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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Business Projectors - Tips For Selecting The Right One

tips and trick, projector, hardware
ViewSonic PJD5122 SVGA DLP Projector -120Hz/3D Ready, 2500 Lumens, 3000:1 DCR
ViewSonic PJD5122 SVGA
Projectors have been tools in the arsenal of business professionals for decades. While their basic function hasn’t changed, new technologies in projectors are making it harder than ever to decide which one is right for a given situation. We’ll demystify some of the specifics for you to make it easier to find a perfect match

What Do You Need?

Projectors vary widely in price—from less than $500 to tens of thousands of dollars. If you outline your requirements up front, it’s easier to make the right decision. Some of the things to consider include:

Room size: What’s the farthest distance you expect to be projecting? A projector that offers good quality and legibility in a small conference or training room may be a failure in an auditorium.

Light vs. dark: Are your presentations always given in low-light or dark environments, or do you prefer a well-lit environment? The brighter the room, the brighter your projector’s image must be to overcome the ambient light. Portability: What form factor is important to you? New pico projectors weigh less than a pound but can project screens of 50-inch (diagonal) or more (with varying degrees of quality), making them easy to carry in a briefcase or on a plane. On the flip side, some projectors can be mounted to a ceiling or wall and permanently wired to an input source. Image quality: Do your presentations use small text the audience must read, or does closing the sale depend on making a good impression?

Input method: Do you need composite video or HDMI (high-def) inputs for use with DVD players, digital cameras, and other supported devices? Do you want wireless connectivity or network support for remote input?

Technical Considerations
The technical aspects of projectors can seem a little confusing at first. However, understanding the technology of projectors enables you to really target your search.

Projector brightness is measured in ANSI (American National Standards Institute) lumens. A lumen is a measurement of brightness relative to its perception by the human eye (as opposed to a measure of light itself). Due to wiggle room for “scientific interpretation,” one 2,000-lumen projector might be slightly brighter than another. Nevertheless, overall the system works reasonably well, so you can expect a 3,000-lumen projector to be noticeably brighter than a 2,000-lumen one.

Standard business projectors range from approximately 2,000 to 7,000 lumens (pocket and pico projectors offer far fewer lumens, in the 10 to 1,000 range). Brightness affects the distance, screen size, and sharpness of your display so it is a very important consideration.

Vivitek D510 2600 Lumen SVGA HDMI 3D-Ready Portable DLP Projector (White)
For very large, crisp displays in rooms with little to no lighting control, you’ll likely need a projector with 4,000 lumens or more. For smaller displays and darker situations, you can reduce the lumens considerably. Between 2,000 and 2,500 lumens is a common recommendation for average use, and 1,000 lumens or fewer (sometimes far fewer) is viable for small screens in small rooms.

Resolution & Contrast Ratio
The terms used with televisions and PCs are also valid with projectors. Resolution determines the number of pixels (dots of color) the projector can display. A higher pixel count increases the ability to display small text and other details. Most projectors can display higher resolutions than their rating, but clarity (especially for text) suffers. If you must buy a projector with lower resolution than your PC, change your PC’s resolution settings to match before you present. For more on resolution, see the chart in this article.

Contrast ratio is a measure of the relative brightness of the lightest pixel to the darkness of the blackest one. High contrast ratios provide a richer image with more depth. This is important for video and photography but less so for two-dimensional presentations such as slide shows.

Throw Distance
Throw distance is exactly as it sounds: the distance a projector can throw (project) an image of a specified size without negatively affecting brightness or clarity. Projector manufacturers quantify throw distance in terms of throw ratio (the throw distance divided by the width of the image). To calculate throw distance from the throw ratio, multiply the desired screen width by the throw ratio. Many major manufacturers offer throw distance calculators specific to their products.

Some projectors offer zoom lenses, and the throw range (minimum and maximum) changes with the level of zoom. The most expensive projectors support interchangeable (and expensive) lenses, which give you even more control.

Imaging Technology
At the present time, there are three main imaging types: LCD (liquid crystal diode), DLP (digital light processing), and LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon). Both LCD and DLP have improved considerably over the years, and both enjoy huge market share. LCOS is less common but has specific advantages, as well.

To discuss the underlying technologies of these would take more room than we have here. In terms of practical differences, LCD is a less expensive technology than DLP and produces very sharp details and accurate color for text and other flat elements. For video, low-end LCD machines can suffer from pixelation (visible pixels).

DLP is often recommended for video and photography. However, low-end DLP systems can have an unpleasant “rainbowing” effect. DLP systems are sealed units not susceptible to dust intrusion. Some DLP systems now use LED (light emitting diode) illuminators, which eliminates the need for replacement lamps. LCOS, generally priced between LCD and DLP, offers very smooth images but does not support the high contrast possible with DLP.

Final Thoughts
In addition to the major issues we have discussed here, you may want to consider a wireless remote. If projector placement is an issue, look for lens shift (the ability for an off-center projector to compensate for positioning). If you cannot afford the brightness you need, place your screen in the darkest part of the room and reduce ambient light near it. Finally, if you are on a budget, remember that quality, rich feature sets, and low price are rarely the best of friends. ▲

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