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Projector trends part 2: Lampless technology and 4K

Light sources is a key area of development for projector technology, while 4K is driving the high end.

“One of the key technology developments in projectors is in light sources,” according to Bob Raikes, managing director of displays consultancy Meko. “Although some vendors remain wedded to lamps, solid state light sources such as LEDs and lasers are continuing to develop. It is sometimes said that bulbs are the last refuge of ‘glass, heat and vacuum’ technologies after transistors killed valves and LCDs killed CRTs.”

“Lampless laser projectors have been around for a while,” adds Reflex MD Roland Dreesden, “and now, they’ve started to become much more visible thanks to the increased performance of the latest models.”

Steve Gore-Browne, group technical manager, display technologies at integrator Saville AV, isn’t quite convinced. “Laser/LED light engines are emerging as more mainstream now although, in truth, there is still work to be done to produce the same level of projected image quality that lamped units provide,” he says. “Some educational establishments will specify laser/LED due to the perceived lower running costs.”

He goes on to note that not all projector manufacturers are addressing cost of ownership in the same way.

“Manufacturers are now offering previously unprecedented extended warranty and lamp packages,” he continues. “Epson in particular is leading this, with the option for an end user to purchase, for a very nominal sum, a five-year warranty and an unlimited lamp usage package. This is to overcome the perceived advantages of the laser/LED units while offering the end user a far higher level of image quality.”

For Paradigm AV’s Greg Jeffreys (pictured), lampless projection is one of two important developments in the market: the other is 4K resolution. He has an ally in Nick Rogers, CEO of PMA Research (formerly Pacific Media Associates).

“4K resolution is one of the technologies that are driving the high end of the projector market,” he says. “Others include edge blending and video mapping.”

Certainly, anyone who was at ISE last month and saw the combination of a Christie 4K projector with a Stewart StarGlas screen couldn’t help but be compelled by what the higher resolution can deliver.

To read part one of Installation’s Projector trends series, click here.