Why All OEM-Inside Lamps Are Not the Same

Original inside.  OEM Bulb Inside. “100% Authentic Lamps”.  Platinum Lamps. Manufacturer Original Lamps…

Buying a new lamp can be confusing when you have to wade through the marketing campaigns and creative wording.  These are all terms used to describe the type of bulb used in the lamp for your projectors.

This wording could lead you believe these are the same as the manufacturers and in some cases they are.  In other cases they are not.

My goal by the end of this post is to help you understand what you are buying and to make sure you get the best value for your money.

Let’s use a BenQ SP840 projector as an example.   BenQ supplies a lamp inside BenQ SP840 Proejctor with 5J.J2N05.011with a specific bulb.  That bulb is from one of the Six OEM Bulb manufactures in the world. Those manufacturers are Philips, Ushio, Phoenix, Osram, Iwasaki-Eye and Matsushita. No other company makes an original projector lamp. Any other brand of bulb is a compatible. Not worth dwelling on compatibles…

Lets take a step back and look at the beginning of the 5J.J2N05.001 lamp to fully understand the situation.5j.j2n05.011 with Philips 300W bulb inside.

Most manufactures do not make their own Lamp housings.  They contract to another company who has the factory and molding equipment. That factory may make lamps for multiple companies.  In this case the lamp is molded by an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and then labeled as a BenQ part. When the company is designing the lamp with BenQ, they decide on a bulb manufacturer that fits the parameters of the performance they want to get out of the new lamp and projector.

In this case the bulb manufacturer used was Philips.

Philips was the first manufacturer to patent Short Arc Mercury Vapor lamps back in the late 70s.  The original use was for Printer Circuit board manufacturing. Since the market for PCBs is much smaller than projectors, they found the technology was better suited than the original bulbs which used metal halide technology.

Once BenQ and their OEM decided on the Philips UHP bulb, they then design the housing to properly support and align the bulb. Upon completion of the design the OEM manufacturers all the new lamps that BenQ then ships in their SP840.

The OEM also makes quite a few extra and has them boxed in BenQ boxes with the BenQ label.  That way , when a lamp fails under warranty, BenQ replaces it with a BenQ OEM Lamp.  That is what you should get if you see a listing for OEM lamps. It should be in the manufacturers box with the manufacturers label.

These same companies make a lot of the aftermarket versions of the same lamps.

This brings us to the aftermarket lamps. Some vendors list OEM Bulb or 100% Original Bulb when that is not necessarily the case. Some companies will substitute a bulb that is made by one of the main 6 companies in the aftermarket and while its still technically an Original bulb, its not a suitable replacement for any number of reasons.

If your BenQ SP840 needs a new lamp and you look around you will see people selling them with Osram bulbs inside. It is true that Osram makes a bulb of similar specs and the same size but it is not the same. The focal point of the arc tube is in a different place.  While the bulb will light, and display an image the image may not be as bright as the Philips version. It also may cause stray light leakage.  This isn’t Osram’s fault.  They designed the bulb to run properly in another lamp where the Philips may have a focal point miss-match.  The simple reason for this is cost.  It makes it look like you are getting the same-as-the-original when in reality you are not.

The BenQ scenario I explained above is far from exclusive to BenQ. In fact every manufacturer except Panasonic have their lamps made that way.  They all use multiple bulb brands (never in the same model).  Next Ill explain what I mean about Panasonic.

Panasonic is the only company who makes their own bulbs and lamps.  They are owned by Matsushita Heavy Industries.  They are a huge Japanese company who have the capabilities to make their own bulbs and lamps.  Panasonic is the one company you cannot buy aftermarket with their own bulbs inside(unless it ‘fell off the truck’).  Even Epson uses an OEM company called Iwasaki-eye and Philips to make their bulbs.  Panasonic recently bought Sanyo and brought them in under the Matsushita umbrella. I fully expect to see Matsushita bulbs in new Sanyo projectors now.

