Laser and LED projectors explained

Until a few years ago, projectors traditionally used a lamp as their light source. But now there are some newer options, including Sony’s range of bright, reliable laser projectors. Our guide explains how they compare with LED projectors.

projectors laser and LED

What’s a laser projector?

All projectors need a light source to create the image you see on screen. There are various ways of achieving this – and the one that’s gaining popularity fastest is laser. Replacing the traditional projection lamp, a long-lasting semiconductor laser features as the light source in many of our projectors for business and educational applications.

What’s great about laser?

A laser light source is more energy efficient than conventional lamps. That’s because the laser’s output can be ‘tuned’ precisely, only producing the required red, green and blue wavelengths rather than wasting power on frequencies that aren’t needed. Just as importantly, the laser only needs replacing after 20,000 hours or so – longer than any projection lamp. Compared with traditional lamps, laser start-up is virtually instant and consistent brightness is maintained over its working life. What’s more, mercury-free lasers don’t require specialist handling or end-of-life disposal.

And what’s an LED projector?

LEDs are replacing conventional light bulbs in many applications – from domestic lighting to torches and car headlamps. And now they’re starting to appear in projectors, too. Like laser, LED projectors offer the benefit of long life and near-instant start-up – a valuable time-saver at the start of meetings and presentations. LED also runs cooler than conventional Xenon or high-pressure lamps, saving energy and reducing the need for special fans and cooling systems.

How do laser and LED compare?

Right now, LED’s major drawback is its limited light output. This isn’t an issue with tiny palm-sized micro projectors that are designed primarily for portability. But you’ll struggle finding an LED projector rated at much more than a couple of hundred lumens brightness. That’s less than a tenth the light output of our lowest-priced compact projectors for schools and meeting rooms. So for the time being, laser shines supreme when you need high image brightness in real-world applications.

And is it the same as Crystal LED?

No, that’s something else entirely. Crystal LED is Sony’s advanced ‘projector-free’ display technology that’s used in high-end presentation applications. The picture’s made up by a mosaic of ultrafine LEDs, creating a truly incredible big-screen visual experience with extraordinary brightness, colour and contrast.

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