Lamp or LED: Which Projector is Right for Your Business?

Dec 19, 2011

There is an emerging type of light source for data projectors: although conventional arc lamp illumination delivers significant brightness, the new lamp-free LED technology is proving to be an earth-friendly alternative.

Published September 16, 2010

Light Sources: Lamp vs. LED

The phrase “Consider the environment” takes on new meaning when you’re thinking about buying a data projector, since you have a choice between units with conventional lamp sources and those with newer “lamp-free” LED technology. Both support the DLP and LCD optical technologies, so how do you decide which one to recommend for your company?

To make a savvy choice, you’ll need to better understand how these technologies and the advantages each can deliver.

How it Works: The Conventional Lamp Projector

In a DLP projector, light from an arc lamp is directed onto the surface of the DLP chip—where tiny mirrors (one for each pixel) tilt back and forth, directing light into the lens path or away from it. LCD projectors take a different approach, using a lamp or LED, along with millions of liquid crystal panels that allow light to pass through.

Conventional lamps begin with white light and separate the primary wavelengths, red, green and blue (RGB) using special optical elements called dichroic filters. The separate RGB wavelengths are controlled for each pixel (picture element) and its illumination intensity. The controlled light is either passed through an LCD panel, known as transmissive technology, or bounced off DLP’s tiny mirrors, known as reflective technology.

How It Works: LED

LEDs send light through three LCD panels, each of which contains thousands (or millions) of liquid crystals that can be set into open, closed, or partially closed positions to allow light to pass through.

LEDs are RGB elements that generate the primary wavelengths for either 3LCD or DLP optical engines. Conventional lamps deliver great brightness, but they don’t last as long as LEDs and require replacements, which add to the total cost of ownership.

LED is Coming on Strong

Some of the newest projectors use high-power LEDs as a source of illumination. LED stands for "light emitting diode," and as the acronym implies, an LED is itself an electroluminescent light source—so you don't need a conventional lamp.

The latest "lamp-free" LED projectors take data projection to the next level, emitting up to 1,000 ANSI lumens, for a remarkably bright image. These cutting-edge units take advantage of an advanced three-color LED light source to deliver fabulous colour range, with intensified reds, greens, and blues. Most important for business users, LED projectors' image stability, saturated colours, and accurate rendition of colour-rich business charts and multimedia content leave presenters free to focus on their message. And speaking of colours, LED projectors are "green"—free of harmful substances, and fully compliant with RoHS directives, the e-waste standard adopted by the European Union.

Power Savings and Longevity

You'll be glad to know that LED projectors consume less power than conventional lamp units, in some cases up to 30 percent less. Other smart power-saving features to look for: stand-by mode with instant re-start and adaptive brightness based on ambient lighting conditions. You’ll also save money on the light source itself, since many LEDs can last 30,000 hours or more (approximately 20 years), which makes costly lamp replacement a thing of the past. And there's no delay while the light source warms up or cools down.

Can't Go Wrong

Both conventional lamp and LED projectors have their strengths. But whatever option you decide on, you'll see better image quality today than you've ever seen before. When you’re standing in front of a group making a presentation, you’ll certainly appreciate the quality—and best of all, your audience will notice the difference, too.