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Powerful laser projectors set completely new standards in projection

Powerful laser beamers set completely new standards in projection
The last major development step in the world of projectors was the conversion to laser light sources. It began in the early 2010s with the first home theater projectors equipped with a laser LED hybrid light source. A prominent example is the Casio XJ A257, which was also very popular among artists, as they quickly removed the laser to use it elsewhere. With the increase of the laser performance and the decreasing production costs, the laser light sources soon arrived in the professional A/V area. Today, several lasers are usually used as light sources to achieve the appropriate brightness.

But one after the other: We basically distinguish between three types of laser light sources: First, there are pure laser light sources, also called RGB lasers, LED/laser hybrids and laser-phosphor light sources. Laser phosphor technology is currently the most widely used technology in professional laser projectors. Blue lasers generate light, which is then sent onto a rotating wheel coated with phosphor and produces yellow light. This yellow light is then divided into green and red (for 3-chip DLP projectors). Successful laser phosphor projector models include Panasonic RZ970, Epson EB-L1755 and bright devices such as the Panasonic RZ31k with 30,000 ANSI lumens. 

Well-known LED/laser hybrids include the Panasonic PT-RW330. The red light is generated by one or more LEDs, as these are cheaper to produce than red lasers and provide sufficient light output. The blue and green parts of the color spectrum are achieved by blue lasers and a phosphor wheel.

RGB laser projectors are the current top class and can be seen as the technology of the future. The production costs have to be reduced in order to offer these devices to the mass market. These laser beamers consist of three different laser types (red, green and blue) which produce the required white light. The projectors from Christie and Barco (e.g. Christie D4K40-RGB and Christie Roadie 4K40-RGB) are the most important. 

Laser projectors of any type have several advantages. Whereas in the past xenon lamps had to be replaced after a good 800 hours and mercury-based UHP lamps after approx. 2000 hours, the manufacturers of current laser projectors promise a life expectancy of 20,000 hours with a maximum loss of brightness of only 25%. However, since the technology is still too new and therefore no long-term test has been passed, we cannot confirm this beyond doubt at the moment. The first devices with 20,000 hours have already arrived and most of the time these projectors were still very convincing. Another advantage is the fast cooling time after switching off the projector. This means that you no longer have to wait several minutes, but can start dismantling after a few seconds.

Laser light sources are better for the environment. Compared to xenon and UHP lamps, both use and disposal are less harmful to the environment. Even the production of the laser units is still more expensive at the moment, but it is more environmentally friendly. In addition, projectors with laser light sources consume slightly less electricity at the same power, which of course also has a positive effect on the environment.

As far as projection quality is concerned, laser light sources have both advantages and disadvantages: full light output is achieved after just a few seconds, but at the same time the light is usually perceived as rather cold and artificial (especially in direct comparison with xenon projectors, which project a very large light spectrum). Due to the very focused color space of the laser light source, which can do without infrared light, for example, significantly less heat is generated, which means that the projectors also require less cooling. This makes it possible to install smaller and, above all, quieter fans, which has a positive effect on the noise generated by the projectors. Every theatre director is delighted when he no longer needs a projection room so that the audience can understand the actors.

The installation of laser projectors also tends to be easier, since the lower cooling requirement means that the projector can be hung or set up in any orientation (portrait mode or downwards) (360° capable). If the inclined A/V installer used to need special lamps to set up the Panasonic PT-DZ21K e.g. in portrait mode to cool it properly, this is no longer necessary with laser projectors.

At the moment the acquisition costs for laser projectors are quite high compared to classical lamp projectors. Thus a purchase is worthwhile purely mathematically only if the laser projector runs for at least 12 months each day 8 hours. However, ReBeam GmbH now also has access to used laser projectors which offer a great price advantage over new equipment
A disadvantage, which hopefully will be solved soon, is that there is no possibility to change the laser light sources at the moment, should the laser fail or the 20.000 hours be reached. In fact, almost all projectors are designed to last much longer. This disadvantage is currently still an artificial shortening of the life cycle. It remains to be seen whether and when the manufacturers will react to this or whether they will find other companies that accept this challenge.

Another exciting option is the conversion of "old" xenon devices to laser light sources. ReBeam offers you the opportunity to avoid the high purchase costs of new xenon lamps by replacing them with laser light sources, which of course have a much higher light output. Please contact us here if this conversion is already available for your projector model.