The price of a low-cost multimedia projector nearly triples over its lifetime, given the cost of projection lamps, the maintenance and service related to the lamps, and the cost of electricity required to power the lamps.
“We’re paying almost $200 every time we need to replace a bulb in one of our projectors,” says Dave Lambson, Director of Technology Services for the Birdville Independent School District near Fort Worth, Texas. “That doesn’t sound like much, but multiply that by four bulb changes during the life of the projector, and now it’s $800. But you also have to add in the cost of labor to change those lamps and the cost of downtime, as well as maintenance costs.”
The district is in the process of replacing its projectors with new LampFree® units from Casio, eliminating these extra costs. “Casio includes a five-year warranty on the light source, and we expect our new projectors to last at least five years,” Lambson adds. There’s no required maintenance, and so the price the district pays should be the total price. Even though the Casio units are somewhat more expensive than a comparable lamp-based unit, their total lifetime cost to Birdville will be less than half.
Birdville Independent School District is a combined unit district that covers several towns in the northeastern Fort Worth area. It has 21 elementary schools, seven middle schools, three high schools, a career and technology center and an alternative high school serving about 24,000 students.
“A few years ago the district took on an initiative to put a projector in every classroom, and that was done,” Lambson explains. Still, the technology staff was concerned that, over time, the image quality of the low-cost projectors they were purchasing would deteriorate, as lamp-based units normally do. As the lamps aged, the projectors lost brightness, diminishing to about half their original lumen output by the time they reached their rated life. Color decay could be a problem too, with a shift toward yellow as the projectors aged.
An even bigger problem was that these lamp-based projectors would take 3-5 minutes to warm up, so most teachers would turn them on first thing in the morning, and then leave them on all day; even during times when the classrooms were empty.
Last fall, Lambson and his staff began looking at lamp-free LED and LED/laser hybrid projectors. The district is buying three different Casio models.
All of the projectors are brighter and of higher resolution than the 800 x 600, 2,000-lumen projectors the district purchased originally. The color gamut is wider as well, and McMahan says the color quality is significantly better than the lamp-based units, especially over the long term.
The Casio projectors are able to move to standby mode once the connected computer starts to hibernate. If a teacher leaves the projector on all day, or even all day and all night, it burns less than one watt of electricity per hour with the light source switching off automatically. The LampFree projector turns on in less than eight seconds and, if used in a portable setup, turns off instantly, with no need to wait for the projector to cool down before it can be moved.
“Another feature we love,” Lambson adds, “is Casio’s auto keystone/auto focus setup. If we bring a Casio SLIM projector into a classroom or conference room, it sets itself up, faster and more accurately than you can do it by eye.”
So far, the Birdville Independent School District has purchased about 500 Casio LampFree® projectors, with plans to eventually replace all 2,000 projectors in use in its schools.
“Our teachers are thrilled with the new projectors,” Lambson says. “They just blow everybody away with their brightness and clarity.
“A quality classroom projector was once viewed as a luxury but now it’s a necessity,” he adds. “Without it, I don’t know how instruction could take place.”