Sony Exits Cinema Projector Market; Can the Home Theater Market Be Far Behind? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Sony Exits Cinema Projector Market; Can the Home Theater Market Be Far Behind?

Sony has decided to exit the digital cinema projector business for reasons familiar to many Sony home projector owners:

Quote:
One long time industry analyst said, “I’ve been expecting this for a long time. They have a liability issue with their projectors due to the technology of the imaging device. The ultraviolet light from the projector’s lamp slowly destroys the imaging device, and the projected image loses color. The solution is to replace the imaging devices once a year or so. But this is expensive.”


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“So how could Sony Electronics afford to support the replacement of all of these imaging devices under the extended warranty?” he asked. The answer was to have Sony Pictures fund the projector business under the virtual print fee agreements.

“Now that the VPF deals are expiring,” the analyst continued, “one would think that Sony Pictures will gladly get out of shoring up Sony Electronics. So here we are. Sony Electronics cannot afford to sell a digital cinema projector whose warranty eats Sony Electronics profit.”

He said this situation could have been prevented. “Texas Instruments offered three DLP Cinema licenses,” he explained. “Christie took one, Barco another, and Digital Projection the third. Then Digital Projection decided not to enter the cinema market, and IMAX bought the third license with plans to build their own projector. But those plans changed, and Sony was offered the license. The reason NEC has a DLP license is that Sony refused, deciding to use a different but flawed technology that was being developed in-house. Had Sony taken the DLP license, there would still be a Sony Digital Cinema projector business today.”

i can't help but wonder how long they will decide to stay in the home theater projector marketplace, as I presume much of the R&D for their home projector line was trickle-down from their cinema projector line.

Sony to Stop Manufacturing Digital Cinema Projectors
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post #2 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 11:17 AM
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While the cinema market could have an effect on the home market, I doubt Sony would get out all together. They can always buy imaging devices from another manufacturer if needed.

Could this cinema news be a result of the virus and the possible decline of theaters?
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post #3 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 11:40 AM
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***Sony can't go the way LG Display has with significant returns and replacements of OLED panels and components. It's a business model that will lead to financial ruin. Interesting point about the decline of theaters. Yes, COVID-19 has had a major impact, but "total theater attendance fell 4.6 percent from 2018 to 1.244 billion last year, the National Association of Theatre Owners disclosed Friday. That's ahead of 2017's recent low of 1.236 billion but still marks a steep drop from 1.301 billion last year."(Jan 17, 2020)

I think the theater decline is here to stay. Especially with AVS Forum Members who have built their own dedicated theaters with Dolby Atmos sound. Quite frankly - - I enjoy my smaller 75" TV and previously, a 100" projector screen with superior sound to any theater I've been to in the last couple of years. Maybe Cinema will catch on with younger movie goers but I'm not so sure about the older crowd. It used to be that your local theatre was the ONLY place to go to get that "big screen" feeling and better sound system. That's not the case anymore. For me, the popcorn is cheaper, the picture is clearer, I don't have to drive or be in any line and I can pause the picture any time I want.

And Sony's direction? I think they are "all in" on MicroLED or as Sony calls it - - Crystal LED. It's the true OLED killer and configurable to your exact space requirements. The real question is when it will be commercially available at a price point that is competitive with other offerings in the market.
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post #4 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 12:41 PM
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Sony has a really cool color filtered replacement for the sony 5000 I herd the term vw-10000, it will do 10k lumens and p3, anyone that saw their vw-5000 based rs-608's super pristine low noise prototype for cinema will appreciate how good the next projector will be, there will be a couple floating around for demos in Autumn. SONY will not leave the home cinema market, especially with this projector.

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post #5 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
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The big question here is SXRD.

All SXRD chips have been failing for pretty much the same reason for fifteen years now.

They could make a case for continuing development for theater projectors and letting that benefit the home market, but now the only realistic move for them to make if they continue their home/office projector line is to transition them to another imaging solution, either JVC's D-ILA (if JVC would sell them any) or DLP.

