laser phosphor projectors are now available in just about every projection format from short throw table top models to powerful installation models. Many suppliers are now positioning laser phosphor models as the ideal choice of projector for corporate spaces, educational institutions, retail, entertainment venues and government facilities where long life, minimal maintenance and a low cost of operation are paramount. AV News looks at the latest developments.
Laser phosphor is a lampless projection illumination platform that uses blue laser diodes as the primary light source. To generate the three primary colours – red, blue, green – the blue light from the laser diodes shines onto a spinning wheel that is coated in a phosphor compound. The blue light excites the phosphor, emitting yellow light. The yellow light is then segmented using dichroic coatings to create red and green light while the blue light component directly passes through a diffusion segment in the phosphor wheel.
Some designs include one wavelength of low-cost blue laser diodes to excite the phosphor wheel and a different wavelength of blue laser diodes to inject directly into the optical path. The projector then sends the separated red, green and blue colours onto an imaging surface, such as a DLP chip, which then sends the light through a lens and onto the projection screen. Eliminating the need for lamps and sometimes filter replacements, laser phosphor projection means reduced consumables, low maintenance and reduced downtime.
Legacy lamp replacement
Laser phosphor projectors answer many of the traditional objections to projection technologies – replacement lamp costs, maintenance overheads and suitability for long duty cycle applications. Those with existing installations, and considering replacement units, might be disappointed to discover that it is very unlikely that a legacy lamp model can be directly swapped out for new laser phosphor model, using the same bracketry, positioning etc. Nor can you just change the lightsource in an existing projector,
Wolfgang Haunschild, product marketing manager at NEC Display Solutions Europe explains that “laser-based projectors are based on completely different housings so you can’t simply replace a mercury lamp with a laser lamp just by replacing the light source only.” Lamp and laser projectors require different cooling pipe designs which has a significant impact to the housing design.
For the direct replacement of projectors, the positioning if the replacement model isn’t guaranteed to be the same when matching up mounts, because the design of chassis is completely different. The projection angles are also impacted by the visualisation technology (LCD or DLP, for example). In addition, different projectors offer different lens shift ranges to compensate for different mounting positions.
Of primary importance to many users in the corporate space is the ability to match colours in corporate identity applications. When comparing colour generation, colours are mainly driven by the different visualisation technology (LCD usually DLP or LCoS). In general, Haunschild explains a Rule of Thumb that says 3LCD models provides vivid colours: 1DLP provides more natural colours’ and 3DLP premium colours. In general, many viewers perceive Laser Phosphor light sources brighter compared to lamp-based projection.
In terms of positioning, a further advantage of laser phosphor projectors is the 360° mounting in any direction. Lamp projectors have their limitations due to the higher temperature caused by the lamp, which has to be channelled inside the projector.
So, is laser phosphor an automatic choice today for all but the extreme high-end?
The right choice?
At ISE 2017, Christie announced intends to develop an affordable bridge between AV and ProAV. The company outlined plans for solid state laser phosphor models, including 3DLP options offering HD, WUXGA and True 4K UHD with a brightness rating of >15,000 lumens and a proprietary colour creation technology called Christie BoldColor. Target application s for these new models include: amusement parks; rental staging; auditoriums; casinos; higher education; museums, planetariums’ theatres and virtual design centres.
With Christie’s 4K expertise and Texas Instruments’ new DMD chipset, Christies’ expanded 1DLP laser phosphor line-up is described as a powerful platform delivering dependable performance, long-life, low cost of ownership and now affordable True 4K UHD. Christie is planning to deliver the most compact, high-brightness 1DLP 4K projector in its class featuring the latest DLP imaging combined with Christie processing to deliver 8.3M individual pixels onscreen. Brightness of 10,000 lumens is again paired with Christie BoldColor colour creation technology is in a package design to suit boardrooms, retail spaces, meeting rooms and other dynamic spaces
Jennifer Smith, executive vice president, Global Market Solutions & Engineering at Christie explains: “Coupled with [mercury lamp’s] low cost of ownership and reliable performance, lamp-based projectors continue to form an important option for many, as they manage their transition to RGB laser projection.”
Panasonic has announced the availability of its new, beyond 4K resolution 3-Chip DLP laser phosphor projector with 27,000 lumens of brightness. Designed for events, staging and rental applications, the PT-RQ32K develops 27,000 centre lumens at 5120 x 3200 resolution.
Panasonic has announced the availability of its new, beyond 4K resolution 3-Chip DLP laser phosphor projector with 27,000 lumens of brightness.
