Software, tablets… let’s talk about what we really want: more awesomer projectors.

The significant remaining design challenge with projectors has long been the lamp. Lamps are hot, lamps fail and have to be replaced, lamps are loud, and the enclosure necessary to accommodate the lamp bulks up the size of the projector.

The solution: take the lamp out of the projector. That’s what the upcoming Projectiondesign FR12 will do, says a report by Gizmag from last week (via Engadget). Anton aka vade turned me on to the news, and I can see why. The lamp fits into a lovely, roomy rack-mountable housing of its own. The projector itself becomes much smaller and makes no noise, and can be located 30m from the rack. (A Liquid Light Guide run makes the connection.)

For digital artists, this means your work no longer needs to be accompanied by the woosh of a fan. For clubs and other installations, projectors can fit into smaller spaces and lamp replacement is no longer a big deal. For live visualists, even, I could imagine this opening up some new setup possibilities.

The Norwegian Projectordesign has an impressive track record with trends, with the first commercially-available SXGA, 1080p, and WUXGA DLP projectors, and the first portable, high-res active 3D stereoscopic projector.

Assuming the FR12 specs are similar to the non-remote F12, the F12 DLP does 1920×1200, 1080p, and 1400×1050 HD modes (so both 4:3 and 16:9 and 16:10), a range of lenses, a 3.5 kg magnesium case, and 3500-3900 maximum lumen brightness. Get two of them, and you can do optimized, matched stereo 3D.

Of course, for live applications, we still badly need LED light sources. LEDs should radically increase longevity – no more buying bulbs every other year that cost half what the projector cost you – and decrease total cost, as scale increases. They’re also cooler and lighter. The convergence of those trends could finally make it easy for visualists to buy more of their own projectors, and just like musicians with their own PA or DJs with their own decks, that might finally make visualism a widespread activity. For their part, Projectdesign also jumped into LED illumination last year. I’m not convinced the LED revolution is going to take hold right away in any lighting segment, though. It seems the brighter LED sources just aren’t quite ready for prime-time – or large-scale production – just yet. I’ll be watching, though.

Now, was anyone, oh, hanging around at the ISE 2010 trade show this month to find out more about the FR12 and other new products? (Product pricing and availability were expected to be announced this week.)


Want an indication of how cool a vendor projectiondesign is? Check out the thoughtful array of ports on the back of their F12 (the non-remote version of the FR12 above). Note: these ports would presumably all be available on the rack unit on the new remote model; there’s nothing on the projector itself except for the line to the rack.
  • rs

    This seems like a nifty intermediate solution, but I see the true future as the continuing miniaturization of LED technology.  I bet China comes up with "full-power" projectors the size of iPhones in 5 years' time.

  • Steve

    very cool. never really crossed my mind. this could be soooo handy!

  • from that picture it still looks like you plug shit into the projector… wouldn't it make more sense to have all the connections on the base unit?

  • Peter Kirn

    @Leon: No, the second picture is of the older unit, which doesn't have a remote.
    They didn't post pictures of the back of the rack unit – it's brand new hardware – but there's no room on the projector for the connections. 😉 So yes, you'd definitely, definitely be plugging video input into the RACK unit, and then the ONLY connection to the projector unit (the one with the lens on it) is that liquid … thing.
    Liquid cables… awesome.

  • mmm, what is a Liquid Light Guide?

  • Jon Harris

    Similar to a fibre optic cable I suppose. These are a great idea for installers in museums and galleries etc. If only I could change one of my lamps with out having to touch the projector.  Its such a good idea in so many ways.  In particular, exhibits that are lined up with high accuracy that have to be painstakingly realigned everytime they are taken down for a lamp change or a scaffold built everytime you want to get to the proj.  I suppose the limitation here is the length of the 'light pipe' and how far can the lamp be positioned from the actual proj

  • Great idea, but how affordable will this be.  I've seen Liquid light Guides sell for as much as $900 US per foot in the medical industry and these cables typically need replacing every 1000 hours or so.  This is not cheap technology so I hope they've come up with a low cost cable that works just as well.  This same company has a 700 lumen LED projector listed.  I think the future is LED and welcome any alternative to expensive and hot bulbs.  Time will tell, but I'm holding off on any new projector purchases for a few years.

  • Peter Kirn

    Yeah, definitely don't expect a cheap solution, though they must have improved cable longevity — that'd defeat the purpose if you didn't have to replace the lamp up where the projector was installed but *did* have to replace the entire cable run, obviously.
    Still, interesting technology just in terms of the cabling, if this is something that gets commoditized down the road.
    So, for the record, we're now rooting for better LEDs *and* Liquid Light Guide. 😉

  • I'm really glad to see Projection Design innovating, but I don't have the best experience with their products. Once you get everything running they're great, but there are some weird things I ran into last summer using an array of 6 in a cylindrical arrangement. Things like the lens shift being nonoperational on some of them (they were new projectors).
    @rs: even with LEDs you will have heat. And with heat you need fans 🙂
    @Peter: no, for the record we're rooting for lasers! 🙂

  • buggsie

    It looks to me like there's plenty of room on the projector for the connections.  Frankly, judging by the size of the lens and the buttons, the rendering of the FR12 is just an F12 with the LLG coming out.  The LLG even goes in the side, leaving the entire back free for all of those connections.
    Also, only the light source is in the base unit.  The DLP chip is still up in the projection unit. To have all the inputs at the rackmount, you'd still have to send data up to the projector.  The pic of the LLG don't seem to have data going with it, though the rendering of the side of the FR12 shows what looks like DVI going in next to it.  The pic of an installation shows splitting cables, though I think that might just be an install of F12s.
    I'd much rather have the LLG to deal with replacing than the lamp.  The LLG seems like a quick and easy plug, so you don't have to re-adjust the projector at all.  Replacing LLG might be a pain, but less likely to cause a serious issue with the installation/focus than moving the projector to get to the lamp, or jiggling it around when getting it in or out.
    Also, more pics of the FR12: <a href="” target=”_blank”>