Projectors: those devices your teachers never knew how to use but still insisted on using them for their presentations and educational videos.
You want to buy one for school, work, or even to watch movies in a fancy setting at home. Here, you will find the most important things to consider before buying one.
Will you use the projector in a bright or dark environment? How much ambient light will the projector have to struggle against?
In projectors, the brighter, the better. A bright projector will work well in any environment. Brightness in projectors is measured in lumens, which is a modern way to calculate the amount of light projected by a light source.
If you use it in a small area with limited ambient light, you won’t need a projector with more than 1000 lumens.
If you need a projector for a home cinema, you will need one with 1500 to 4000 lumens.
If you want to use your projector in open areas with significant ambient light, get one with up to 5000 lumens.
2. Contrast Ratio
Contrast ratio is the ratio between the brightest color to the darkest color that a device can produce. If the contrast ratio of any device is 1000:1, it means that its brightest white is 1000 times brighter than the darkest black.
In any display system, like projectors, TVs, smart devices, and so on, the higher the contrast ratio is, the better. A high contrast in a projector means that the projected images and videos will have the utmost clarity and quality.
A projector with decent contrast ranges from 1000:1 to 5000:1 and even up to 20000:1, although most people will not need that much.
Resolution means the number of pixels per unit of area on a display system. It is used to judge the visual quality of any display system.
They are usually measured in width × height. To exemplify, in 1152×720, the width is 1152 pixels, and the height is 720 pixels.
The bigger the number of pixels, the better the image will be. It is essential to have a high-resolution projector when displaying images and videos where detail matters, such as when viewing it from a small distance.
The most important thing to note regarding resolution is that you match the projector’s with the source, meaning your laptop, smartphone, or whatever device that has the material you are viewing on the projector.
There are two types of connections and they are:
Analog connections have been around. They are in more affordable devices and do not offer that high of quality.
Examples of analog connections found in a projector are S-video, composite video, component video, VGA and VGA out.
Digital connections are the new cool kids in town. They offer better quality than analog and are crucial in high definition image transmission.
Examples of digital connections found in a projector are HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, and USB-C.
A decent projector needs to have at least one of these. However, it is important to keep in mind that HDMI can transmit images and audio, while DVI can only transmit images.
HDMI is easily the most popular connection in both analog and digital connections for projectors. If you will connect the projector to more than one device at a time, or will use it for gaming/or home cinema, get yourself a projector with multiple HDMI inputs.
5. The Screen
Your projector is only as good as the screen it projects onto. What will decide which projector screen you choose is your needs. You will need to consider the following questions:
Do you need something portable to take everywhere? Or something fixed? Do you want a screen that is electric or manual? How much distance is there between the screen and the projector?
Types of Screens
Will you use the projector in different rooms? Do you need a screen to accommodate your needs in different locations?
Your best option is a portable screen. They are popular, relatively small, and affordable. They are also less complicated to set up. They don’t have the best quality, but they are definitely an upgrade from a wall.
There are different forms of portable projector screens. A popular option found in many classrooms and meeting rooms is the pull-down screen, which retracts by pulling its small handle.
Another choice is the tabletop projector screen. It is small and innovative. It has a base that you place on whichever surface you like. It also has a lock that keeps it closed when not in use. When you unlock it, you pull it up and use it easily.
Another popular pick is the screen on tripods. It is a pull-up screen that is attached to a free-standing tripod platform. It is one of the top choices due to its low cost and ease of use.
It is important to note that most portable screens are manual. This popularized them because anyone can use them and can afford to get them.
2. Fixed Frame
Are you using a projector for a home cinema, a media room, a boardroom, auditoriums or any other large-spaced with constant use of projectors, a fixed frame screen is your buddy.
Fixed frame screens are larger and more expensive than portable ones. However, they are very comfortable, as you don’t have to roll them up and down each use. Thus, they save time and effort.
Fixed frame screens are made with tensioned screen fabric to maximize the quality of the images reflected on the screen by avoiding creasing.
Flat fixed screens are the “classic” choice. Yet, curved fixed are starting to grow, to keep up with the panoramic trend of curved TVs.
Electric projector screens are the most expensive choice on the market. They are also quite large. Both facts make sense when you consider the fact that they operated by an electric motor; thus, the cost and weight more.
Electric projector screens are made with tensioned or non-tensioned fabric. Tensioned screens are understandably the better option, as they offer a truly flat screen with high quality.
Unlike other types, setting up the electric projector screen requires the help of an expert, like an electrician.
Do you have a relatively small budget? Will you only use your projector in classrooms or small conference rooms? Try a manual projector screen.
They are affordable and small. They are also easy to use; you just roll and unroll them.
They come in many forms, such as wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, or ceiling recessed-mounted.
If you are planning to use the projector to display videos, not just pictures, you need to consider the sound.
Consider getting a projector with decent built-in speakers. An easier option would be to get a separate sound system, preferably a surround sound system.
However, if the sound quality is not a priority for you, the sound of the device connected to the projector (laptop, tablet, mobile, etc..) should be fine.
To sum it all up, get yourself a projector that matches your needs exactly. Don’t splurge for nothing, but don’t be afraid to invest in something that you actually need.
If you need a projector for a home cinema, splurge on one with up to 4000 lumens, high resolution, multiple HDMI inputs, and get it a fixed frame screen.
If you need one for school, get one with less than 1000 lumens, one USB input, and get it a portable screen.