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WHAT IS THE RIGHT PROJECTOR FOR YOUR PRESENTATION?

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In recent years, the multimedia LCD or DLP projector have become increasingly common audio visual devices.  As technology, enhancements have increased, projector prices have also decreased.  

Projectors are used in a variety of situations for numerous different purposes and in each circumstance, or presentation application, you may require a projector with the appropriate technical specifications to make sure that an optimal image is projected.

The differences between the varying projectors can be subtle and choosing a projector which  matched to the application and can save you money is important.  You also need to make sure that everyone in your audience, whether it be a crowd of sports fans in a bar, to a group of children in a classroom, have the best possible viewing experience for your budget range.

The presentation application you will need your projector will determine the weighting when choosing the projector for the job.  Important factors that warrant careful consideration are projector brightness, portability, bulb life, keystone correction facilities, the environment that the projector is going to be operated in (smoke and dust considerations, ambient light are important factors), resolution, the cost, contrast ratio and networking connectivity of the projector, and how secure it is when in place.

This ProjectorSourceCanada.ca article will provide the most common situations projectors are used in, and highlight the specific factors that should be given special consideration.  These environments include:

  • Classrooms for education
  • Houses of worship
  • Corporate boardrooms and training facilities
  • Personal home theatre set ups
  • Bars, clubs and pubs

Each type of application will have a series of key considerations that should be focussed on when deciding on the projector to purchase. 

Education Institutions

The Cost of the Projector

Price will always be an important consideration for most education boards and schools.  A great quality image is priority for students, but most education institutions will simply not require a projector capable of displaying cinema quality movies and images. 

While buying the projector is an expensive initial cost, the cost of ownership is less, as the projector will be used every day while in the classroom. Frequent maintenance of the projector is also highly recommended.

One of the main expenses after purchase will be the maintenance of the projector, including frequent replacement of the lamp that the projector uses to produce the image. These replacement projector lamps can cost upwards of $300 each. To reduce some of these costs it is a good idea to invest in a projector that offers longer lamp lifespan when the projector is running in economy mode. While this may increase the cost of the projector, it will save money in the long run.

The Projector''s Lens - short throw and long throw

Projectors in classrooms are frequently positioned very close to the screen. This is because it allows for the projector to be in reach and controllable by the teacher, as well as way from class students who may be tempted to tamper with the projector or block the light projecting from it. This can also produce problems however, if the presenter gets in front of the projector when trying to point out images on the screen.

Consequently, projectors with a built in a short throw lens are highly recommended for classroom applications since these short throw lenses allow for a large size image to be projected on to the projection screen from just a short distance away. This has the added bonus of preventing light from shining in the teacher''s eyes. If a standard lens is used then the projected image may appear too small to be fully visible, or blurry and out of focus at larger image sizes. It may also cause the teacher headaches when facing the projector due to a large amount of light being directed into the presenter''s eyes.

Projector Resolution

The three main projector resolutions, in ascending order of quality are SVGA, XGA, and SXGA. If the projector is solely used to present static images such as PowerPoint presentations or text documents then SVGA is usually suitable. However, since SVGA projectors are steadily becoming less common, and XGA projectors will render better quality images and better detail, while being only marginally more expensive, investing in an XGA projector instead of an SVGA can be a smart choice. XGA is a must if the projector is being used to display more detailed images like mathematical formulas since these would appear blurred when using an SVGA resolution. The high resolutions SXGA projectors offer are generally unnecessary for typical classroom applications.

Projector Brightness

Since the majority of classrooms have a great deal of ambient light which cannot be fully controlled, it is important when choosing a classroom projector to get a projector that is capable of outputting an extremely bright image so it will be visible to all. To achieve this, a projector with an ANSI Lumens rating of 3,000 Lumens or more is recommended. A further factor to keep in mind is that the larger the screen, the greater the projector brightness required.

Projector networking facilities

If the projector is being used in a large education faculty with many other projectors, it is very wise to invest in a projector with wireless networking capabilities. This is because wireless projector networks allow for IT departments to supply technical support and try to fix any problems remotely from their office, instead of having to manually take the projector down from its mount and figure out what the problem is. Furthermore, projectors on a network can be monitored for the number of hours the lamp has been used, as well as prolonging the projector''s lifespan by ensuring that the projector is turned off at certain times, e.g. after 5pm and at weekends, which can help to save energy as well -- good for the environment, and your wallet!

Projector add-ons

A good way to energize classroom learning is to use a SMART interactive white board, which is simply a large screen, similar to the appearance of a regular white board, that is controllable by direct touch inputs. This works by projecting the image on the computer onto the SMART Board that can then function as both a monitor and an input device. Users are able to make inputs using their finger as if it was a mouse, which many teachers feel makes learning a more involving and interesting experience. Many interactive white boards allow the user to "draw" on the screen using special markers and then store this user inputted data in the computer. Thousands of lesson plans and interesting software applications exist for SMART interactive white boards, which can make learning in the classroom fun as well as informative.

