Why Flat Panels Aren’t Replacing Projectors

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In the world of commercial video, the falling prices and rising quality of flat-panel displays has gotten a lot of recognition in recent years. Projection video, however, remains a vital part of commercial integration business because it offers value and addresses needs that flat panels simply can’t. As the quest to create standout commercial video solutions becomes more daunting, projection video offer integrators limitless opportunity to create custom solutions and provide return on investment for their clients.

5 Arguments for the Longevity of Projectors

Dollars Per Inch

Even in the world of available discount pricing through merchants like Amazon, a 103-inch plasma display is a minimum of $400 per inch of diagonal. With low-cost 6,000 lumen 1080p projectors available coupled with a nice screen, you can get that cost down to $33 per inch of diagonal for the same size screen. Sure, you have to change some light bulbs, but $37,000 will buy you quite a few, especially when typical boardroom usage will mean lamp replacement every two to three years. There are still a great number of spaces that will require screens above the high-end flat panel sizes of 84- to 103-inch in diagonal based on viewing distances at the back of the room.

Existing Structure

Have you ever had a contractor say to you “We’ve hung more on less” when asked if the wall in question could support a 500-pound screen wall. That’s not the answer you want to hear when your company’s liable for the end result. Not all large format displays are extremely heavy, an 84-inch LED lit LCD is most likely 150 pounds, and there are external mounting options that supply vertical support and extend to the floor to keep the weight off the wall in question. However, if you start to get larger than that, using multiple displays, or a 103-inch plasma, you can bank on 500-600 pounds of potential hardware being attached to a wall that may end at the acoustic grid, and may not be attached at the top to any real structure. In cases like this, engineering or adapting the wall to accommodate may not be an option, and a light projection screen coupled with a projector is an attractive alternative.

Crosshair Effect

LCD screen walls are an amazing sight. They are bright, crisp, and immersive. In environments with high ambient light, they can be the only viable option for large-scale displays. They also offer higher pixel density as each display is 1-2 million pixels, meaning a 2×2 screen wall with 55-inch 1080p screens offers a 110-inch diagonal at 8 million pixels. A 110-inch screen with a single 1080p projector would be a 2 million-pixel alternative, but depending on the viewing distance and the light in the space, it may be a superior solution, especially if you want to avoid having screen bezels interrupt your image.

Mediatecture

If you haven’t heard the term “mediatecture,” Google it and you will see some amazing things. Projection Mapping, using a server and custom media to project images on existing 3D structures, is a new and exciting realm for A/V integrators. Many of us have seen events that utilize this to tell a story on a historic building or arena or museum. Obviously the market for that application is small, but if you watch the video for the Playstation Move project, seeing a white room and couch turned into a brick-walled, wood floored apartment that falls away, transforming the room into a space station, you may just rethink the relevance of projection mapping to areas like retail, nightclubs, restaurants, etc. Try doing that with an LCD screen.

Immersive Environments

Museums, engineering firms, and aerospace companies alike are all starting to use projection-based systems in concert with curved rooms or domed or spherical rooms. Projecting on these surfaces, edge blending the overlaps, and using warp engines to adjust for the curvature of the spaces, allow these venues to create an immersive virtual environment for tours, data analysis, and simulation, respectively. This is similar to the projection mapping argument above, but goes a little deeper, in that this scenario is not about providing a show for an audience or customer, but about creating an environment for work or exploration. Large format LCD displays have changed the landscape of A/V in a lot of ways, and have their own advantages. Integrators still provide value to their clients by helping them navigate the potential pros and cons of different technologies in their specific applications. An honest approach yields the answer that projectors, which have been around potentially since 1420 and were then called magic lanterns, are still relevant in the marketplace today, and will continue to be.

Whether a flat panel or projector is the best solution to fit your needs, MCC can help you. Contact us today for a consult and demonstration.

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