When choosing projection technology for the school environment, the wide range of options available can make it difficult to know which one is the best fit for your classroom, lecture hall or auditorium. Christie, a leading visual, audio and collaboration solutions company, believes that the answer lies in understanding the specific needs of each learning institution, and then identifying the projection solution that best answers those needs.
In an effort to empower end users to make informed decisions when it comes to investing in projectors for the learning environment, Christie has developed a white paper that attempts to demystify the wide range of projection technologies that are currently available on the market.
Understanding the options
Over the past decade, rapid advances in illumination technology have brought a wider range of options to the market. While choice is always a good thing, it can also introduce a level uncertainty. In a sea of claims around brightness, colour, performance and cost, how does one know which illumination technology is right for your institution?
When it comes to choosing an illumination technology, there is no definitive “best choice” for every application. In fact, deciding based on performance alone can lead to overspending on features that are not necessary for your specific application. Choosing between lamp or laser projectors involves interrogating factors such as the environment where the projector will be used, the type of content one will be projecting, the brightness that you need based on ambient light and the size of your venue, illumination lifetime, installation form factor and cost, among others.
Currently, there is a lot of hype around laser illumination technology, which might lead one to assume that lamp-based illumination is no longer relevant. However, lamp-based projection technology remains important, accounting for substantial number of products sold. When one takes into account that lamp-based projection was first to market and continues to deliver reliable brightness and colour performance across many applications, it is unsurprising that a significant number of schools and institutions of higher learning continue to rely on this technology for teaching and learning.
According to Curtis Lingard, senior product manager at Christie, “The increasing popularity of laser-based illumination does not automatically imply that lamp-based solutions won’t continue to meet your projection needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.” Choosing the right illumination technology comes down to understanding where the projector will be installed, the experience that you are trying to create for students, and what you are willing to spend.
Understanding your needs
In an effort to understand emerging trends in illumination technology, a number of surveys have been conducted with respondents drawn from a pool of technicians, consultants, dealers and end users of projection technology. Based on the results of this research, 73% of respondents agree that laser illumination is the future of projection technology, and 62% indicated that they would be prepared to pay more for a laser projector to avoid lamp changes. According to the majority of respondents, the most important purchase factors are illumination type, colour fidelity as well as total cost of ownership over the lifespan of a projector.
Making sense of the options
Christie points out five distinct illumination technologies commonly used in modern projectors, namely mercury lamps, laser phosphor, laser phosphor hybrid technology, Xenon lamp and RGB pure laser. There are a number of factors that one needs to consider when deciding whether to choose lamp or laser illumination. Some of these factors include the surface that you intend to project onto, the minimum brightness requirement needed to achieve the desired result, the number of hours that the projector will be in use and the frequency with which the projector will be turned on and off. Only once you have fully defined your application, are you in a position to decide upon the best projection solution for your school, training room or lecture hall.
When deciding on a projector for your institution, brightness and colour are important variables to understand, as 78% of industry respondents highlight this as one of the most important factors to consider when deciding on the right projector to purchase.
All of the available illumination technologies differ on the number of lumens produced and the quality of output achieved. However, confusing technical terminology can make comparisons of brightness levels challenging, especially if you are not an expert in the field. For example, the industry reports brightness in three different ways – ANSI, ISO and Centre – each based on different criteria with different tolerances. Christie advises that customers make sure that they are familiar with the various brightness measures, consult with suitably qualified and accredited suppliers and make product choices accordingly.
According to Christie, achieving proper colour balance for accurate reproduction, without sacrificing brightness, is the holy grail of colour fidelity. However, not every situation demands the same level of colour fidelity. Once again, it comes down to the subtle nuances and requirements of the application.
For example, if you are displaying a presentation, spreadsheet or video, a mercury lamp or laser phosphor projector will likely meet your needs. Alternatively, if you are projection mapping or creating a hyper-realistic experience, then you should be looking at RGB pure laser. Unlike more traditional lamp-based and laser phosphor technologies, RGB pure laser introduces an entirely new dimension of the colour palette. Due to the complexities involved, it is highly advisable for any school or institution of higher education to consult with a reputable projection product specialist prior to making a final decision about which projectors to invest in.
Calculating the costs
According to Christie, there is a common misconception that laser projectors offer a lower total cost of ownership than lamp-based options. This belief is rooted in that fact that, although the upfront cost is higher, laser frees you from incurring ongoing costs associated with lamp replacement. Many people believe that if they buy laser phosphor, they will never need to replace their light source. However, depending on the usage, this may not necessarily be the case.
The true cost of a projector is driven by many factors, including how often you are using your projector, your brightness goals and – for lamp-based projection – the schedule and labour costs associated with replacing lamps and filters. Only once you have considered all of these factors can you accurately calculate the total cost of ownership associated with your choice of projector.
Creating an effective learning environment is a complex and nuanced task for anybody involved in teaching and learning. While technology has transformed our lives in a multitude of ways, the effective sharing of information between a teacher and a class continues to rely on the effective transmission of information from a presenter to an audience. The effective use of projection technology remains critical in this process – especially as content becomes more diversified and, in many cases, highly interactive. Choosing the right projector to best suit your specific needs may seem overwhelming at first – however with the right information and guidance from experts in the field, making the right choice has the potential to transform the learning experience.
For more information about choosing the correct projection technology for your institution, Christie’s comprehensive eBook Illuminating ProAV: A How-to Guide for choosing the right light for the right projection application is available for download at https://info.christiedigital.com.