually favoured green over red. This proved acceptable to the lower end of the education market, where the low running costs ie no replacement lamps, rather than the lower energy costs were a decision driver.

Now the market has matured somewhat and even the entry level products are producing good images, with the higher level units giving excellent results.

So what are the deciding factors now when choosing laser over lamped units?

Currently there is still a considerable percentage difference in the cost of laser above lamp within all levels of the market, typically adding 30 to 50% to the purchase price.  So what decision you make depends on your usage pattern:

If you are running everyday for several hours you are going to be replacing lamps on a regular basis. So the total cost of ownership is going to be heavily influenced by the cost of lamps, and possibly by the additional cost of access and installation of the lamps if your projector is sited at high level. Using a laser based product in these circumstances would definitely be a good idea if you can stand the initial purchase cost.

For those with less demanding usage requirements the decision is slightly harder, as in many cases, such as churches where use can be confined to a few hours a week, the original lamp may well be the only one in the life of the projector. With technology and resolutions moving so fast, many customers prefer to change the projector rather than fit an expensive lamp in an out of warranty unit.

However where this equation changes is in a situation where the projector is mounted in a location that is difficult or expensive to access safely.  If you have to factor in the cost of two technicians and a scaffold tower or powered lift, then a laser unit with 10,000+ hours of laser life and a long life or filterless design becomes very attractive.

Add to this the advantage of laser technology that overcomes the traditional lamp issue of rapid reduction in light output after around 50% of lamp hours, and the declining cost or laser projectors, laser becomes an attractive alternative.

Some projector brands are already saying that in two years they will not be selling a lamped projector in the UK, having replaced all of their product with laser alternatives.