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Projector buying guide

Projector

Thinking about adding a new projector to your office? Here’s some helpful information that will help you make the right purchase.

First, a few definitions

Lumens = Brightness.
The more lumens a projector has, the easier it is to see in a bright environment. Some manufacturers break out Color Lumens and White Lumens. If they do, make sure that you look at both.

Resolution = the clarity and crispness of the image projected.
A general rule of thumb is the higher the resolution, the better. Here are the most common resolution types:

Business Projector Resolution:

  • SVGA
  • XGA (1024x768)
  • Widescreen XGA or WXGA (1280x800)
  • Widescreen Ultra XGA or WUXGA (1920x1200)

Home Theater Projection Resolution:

  • 720p (1280x720)
  • 1080p (1920x1080)

Contrast Ratio.
The difference between the brightest white and the darkest black. The higher the ratio, the greater the contrast.

Next, a few questions for you to answer

Where will your projector be located?

  • Interior conference room (these rooms tend to have the least amount of ambient light). Suggested Lumens—at least 1000.
  • Home Theater setup with some ambient light. Suggested Lumens—at least 1500.
  • Conference Room with exterior windows and blinds to control light. Suggested Lumens—at least 2500.

What will your projector be used for?

  • Primarily non-video business presentations (where the projector will be kept in one room): Consider an SVGA or XGA projector.
  • Primarily business but with considerable video: Consider XGA, WXGA, or WUXGA based on your presentation needs and budget.
  • Primarily business with portability: Portable projectors or new PICO projectors. PICO projectors are meant to be ultra portable, but typically have much lower brightness and resolution than standard projectors.
  • Primarily Home Entertainment: Consumer models with 720p or 1080p resolution.

What is the distance from the projector to the screen?

  • Long Throw: Typically 8+ feet between the projector and the screen.
  • Short Throw: Typically 3-8 feet between the projector and the screen.
  • Ultra Short Throw: Typically less than 3 feet between the projector and the screen.

    Room size and shape are both important to the type of throw you want. Most manufacturers will provide recommended distances from projector to screen for their models—there are also several calculators available online that can help you determine the best distance for the size and shape of your room.

What Projector Technology do I want?

There are three major projector technologies. Each offers different advantages.

DLP—Digital Light Processing. This technology generally allows for a much smaller projector. DLP also allows for higher contrast (darker blacks, and brighter whites). Better than LCD for watching video or playing games, but expensive relative to other technology.

LCD—Liquid Crystal Display. Historically LCD projectors have brighter colors, sharper images, and are more energy efficient. Colors will sometimes blur with motion. Most affordable relative to other technology.

LCoS—Liquid Crystal on Silicon. The most popular technology in Home Theater projection; is great with motion, such as video games and movies. Also known for its clarity in projecting difficult images such as medical CATs, MRIs, and X-Rays. LCoS projectors can be pricey, but should be in the same price range as DLP.

Additional considerations:

  1. Where will your projector sit? Many people prefer to ceiling mount their projector. You can also place it on a conference room table. In the case of Short throw projectors, they can sit on a cabinet near the wall, or there are special wall mounts as well.
  2. What will you be projecting on? There are various sizes and shapes of projection screens.
  3. Don’t forget the bulbs—always have an extra (or two) on hand.
  4. Sound—does the projector have an onboard speaker? If so, is that enough for your sound needs?
  5. Mobility—If you are planning on moving this projector around frequently, check the weight.
  6. Aspect ratio—Many projectors offer Wide Screen varieties. This is generally more important for viewing movies and playing video games.
  7. Do you plan to view 3D content? Many, but not all projectors are 3D compatible. If this is important, make sure that the projectors you are looking at provide their 3D compatibility information.
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