Digital Projection Sheds Light on LED, Laser Projection

Digital Projection’s Michael Bridwell talked to CE Pro about residential projection, the difference between LED and laser options, 4K and more.

“At the end of the day, the only thing that should matter is overall perceivable image quality based on how someone is watching their content.” - Michael Bridwell, Digital Projection
CE Pro Editors · June 10, 2015

CE Pro went one-on-one with Michael Bridwell, VP of Marketing & Home Entertainment for Digital Projection, who says LED-based light engines offer the best performance for residential projection.

Q. Digital Projection (DP) is as invested in 4K as it is with LED and laser-based light engines. Can you explain what makes LED and laser better than traditional lamp-based engines?
At the end of the day, the only thing that should matter is overall perceivable image quality based on how someone is watching their content.

A close second is what content is the viewer watching most of the time? LED-illuminated projectors display an unmatched color range, and more color delivers image subtlety unmatched by both lamp and laser-illuminated projectors. This is due to the purity of light produced by the LED source. All light sources have impurities, and LED has the least.

Lamp-based projectors will often be the least expensive solution, but that low initial cost ignores the incremental costs of ongoing lamp replacements. Solid-state illumination, such as LED and laser illumination, breaks that cycle by delivering longer, more linear performance: 20,000 hours for DP’s laser hybrid displays, and 60,000 hours for LED-illuminated solutions.

Q. What is the difference between LED and laser, and can you address how these technologies integrate into commercial and residential environments?
LED illumination is driven by distinct red, green and blue diodes, and supplies the longest continual light source. LEDs also supply the widest color gamut. Laser-hybrid illumination involves a particular laser activating a phosphor wheel to create a color space similar to a UHP lamp.

Because of the innate power of the laser — even in a diffused state — laser-based projectors tend to deliver a lot of light. DP’s laser projectors deliver up to 12,000 lumens, which is great for rooms with a lot of ambient light. But a real benefit for residential rooms is that the lasers can be turned down to 30 percent of their light capacity, allowing an integrator to customize the brightness output to the client’s screen size and room type.

Both integrators and room designers love this flexibility. In bars, community common spaces, outdoor venues and poolside theaters, laser illumination allows integrators to place large-scale, impactful content in places that were previously impossible.

Related: 2015 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis: Top Projectors

Q. Does DP anticipate the cost coming down on laser- and LED-based projectors?
Three-chip LED and laser projectors produce better imagery than single-chip projectors with the same illumination, and are still largely offered at a premium due to all the value they deliver. Between the image quality, no bulb replacements or ongoing maintenance needed, color performance and more, solid-state projectors solve a lot of the issues that lamp-based projectors have. So today there is a premium for the premium experience.

Q. How can dealers sell/present the color gamut capabilities of 4K so the average person can see/experience it?
Regarding DLP technology, greater pixel density will reveal details within an image due to revealing more steps along the image curve. This could be perceived as a wider range of color, but what the viewer is actually seeing is the extra image detail and the colors of the imagery encompassed within those steps.

Our new INSIGHT 4K projectors can display stellar 10-bit color depth. But that capability has nothing to do with the fact that they are 4K resolution products. Other components dictate what color depth the INSIGHT can display, as well as whether the source content was created to realize the projector’s capabilities.

DP is taking a modular approach to HDMI. Can you explain this approach?
The shifting standard of future hardware is enough to turn any manufacturer prematurely gray. Once the standard specifications are set, everyone can react accordingly to produce products that conform to the spec.

But product development almost never occurs in such a clean fashion. So, to best pivot in relation to the shifting sands of 4K, our development team wisely chose a more modular approach to our input boards. We will be able to seamlessly remove outdated input boards, including HDMI.

The modular approach also allows clients to customize their projectors. Need HDBaseT? Need 3G-SDI? A modular construction philosophy allows for flexibility.

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