The 240 Hz projector incorporates Panasonic’s unique pixel-shifting quad pixel drive technology and enables flexible projection by supporting existing optional lenses and advanced image-adjustment capabilities. The need for custom mounting-frames has been eliminated with frame-free stacking or eye-bolt rigging, reducing overall weight for transportation and easy installation of temporary multi-projection mapping projects.
A laser light source and an original heat-resistant phosphor wheel design maintain consistent image quality, colour and brightness, particularly useful when using multiple projectors. The RQ32K joins two high-brightness laser projectors with 31,000 lumens (centre) in WUXGA (PT-RZ31K) and SXGA+ (PT-RS30K).
Perhaps the only advantage that mercury lamp models continue to hold, over similarly specified laser phosphor models, is that of capital outlay, which becomes a greater consideration at the entry-level and mid-range markets. Price-performance comparisons between lamp and solid state models are levelling out, with entry of volume manufacturers into the laser phosphor sector.
Take for example, Optoma. The manufacturer has introduced a technology called DuraCore laser that is said to combine the industry-leading lifetime of the laser light source with a unique dust resistant design independently tested to IP5X or IP6X.
Optoma says that laser projectors are increasingly becoming the light source of choice for professional applications. The long-life and low maintenance of laser phosphor projectors make them ideal in high-use settings like boardrooms, classrooms, retail environments, museums and entertainment venues as well as restrictive installation locations. Anywhere, in fact, that main benefits of laser phosphor projectors – 24/7 operation capability, consistent dependable brightness, minimal maintenance and low total cost of ownership – are of benefit to the user.
Optoma’s development of DuraCore technology has allowed the company to consolidate its position in the corporate and institutional markets for laser phosphor projectors. New models have been introduced to address demand for 4000 ANSI lumens and up.
Optoma has introduced a technology called DuraCore laser that is said to combine the industry-leading lifetime of the laser light source with a unique dust resistant design independently tested to IP5X or IP6X.
Further up the brightness spectrum, Optoma’s new ProScene ZU650+ projector, is said to offer superior colour its predecessors, again a result of adopting DuraCore laser technology. The new 6,000-lumen, WUXGA projector has a wider colour gamut coverage which noticeably improves reds and increases the efficiency and accuracy for greens and yellows.
IP5X rated dust resistance certification, in combination with the filter free and lamp-less design are said to eliminate the requirement for a disruptive maintenance schedule and ensure a low total cost of ownership. Designed for 24/7 continuous operation in challenging environments, this latest version is suitable for applications where the projector needs to be permanently installed and performing around the clock.
The ZU650+ comes with five optional motorised lenses 0.75 ~ 5.50 (lens dependent) and can be mounted in 360° or portrait mode to provide real flexibility for installation. James Fursse, Technical Product Manager at Optoma Europe, commented: “The ZU650+ retains all of the features of its predecessor but with improved colour performance due to a new efficient phosphor wheel. This translates to deeper, richer colours that come closer than ever to the vast range of colours our eyes can appreciate.”
Dual technology strategy
While Sony announced two new entries in the laser phosphor category at ISE 1017 – the 5,000 lumen WUXGA VPL-PHZ10 and WXGA VPL-PWZ10 Z-Phosphor laser light source projectors – the company remains committed to its dual strategy with regards to laser and lamp-based projection. The new models are said to bring the image quality, colour reproduction and virtually zero-maintenance benefits of laser to customers who may have only experienced lamp-based projection to date.
Switching to laser projection offers a range of benefits, in both education and corporate environments. Sony’s innovative Z-Phosphor laser light source technology is described as combining high brightness with image resolution, while saving time and providing peace of mind for presenters. “There’s no wait for a lamp to slowly warm up or cool down, no lamp to limit the tilt angle, and no compromise between high brightness and high resolution.”
The VPL-PHZ10 and VPL-PWZ10 projectors are said to offer a cost-effective option for smaller spaces, including small classrooms and meeting rooms, but benefit from the same 3LCD Z-Phosphor laser light source technology as Sony’s existing installation laser projectors. The laser projectors incorporate a number of energy-saving features such as Auto Dimming and Auto Brightness, greatly reducing total lifetime ownership costs compared to projectors with a conventional lamp source.
“We’re really excited to bring the benefits of our laser innovations to a new, budget-conscious segment in the higher education and corporate markets,” said Robert Meakin, Product Manager for Education & Business Projectors at Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “Sony is certainly committed to its dual strategy with regards to laser and lamp-based projection, since our conversations with customers and partners underline that lamp technology is still very important to many organisations, while others prefer a switch to laser. With these two new models, we’re proud to bring high-quality 3LCD laser projection to a similar price point to lamp-based models in the installation market.”
