It’s easy to get lost in the hype around emerging technologies. Think back to InfoComm 2013, the professional audio-video trade show at which several projector manufacturers unveiled laser projectors. It was difficult then to cut through the marketing language, Twitter enthusiasm and information saturation in order to truly understand whether or not laser projection is a viable solution for integrators and their customers.
Now, a few years later, real-world trends have emerged showing the real appeal of laser projection, applications when laser- makes more sense than lamp-based projection and, of course, when it does not.
Exploring Cost of Ownership
As AVI-SPL‘s VP of display technology, Rodney Laney will hear about it if the integration firm’s customers end up with a solution that isn’t right for their application. He knows how important it is to make sure customers understand that they’ve bought a cost-effective solution, and the thing about lamps is that they burn out and require costly replacement.
“Any application where a projector will be used 12 hours per day five or more days per week, a laser projector will provide a lower (TCO) Total Cost of Ownership,” he says.
Not only do lamps need to be replaced every 1,500 to 4,000 hours, he adds, “but also you’re not going to have a lamp fail and leave you with a dark screen. Laser should rarely leave anyone in that circumstance.”
Sony was introduced to the world’s first 3LCD laser light source projector at InfoComm 2013. Now, with its Z-Phosphor line of laser light source projectors, including 11 models ranging from 2,000 to 7,000 lumens and deployed across several markets, Sander Phipps, senior product manager for Sony’s professional display systems, has plenty of data to share with integrators on cost of ownership. “You hang the [laser] projector and you essentially forget about it for 20,000 hours, which in the vast majority of the cases is probably the life of the projector,” he says.
“So you don’t have to worry about buying $2-, $3-, $400 lamps that give you a couple thousand hours.”
Conventional projectors incur the expense (and inconvenience) of fluctuating light levels and regular lamp replacement.
“Invariably, the lamp is going to decide to give up five minutes before the meeting, five minutes before the class. So [laser] takes all that out of the equation.”
Let’s say the lamp doesn’t fizzle out right before a critical presentation. “The second most vulnerable or highest point of failure in a projector typically is the lamp power supply.” After all, lamps need a lot of high voltage, but using a laser- instead of lamp-based projector mitigates that risk. Phipps adds that laser is a better choice “from a purely peace of mind, purely ‘hang it and forget it, it’s always going to work, it will always be there, I don’t even have to think about it’ point of view.”
Customers, of course, weigh other factors besides cost of ownership when considering projectors. They want the images to look as good as possible. That priority points toward laser projection, Laney says. “Your color saturation tends to be significantly better with laser.”
Sony’s Z-Phosphor line in particular seems to win over customers focused on color accuracy, according to AVI-SPL account manager Jake Gilray. “I’ve seen a couple of different lasers side-by-side shooting out images, and to me it was just all about the color accuracy of the Sony,” he says. “You don’t even have to sell it. They see the difference. Often times, that’s the thing that just makes the decision for them.”