Data Projector Buying Guide

Dec 23, 2011

Whether you’re teaching in a classroom, running a faculty meeting, attending a healthcare conference, part of a Fortune 500 company, or the owner of a small business, you’ll want to captivate your audience. Data projectors are often a presentation highlight, showing off your ideas in an engaging, easy-to-understand format. Best of all, many of the latest models offer affordability, fast setup, intuitive controls, and sophisticated design.

Published: September 16, 2010

For Corporate or Small Business Presentations

A strong visual component can make a boardroom or conference room presentation even more compelling. Projectors are an easy way to achieve that.

In the business world, it's important to have a projector that you can get a lot of mileage from—one that’s reliable, built to last, and doesn’t require lamp or dust filter replacement. Look for a model with an advanced LED light source, which is mercury-free and will provide more than 30,000 hours of use. Because every minute counts when you’re conveying information, find a projector with a “quick start” function, which turns on in less than 3 seconds.

Look for Ultra-High Brightness

A mediocre visual representation of your brilliant ideas just won’t do. Find a model with ultra-high brightness (one that works well even with only ambient lighting); crisp, sharp text; saturated colours; and rapid response. A contrast of 3000:1 is good, and a resolution of 1024 x 768. Another key feature to look for is “vertical keystone correction,” which fixes image distortion with the touch of a button. Also, a "short throw" is good for big presentations in a limited space.

Look for Quiet Operation

In terms of audio, built-in stereo speakers are useful because there's no hassle of hooking up external speakers. Yet another sound consideration, of course, is the noise of the actual projector—you certainly don’t want to shout above a noisy projector to make yourself heard. Aim for a model with quiet operation (a sound level below 33dB).
Finally, an eco-friendly, RoHS-compliant projector is always ideal, helping you to stay “green” in the workplace and reduce your carbon footprint.

For the Classroom

A data projector is a practical learning tool and resource that easily pays for itself. You can find a number of outstanding projectors that are reasonably priced, and with an LED lightsource, the projector can last 30,000 hours—that’s approximately 20 years of use— ten times longer than a projector with a conventional lamp, which lasts only about 3,000 hours.

Look for a Portable Projector

LED provides bright, high-quality light, and that’s critical when you need students to easily view projections from any seat in the classroom or the school auditorium. Since some students have trouble paying attention in the best of circumstances, visual material should be accessible and vivid, even from the back row. In many instances, you won’t want to lug around a large, heavy projector, particularly if storage space is an issue. There are plenty of small model projectors that weigh four pounds or less.

Other features to look for in making your choice include quiet operation, easy connectivity for A/V devices, "blackboard mode" for projecting onto a black or green screen, and high-quality audio. If you are purchasing a lamp projector (3-chip LCD), be sure to find one with easy lamp replacement. And for hearing-impaired students, a projector with closed-captioning is important.

Look for “Economy” Mode

To save money on maintenance, look for projectors that offer an “economy” mode, which reduces power consumption, extends lamp life (typically to 5,000 hours), and has a standby feature. You’ll also want a model with an extended warranty and exceptional manufacturer service and support.

The benefits of integrating a projector into the classroom are clear: you’ll enjoy a more interactive pedagogical experience, and you’ll promote creative and critical thinking among students, who are excited by technology. With projectors in the classroom, students aren’t just sitting passively at their desks—they’re engaged, motivated, and stimulated.

And if your audience happens to be fellow faculty members or administrators, a projector may even inspire more dialogue among staff.

Portability

Sometimes you'll need to do a presentation at a moment's notice. If mobility above all is your main consideration, you'll want a projector that's compact and lightweight and with an efficient set up. Video and audio inputs will allow you to connect to a laptop, DVD player or digital video device. And buying an LED model means a mercury-free product that requires no special recycling.

If you're going from classroom to classroom, or city to city, you need something that's easy to install and control, with seamless performance regardless of location. There's no good reason for you to sacrifice power for portability. You should be able to find a projector that's sleek yet equipped with a range of features, including wide colour gamut, sharp contrast ratio, quick release legs, auto keystone correction, integrated stereo speakers, and an option to select between wide screen (16:9) and normal screen (4:3) size, depending on your needs.

Conclusions

Whatever the context for your projector use, one factor is critical: low cost of ownership. In today’s economy, where budgets matter more than ever, you need a product that requires little maintenance, something you won’t have to worry about replacing any time soon—and low energy use.

In today’s technology-driven world, how you express information makes all the difference. Your presentations will be enhanced by a reliable, well-designed data projector.

Whether interacting with students, faculty members, colleagues, or clients, there is no “best” projector for everyone. Determine which features you need most, and what fits your budget comfortably.

With a data projector, you can be sure that your ideas will always shine in the best light.