From the laser light that reads the contents of a compact disc to laser eye surgery (also known as Lasik) to correct eye problems, it’s easy to see that lasers or the concentrated beam of light technology is here to stay in the 21st Century and beyond.
With that in mind, what about laser projectors? How do they make use of the ubiquitous laser tech that’s so prevalent in our lives at present? What are laser projectors anyway? What are the things you should consider before buying such products?
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What are Laser Projectors?
LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) or laser technology has become part of regular life. It’s used in weaponry, industrial, entertainment, and medical applications.
Ostensibly, a laser projector is a projector that uses a laser lamp instead of a Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lamp or halogen lamp in order to create those bright projections. A laser isn’t just a cutting tool so powerful it could slice a block of dense metal in half or a security measure to protect artifacts.
Why Were Laser Projectors Invented?
A laser could also be used as a reliable light source for consumer-grade home cinema or theater projectors. Laser applications vary from laser ablation procedures to laser light displays on the dance floor. They could also serve as a great alternative to traditional lamps or even LEDs in a projector.
The LED lamp is more long-lasting while the laser lamp is supposedly brighter and more expensive to produce. Admittedly, you get more bang from your buck from the LED than from the laser one.
What are Home Entertainment Laser Projectors?
A home entertainment laser projector is obviously a consumer-grade laser projector made for use at home to view movies, TV shows, or cable TV. They’ve been in the market since around 2015. Before them were lamp projectors and LED projectors.
They’re devices renowned for their ability to generate any light wavelength, which makes them capable of producing wider color gamut without compromising the brightness of the device itself.
Laser Projector Buying Guide 101
Let’s now discuss what you need to look for when buying your own consumer-grade home entertainment laser projector. These devices project changing laser beams to the screen in order to make a digital moving image for professional or entertainment purposes.
What Should You Expect out of All Laser Projectors?
All laser projectors worth their salt are composed of optical components like mirrors, lasers, and even galvanometer scanners. A laser projector can contain three sources of laser light for RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) full-color projection or one laser light source for single-color projection.
Such devices are characterized by their ability to generate various light wavelengths to allow for a variety or a gamut of color variegations possible while maintaining projector brightness. This thusly results in richer, deeper colors that come closer to real life than previous products.
What Do Laser Projectors Bring to the Table?
Laser projectors offer long-lasting brightness for superior home viewing of movies and a multitude of industrial applications. To wit:
- You won’t have to pay someone to replace the lamp of a laser projector.
- You won’t have to disassemble a laser projector to have its lamp replaced.
- A laser projector doesn’t require lamp replacement and the laser prides itself of longevity.
- The laser projector is initially expensive but it more than makes up for the expense in longevity.
- The brightness of solid state lasers ensures superior brightness, deeper black levels, and wider color spaces.
- A laser projector by nature is less likely to overheat compared to lamp-based models or even those using LEDs.
- They require lower maintenance and improved color and contrast as well compared to lamp-based projectors.
Which Laser Projector Benefits Should You Look Out For?
You should look out for the following benefits and specs when shopping for a home theater laser projector for your home.
- Brighter Lumens: Lasers are concentrated beams of light so naturally they have brighter outputs.
- No Mercury: It contains no mercury so there’s less risk for mercury poisoning compared to other projector bulb or lamp variants out there.
- No Overheating: A laser projector doesn’t overheat or at least it doesn’t reach the same temperatures a lamp projector would when running at the same length of time.
- Greater Installation Flexibility: Your installation choices are more abundant because the laser projector can be mounted at any point of a 360° radius versus the more limited placement of lamp projectors.
- Richer and Deeper Colors: The richer and deeper colors possible with a laser projector come closer than other projector types in replicating the vast range of millions of colors that the human eye can process.
- Long-Lasting Lasers: Go for manufacturers that have long-lasting lasers that could go on up until 30,000 hours of usage. This is in contrast of the 3,000 hours lifespan of UHP lamps or comparable to LED longevity.
- No Cool-Off Time: You won’t have to deal with a cooling-off period because a laser is cooler yet brighter than bulbs. The concentrated nature of the light ensures of projector brightness but at the same time it doesn’t result in overheating.
- Greater Energy Efficiency: It doesn’t waste as much power and voltage as a hot bulb would, which when it overheats can damage the internal circuitry of the projector itself. It’s a cool and concentrated beam of light that it produces efficiently.
- Lasers are Stronger and Sturdier Than Bulbs: The laser lamp doesn’t slowly fail the way lamps do. You’re likely to get the same quality of light from the laser lamp nearing the end of its life within 10 years as you would when you first bought it.
- Lamp Life of Laser Lights: Check the specs to ensure that you get at least 20,000 hour lamp life or more (like 30,000 hours and beyond) out of your laser projector, even if you use it for 8 hours a day and 5 days a week (that’s a decade of lifespan).
- Instant Activation and Deactivation: Fast or instant on/off to help increase longevity. The nature of lasers also ensures there are fewer chances of projector breakdown by overheating. The projector type has precision color accuracy and stability.
- Consistent Brightness over Lifespan: Throughout its life cycle, it maintains its brightness. You’re likely to get the same brightness 2 to 3 years from now as it did when you first bought it compared to the gradual degradation of other lighting types, even LED.
- Easy Maintenance: Most projectors require you to maintain their lamps in order to get the best out of them. It’s less of a hassle with low-maintenance laser projectors. You won’t have to cool down your laser projector before storage compared to a lamp projector.
- Made for Heavy Use: Like the cheaper LED variants but slightly better quality-wise, laser projectors have enough longevity to welcome all-day usage. You can engage in heavy use of this projector type more than its lamp variants due to its no cool-down nature.
- Considerable Savings: The initial expensiveness of this projector type is covered up by having long-lasting laser lights. You won’t have to pay $250 to $400 per replacement lamp because the laser itself lasts a long time. You have low to no lamp replacement or maintenance costs.
What are the Cons of Laser Projectors?
Not many detriments to getting a laser projector. However, like a laserdisc, it’s quite more expensive than lamp projectors. You might not have the budget to buy something costing from $1,000 to $2,500. You might get the same longevity—not necessarily quality—from an LED projector instead.
Lamp projectors, in contrast to laser projectors, are more affordable. They might also be considered the cost-effective choice if you’re not going to use the projector that much.
If you tend to only bring your projector out during special occasions or screenings instead of using it all-day everyday, the lamp projector is your best bet.
What You Need to Find Out
A laser projector is an expensive but worthwhile investment that might not be as cost-effective as its LED counterparts but offers unique benefits that should enhance your movie-viewing experience at home, particularly when it comes to projector brightness and color fidelity.
At this point, let’s talk about our top picks when it comes to laser projectors.
Top Laser Projector Picks
The Optoma HZ39HDR Laser Home Theater Projector with HDR wins Amazon’s Choice for “Laser Projector” for good reason. This $1,200 projector (prices will vary) is renowned for its quiet operation, easy setup, 1.3x zoom, and reliable operation for 30,000 hours.
As for the WeMax Nova Short Throw Laser Projector, it’s the more expensive projector at $2,300. It’s favored by those who can afford it because of its UHD HDR10 display at 4K resolution, smart device functionality, and high FPS rate to view realistic-looking movies and video games with smooth motion.
The Optoma is superior in an affordable sort of way with its multiple perks at its price point. However, if you can afford WeMax Nova, it’s the superior projector for gamers and movie buffs alike.