Projectors Guide – A Quick Guide on Choosing a Projector

Date Posted:10 August 2015 


This is a projector buying guide

If you’re looking to buy a projector, you’ll probably find it hard to choose one out of the over 300 models that are available in the market. There are far too many options out there, which is why it is so difficult to make an informed choice. This quick guide will help you select a projector that meets your requirements.  

Essentially, projectors 4 main factors are considered while comparing projectors:

  • Brightness
  • Resolution
  • Aspect ratio
  • Weight

Then there are some secondary factors to be considered, such as the contrast ratio, warranty and lamp life. 
 

Projector Brightness
Projector brightness is measured in ANSI (or American National Standards Institute) Lumens. The Higher the ANSI Lumens are, the brighter the projector is. That brings us to the question – how bright should the projector be? Projector brightness depends on the following factors:
 

Light in the Room
The question is, can you control the light in the room? Projectors are at their best in dark rooms. It may not always be easy to control the light in the room. That’s why, if you’ll be using the projector in a room with a lot of lighting or one does not have enough curtains to block out sunlight, you may want to choose a bright projector.
Ideally, you should use your projector only in a dark room. This is the best way to get a home cinema experience that everyone looks for with projectors. But if your room has more light, then choosing a brighter projector is the best option.
 

Number of People in the Room
The problem with having too many people in the room is that the picture needs to be bigger so that everyone can see it. For this, the projector needs to be kept at a decent distance from the screen. This would affect the brightness as the light gets spread over a larger area. So, if you’ll be having more people in the room, go for a brighter projector.
 

Application
You will need a brighter projector to project graphs, text and other material from the PC, as your audience will want to read all the details. There has to be an ambient light as well for note taking and communication.
Videos and TV on the other hand do not need a bright projector. In fact, using a bright projector for a home cinema would reduce the image contrast.
 

So, what level of brightness should you go for when it comes to the Projector?
Less than 1000 Lumens
Ideal for home cinema applications as these are mostly used in dark rooms for an optimal picture quality. Any business projector with less than 100 Lumens brightness should be used in darkened rooms.
1000 to 2000 Lumens
Perfect for use in education - in classrooms or training rooms. Projectors in this category require diminished lighting, but do not require a totally dark environment.
2000 to 3000 Lumens
Perfect for large conference rooms, classrooms and portable use where there is natural lighting and a high level of ambient or natural lighting.
More than 3000 Lumens
Perfect for large venues such as auditoriums, churches, concerts that require large screens and bright environments.
 

Projector Resolution
The resolution refers to the number of pixels that make up an image. The higher the number of pixels, higher the resolution and sharper and more detailed the image. To select the right projector, we compare their native resolutions, which refer to the actual number of physical pixels.
 

Which Projector Resolution to Pick?
To make the right decision on this, you need to know a concept called scaling. Scaling means converting various input resolutions to the native output resolution. This always causes a loss of picture quality and the picture that comes out is not as sharp and detailed. Scaling happens when the projector is either of lower resolution or higher resolution. That’s why you should attempt to match the projector resolution to the resolution of the source – to that of a laptop that is used, for example. This way you will get images that are both sharp and clean. 

Other factors to consider are:

  • For a 'PowerPoint' type application, you don’t need a high resolution projector. Something like SVGA should be enough
  • For numeric data presentations such as 'Excel' spreadsheets etc., that require clearer images you may want to go with XGA
  • For highly detailed technical data, such as, say, engineering drawings, high end photography, you may want to go with SXGA or UXGA.
  • If you’re using a widescreen computer or want a projector for home cinema, you should go for a widescreen projector, one that matches your computer resolution or video quality. 

Projector Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio refers to the ratio of the width of an image to its height. You can choose from projectors with 4:3 aspect ratios (computer monitor shape) and a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen TV shape). 
Projectors with 4:3 aspect ratio are used for business, to project computers.  16:9 projectors on the other hand used for home cinema, to project DVDs. They are used to project widescreen computers as well. 
Regardless of which aspect ratio a projector belongs to 4:3 or 16:9, it is meant to be compatible with other aspect ratios. You can switch between the different formats by using an option on the projector menu. However, as far as possible the projector has to be kept in the same format as natural its picture resolution.

The Right Projector Aspect Ratio to be used depends on the application:

  • For business presentations, training, classroom application etc. That use projections from a standard computer, you should choose a 4:3 projector.
  • For a widescreen computer, a 16:10 projector is ideal.
  • If the projector is to be used for home cinema or to project DVDs, a 16:9 projector should be chosen. 

Projector Weight

Normally, projectors that are powerful and technologically advanced are also quite heavy.

  • If you take your projector with you to make presentations at various destinations, you would be better served with a lighter projector, one that is portable and weighs no more than 1 to 2 kg.
  • If you don’t move the projector a lot from its location and need a powerful device, you can go for a heavier projector, one that weights between 2 to 5 kg.
  • Now, if you’re going to install the projector, then its weight is not really an issue.

Hopefully you will have come to a more informed decision about which projector to choose based on the factors discussed above -brightness, resolution, aspect ratio and weight.

To determine which one projector is the best, you should also consider the following....

Technology
You can choose between two types of technology - LCD and DLP. They give great results and can be used with any application.
DLP projectors work best with video applications as they provide a smoother or softer image and LCD projectors are perfect for data driven applications or computer related projection as they are brighter and sharper.

Contrast Ratio
Contrast ratio of a projector is the ratio between white and black. The higher the contrast ratio, the higher is the ability of the projector to display all the colour details, even those that get otherwise ignored. Also, such projectors are able to tolerate room light better.

Inputs and Outputs
If you’re looking for a projector to be used with multiple computer or video inputs, you should go for a dual input projector. That would save you the trouble of switching input every time you want the source changed – which is a major inconvenience during a presentation, especially if the projector is installed.

Lamp Life and Price
The projector’s lamp will need to be replaced depending on how often the device is used. This means replacing it every few months to a few years. Most projector lamps last for an average of 2000 hours. The most expensive ones last up to 5000 hours. So whether you buy a lamp or not depends on how affordable it is.

Audible Noise
The fans used in projectors causes them to produce some noise. Normally this is the same as the noises produced by a normal computer. Some projectors are very quiet and produce a low 25dB sound. If you need the projector for a home cinema, then it’d probably be worth it to go for a low-noise projector. 

We hope this guide helps you choose your next projector at Projectors Australia


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