January 09, 2012 By D. Craig MacCormack
There’s bright, then there’s record-breaking bright. Barco already owns the Guinness world record for brightest projector, setting that mark at 43,000 ANSI lumens in 2010. With its newest prototype, it could blow that mark away with 55,000 ANSI lumens.
Attendees at the second annual Moody Gardens Digital Cinema Symposium in Galveston, Texas, Monday got a sneak preview of the projector, which won’t be commercially available for up to three years, and it’s easy to see why Barco staffers are so excited about the laser-generated images, especially after seeing how deep and rich it makes red and blue, to name a couple of colors.
Todd Hoddick, vice president of Barco’s North American entertainment division, and product manager Bram Dieryckx, talked about the benefits and challenges associated with laser projection Monday afternoon, sprinkling in video clips to display the brightness of the new 600-watt laser light prototype (8,000 total watts) with 100-foot throw and showing off the 1.38 4K DLP projector on a 25-foot high by 70-foot tall Harkness Unity screen.
Hoddick emphasized it will be a while before Barco makes its new projector available. As of right now, there’s only one of them, he says, and until the cost goes down significantly, that’s not likely to change any time soon.
“The cost is too high right now and the regulations are just too tough,” he says. “It’s our belief people will only be interested in buying the product if they see they can benefit from it. Right now, that’s just not possible.”
While image quality, brightness and efficiency are among the benefits of swapping more traditional projectors for their laser-powered counterparts, misconceptions about the danger of lasers perpetuated after laser light shows as far back as the 1970s, the cost of laser projectors as a whole and the prominence of a twinkling on-screen effect known as speckle is holding the market down—for now.
Hoddick hopes feedback from attendees at this year’s symposium, the first people not employed by Barco to see the new technology, will help shape and improve the new projector and enable it to reach the mass market in the next few years.