Visualizers, also called document cameras, are another great addition to a classroom''s projector. A visualizer is essentially a high tech version of an overhead projector, under which the teacher can place real 3D objects and have them displayed on the screen in very high detail. Traditional overhead projectors were limited to clear acetate OHP sheets, but now with a document camera a text book can be placed under the visualizer and the pages displayed in crystal clear focus on the big screen.

Corporate environments

Projector Brightness

Since the majority of corporate boardrooms are very well lit rooms, the brightness of the projector is an extremely important consideration for office projectors, especially since it is not often an option to give the presentation with the curtains or blinds closed. The greater the brightness of the projector, the more visible it will appear in environments of high light ambience. This is particularly helpful for roaming presenters who may be forced to give presentations in unpredictable environments as it gives them the peace of mind that wherever they deliver their presentation, the audience will be able to see it clearly.

Projector Resolution

The type of resolution office projectors require is highly dependant upon what their intended purpose is. If the main material projected is PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets or other forms of static text then an XGA resolution will suffice. However, if the projector is designed to project extremely precise images or show High Definition content then a projector with a WXGA (720p) resolution is recommendable. In corporate boardrooms where making a good and striking impression is of utmost importance, a projector with a high resolution is usually the best option.

Projector Inputs

One of the most common applications of projectors in corporate environments is using the projector to project a PowerPoint presentation, spreadsheet or word processed document. It is therefore clear that a projector that can connect with a laptop or computer is an absolutely critical requirement when investing in a projector for use in the office. The input you should be looking for on the projector specification list is VGA (Video Graphics Array) since this is the type of input installed in nearly every modern laptop produced.

Projector Portability

As presenters in corporate situations often find themselves on the road and presenting in many different situations, the portability of the projector is an important factor to consider. Currently there are projectors available that weigh no more than 3 pounds, though often a smaller size comes at with the sacrifice of the quality of the image projected.


Portable Projection Screens

To ensure that a good quality screen is always available to compliment the projector, a portable pull up screen can also be used in conjunction with a portable projector to guarantee good image quality wherever the presentation is being shown.

Home Theatre

Projector Resolution -- HD video signals

In home theatre set ups the primary consideration for the projector is the quality of the projected image. One factor that drastically influences image quality is the native resolution of the projector. A higher resolution means that a greater number of pixels are displayed on screen, thus forming a sharper looking image. Projectors can output images in the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio resolutions of 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p.

Since High Definition content is strongly recommended for a home theatre set up, and that this type of content uses a minimum resolution of 720p, a projector with the same or higher resolution is necessary. If the home theatre will only use standard definition DVD content, and you do not plan on using High Definition content in the future then a cheaper 480p projector will suffice.

Regardless of the projector resolution, the resolution of the content is equally important. A lower resolution image projected with a higher resolution image will still have a low quality. For best results, match a high-resolution projector with a high-resolution source.

Projector Contrast Ratio

As image quality is of central importance to home theatre viewers, contrast ratio is obviously of very high importance also. The contrast ratio figure will determine how deep the colours in the picture will appear. A typical contrast ratio is 800:1, which technically means that the darkest black on screen is 800 times brighter than brightest white. Simply put, to ensure the highest quality image, a projector with the highest possible contrast ratio is desirable. Projectors suited for use in home theatres should have a contrast ratio of at least 2500:1.

Projector Connectivity

Obviously one of the most important considerations when buying a projector is the number and type of inputs that it accepts. If you are buying a projector to project Blu-ray images, it is no use if the projector does not accept cables that will carry signals from the Blu-Ray player to the projector. This applies to other input devices too. Confusingly, there are currently multiple different video inputs and outputs on video devices and projectors alike, none of which are guaranteed to feature on both units. It is therefore advisable that the best way to initially narrow down your search for potential projectors is to consult what type of video connector you intend to use it with. As only digital video cables can accept high definition video (the format of video you should intend to be displaying if you have a home theatre) then Component, DVI, HDMI or VGA should be the input you are looking for on your projector.

Projector Screen size

Since both films and videogames alike are now outputted with a 16:9 aspect ratio, it is logical to buy a 16:9 aspect ratio screen. In terms of how big a screen to use, it is important to remember that bigger is not necessarily better since you may have to crane your neck upwards if the projection screen is too large. Instead, consider the throw distance of the projector and the distance away from the screen where you will be sitting. A short throw projector lens will be able to render good quality, large size images from close to the projection screen.


Projector Brightness

Since home theatres are normally situated in rooms in which the light ambience is usually fully controllable, the brightness of the projector should not be the most important consideration. Closing the curtains and turning off the lights is probably the best way to make the cinema experience more immersive, rather than having a well lit room with a very bright projection. Measured in lumens, the brightness projectors offer can range from 700 to 20,000 lumens in extremely high end projectors. For use in a home theatre, a projector with a lumens rating of over 1,000 should be sufficient. Anything in the higher levels projects such a bright image that it may be too bright to focus on properly and could cause audience members to experience headaches.