Up until recently(past 5 years or so) that leaves the consumers only able to buy OEM replacements or Compatible replacements.  Nothing in between.

Fortunately a few years ago Ushio and Phoenix decided it was time to make a replacement that was custom designed to work in place of the Matsushita bulbs. Rather than take an existing bulb and cram it into a reflector, they actually designed the gas mix, the arc tube and refectory to properly recreate the same specs that the Matsushita bulb had. They did it in such a way that did not violate any patents. This gave us a very reasonably priced option for an out-of-warranty projector to use for replacement lamps.

While this was successful, sometimes the vendors who sell these take advantage of the situation and will try and cram a Phoenix into an Epson lamp because the Phoenix bulb is $20 less than the Osram that would work better. They take the stance that, “it fits so it ships” when in reality,  that is doing us a huge disservice.

There are many other aspects to substituting a lamp. When Ushio made their Matsushita replacement, they made sure the heat generated would be dealt with the same as the original. Sellers who do not know what they are doing substitute bulbs they are not checking for things such as cooling or airflow.  They don’t check the focal points of the light or the startup voltage required. Sometimes they will even use a 200W bulb in place of a 150W bulb.  It’ll light, but it’s going to fail early.

Another issue is Counterfeits. I have personally seen counterfeit Ushio bulbs being sold as original by other less than upstanding companies.  Fortunately the amount of counterfeits in the USA are quite low and I don’t see a reason to waste your time ranting about the obvious.

Osram,Philips, Ushio

Pureland Supply only sells Original Bulbs in our lamps. We work very hard at sourcing the lamp with an Original bulb that was used by the OEM company who made that lamp for BenQ(for instance). We don’t stop there though.  We will go as far as purchasing a SP840 and running that lamp for 2000 hours and checking the brightness, CRI, and temperature while operating.  We will go back to our supplier and have them update designs if they are not up to par. We will even go as far as manufacturing our own parts if it means the lamps will be as close to your original as possible.

As an example, we tested 3 different bulbs for the Panasonic ET-LAD60 projector lamp.  We tested Ushio, Phoenix and Osram in their housing inside a projector.

  Total testing took 3 weeks to run all of them.  At the end the data showed the Ushio and Phoenix to be as bright(in some cases brighter) than the Matsushita OEM that was used as a control.

 

Average Lumen output was 3500 for the Matsushita, 3700 Lumen for the Ushio and an average of 3550 for the Phoenix.  After verifying the timer modules were correctly programmed we were able to sell them with confidence. 

 

Where does this leave you the consumer?  Hopefully with a little more insight into where your lamps come from and how to know what is what.

To help further, here are 5 tips to keep in mind while shopping around for your lamp.

  1. Know your bulb type and wattage.  Look at the back of your bulb inside the housing. It will list the specs. Refer to our “How to Identify Your Projector Lamp” for specifics.
  2. Make sure the company you are shopping with has that bulb listed under the lamp type. They may or may not have the bulb wattage listed. If not, do not hesitate to ask them for that info. Any decent company will share that with you.
  3. If they are substituting one original brand for another, be skeptical. Not all substitutes are bad or incorrect mind you, but if you see an Ushio in place of an Osram, I would be very skeptical for the simple reason that Ushio bulbs  generally cost more than Osram bulbs. Again, ask them.  If you were to ask us, we could tell you why we use what we use and what testing we did to confirm its use.
  4. Be wary of any advertisement that uses glowing (no pun intended) for the bulb name.  ie. “Platinum or Gold Lamps”                                                If you need to make a fancy names for your lamps, then maybe it’s not that great of a lamp(just my personal opinion). If it’s not one of the 6 names above, that makes the bulb a compatible and those are a waste of your time and money.
  5. Warranty Status. Unfortunately in the USA, the warranty on your projector can be violated if you use anything other than an OEM  lamp as a replacement. Once your warranty expires you are free to use whatever you want.  Until it expires your warranty can be denied if you were to need service and sent in your projector with a non-OEM lamp.