Sony announced two new entries in the laser phosphor category at ISE 1017 – the 5,000 lumen WUXGA VPL-PHZ10 and WXGA VPL-PWZ10 Z-Phosphor laser light source projectors – but the company remains committed to its dual strategy with regards to laser and lamp-based projection
It has long been said that the ultimate projector for education users would combine the long lifetime and maintenance-free qualities of laser light source with ultra-short throw capabilities. At ISE 2017, Vivitek released the DH765Z-UST and the DW763Z-UST to offer just thus combination.
At ISE 2017, Vivitek released the DH765Z-UST and the DW763Z-UST – laser phosphor with ultra-short throw.
Their ultra-short throw projector design with embedded reflective mirror allows for a projection size of 80” to 150” diagonal image from 40cm away from the screen. Thanks to this design, the projector set up will prevent light glare in the presenter’s eyes as well as creating a shadow-free image while standing close to the screen.
With the DH765Z-UST, users can enjoy Full HD 1080p, while the DW763Z-UST delivers WXGA resolution. Both models offer an advanced laser phosphor light engine for superior brightness and colour uniformity and high 3,500 ANSI lumens of brightness with a crisp 12,000:1 contrast ratio.
The new solutions are ideally suited to places where there may not be enough space for a conventional projector or in venues where mounting to the ceiling is complicated, or the interior design precludes the installation of a projector. The DH765Z-UST and the DW763Z-UST provide the flexibility needed by museum applications, digital signage displays, corporate reception halls or in education.
Engineered for durability and longevity, the models feature a sealed optical engine and an enhanced ventilation system that’s designed to minimize the impact of dust, ensuring years of trouble-free and reliable performance. In terms of set up, the manual zoom and focus provide both easy adjustment and positioning flexibility.
Prices of the DH765Z-UST and DW763Z-UST list, respectively st £2199 MSRP ex VAT and £1899 MSRP ex VAT with a 3-year or 10,000-hour (whichever comes first) warranty on the Laser Phosphor illumination source. This level of pricing places the convenience of ultra-short throw laser phosphor within reach of the most modest institutional or corporate budgets.
The prize of success in the volume market has already attracted a good deal of competition among laser phosphor manufacturers. Also unveiled at ISE earlier this year, Optoma’s ultra-short throw models are available in Full HD 1080p and WXGA resolutions with 4000 ANSI lumens of brightness.
Supporting 24/7 operation and versatile orientation, including portrait mode and downward projection, the 400UST series is a flexible, powerful and bright UST projector – ideal for signage solutions where space or accessibility can be limited, such as shop windows or retail displays. And they are independently certified with an IP5X dust resistant rating for reliability even in the most demanding of environments.
Weighing only 5.6kg, the 400UST projectors can be ceiling mounted just centimetres away from the wall or shop window and can project an image size of over 100 inches (254cm). Interactive models also offer ‘TouchBeam’ finger-touch interactive technology feature that transforms any surface into an interactive experience. ‘TouchBeam’ supports up to 10 multi touch points for collaborative working. With Office Viewer functionality built in, presentations can be plugged in and played via the projector’s built-in media player without the need for a laptop or PC.
James Fursse, Technical Product Manager at Optoma EMEA, commented: “The 400UST projectors are the lightest and brightest ultra-short throw lasers in their category. The 0.25 UST throw ratio on the ZH400UST 1080p model, its compact chassis and versatile installation make this an exemplary projector for digital signage solutions.”
With the diversity of solutions of laser phosphor now on the market, adoption by the majority is assured – at least, until the next wave of innovation in projector technology. The capital price-performance gap between laser phosphor mercury lamp models is nowhere near as apparent as in other competing technologies at similar stages of development – just look at the advantage held by IWBs over IFPDs a few years ago. The gap is closing quickly, particularly for users who understand the significance of total cost of ownership calculations.
10 advantages of laser phosphor
Laser phosphor technology is advancing rapidly because of the abundance of benefits it offers against traditional lamp based projectors. The laser light source is a solid-state lamp-less illumination technology that produces consistent high brightness up to 20,000 hours virtually maintenance free. The benefits of laser phosphor projectors are dependable long life, 24/7 operation capability, consistent high brightness, flexible installation, minimal maintenance and low total cost of ownership.
- Laser phosphor is ideal for long duty cycles
- No lamp changes required
- 20,000+ hours operational life
- Versatile installation 360° mounting in any direction
- No need for ﬁlters (in most designs)
- Reduces down-time and maintenance
- High brightness and contrast
- Superior colour reproduction
- Consistent brightness