We've seen Sony make this kind of move before with their embrace of OLED, so it's not unthinkable that future projectors would be say D-ILA with Sony processing the same way their OLED TVs use LG panels.

Regardless, they are going to be losing their key differentiator so it will be interesting to see if their business model brings in enough revenue to continue in that space; I don't think most consumers care if the projector uses SXRD, D-ILA or DLP as long as the picture looks good (though they'd need to go three-chip DLP to avoid bringing rainbows to many, but I don't think DLP can achieve the contrast D-ILA and SXRD can.)

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post #6 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post
Sony has decided to exit the digital cinema projector business for reasons familiar to many Sony home projector owners:








i can't help but wonder how long they will decide to stay in the home theater projector marketplace, as I presume much of the R&D for their home projector line was trickle-down from their cinema projector line.

Sony to Stop Manufacturing Digital Cinema Projectors
Yet, there are still some people who still refuse this issue ever really existed to any meaningful extent.
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post #7 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 03:38 PM
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The 10,000 lumen version of the 5000 has been talked about for over four years now, hope to see it but human lifespan starts to come into play at some point. It has also been rumored for about a year that Sony will be getting out of projection all together.

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post #8 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DavidHir View Post
Yet, there are still some people who still refuse this issue ever really existed to any meaningful extent.
I mentioned elsewhere that for me, the most interesting part of the article is it answers the question I always had, which was why Sony‘s cinema projectors weren’t seeing these issues with their SXRD chips.

The article makes it clear they were seeing the same issues, but Sony Pictures had decided to foot the bill to have the imaging chips in each projector replaced annually.

That’s an insane amount of money to spend just to protect the reputation of the hardware, but it also goes to show that at some point they realized there is no possible fix for the issue, or they would’ve implemented it instead.

I just don't see where are the minimal number of projectors Sony actually sells into the home theater market would make it worthwhile for them to continue in that space, especially as all projector engineering would now need to be done for just those few models.

Certainly R&D for the laser phosphor models is now likely at an end.
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post #9 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CP850-CLED View Post
Sony has a really cool color filtered replacement for the sony 5000 I herd the term vw-10000, it will do 10k lumens and p3, anyone that saw their vw-5000 based rs-608's super pristine low noise prototype for cinema will appreciate how good the next projector will be, there will be a couple floating around for demos in Autumn. SONY will not leave the home cinema market, especially with this projector.
I would LOOOOVE to get this Baby when it becomes available.
Perfect last projector before I get a LED WALL if my business survives COVID
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post #10 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post
The big question here is SXRD.

All SXRD chips have been failing for pretty much the same reason for fifteen years now.

They could make a case for continuing development for theater projectors and letting that benefit the home market, but now the only realistic moves for them to make is if they continue their home/office projector line to transition them to another imaging solution, either JVC's D-ILA (if JVC would sell them any) or DLP.

We've seen Sony make this kind of move before with their embrace of OLED, so it's not unthinkable that future projectors would be say D-ILA with Sony processing the same way their OLED TVs use LG panels.

Regardless, they are going to be losing their key differentiator so it will be interesting to see if their business model brings in enough revenue to continue in that space; I don't think most consumers care if the projector uses SXRD, D-ILA or DLP as long as the picture looks good (though they'd need to go three-chip DLP to avoid bringing rainbows to many, but I don't think DLP can achieve the contrast D-ILA and SXRD can.)
Most projectors Sony sells are LCD. Epson hasn't done much with its Reflective LCD either. Epson still has a sizable imager business. Issue is most third party makers don't make projectors anymore, they get their stuff from Coretronic and Delta, LCD Sanyo left that business, and thus brands get DLP. Epson has been buying most 3LCD imagers for its own projector business for years now.

Sony hasn't been able to keep up with integrated RGB LASER light sources either, stuck in blue pumped laser diodes/chips combined with phosphor. The imagers lacking makes perfect sense for not developing this.

With solid state lighting source(s) one could look into UV free light as well. Not likely, but technically an option.

This leaves the flight forward as the only option. Subsidize some C-LEDs to get them in front of the eyes of Hollywood. Instead of subsidizing projectors.

