About a year ago, Casio America, Inc. (Dover, NJ) startled the projection industry with the announcement that it had developed a hybrid solid-state light engine that would produce over 2000 lumens of light output and would be priced at about $1,000. On March 29th , it announced this year’s line-up - 12 new models with hybrid light sources that will increase light output up to 3500 lumens. All-LED light source projectors are likely to reach only 2000 lumens in 2011, so Casio is onto something.
So what exactly is a hybrid solid-state light source anyway? In Casio’s initial products, it consisted of blue lasers and red LEDs. The red LEDs provided red light, while the blue lasers provided blue light and activated a green phosphor wheel. As shown in the schematic from last year’s Projection Summit, the blue laser illuminates a spinning wheel, which is coated with a green phosphor and a clear segment. When the blue laser is illuminating the green phosphor, the blue light is converted to green, reflecting back and onto the DLP chip. The clear segment allows the blue laser light to reflect off a mirror and illuminate the DLP chip. Since this is a color sequential DLP engine design, red, green and blue light illuminate the DLP chip in sequence at roughly one third of the time each during a frame refresh.
This same engine will be used for this year’s line of Signature projectors, which run from 2000 to 3000 lumens and are offered in XGA (0.55") and WXGA (0.65") resolution. As Casio Director of Product Management Joe Gillio explained, these will be aimed at the business, industrial, home entertainment and gaming markets.
Casio is also introducing two new series of projectors that use a modified hybrid light engine architecture, featuring a short throw series (XGA, 2500-3000 lumens) and a Pro series (XGA, 3500 lumens). These series target the education market and have new interactive, audio and connectivity options.
In the modified engine design, a blue LED has been added alongside the red LED to provide red and blue light for the DLP chip. A blue laser array still illuminates a rotating green phosphor wheel, but the clear segment has been eliminated. This allows the wheel to spin faster and helps improve thermal management of the blue-to-green light conversion process. The new design also relaxes the very slim form factor of last year’s models, growing considerably in size. According to Gillio, this is not really a problem with most customers and it is less demanding on the optical engine design. No numbers are yet available on the overall lumens/watt efficiencies of the two designs.
For more on our interview with Joe Gillio (and a lot more), you will need to purchase the next issue of Large Display Report, which publishes this Friday.