Hopefully this enlightened your knowledge on why not all Original inside lamps are the same.

I also expect you know how committed Pureland Supply is to carrying a good product. We would much rather sell you a lamp that will perform well for a long time so that you will come back than go for a cheap sale.

You do get what you pay for and if the OEM’s trust the bulbs they use, so do we.

 

 

 

 

 

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What Makes a Projector? (Part 2)

LCD Optical Block

Last time we spoke I talked about what makes up a DLP Video Projector.  How it works as well as its Pros and Cons.  From this point forward, I will be discussing what makes another large segment of the projector market, LCD Projectors.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is a subtraction display technology versus DLP, DLP Rainbow effectadditive display technology.  DLP Adds layers of colors to make an image where as LCD blocks pixels to take away color for dark area.  One is not better than the other. One of the main advantages of LCD is the lack of a color wheel.  This means one of DLP’s main detriments(rainbowing) is not a concern.

LCD uses 3 colored filters to break the light into Red, Green and Blue.  These are then re-combined before final projection.

LCD Projectors were the first projectors on the market.  They quickly replaced the older and antiquated CRT (cathode ray tube) Projectors.  Their portable size and surprisingly bright image( for the time) was a welcome change.

You would think this type of technology was rather new, but in reality its almost 35 years old.  The first ‘Light Valve’ was pioneered in 1968 at RCA by John van Raalte.  It took until 1984 for him to work out the issues such as being able to control the ‘light valves’ in a meaningful way for a projector.  Since each pixel is arranged in a grid pattern, there needs to be a way to address each pixel.  This also showed the first use of negating the ‘screen door affect’ of each pixel being too obvious and looking like a grid of color.

LCD Panel

It wasn’t until the mid to late 1990s that LCD computer projectors became more common place. Before then, the most common form of LCD projector was a flat panel that was set atop a common overhead projector.

Once the LCD digital projector became common place it rapidly advanced.  At first the contrast was an issue at low brightness’s.  The implementation of an auto iris resolved that.  This Iris physically blocks the lamps light beam at a specific level to balance the light needed to display the color required by the video.

Both LCD and DLP Projectors use lamps and lenses. Everything in between is quite different.

The lamp in an LCD projector starts off by focusing its light through a lens in the front of the lamp. This lens ensures the maximum amount of light hits the first lens of the projector.  The lens ‘ job is to focus the lamp light onto the the next piece of glass which is a color prism.  This prism reduces the light to its core colors of Red, Green and Blue.  The now filtered light is passed through a set of mirrors and multiple Dichroic filters.

LCD Optical Path

The 3 filters further filter the lights to single color channels. Each of the 3 core colors have their own light path and their own LCD panel. Directly prior to passing through the LCD panel the light is balanced by 2 polarized glass panels.  These are adjusted in the factory so that each color is of equal intensity. This is critical because once the light passes through the LCD panel it is now 1/3 of the picture.  It is combined with the other 2 colors to form the full color image.  If any of the 3 colors are more dim or bright than each other, the image will look out of balance and not vivid.

The Lamp in an LCD projector is different as well. POA-LMP125 LCD projector lamp with Ushio bulb inside

The lamps usually have an optical lens rather than a filter lens as in a DLP lamp.  There is no need to block the UV and IR as it leaved the lamp.  The UV is already blocked by the glass, but the IR is not going to affect a color wheel so it can be filtered out after it leaves the lamp.

Around 2010 DLP projectors were surpassing LCD in quality but now the differences can be minuscule in the image quality.  LCD is still quite popular and posses a slightly large part of the home theater market but only barely.

Either projector can serve you well for most purposes.  Once type of lamp is not necessarily more expensive either.  Ideally you want to look at the picture.

If the image looks how you want it to look then LCD is the right technology for your home theater.  Maybe DLP looks better since it does have slightly deeper colors?  At that point it is up to your personal preference.  no matter which you choose you can get your lamp from us with the confidence that you are purchasing from a company who knows lamps.

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