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Advice for Picking a Computer Projector

Tom Terrific

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Here's what I wanted to know:

I'm interested in buying a DLP projector, but I'm confused by all the different options. I could spend $2,000 or $10,000. I could get 500 lumens or 1500 lumens. I could get 800x600 or 1024x768. Is weight a consideration? What's your advice based upon practical real-world experience?

From my own research -- Tom Terrific

My personal experience has found that on the low end you can spend as "little" as $2000 for a good projector -- the InFocus LP400. This is the projector my wife's company uses and I found the 800x600 resolution to be fine. It used to cost $3000, so prices are falling.

I found three nice sites with lots of projector information and help. Check them out.

-- Dave P

Always make sure that the native resolution of the projector matches the native resolution of your computer. For example, if your PC is XGA (1024 x 768), make sure that the projector is a native XGA projector. Manufacturers will tell you that a lower-resolution projector will handle a higher-resolution output from a computer, but the way they do it is to drop pixels from the image and it never looks very good.

In terms of brightness, if you want to be able to present without turning the lights down in most rooms, get a projector that is at least 800 to 1000 lumens. I have a 1000-lumen projector and I almost never have to dim the lights.

-- Bill W

Just went through the same exercise. Found this web site very helpful: http://www.projectorcentral.com/

Much depends on how much you will be traveling, what you already own to carry one, and how big the venues are. Don't get fooled by overstated lumen ratings. Some mfg's do it.

In addition, contact a local vendor and have them set up a range of models for you. Spend a few hours practicing with each. I have an excellent local vendor in Sacramento that did this for me.

I decided on the Boxlight CP-13t because it has a PCMCIA card that will hold a PowerPoint presentation, so that I don't HAVE TO take a laptop with me. When I go for just one night, I've found this to work very well, logistically. This model above has digital keystone correction, which I find very handy. It's also under $4000.

You can get a great deal on LCD's for under $3000 if you can live without some features. Check out http://shopper.cnet.com/, look up Monitors/Video Projection.

-- Brad S

I've not yet migrated to the DLP type projector, however when I do, I'll go with the hottest (most lumens) and the highest resolution I can afford.

500 lumens will work in a typical hotel banquet room if you kill the lights immediately in front of the screen (a problem because you will very likely be dimly lit yourself), and you may want to dim the other room lights as well. 1500 lumens should allow you to use the projector in just about any venue with the room lights at full intensity. The other issue on intensity (lumens) is that you will be able to throw the image further (also depends on the lens system). 500 lumens runs out of steam pretty quickly. My 600-lumen projector will throw an image 20-30 feet. I do not like using it in auditoriums, where I should be able to do fine with a 1500-lumen projector.

Resolution -- 1024x768 is becoming the new standard for video displays on laptops. My new Dell is a 1024x768 and I have to downscale the video output (put up a poorer image) to accommodate my older projector. The higher-resolution projectors will actually be easier on the eyes. The audience will be less fatigued and will make your already dynamic presentation even easier to receive.

-- David Z

I have a 3M 7045 or some such number. It's worth about $5000. It's got 1400 lumens. Mostly it sits in the corner of my office, although I've taken it home, connected it to my DVD player and impressed the socks off of my friends by projecting a 5' vivid image on the wall.

Here's what I've discovered: there are so many projectors out there, available to your clients, that it's the route I go now. The only time I use my own projector is when I'm speaking to a Rotary Club or to a school. In those cases, the client is essentially local and I drive there and can put it in my trunk. Depending on your market and fee level, your clients should have access to a projector and, as an alternative, you can have them ask their members if one of them could bring one.

If you have a Mac, you may want to get a short extension cord just in case. All laptops now have the VGA out port, but the Mac case sometimes blocks the metal bracket you find on some cables. Or, get a Dremel and just carve it out.

Rentals are wacko on these things sometimes. I've heard of rental fees of $500 a day! Most hotels have arrangements for such rentals. I've learned that you need to give the meeting planner plenty of warning that you need a digital projector and you need to state a specific lumen level. I insist on a minimum of 1000 lumens. Anything less than that require the lights in the room to be dimmed. The wonderful thing about the 1500+ lumen projectors is you can work with lights up full.

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