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Does LED project the future?

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The continued development of LEDs and projections is closing the gap that once separated them. So, which determinant should be used? Paul Bray reports.

Projecting or looking directly at the LED? It is easy to describe the former as outdated and dim, while the latter as coarse-grained and expensive. However, both descriptions are severely distorted, because the continuous development of the two technologies is closing the gap that once separated them-while still leaving behind the essential core of truth that made the manga bitten, and the characteristic author worthy of a visit. Something to mention.

Eliot Fulton-Langley, CDEC Solution Architect, said: “Projectors are constantly evolving and are committed to improving image quality and brightness to provide better image clarity.” “The resolution has been increased to UHD (4K) and has always been concerned about easy installation And reduce maintenance."

The key breakthrough is to switch to laser light source, which has a wider color gamut, higher brightness and longer service life. For small light use applications, lamp-based projection is still a good choice, but in fact in all other settings, it is dead or dying.

Lee Dent, senior sales manager of BenQ's professional audio-visual business, said: "Compared with LED or bulb lights, lasers can obtain higher lumens. As a constant light source, it can work continuously for 40,000 hours." "This helps reduce extra The total cost of ownership is only the initial investment. The laser light source can prevent the color from decay over time, and the brightness decline is longer and more predictable."

The additional benefits of adding lasers, including better contrast, lower power consumption and heat output, quieter operation and smaller form factors, what else do you dislike? Well, in addition to prices, even prices are steadily declining.

David Barton, head of the Hawthorn video team, said: "The innovation in laser light sources is impressive. What we are seeing now is that real RGB lasers have become easier to use." "RGB laser technology uses separate red, green and blue lasers to produce Light and provide more realistic color reproduction."

But the function of the projector is much more than the light source. "As people learn more about laser sources, our customers are beginning to refocus on other features of the projector, such as contrast, HDR, color, connectivity, resolution, processing high bandwidth signals, and simplifying planning, installation and maintenance. Integration tools,” said Miles Donovan, senior channel manager at Christie.

"The range of available lenses has greatly increased," said Andy Hook, White Light's technical solutions director. "The ultra-short focal length and periscope reduce the footprint required for projection, making installation more flexible and prudent.

"And the fast-developing media server and graphics processing technology are fusing together large arrays in multiple projectors to create a seamless digital canvas in a vast or awkward space."

Now, manufacturers are addressing the physical impact of projectors-weight and volume, interfering noise... Digital Projection has developed a "satellite" system whose small and compact projection "head" contains the least optical and video processing, and through The fiber optic cable connects to a light source that may be up to 100m long. NEC also stated that its latest model can run quietly to 19 decibels-quieter than a ticking watch.

With the advantages of projectors in terms of image quality and convenience, the development of direct-view LED itself is fighting back. Barton said: "LED technology is developing rapidly. We have seen leapfrog development in pixel pitch, weight, and assembly speed." "In the corporate world, LED issues have always had a high enough pixel count to be able to Clearly display more involved content. Since the available pitch is less than 1mm, LED options become more feasible. LED manufacturers are paying more attention to ease of use, reliability and assembly speed than ever before. I think this is predictable The future will continue."

The pixel pitch (the size of a single LED on the panel) ranges from 1mm to 17mm. "When the audience is very close to the LED, there may be a small spacing in the range of 1.8-3.4mm," said Matt Jennings, AI product expert at Avolites. "This may result in the use of very high resolutions, exceeding 4K and 8K widescreens."

"The development of LEDs with narrow pixels and fine pixel pitch enables it to meet indoor applications with generally short viewing distances," Donovan said. "Although narrow or fine pixel pitches still have higher prices, the price of direct display LED displays with larger pixel pitches has dropped significantly."

Although reducing the pixel pitch is a big issue, LED technology is also developing in an all-round way, just like projectors. "The versatility of the product is greatly improved," Hook said. "They have thinner, lighter and more scalable features than ever before, and have more module sizes. We can even use multi-faceted or bendable panels to create curves and distortions.

"LED processing technology has recently made great progress, which helps to improve image quality. Companies such as Brompton are indeed pushing this goal, including their recent progress in adding HDR. Now, calibration technology means that it can be regularly Each pixel is individually calibrated to provide consistent image quality throughout the life of the display.

