Unlike a camera, which welcomes in light, a projector casts light out to present images upon a screen. With the right combination of projector and screen, you can impress your audience with crisp, clear images and a professional presentation. Projectors can assist with a variety of tasks, including movie nights at home, important business meetings, PowerPoint presentations, and slide shows. If you don’t know how to choose a projector, use the tips below to find a device that meets your needs.
How to Choose a Projector
LCD vs. DLP
Most projectors use one of two technologies: liquid crystal display (LCD) or digital light processing (DLP). Although both produce sharp images and accurate colors, they have unique benefits. LCD projectors are brighter, produce sharper images, and can create vibrant 3D images. They’re also quieter and more energy efficient. DLP projectors, on the other hand, can provide a film-like display with smooth motions and high contrast. Compact, lightweight projectors often use DLP systems. Both types can use 3-chip technology to further improve the image quality.
Someday LED projectors will likely supplant both LCD and DLP devices. By using lasers to generate light, LED projectors offer superb image quality, durability, and longevity. Although they’re currently very expensive, cheaper LED projector models will likely emerge in the future, allowing everyone to take advantage of this amazing technology (source).
The amount of light a projector can emit determines its brightness (or light output). Although all projectors can produce enough light to project images in dark or dimly lit rooms, some can also produce quality images in rooms with more ambient lighting. Light output can also affect the quality of your image when you’re projecting an extra-large image or using a wall instead of a screen. Light output is measured by ANSI lumens, a measurement of light standardized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The price range of projectors is largely determined by the light output.
The term resolution refers to the degree of detail visible in an image, and it is measured by the number of pixels on the imaging chip (measured side to side as well as top to bottom). The higher the resolution, the more seamless and smooth the picture will appear.
The contrast of an image has a significant impact on the picture quality as a whole. To assess a projector’s picture contrast, you will analyze the contrast ratio spec: the difference between the whitest whites and the blackest blacks projected by the device. High contrast is ideal, because it allows you to achieve deep blacks and subtle color variations.
Portability and Placement
If you will frequently move your projector (from classroom to classroom, for example), or perhaps you just wish to rent a device for a few days, look into portable projectors. Not only are they incredibly small, light, and capable of producing a bright image, but they are available at a very reasonable cost per day. If you need an extremely bright projector, on the other hand, that can work in difficult settings and use a variety of lenses, you will likely require a fixed-installation projector.
In addition, you can decide whether to place your projector on a stable surface (like a table, bookcase, or a shelf) or mount it from the ceiling. Most projectors can be mounted with the proper equipment.
Just like a TV or movie screen, projectors come with various image formats: standard, widescreen, and cinemascope. Different aspect ratios suit different applications. For example, standard formats (4:3 aspect ratio) work well with classic films and PowerPoint presentations. Widescreen formats (16:9 aspect ratio) are recommended for HDTV and widescreen DVDs and Blue-ray discs.
The term throw refers to the distance between the projector and the screen. How far can the projector “throw” the image? A short-throw projector must be placed quite close to the screen, while a long-throw zoom lens allows the projector to sit at a distance away from the screen. The width of the image will change depending on the projector’s distance from the screen. This calculation, known as the throw ratio, is especially important if you will mount the projector in a fixed location.
All of the factors listed above will affect the cost of the projector. You can also decide whether you wish to purchase a projector or simply rent one for a limited period of time.
Once you know how to choose a projector, remember that you still need to select a screen. Screens come in a variety of sizes and styles, including free-standing, wall-mounted, and retractable. Although you could project onto a wall, a screen will provide a more clear and consistent image. Plus, it will show off the projector’s top-notch performance.
If you’re interested in renting or buying a projector, contact Southwest Audio-Visual today. We supply a variety of A-V products and services, including the sale and rental of top-quality projectors. Whether you want a light and portable projector or professional-grade equipment, we can help. To get started, please contact us online or give us a call at 417-887-4900 (Springfield) or 636-225-4327 (St. Louis). We would be happy to offer advice regarding how to choose a projector, and we can recommend specific products based on your wants and needs.