Last August we reviewed Five Things to Consider When Selecting a New Projector: 1) Projector Technology; 2) Image Position & Adjustment; 3) Throw Distance; 4) Interactivity; and 5) Resolution. Though not the complete list of all the factors relative to specifying a commercial AV projector, these are usually considered to be the main points in any competent projector selection and installation.
The first factor, Projector Technology, has become a hot topic with the increasing offerings of SSI (Solid State Illuminated), lamp-free projectors from our manufacturer partners. The superior performance characteristics of SSI Laser and SSI Hybrid lighting technologies are rarely disputed. But traditional high initial purchase cost impeded rapid marketplace adoption. However, like all technologies, sales price decrease as the category matures. So the transition to Commercial AV marketplace adoption is “on” as the lifetime cost of ownership, operating benefits, and eco-friendly green considerations are now within realistic reach of end-users’ ROI acceptance levels.
Rather than taking a drowning deep dive into the world of SSI Laser and SSI Hybrid lighting technologies, let’s just review the basics. Generally speaking, we are referring to the lighting source of projectors, not what manipulates the light to create the image on the screen. That is the job of DLP, LCoS or LCD chips. Three lasers (red, blue, green) replace traditional UHD, Xenon and other lamps. This translates to deeper and richer colors without brightness issues. Hybrid designs don’t use all three lasers but rather a combination of one or two lasers or LEDs with a phosphors-based alternative to create the needed wavelengths of light. The big benefit of SSI Hybrid is to reduce costs as compared to the three-laser design.
The major benefits of SSI Laser and SSI Hybrid over legacy lamp lighting technology are generally bundled into the following:
- No or very little projector maintenance (lamps and filters) – Traditional lamps have a limited life expectancy of 1,500 to 6,000 hours. Compare that to SSI Laser with a typical life-to-half brightness of at least 20,000 hours. Put the SSI light source in a “eco” power mode and you’ll experience well above 40k hours. Lamp replacement (as many as 13 times compared to SSI) and associated maintenance labor costs are drastically reduced. Also, the SSI Laser and SSI hybrid is a sealed engine design, less filters and air-cooling reduces cleaning and filters replacement.
- Less brightness decay – Regressive decay of conventional lamps means significant initial brightness is lost in the early hours of operation. This can mean that a conventional lamp will spend as much as half its life operating at close to 50% of capacity before it is changed. SSI Laser and SSI Hybrid light sources, on the other hand experience more of a linear decay curve. This means that soon after starting its lifetime, SSI Laser and SSI Hybrid will be providing more brightness compared to conventional lamps.
- Superior lifetime energy efficiency – SSI Lasers and SSI Hybrid consume power according to the content being projected by only providing the light that is needed. Compare that to traditional lamps that run nearly 100% power consumption all the time. Less energy consumption is less heat that has to be fan cooled.
- Instant on/off operating capability – Imagine how more effective a presentation or lecture can be if the projector can be conveniently shut-off and then turned on when needed.
- Less heat & noised output – Less energy required translates to less heat output and fan cooling. Fans create noise distractions to be dealt with and heat demands more room HVAC.
Criticism of SSI Laser and SSI Hybrid normally surround concerns of safety and “speckle-like” effects. As to safety, light coming out of nearly all laser projectors comply with class level 2 safety standards. No worries here. Speckling lighting effect, as you see with focused laser light, is now nearly eliminated in today’s state-of-the-art laser illuminated projector systems. So the speckle concern has been mitigated substantially.
Today, SSI Laser projectors are mostly found in large screen/high-ambient light applications such as museums, training centers and auditoriums in which legacy lamp-based projectors do not deliver the necessary brightness performance and low maintenance lamp replacement costs. But today when end-users combine the cost of ownership with lower acquisition price points for SSI Laser and SSI Hybrid projectors, they quickly see ROI projections as reasonable. But today when superior performance is appreciated, the technology makes the sale.
NEC’s new entry-level integration projector, the NP-502WL (DLP Laser-5,000 lumen) has an estimated sale price of only $3,849. In a higher education application for example, 20k hours of operation (less than 10 years) is a savings of 10 lamp replacements (conservative), or $3k ($300/lamp estimated cost) is realized. Combine that with the associated maintenance labor costs and one will quickly see how ROI is achieved. And we have yet to even incorporate energy savings, operational convenience, and superior lifetime performance into the equation.
The transition is here. Lamp free, SSI Laser and SSI Hybrid projectors sales are projected to be robust. Almo Pro A/V is ready to be your valued resource for this projector technology. We welcome the opportunity to assist you.