Eight Considerations for Selecting a Projector
By: Steen Sorensen
In today's economy, budget is often the first consideration for any purchase. However, purchasing a projector that does not meet the needs is not a wise use of funds even if it is priced within a budget.
First consider how and where you plan to use the projector. Will it be a fixed installation or does it need to be portable? Is the main usage in your sanctuary? How large a screen will you need so the person in the last row can see and read your message? Can the ambient light conditions be controlled or must you overcome some adverse direct sunlight from windows?
What is the main purpose for the projector, video, data or both? Video content is typically 25% lower in brightness than computer data and will require a brighter projector.
4. Room Configuration
Long narrow rooms require larger screens than a short wide room where the audience is closer to the screen. On the other hand, narrow rooms can use a screen that reflects more of the light back to the audience, whereas screens used in wide rooms require a wider angle of dispersed light and will require a brighter projector.
5. Brightness & Contrast
Projector brightness is specified in Lumen, and contrast is a ratio comparing the brightest white of an image to the darkest black. In most cases, brightness is more important than contrast. There are very few applications when a projector is too bright. For most applications with normal room light, the rule is to have at least 50-60 screen lumen/square foot and half that if the room is dark.
6. Aspect Ratio
Until recent years, both video and computer images were the old TV format, 4:3 screen ratios. Today, with the advent of High Definition (HD), most video and computer images are now wide screen format 16:9 or 16:10 ratio. When considering a new sanctuary facility or future projector replacement, wide screen format is the way to go.
There are currently two main affordable projector technologies on the market. DLP (Digital Light Processing) and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) Each offer their unique advantages and disadvantages. Depending on application and personal preference, both are capable of displaying great images.
DLP is often preferred when the content is primarily live video. Images from a high end DLP projector will closely resemble the images we see at the motion picture theaters. Small, low-cost, portable DLP projectors are often bright with high contrast ratios, but are usually weak in color saturation and do not always accurately display the colors the same as on a computer monitor.
LCD is the older of the two technologies and is very similar to the flat screen TVs and computer monitors except the image is magnified and projected on a large screen. LCD projectors are best known for their high color saturation and accuracy. Computer-generated images are accurately displayed as seen on a monitor.
Probably the most important consideration is the support provided by both the manufacturer and the selling dealer. A professional sound and video dealer can offer valuable insight and critical analysis by doing a site survey. When necessary, they can arrange product demonstrations to determine the best projector for your application and budget. Always consider the manufacturer's brand, warranty, and history of supporting the products they sell.
Steen Sorensen is national sales manager for EIKI International, Inc., www.eiki.com.