NEC also sold its visual division to Sharp. Not that it was making the big projectors anyway, those were assembled by Delta Associated Company Digital Projection International in the UK. The same DLP pioneer that spun out of the Rsnk Corporation (or was it Rank Cintel by then) and provided me with the first DLP demo back in 1997. It went (effectivey) bankrupt, and was acquired by IMAX. It was let go without developing the IMAX DLP. The Kodak deal didn't lead to the 3D IMAX projector later, so now there's the second generation Barco build/designed IMAX DLP.

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post #11 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Most projectors Sony sells are LCD. Epson hasn't done much with its Reflective LCD either.
All of their home theater projectors are SXRD, not LCD and not DLP.
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post #12 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 06:19 PM
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And you were speculating what are the options in case SXRD is no longer a viable option. There's another option besides DLP.

Is the Sony HT Projector business even profitable? Can it continue to produce and develop projectors as a stand alone venture? I am asking, I have no info it isn't or it is.

@Art other Japanese manufacturers/vendors left the business years ago, Sharp and Mitsubishi. The ones still in it have a strong position in the commercial market segments where projection is still holding on. But NEC sold its complete division to Sharp, i.e. Hon-hai.

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post #13 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
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That's the big question; with their Cinema division doing the R&D perhaps, but as a stand-alone business unit, I can't imagine so.

Sony sells into the business projector market as well, but almost all of those are WUXGA LCD projectors.

JVC sells their HT projectors into the business and pro integration markets as well.
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post #14 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post
That's the big question; with their Cinema division doing the R&D perhaps, but as a stand-alone business unit, I can't imagine so.

Sony sells into the business projector market as well, but almost all of those are WUXGA LCD projectors.
Yup that (and Canvas/C(rystal)-LED)'s what Sony shows at ISE. I can't remember when it last showed an SRXD publicly at the show. Well the UST was shown. And there was the SRX-R105 launched at the show back in 2005;-).

The HW series of HT projectors are/were also LCD this was before Sony went completely upmarket with SXRD only projetcors for the HT segment.

On the other hand basic research has been completed, so no real capital lay-out there.
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If the cinema projector division ceases to be, then hopefully all those resources can be poured into advancing cost effective tech for video walls both commercially and hopefully the same trickle down to the home market at prices more reasonable than now, since digital displays over 100" seem to be quite slow in advancing enough for even modest high end home theater budgets.
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post #16 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Actually, virtually all of the staff of those divisions have been let go.

Despite demonstrations, I can't imagine the LED wall concepts will catch on until they come up with a better way to address the issue of LED failure.

People are used to seeing projected images in movie theaters, I don't think most people would be good with seeing dead pixels on a movie screen.

Sony will continue to make replacement parts for currently shipping cinema projectors through 2027, so the transition won't be instant, but it's clear SXRD is effectively dead now.
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I would LOOOOVE to get this Baby when it becomes available.
Perfect last projector before I get a LED WALL if my business survives COVID
Yes I have been concerned about you. Wish you and your business well my friend!
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post #18 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 07:09 PM
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Query - although we think of Sony as a Japanese company, to what extent are their projector parts sourced from China, and if so, could this also be a contributing factor due to parts availability and/or cost increases? And to what extent might plant closures and protective measures due to coronavirus affect manufacturing costs and profit margins where this might be a contributing factor? And then add to this the question of cinemas overall closing somewhat and thus existing cinemas if they require new projectors why wouldn't they obtain them from existing defunct cinemas at bargain prices?
Especially if/as multiplexes downsize to lesser theaters per multiplex.

In short, the industry analyst's opinion re why Sony is exiting commercial cinema market is his opinion and there may well be much more to the story in terms of the real factors behind this decision.
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The analysts in the source article cite the inherent unreliability of SXRD chips is the root cause.

From my original post:

Quote:
One long time industry analyst said, “I’ve been expecting this for a long time. They have a liability issue with their projectors due to the technology of the imaging device. The ultraviolet light from the projector’s lamp slowly destroys the imaging device, and the projected image loses color. The solution is to replace the imaging devices once a year or so. But this is expensive.”

