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Topic: LED? Laser - bulb
Joined: Jan 1, 2022
Posts: 2
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I am upgrading my 12 year old home theater and looking for a new projector. My installer is pushing the Sony VW325ES which I am sure is a great projector. My concern is that it is still based on a dated bulb technology. My current projector is a Runco and it still looks great with the original bulb, but it seems to be getting dimmer. My hesitation is to replace it with another bulb based projector that will also have light denigration.

Why are there not more LED options? LED lighting has been around for years now and it has replaced conventional lighting everywhere. I have heard that it is not bright enough, but that has to be an old argument at this point. Laser is an option but I have a budget of around $5K-$6K and do not want to go over it.

I have a dedicated theater room, so ambient lighting is not an issue. I am in the process of replacing my AVR so it seemed like a good time to look at the projector but now I am wondering if I should wait. The Runco is still working, so I do have some time.

My specifics:
Dedicated (dark room)
100" Stewart screen that I am not interested in replacing
19' from my screen to my current projector - not really able to move projector closer
AVR will probably be the Denon AVRX-4700H

I have thought about the JVC LX-NZ3 but I don't think the distance will work out. Also not sure the DLP will be as good as the Sony picture.

I have not found a LED projector that compares. Viewsonic has one but the reviews are middle of the road at best.

I saw a rumor that Epson maybe coming out with a new laser option. That is intriguing.

Am I over analyzing the situation? The Sony will probably be great, but I hate worrying about bulb life all the time.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
Joined: Mar 28, 2005
Posts: 13,307
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Please keep in mind, traditional lamps are replaceable. So, if you haven't burned through your FIRST lamp on a projector you've had for years, then why overthink this? A laser is a nice thing, but you are just as likely to pop a transistor or have a fan fail as you are to burn out a lamp. But, the lamp is user replaceable and is only a few hundred bucks. If a laser or LED fails, it must go to the manufacturer for repair. And it will cost WELL more than a traditional lamp repair.

As for your question about LEDs... The basic answer, at this point, is that LEDs are finally getting bright enough to be true lamp replacements. BenQ has their X1300i model, and soon a few more models, which use a LED light engine which can put out as much light as a traditional lamp. Up to this model, not a single LED based projector has put out more than about 1,000 lumens, peak, with poor color rendition. So, this is a really big step forward.

Lasers, in comparison, get MUCH brighter and really can reach far brighter levels than LEDs. They are the standard for projectors that hit 10,000+ lumens. But, they add a fair bit to the price. Unfortunately, the balance between home theater and solid state light engines is really just coming to term and being figured out.

I'm not sure what Runco you have, but if it works well and you are mostly happy with it, then just get a new lamp for it and it will be as bright and as good looking as the day you got it. It may SHOCK you how much brighter a new lamp is and how much it has dimmed over the years. I was blown away the first time I swapped a lamp on one of my aging projector bulbs. It was three or four times as bright.

Lasers in projectors are almost in their infancy and high brightness LEDs are the same. Over the next three years we will start to see manufacturers make a complete switch to an entirely solid-state light engine shift.

We also are at what is in my opinion, a low point for DLP and 4K. I think we will see some dramatic improvements over the next few years.

JVC will likely remain out front with their products and I would get and recommend a JVC over Sony most days of the week.

A major consideration in your setup is your very long throw distance for what is truly a very small screen size. Considering you can buy a 100" Sony LCD TV at this point, having a 100" screen isn't that large. Plus, if you are viewing 4K content, you want at least 10" of image diagonal for each foot of viewing distance to even be able to see the resolution.

At the end of the day, I'm a believer in what 4K may offer from projectors, but if you have a solid model, the projector 4K revolution is not near it's peak and 1080p front projection absolutely is great on the better models.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
Joined: Jan 1, 2022
Posts: 2
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Thank you for the information. I currently have a Runco LS-3 projector. Replacing the lamp on the current projector sounds like a good stopgap measure while waiting for better light source options. Thanks.