Date Archives July 2008

What if They Made a Projector without a Lamp?

Phlat Light LEDDLP technology from Texas Instruments asked, and answered, the question of a lampless projector at this year’s Infocomm trade show. The new technology utilizes LED technology (version called PhlatLight Light Emitting Diode has been used in LCD TVs) in place of the DLP color wheel and mirror and light engine. Instead of a spinning red, blue, and green color wheel, there are RBG LEDs which plus rapidly to create the color.

The new product is the first of its kind with a regular sized chassis, but many new projectors using LED technology have been released for cell phones and so-called “pocket” projectors.

So what are the benefits? For starters, you could kiss the $200 – $500 cost of a replacement lamp goodbye along with any of the hassle of caring for it. That is good news for consumers who might have been hesitant to incur future costs after the purchase. It may also mean a dramatic increase in consumers choosing projectors as a primary display source, as the lamp life would be comparable to that of LCD and plasma TVs. Also, as we have seen with the pocket projectors, the lamp lack also allows for smaller footprints and even more portable opportunities. The fan will also not be required to cool that hot lamp, which means nearly silent operation and less energy consumption.

But wait, there’s more! With the new LED-based DLP technology, the color space possible for a projector is increased beyond that of traditional lamp’d projectors up to 50%. That’s a big benefit for the folks in the DLP camp, since color has been one area where they have been consistently challenged by 3LCD.

Are there any drawbacks to this new technology? Well for one, it’s new. So even though you won’t pay to replace the lamp, there will probably be a premium to pay initially. It’s not yet available to the general public yet, and won’t be for a while. And some reporting on the scene mention the color is not quite “lifelike” and has a bit of a red haze.

“But what about brightness?” you may ask. A good question, since previous LED projectors were in the 25 – 100 lumen range. The latest incarnation on the tradeshow floor is said to be very bright. TI claims a brightness from 500 – 1000 lumens, which was once considered a benchmark for home theater projectors. However, newer products are typically upwards of 1000 lumens. So, brightness is an issue that will probably need to improve.

But hey, nobody’s perfect on their first go. Texas Instruments says they will begin by focusing on Home Theater projection, since here is less brightness required and expects to have products released by manufacturer partners by the end of 2008. Watch us here for more updates on this potentially groundbreaking technology.