By Wayne Borg
Technology keeps us connected these days. It is already enhancing the worship experience with the use of large screens and projectors to help people pray and sing. Microphones and elaborate sound systems make sure everyone can hear, whether you are sitting up close or all the way in the back. Services are being streamed live or recorded for broadcast at a later date.
The challenging task is keeping up with all the changes in technology. Schools and businesses have IT directors and/or facilities managers who stay on top of the latest advances in the AV industry, but most houses of worship do not have that kind of support.
Factors to Consider
There are many considerations when choosing a new projector; since every house of worship is different, each one has different needs. If you are replacing an existing projector, your task is much easier, as the placement of the screen and the projector has already been determined.
For new installations, the size of the screen, the throw distance (the distance between the projector lens and the screen) of the projector, the placement of the projector, the aspect ratio (the shape of your screen), the brightness, and resolution of the projector all need to be decided. If you are buying your equipment from your local AV dealer, it may be best to ask them to come out and help you determine what products will work best for your needs.
To determine the brightness of the projector, you have to consider the ambient lighting of the sanctuary. Ambient light is the amount of available light that is in the room. Many sanctuaries have large windows, and, depending on the time of the service, and even with the lights turned down, there is a large amount of light in the room. The more ambient light, the brighter your projector needs to be. Projector brightness is measured in lumens. In darker rooms, a 2000 – 3000 lumens projector will work fine, but in brightly lit rooms, a 3500 – 5000 lumens projector may be needed.
The aspect ratio on your projector needs to match the shape of your screen. For a screen in the traditional 4:3 aspect ratio, which is the “almost square” shape we all grew up watching on tube televisions, you would need an XGA (1024 x 768) projector. The 4:3 screen works well if you are displaying mostly text, such as verses and song lyrics.
For a screen in the 16:10 or 16:9 aspect ratio, which are the rectangle shapes we are now watching on our laptop computers and newer flat-screen TVs, your best choice is a widescreen projector with WXGA (1280x 800) or HD (1920 x 1080) resolution aspect ratio. These screens are best if you are planning on showing widescreen content, such as movies and videos.
Connecting to the projector is getting easier. Many of the newer projector models have enhanced connectivity with a multitude of connections, such as VGA (standard computer input), HDMI, USB, Composite (RCA inputs), and wireless options. Running cables can be unattractive and difficult to install in large spaces, so wireless may be the best choice, as it eliminates the need to for cables altogether. Wireless technology has also improved, and signals can now be sent via wireless and still maintain good image and sound quality.
HD and 4K
When it comes to resolution, bigger is always better, right? The more pixels you can put up on your screen the clearer the picture, the sharper the images. In 2017, we have seen the first 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) projectors introduced into the market. Projectors featuring 4K Ultra high definition (UHD) have a resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels and deliver approximately 8.3 million pixels to the screen.
Because 4K UHD projection has four times as many pixels as the former 1080p Full HD standard, it is able to display much greater detail and enables users to share high volume information with large audiences on a four times larger screen. In reality, you are probably not going to switch to a four times larger screen, but with four times as many pixels on your current large screen, a 4K UHD projector will provide crystal-clear projection and reproduce the color and beauty of images at a markedly higher level than conventional projectors. Small letters and numbers, as well as drawings and design images, are displayed in the finest detail and are clearly visible, whether viewed from up close or from the back of the room.
To decide if you need the extra clarity and resolution provided by a 4K UHD projector, you need to review what type of content you are projecting. If you are projecting videos and graphics, 4K UHD will give you best performance. If you are only projecting song lyrics and other text, a WXGA or HD projector will give you plenty of resolution.
New Projector Technology
Projector technology is getting better and better. Pictures are crisper, images are clearer, and with the introduction of solid state projectors (using Lasers and LEDs instead of lamps), they are getting easier to maintain. Having a LampFree projector means much less maintenance worries, with no more lamps to replace, no more filters to replace, less down time, and lower maintenance costs. No need to worry about how LampFree projector performance compares to traditional lamp projector performance.
Whether you choose a DLP projector or an LCD projector, the dramatic enhancements in color purity achieved over the last few years by the solid state light sources have significantly improved the color reproduction, and the projected images look brighter than ever due to the visual effects of the high-purity colors. Also, since there are no Mercury lamps, concerns for the proper disposal of used Mercury lamps and Mercury pollution are eliminated.
Reliability is another important factor, and while lamps on traditional lamp projectors lose brightness between 1,000 and 3,000 hours, many LampFree projectors have an impressive lifespan of up to 20,000 hours. That means your LampFree projector could last over 10 years, based on an average of eight hours of use a day, 260 days a year, without ever having to change a lamp. The savings in maintenance cost and aggravation is significant, especially if your projector is mounted on a high ceiling that is difficult to reach, which can be the case in many sanctuaries.
Not only great for large spaces, they are ideal for classrooms and conference rooms, too. Can you imagine starting a class or a meeting and not having to wait for the projector to warm up? LampFree projectors turn on in as fast as 5 to 8 seconds, and that’s to maximum brightness! LampFree projectors do not get hot like lamp projectors, so when you power off, there is no long cool-down period necessary. And you can use them around the clock, 24/7, with very little maintenance. Since they have no lamps, they do not overheat and can be run continuously with only having to reset them once a day.
If you are starting a new site or using a rented space, there is a variety of portable equipment available that works well in a temporary venue. Portable screens are available that fold up when not in use, and there are many types of small projectors on the market that make set-up and tear-down easy.
Some of the smallest LCD projectors (pico projectors) are battery operated, but they typically have very low brightness outputs. Pico projectors will only work if you have control of the lighting and can create a dark environment.
The LampFree projectors are a better solution if you have access to electrical power, as they are compact in size, provide high brightness, and there are no worries about having spare replacement lamps. LampFree projectors are also a great solution for missionaries traveling abroad for the same reasons.
Total Cost of Ownership
I know what you are thinking…these no lamp projectors sound too good to be true, so what’s the catch? If there is a downside, it’s that the prices of LampFree projectors tend to be more expensive than the prices of comparable lamp-based projectors, but when purchasing projectors, you cannot only look at the initial purchase price but also need to look at the total cost of ownership.
The total cost of ownership includes all the costs that you will actually pay over the life of your projector. Total cost of ownership not only includes the purchase cost, but also the cost of using your projector, such as energy, repair and maintenance costs. LampFree projectors consume less energy when compared to conventional lamp projectors, have no expensive replacement lamps or filters to replace, and since they require minimal maintenance, they require minimal labor costs to maintain.
For even more savings, LampFree projectors consume less energy, 30 percent to 50 percent less electricity when compared to conventional lamp projectors. And they use less than 1 Watt of power in stand-by mode with some models having an intelligent light control feature with a built-in light sensor that can detect the ambient light in your room and automatically adjust the projector to the optimum brightness level so you only use full brightness and full power when you need it.
Many houses of worship operate on a limited budget, and when you add up the original purchase price, the cost of replacement lamps, replacement filters, labor costs, and higher energy usage, you will find that LampFree projectors cost much less over the 20,000 hour life of your projector.
Yes, some new technology can be complicated and scary…but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided. Some new technologies actually improve the user experience and enhance the performance of the product. With projectors, it was just a logical step to move to Laser and LEDs to create a more efficient, reliable product. So, embrace technology in your house of worship, because it is here to stay!
Wayne Borg has been a marketing specialist for the Business Projectors Division at Casio since 2016. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product development experience in the electronics, appliance, and the audio/video industries. For more information on Casio’s LampFree projector products, visit www.casioLampFree.com.