Sony Pictures is no longer willing to underwrite the hardware replacement program, so something had to give.

If theaters acquired used projectors from those closing, they had better be Barco or Christie projectors or they would be stuck in the same SXRD panel replacement loop, and I doubt Sony's panel replacement program extends to secondhand purchases.

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post #20 of 59 Old 05-05-2020, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post
The analysts in the source article the inherent unreliability of the SXRD chips is the root cause.

From my original post:




Sony Pictures is no longer willing to underwrite the hardware replacement program, so something had to give.

If theaters acquired used projectors from those closing, they had better be Barco or Christie projectors or they would be stuck in the same SXRD panel replacement loop, and I doubt Sony's panel replacement program extends to secondhand purchases.
Exactly. There will be theater closings with Barco and Christie projectors available. And Sony no longer being willing to underwrite the hardware replacement program may be at this time a result of contributing economic factors that I discussed above.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post
The analysts in the source article cite the inherent unreliability of SXRD chips is the root cause.

From my original post:




Sony Pictures is no longer willing to underwrite the hardware replacement program, so something had to give.

If theaters acquired used projectors from those closing, they had better be Barco or Christie projectors or they would be stuck in the same SXRD panel replacement loop, and I doubt Sony's panel replacement program extends to secondhand purchases.
Why does a decision to stop subsidising the replacement of panels in commercial projectors (which must be extremely costly) automatically translate to no more HT units?

The consumer market is less demanding (as a rule) and it is nigh on impossible for home users to demand cheap panel replacements every year. Added to that, commercial cinemas get more use than basically all home units and are doubtless not treated as a 'cherished purchase' either so that harder usage must also factor in to the frequency of replacement.

I will be watching this with interest, but even less competition in the home cinema market is not a good thing.

I wonder what people on here will argue about when all you can get are JVC's?

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Basically I don't understand why a consumer would buy a Sony projector now when the imaging chips at the heart of it have failed for the same reasons in literally every other application in which they've been used.

It was easy to amortize the cost of development of imaging chips across their cinema projector line with trickle down benefits coming to the home theater projector in line. I have a hard time believing their home theater projector line generates enough revenue to warrant continued investment.

Other companies like JVC sell the equivalent of their home theater projectors into the business and simulation marketplaces as well; Sony doesn't do that.

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I wonder what people on here will argue about when all you can get are JVC's?
There will still be Wolf Cinema, and, of course given the price range for this particular board, people who install Barco and Christie projectors in their homes.
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post #23 of 59 Old 05-07-2020, 12:51 AM
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Other companies like JVC sell the equivalent of their home theater projectors into the business and simulation marketplaces as well; Sony doesn't do that.
Ummm, yes they do. Need to get your facts straight. Have you heard of their VPL-GTZ range? They are just like their JVC equivalents in that they use the same chassis as the prosumer versions but with interchangeable lenses etc.

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Ummm, yes they do. Need to get your facts straight. Have you heard of their VPL-GTZ range? They are just like their JVC equivalents in that they use the same chassis as the prosumer versions but with interchangeable lenses etc.
My apologies; I spent a fair amount of time digging through the Sony Professional website and just came up with all their 3LCD WUGA boardroom projectors like the VPL-FHZ90L and VPL-FHZ131L.
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post #25 of 59 Old 05-07-2020, 03:08 AM
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Yet, there are still some people who still refuse this issue ever really existed to any meaningful extent.
I think I'm on my forth Sony SXRD projector and I never had the problem but I guess that's because I replace the projector on average every three years and the new ones are always significantly better... the current one being native 4K and It's on the third bulb.

That said... My first projector was a Sony VPH 1271 CRT Projector in 1999 and I have loved pretty much every minute of the last twenty years with Sony projectors. They are fantastic.

I think though that I'm ready for a fixed panel replacement and I'm just waiting for some type of 100 inch micro led type of thing that seems like it's immune to problems and lasts longer than I will.

