While big screen TVs have long been a staple in most entertainment rooms, nothing seems to bring out interest like watching sport or movies on a data projector.

Whether it’s the “movie theatre at home idea” or just the idea of a really, really big screen, data projectors still deliver the big screen effect that even large panel TVs can’t.

So given how cheap projectors now are compared to what they were five or even three years ago, why are the replacement lamps still so expensive? In Australia, it’s still common for replacement lamps to sell for over $300, $400, $500 a pop. They do last for longer than they use to – upwards of 4000 hours – but compared to the average lifespan of a flat-panel TV, projector lamps usually don’t come close.

However, Epson’s latest EB-1700-series projectors should start to turn a few heads – while the projectors themselves look quite reasonable with the emphasis on “thin”, it’s the replacement lamp costs that should gain some serious interest.

Epson is retailing replacements for all four of the new projector series for only $119 in Australia, making them easily the cheapest lamps available. While Epson didn’t mention any details about the lifespan of the lamps in its release on the new projectors, we checked up with Epson’s Australian PR and found out the lamps are very decent.

The E-TORL lamps are rated at 4000 hours on high power and up to 5000 hours in low power mode. Given that on its widescreen models “low” means at least 1600 ANSI Lumens, that’s an exception result from such a cheap lamp. That works out to be less than 2.5cents per hour in low power mode.

And it should start to make other projector vendors sit up and take notice.

Could we finally be on the cusp of the industry delivering ultra-affordable replacement lamps. Let’s hope so!

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