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Affordable Laser Projectors Target Business and Education Applications

By Art Feierman

The affordable laser projector for business and education is coming, and rather soon.

How are we defining affordable laser projectors - perhaps, for now: Projectors in the $2000 - $3000 range, that offer feature sets comparable to conventional lamp projectors that are about $1000 less.  We'll discuss the advantages and ROI that should often make that "affordable laser projector" a better value than their lamp based equivalents.

In the last few years, a number of companies have introduced laser projectors into their more powerful commercial projector line-up. We’re talking primarily large venue projectors. What we haven’t seen, however, are laser projectors down at price points where they are viable for K-12 schools, which are the largest single market for projectors, at least in the US. K-12 in the US has been the largest projector segment for more than a decade. Similarly, there aren’t traditional road warriors walking around with lightweight laser projectors, nor have we seen feature laden “small install” projectors, suitable for mounting, or using table top, in conference rooms and other applications, but where budgets are limited.

Sony FHZ65 Laser Projector

One of Sony’s mainstay large venue commercial projectors - with all the trimmings - $15,000 list price, $10,000 street! 6000 lumens, WUXGA. Not exactly “affordable!”   Consider the VPL-FHZ65 to be a classic commercial laser projector - loaded with features for edge blending, projection mapping... Far more advanced features than needed in an "affordable" laser projector.

This Sony FHZ65 is a medium-large laser projector. It’s great for some commercial applications, but this isn’t your average conference room or classroom projector. A street price around $10,000 assures you of that!

Epson Pro L1505U

Large Venue Projector from Epson - the L1505 with 12,000 wall melting lumens, and it's loaded. But it’s only an “affordable laser” if you can surgically drop one 9 from it’s $21,999 price! It's just what you need to present to a couple thousand souls, a multi-story museum display, or a mega-church! It does mulit-projector edge blending, projection mapping and a host of other things not needed in a basic installation laser projector.

Here's a link to the Epson L1505.


This outline below is pretty self-explanatory in most of the points. Below we’ll explore those requiring a bit more explanation.

  • Advantages of laser projectors vs. lamp projectors
    • Long life, with no lamps to change out
    • Eliminates all the costs associated with replacing lamps
      • Labor, extra monitoring
      • Adjusting (primarily in color or brightness critical applications)
    • More consistent, in that lamps are very inconsistent in terms of how long they will last before failing
    • Maintains brightness far longer,  slowly dimming over years not months
    • Maintains color accuracy longer
      • Makes more sense to have auto calibrating capabilities
    • Tunable brightness – lamp models typically have two brightness levels, many lasers can be adjusted 1 or 2% at a time in terms of brightness
      • Some laser projectors allow users to set for consistent brightness over years – for special applications (edge blending…)
    • Big advantages when using projectors in arrays to display a single image (or video) across many projectors (basically the consistent color, brightness, etc.)
  • Disadvantages of laser projectors vs lamp projectors
    • Higher upfront costs
    • If a laser light engine fails out of warranty on the more affordable models
      the cost of repairing may be prohibitive, calling for buying a new projector

      • The silver lining is that, in theory, by the time they fail, the projector is likely to be long obsolete and overdue for replacement
        • i.e. newer models with higher resolution, better performance
  • Advantages of laser projectors vs. LED projectors
    • Laser projectors are typically far brighter, with most LED projectors under 1000 lumens (while the average low-cost lamp projector is about 3500 lumens)
  • Disadvantages of laser projectors vs LED projectors
    • Laser projectors are much larger
      • In fairness, that’s because they are far more powerful
    • LED projectors cost far less
      • Again, because they are far less powerful
  • A look at the more powerful commercial laser projectors
  • A look at more mid-priced, less powerful laser projectors, that are going more mainstream
  • Where the market is, in terms of the affordable laser projector
    • $3000-$5000 laser projectors
    • $2000-$3000 laser projectors
    • When will we see sub $2000, even sub $1000 laser projectors?

The outline itself provides a basic idea of where we’re going. The rest of the content goes more in-depth, in terms of value propositions, ROI, and provides some good examples of what are available today in terms of laser projectors, including a couple of direct comparisons between directly competing laser and lamp models.

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