Houses of Worship

Projector Lens Throw distance

Churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship often prefer to have their projectors mounted in a fixed position at the back of the room, far out of sight of the audience. While this is aesthetically pleasing, if a standard type of projector lens is used in a situation where it the projector is located more than 30 feet away from the projection screen, then the image may appear too large to be clear and in focus. Consequently, it is a good idea to invest in a long throw lens that will ensure the image projected retains a smaller size that will be able to fit neatly onto the screen without any overlap.

Projector Brightness

Since churches are often very bright environments where the light ambience is uncontrollable, a very bright projector is strongly recommended. This will allow everyone to clearly see the projected image, regardless of how bright the setting is. Unfortunately brighter projectors are more expensive, so if the light ambience is controllable then to save money a projector with an ANSI lumen rating of above 1,500 is suitable. On the other hand, if there is a great deal of light a projector with an ANSI lumens rating of over 2,500 is advisable.

The Cost of the Projector

Projectors that can display higher quality, brighter images will come with a higher price tag. If a very bright projector is needed, to ensure that all the projected images can be clearly seen in well-lit environments, then this will come at an extra cost. In regard to the image quality needed, since in houses of worship the main application for projectors will be to display static text such as hymns, it is probably not necessary to invest in an expensive High Definition projector. Obviously this will depend on the size of the room and therefore the size of the screen that is required.


Projector Resolution

Since projected image quality is not of critical importance in houses of worship, a High Definition resolution projector is not a necessity. However, to make images and text appear clearly without blurring, a projector with at least an XGA resolution is the best choice, especially since this is the standard most modern computers use. While SVGA is the lowest quality and cheapest resolution projector, choosing this kind of projector can often result in some undesirable image pixilation and is thus only advisable if working on a very limited budget.

Bars and Clubs

Projector Brightness

As bars tend to be darkened environments during operating hours, a projector with a high brightness rating is not always necessary for the image to appear clearly to the audience. Typically, bars should look for a projector that has an ANSI lumen rating of at least 1,500.  However, bars that are either brightly lit, or that have a high degree of ambient light, or that have a projector positioned unusually far away from the screen, will need to consider a projector with a higher ANSI lumen rating to ensure the image does not appear washed out.

Great quality HD images

Since the number one reason for installing a projector in a bar or club is to draw the public in, making sure that image projected is a high quality, great looking display is of paramount importance. This means that High Definition content is a must, and so a projector with a WXGA (720p) resolution and HDMI connectivity is recommended.

Projector Bulb Life

Since bars typically use projectors to display images on large widescreen projection screens for extended periods of time, it is a good idea to purchase a projector that has an economy mode available. This way, when displaying important events such as key sports fixtures, the regular brightness mode can be used, and then during less busy periods the operator can switch to economy mode, conserving bulb life but displaying a less bright image. Otherwise the frequent bulb replacements will become bothersome and extremely costly.


Projector Keystone Correction

Given that the layout and interior design of bars, pubs and clubs is often very customized, projectors often end up positioned behind undesirable obstacles such as air conditioning units and wall columns. However, thanks to the keystone correction ability, projectors can correct images if they happen to be positioned at unusuall or crooked angles. By squaring the projector image, it will be projected as if the projector was positioned in the ideal perpendicular position and will not appear skewed or trapezoidal.

Dust and Smoke in the Environment

Unfortunately, one of the main problems that can decrease a projector''s image quality as well as reducing its lamp life span is dust and smoke, two things that are often fairly common in bars. The reason for lamp life being affected is primarily because dust and smoke will gradually build up inside the projector, which means it will start to cover and eventually clog the intricate electronic mechanism housed inside the projector. Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) projectors have a tendency to be more adversely affected by the conditions inside bars and clubs than Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors. This is because DLP projectors contain sealed optics where as LCD projectors use open liquid crystal panels. Often times these panels become covered in the nicotine residue from cigarettes, a substance that is extremely difficult to remove without damaging the panel itself.

Unfortunately, standard projector warranties do not cover for failure due to smoke related issues. Realistically, projectors working in a smoke intensive surrounding will only work for two years before they need to be replaced.

The best way to reduce damage to a projector in a smoke filled environment is to place the projector in a surrounding box, commonly known as a smoke box. Not only will this minimize the amount of smoke the projector is exposed to, it will also decrease the amount of noise heard from the projector''s fan. It is an extremely worthwhile investment since a smoke box can add at more than two years to the lifespan of a projector, and will also increase lamp life because the clogging of projector filters is reduced.

Projector security

Smoke boxes can increase the security of the projector if they are lockable. If a smoke box is not being used, the projector should be purchased along with a security projector mount. This can be anything from a relatively low profile metal bar which locks the projector to the mount, or an actual cage with encloses the projector and prevents its removal from the mount.

We hope you enjoyed this article by Projector Source Canada.  For more information or to purchase a display and projector for your business or home, visit us online at http://www.projectorsourcecanada.ca

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