"Redundant power supplies and redundant processing can be specified to make the LED installation more robust and reduce the impact of any component failure. LEDs become more energy-efficient and faster to install. And the choice of manufacturers and product range has also greatly increased ."

"The development of technologies such as transparent OLED provides opportunities to integrate digital content with real objects, creating new opportunities for the creation of fields such as digital signage," Fulton-Langley added.

NEC product management, marketing and business development manager Tobias Augustin pointed out that LED life is up to 100,000 hours, and its life span is several times longer than the projection life, so despite the cost of ownership, its total cost of ownership is more attractive. High initial investment.

Nevertheless, the high upfront cost of LEDs is still a deciding factor for many buyers, and it is expected that in any application where the two technologies are equally matched, LEDs are clearly the winner. It is difficult to generalize, but for example, Dent believes that for screens above 100 inches, projection is about one-third of the cost of LEDs.

One of the great advantages of projection is that from shop windows to the outer walls of the cathedral, any surface can be turned into a digital canvas, especially when the latest projection mapping technology is used.

Donovan said: "Projection mapping is in great demand for many different applications and overlaps with traditional markets, such as the pre-screening experience in movie theaters and sports venues."

"Advanced functions such as distortion and edge blending are where laser projection is really realized," said Daniel Rose, Epson product manager. "Projectors can bring walls, floors, and objects to life, transforming any product or space into an immersive experience. On LED panels, this is much more difficult and more expensive. For non-flat surfaces, projection is The only option, and many projectors can be installed almost anywhere in any direction."

"When the pixelated characteristics of LED walls are still unacceptable, high frame rate displays are required, or motion artifacts and image quality are critical, projection is still a good solution," Digital Projection Vice President of Global Marketing Mark Wadsworth said. For example, visualization and simulation usually require the viewer to be very close to the screen, with a high frame rate and a wide field of view.

A video wall that does not require a physical is also beneficial. Augustine said: "In flexible buildings, it may not be possible to fix heavy equipment on dry walls, so ceiling projection is the only suitable technology." For indoor rental and stage applications where flexibility and quick installation/disassembly are critical, it is usually preferred projector. Laser projection provides a real alternative to digital signage, not only because of its creative flexibility, but also because when turned off, a well-installed projector becomes instantly invisible. "

If the projection maintains an advantage in price, the same is true for LED brightness.

Andrew Melsom, DRP Group’s technical service production manager, said: “Bright spaces are a better alternative to LED projection, which can be washed out of sunlight.” “LEDs also provide more options for places. It does not require much space. , You can increase capacity in a smaller venue while still providing a vibrant and bright screen."

Wadsworth said that even indoors, LED walls are still the only realistic option to compete with high ambient light. Large shopping malls and lobbies are good examples. In the past, they tend to use LED walls with large pixel pitches, but as the price of narrow pixel pitches is getting cheaper, they can show on amazing displays with almost unparalleled detail. The function of integrating with in-store VR has been enhanced, and we hope to see 3D LED walls in some very interesting applications. "

Augustine added: "Even under harsh environmental conditions, the extremely high brightness of direct-view LEDs can provide very uniform and impactful images with excellent color reproducibility, while high contrast and deep black make Crowded public places (such as train stations and airports) have perfect readability,"

According to Peter Leenen, Dutch sales manager for events and professional AV at Barco, stage performances and TV studios can also benefit from LED's resistance to high ambient light, silent operation and almost zero space requirements (rear projection in theaters). It can be very tricky).

The advent of finer pixel pitch allows LEDs to enter areas where projection or LCD panels previously dominated, such as meeting rooms, meeting spaces, and reception areas. On the contrary, the brightness of LEDs sometimes proves to be too great for indoor applications.

"Ironically, one of the problems with LEDs is the intensity of the image, which can cause great fatigue to viewers (such as control room operators) who spend a lot of time in front of the screen," Peter van Dijk said, senior business development manager of Mitsubishi Electric Europe.

Dent said: "The biggest overlap area is the company conference room, where the 100-inch monitor and projector work well." "The best way to make a decision is to visit the demo kit to see the technology first-hand Performance, or ask an experienced integrator."

With the continuous improvement and development of both technologies, this is a good suggestion no matter which application you use.

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