Ultra-high-performance projection lamps are more than just another component in today’s LCD / DLP digital projector universe. These high pressure lamps, the original invented by Philips in 1994, are the critical factor in the quality of image projected for the viewer. Whether it’s video or data, without a quality lamp, images intended to teach, sell or motivate will fall short - no matter how many bells and whistles come with the projector.
Projector manufacturers work with Philips, Osram, Iwasaki, Panasonic, Ushio or Phoenix - the six premier projector lamp manufacturers - to produce that lamp that meets the specific needs of a projector model. A cage or housing is designed to hold the lamp in place and fit the projector for optimum alignment. Often the same lamp / housing module will meet the requirements of several projector models.
The six top lamp manufacturers go to great lengths to promote the engineering and quality control that go into these OEM lamps.
Philips, for example, emphasizes the fact that they design their UHP lamps as a system, including the drivers in the design and testing phase of development. They claim this ensures the most consistent color reproduction and clearest images.
Philips drivers also feature asynchronous receiver/transmitter technology that improves lamp efficiency, provides better contrast and minimizes acoustical noise.
All of the six major projection lamp manufactures share the authority gained from years of experience manufacturing these precision lamps.
Any projector replacement lamp that does not come from one of the six major lamp manufacturers (Epson has designed their own lamps, so they are an exception) should be considered risky. There are many factories in the business of manufacturing “compatible” or “copy” lamps and cages. These lamp modules are sold at much lower prices. Expect compromised brightness, reduced lamp life and more spontaneous lamp failures than lamps produced by the major brands.
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) lamp modules should be considered the no-compromise choice. The bulb and cage are identical to the one that came with the new projector. OEM lamps are usually in a box branded with a projector manufacturer logo. These lamps are purchased by projector lamp master distributors directly from the projector manufacturer. The price of OEM lamp modules is always the highest price compared to the alternatives on the market.
Hybrid lamp modules, often designated as “original bulb inside”, provide an attractive alternative when the price of the OEM module is not in the budget. These lamp modules use a bulb manufactured by one of the six major brands listed above. The cage is re-manufactured.
The phrase “original bulb inside” can be confusing because the meaning of “original” may not be clear. If the bulb is identical to the OEM bulb (same bulb manufacturer), then this type of replacement can be accurately promoted as an “OEM, original bulb inside” or simply “OEM bulb inside”. However, in many cases the manufacturer of the bulb, while one of the premier brands, is not the same manufacturer of the OEM bulb. In this case, the phrase “original bulb inside” means “the bulb inside is original in the sense that it was manufactured under the same high quality control standards as the actual original (or OEM) bulb”. The differences are minimal in most cases, which is why this type of hybrid replacement lamp is an excellent value proposition. The brightness, qualify of the optics and lamp life should be nearly identical to the OEM.
Because OEM is a powerful promotional buzz word, many lamp resellers go to great lengths to incorporate it into their sales messages. A phrase such as “OEM compatible” is a good example of an attempt to make a copy lamp appear to be somehow similar to an OEM.
Simple rule for all buyers of projector replacement lamps - if you are not certain about what you are buying, call or contact the seller and get clarification.
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