TCO: behind the badge

TCO, a label designed to demonstrate quality and environmental credentials, introduced a dedicated certification programme for projectors late last year. Annika Overödder, the company’s business area manager for projectors, explains what integrators can expect from TCO badged products

For almost 20 years the TCO certification program has worked with the ICT industry in a bid to ensure products have a minimal impact on the climate and natural environment, while still offering good performance.

TCO Development, the company behind the TCO certification, launched in October 2009 a new certification program for projectors; ‘TCO Certified Projectors’.

A third party verification
Each product model achieving the TCO Certified is fully tested by an accredited and independent test laboratory in order to verify that the product actually meets the requirements. After this verification the product can be TCO certified and use the TCO Certified label.

This third party verification made by an independent test laboratory qualifies TCO Certified to a Type 1 eco label. In contrast to "green" symbols or claim statements developed by manufacturers and service providers, a Type 1 eco label is awarded by an impartial third-party in relation to certain products or services that are independently determined to meet environmental leadership criteria.

A lifecycle perspective on the environmental requirements
In the process of developing criteria for the TCO certification program environmental factors are taken into consideration at every stage of the product’s life cycle, from production via usage to recycling.

The environmental requirements in the TCO certification program cover the following areas:

The production must be ISO14001-certified meaning that work is focused on reducing the impact of production on the environment and continuously increasing environmental performance in production.

Social responsibility
TCO Certified requires that brand owners must work actively to improve working conditions in the manufacturing of the product. This includes issues such as professional rights, working hours, reasonable wages and forced and child labour. TCO accepts the fact that manufacturers operate in accordance with a number of different systems, including reporting according to GRI (G3 level), Global Compact (COP Report) and production in SA8000-certified factories or active membership of EICC.

Hazardous substances
The TCO certification includes requirements to reduce the use of substances that are hazardous both to health and the environment. Excluded substances include lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium and cadmium. These heavy metals are toxic – they do not decompose but remain in the ground and bioaccumulate in the food chain.

Flame retardants must be added to ICT products for reasons of safety but a TCO certified product should not contain bromine and chlorine-based flame retardants. Halogens such as bromine and chlorine may affect fertility and the immune defence system. In addition, the use of non-halogenated flame retardants is restricted in order to limit the impact on health and the environment. With a TCO certified product, you can be confident that flame-retardants such as PBB and PBDE are not included.

The requirements of the TCO certification go beyond RoHS (Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment), the EU directive that regulates the use of chemicals in electronic products.)

Requirements are set for energy-saving settings and fulfil the EuP directive. TCO Certified for projectors has requirements for energy consumption in on mode and that the product can be set in an eco mode to lower luminance, reduce noise and energy consumption and increase the life of the lamp.

The large volumes of electrical and electronic waste is a growing problem. An important requirement is, therefore, for ICT products to be designed for recycling in order to reduce electrical waste. Projectors with the TCO Certified label must be prepared for recycling through requirements for material marking, the number of plastics must be low and should be easy to separate. Light bulbs containing mercury must be easy to remove and recycle.

The TCO certification is fully in compliance with the EU directive WEEE, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, for handling electrical and electronic waste.

The useful life of a product
The TCO certification requires a one-year guarantee for the product and three-year guarantee for spare parts.

Usability requirements
TCO Certified is not only an eco label, the certification also covers requirements on usability.

TCO Certified Projectors is the result of more than two years of user investigations, industry collaboration and criteria development. TCO Development saw the demand for a third party projector certification based on user inquiries and lack of tools in the marketplace to help buyers choose the right projector for their needs and adjust it for optimal picture quality. The results of TCO’s investigation showed there were some key areas of confusion and lack of knowledge among projector buyers, specifically:

• Product specifications typically present an extensive list of values that most people have difficulty understanding.
• Most values presented are measured with the projector set to its extreme to maximise any single value. This means that the values are not presenting accurate information, making product specifications impossible to compare between products.
• The challenge of trying to understand how to combine the values to choose a projector for the intended use.

Bearing in mind that good picture quality and low noise are key factors when choosing a projector, TCO Development used its experience of picture quality evaluation from the certification of displays when developing requirements for projectors. The visual ergonomic criteria that are considered important need to be within a certain range to produce a high quality picture. Another important parameter to consider when buying a projector is in what ambient lighting condition the projector will be used. Based on these issues our conclusion was that most users know how big a picture size they want to have and what purpose the projector will be used for, such as watching films or for presentations in a conference room.

To simplify the projector choice TCO Development has introduced a new concept TCO Image Size – the maximum area for which the projector has been tested with all important visual ergonomic criteria considered relevant for producing a high quality picture.

TCO Image Size is tested for two ambient lighting conditions a) office and b) video. For the office test, the ambient lighting level is higher, simulating an office environment where people might be taking notes during a presentation. For the video test, the room is darkened, but still light enough for people in the room to find their way around.

The key visual usability criteria for TCO Certified Projectors:

Light output
- The light output is the base for the size of the TCO Image Size.

Black level - the base for the contrast ratio. A deep black level is essential for showing pictures with detail and dynamics during dark scenes.

Contrast - Contrast ratio is a value for the difference between the image’s deepest blacks and lightest whites. High contrast gives a dynamic picture.

Native display resolution - Ensures a pixel density that gives an image quality without poor rendering of details etc

Luminance uniformity - Ensures that the picture has uniform luminance. A non-uniform luminance can locally affect the contrast and legibility of the picture.

Colour temperature - A quality parameter used to determine how we experience a colour.

RGB colour - Red, Green and Blue are projector’s primary colours. A wide colour range is important if a projector shall be able to show a wide variation of colours, which is important for showing differences in detailed colour pictures.

Colour uniformity - Patches of colour variation on an active white or grey image could reduce the contrast locally, be disturbing and affect the legibility, colour rendering and colour differentiation.

Colour greyscale- A well tuned colour greyscale is the basis for good colour rendering. A picture with colour tints in the picture has colour hue deviations between the greyscale steps.

Noise - another key quality parameter when choosing projector. TCO Certified for projectors require measurement of Sound Power level, according to ISO 7779. TCO Development has chosen the A weighted Sound Power level with unit Bel(A) [B(A)] as it can be used to compare different products, independent of brand or size.

All TCO certified projectors have low electric and magnetic fields.

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