Sony VPH 1271 (1999), Sony VPH G70, Sony VW60, Sony HW30, Sony HW45, Sony VW285ES. .. maybe my days of projector loving are coming to a close... it's been great.


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post #26 of 59 Old 05-07-2020, 04:22 AM
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The commercial SXRD projectors pump out 15,000 - 20,000 lumens. Ten times the amount of light that goes through home SXRD panels. The amount of blue chip degradation directly correlates to the amount of light going through the panels. Commercial projectors have their blue chips replaced about once every two years. So you might expect a home SXRD projector to last at least 10 years before starting to deteriorate.

One caveat, the uniformity and gamma drifts a lot along the way. Commercial cinemas have their uniformity and gamma calibrated every 6 - 12 months. Ideally a home cinema would have its uniformity calibrated as well but I've not seen the gear for anything except commercial projectors.
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Originally Posted by dcinematech View Post
Commercial projectors have their blue chips replaced about once every two years.
Interesting. Nevertheless, may I ask you where this info comes from ? How do you know that ?
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post #28 of 59 Old 05-07-2020, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post
My apologies; I spent a fair amount of time digging through the Sony Professional website and just came up with all their 3LCD WUGA boardroom projectors like the VPL-FHZ90L and VPL-FHZ131L.
Hey, no probs.

A snippet from a little while back....
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post #29 of 59 Old 05-07-2020, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian Hampton View Post
I think I'm on my forth Sony SXRD projector and I never had the problem but I guess that's because I replace the projector on average every three years and the new ones are always significantly better... the current one being native 4K and It's on the third bulb.

That said... My first projector was a Sony VPH 1271 CRT Projector in 1999 and I have loved pretty much every minute of the last twenty years with Sony projectors. They are fantastic.

I think though that I'm ready for a fixed panel replacement and I'm just waiting for some type of 100 inch micro led type of thing that seems like it's immune to problems and lasts longer than I will.

Sony VPH 1271 (1999), Sony VPH G70, Sony VW60, Sony HW30, Sony HW45, Sony VW285ES. .. maybe my days of projector loving are coming to a close... it's been great.


-Brian
I concur.

If you tyhink about the second statement there, no manufacturer traditionally wants a product that will out last the customer, but with the world going the way it is going, I think that much longer lasting and better made (and probably more expensive as a result) products will come back into the fore.

I remember our first Sony Trinitron TV cost an absolute fortune, and was a real considered purchase, but I had persuaded my Dad to spend a bit more (which is funny as he never normally succumbed to my pleading) on the TV and it lasted two decades before it was sold on *and* it was still working.
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post #30 of 59 Old 05-07-2020, 05:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcinematech View Post
The commercial SXRD projectors pump out 15,000 - 20,000 lumens. Ten times the amount of light that goes through home SXRD panels. The amount of blue chip degradation directly correlates to the amount of light going through the panels. Commercial projectors have their blue chips replaced about once every two years. So you might expect a home SXRD projector to last at least 10 years before starting to deteriorate.
The lumens aspect is a good point as well.
It is interesting how it is always the blue chips that fail. I have replaced one in my VW60 recently, but it now throws a lovely picture again. Over 11,000 hours on it too over 12 years or more!
Attached is a picture of it before replacement and also a picture from a daytime TV show that was on just after I replaced it. I hadn't tweaked any of the picture settings at that point it was just a straight panel replacement.

Do you happen to know why it is the blue chips go and the others don't? Is it UV that is the culprit? You would think they would devise a filter or polarizer or suchlike that would mitigate that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcinematech View Post
One caveat, the uniformity and gamma drifts a lot along the way. Commercial cinemas have their uniformity and gamma calibrated every 6 - 12 months. Ideally a home cinema would have its uniformity calibrated as well but I've not seen the gear for anything except commercial projectors.
Indeed it does, but I think that holds true with a lot of tech as well does it not?

I am intrigued as to how one could calibrate uniformity and how does one get hold of the stuff needed if it should be required? Any info on that anywhere?
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“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up."
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