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A Second Look at Laser Projectors
By: Darren Macdonald

I read a tech forum post recently where a pastor asked fellow readers to comment on lamp vs. laser projectors. Almost immediately, a handful of salespeople flooded the comments with statements similar to "YES – only buy lasers."

Such biased and inexperienced responses are quite disturbing. Telling a church to buy a laser projector without knowing anything about their unique needs and usage is ridiculous.

One person claimed that all lamp projectors drop their brightness right away (not exactly true), Another person felt the higher cost of laser projectors would be justified over time (only if you use the projector a bunch). Someone else argued that laser projectors were always in focus (that's not how projector lenses work).

So are laser projectors the "Messiah" of the AV industry, or should your church buy a traditional lamp projector? The answer to such a question all depends on how you use the projector.

Here are some points to consider:

How many hours will you put on the projector over a typical week?
Laser projectors were designed for 24/7 operation. If you're using your projector 50 to 70 (or more) hours per week, then it's a no brainer; you most definitely should buy a laser projector. But if you only use the projector five to ten hours per week, then you will get little to no benefit from a laser projector.

Remember, no matter what you buy, the life of a projector is only about seven or eight years.  Anything much longer than that and you can expect frequent and expensive service.  Such an "old" projector would be horribly obsolete anyway. 

Can you get to your projector to change a bulb if/when needed?
We have a church customer who has to dismantle their doorframe and move several pews just to get a rented lift in the building so they can change the bulb in the projector. The cost and hassle associated with this makes them a perfect candidate for a laser projector. 

Are you under budget restraints?
Laser projectors offer convenience and peace of mind—there is nothing like the stress of blowing a projector bulb on Easter—but they often cost 30 to 60 percent more than a traditional lamp projector of the same spec and quality.

Many in the industry believe we can expect to see a drastic price drop with laser projectors in coming years, but until then, you have to carefully consider the costs.

There is no "one size fits all" answer to the lamp vs. laser debate. Consider all options, insist on seeing side-by-side comparisons in your room, and buy the right projector for you.

Darren Macdonald has been an AV dealer since 1991 when projectors took four men to carry and cost a small fortune. He and the other designers at Shepherd Multimedia have helped over 10,000 U.S. churches find the right video solution for them and can be a great resource to help yours, too. Find more information at www.ShepherdMedia.com.









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