The mantra for the last few years in the projector replacement lamp business has been anxious concern over the prospect that LED or laser driven projectors would eventually doom a robust replacement lamp market.
Both LED and laser light sources can boast of life expectancies in the 20,000 to 30,000 hour range, or, roughly 10 times the life of the workhorse metal halide projector lamp. In fact, at 20,000 hours plus, the projector will likely be replaced long before the light source fails.
Despite the concern among lamp resellers, the demise of projectors using 1500 hour to 3000 hour metal halide has not happened . . . yet. A quick survey of full-line projector manufacturers still shipping new models each year, shows some initial steps in the direction of LED and laser, but, other than Casio, no manufacturer has gone even close to revamping their projector lines to use these long-life light sources.
For my non-scientific research, I more or less randomly chose 9 brands active in the full-line projector market. I looked up the approximate number of projectors currently in production (meaning they’ve been first released in the last few years) and the number of production LED (excluding PICO hand held projectors) or laser projectors offered by each brand.
Projectors currently in production:
|Casio||24||24 LED/Laser Hybrid|
Clearly, only Casio has thrown metal halide overboard and gone all in with their hybrid light source projector.
A closer look at the specs, especially for the LED models, may reveal some clues on why the move away from the UHP, P-VIP, NSH, etc metal halide lamps has not been more swift.
The brightness range for all the LED models found in my research only went as high as 1500 lumens (the Optoma HD91+) and most were in the 400 to 800 lumen range. Most of the LED projectors were portables, a few home theater and conference room and no large venue LED projectors. Projectors with brightness under 2000 lumens usually fall into the small footprint, highly portable type. Because of the moderate LED light output, rooms must be relatively small and darkened to get images that are easy to view. For now, the portable projector market seems to be the focus of manufacturers who want to add LED to their lineup.
Lasers do much better with the brightness metric. For example, NEC’s powerful PX Series installation projectors provide 6000 lumens of output with a 20,000 hour rated laser light source. According the NEC their laser power projectors "support new, demanding projection applications" such as high performance video processing/scaling, screen splitting and up to a 66-foot projection distance.
For the moment, metal halide lamps still dominate the projector lamp space, but both LED and laser light source projectors are being manufactured and will, in time, take-over the market.
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