Posted on June 3, 2015 By Art Feierman
It is projector selection time for US (and many other countries) K-12 schools looking for projectors for the 2015-2016 school year. In addition, many universities, colleges and medical schools are also on the hunt for the best performance and best value projectors as well as projectors with special capabilities.
Our Education Projector Report this year looks at 18 new projectors that cover a wide spectrum of what is available, from very inexpensive value oriented projectors, to those with advanced networking, to high power projectors capable of handling large university classrooms, and small auditoriums. It includes a number of interactive projectors all of which are ultra short throw projectors that typically mount above the screen surface – a white board.
Editor’s Note: Projectors continue to improve but many of the technologies are stable, as a result, projector manufacturers no longer replace most models every year. Those projectors from last year’s report that received awards, and that still meet our requirements of being current models at least until the fall of 2015, are more integrated into this report than we have done previously.
We consider this important improvement to the report, since some of those projectors from last year are still great choices and some of the top sellers to schools. Last year’s winners won’t be competing for this year’s awards, but you should consider them excellent projectors comparable to this year’s winners and equally worthy of consideration. -art
We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Classroom Projectors report.
Our goal is to demonstrate a wide range of capabilities, to help decision makers understand the options, and choose wisely. Those decision makers include IT and AV managers, Tech coordinators, teachers/professors, as well as people on the business side, such as buyers. There are at least 500 business and education projectors currently available in the US. Figure that at the very least, 1/3 of those would have to be considered suitable for some aspect of the Education market. Thus, no publication is capable of taking a close look – that is, review – all of those that are possible fits. The greatest analysis likely comes from the few state consortiums such as the IEC – the Iowa Education Consortium who’s efforts allow school districts from multiple states to buy through their consortium. Our goal is different, than categorizing hundreds of projectors and recommending many dozens, and working out pricing. We’re trying to help you understand what goo projectors that meet your needs might look like. Our winners reflect the most capable – for different reasons. Some will be ideal for your needs, others won’t be a good fit.
While the report covers less than a dozen and a half projectors directly, remember that many projectors covered, are part of families of projectors with only minor variations. We may have reviewed an WXGA resolution projector, but that manufacturer likely has an XGA and SVGA version, and perhaps even a WUXGA version. They also might offer slightly different versions with and without networking, and in some cases even a brighter, and less bright version otherwise the same. One projector may have as many as 11 siblings, but most non interactive projectors have families of 4 to 8 to select from. As a result figure that these projectors represent more like 75 different models.
In other words, a school can find the the projector with the right feature set, then choose the preferred resolution or level of networking 0r…
Last year we had not reviewed enough fully interactive projectors to group them together for awards, so we covered a wider group – as ultra short throw projectors some of which were interactive.
This year, though, we got to review four interactive projectors. In fairness, two were similar Epson models – one really geared more for business – but that one has been included because it is essentially unique as a collaboration oriented projector – allowing teams to work cross campus, or cross-continent… I see that as a university and research type solution.
New for this year is a discussion about the trade-offs and value propositions of lamp based projectors vs those with long life digital light sources (led, laser, hybrids).
All of the projectors covered here are available by June 1st, per their manufacturers, and none are expected to be discontinued before September 30th 2015. So, they should all be available with time to procure them for the upcoming school year.
Once again, this year’s report includes a number of high brightness projectors suitable for those huge university classrooms as well as K-12 auditoriums and multi-purpose rooms. We’ve got a number of traditional small fixed install/portable projectors that work well in smaller classrooms.
If you are in need of a specialty portable projector, that is especially lightweight or tiny, and/or can run on batteries, I recommend you check out last year’s report.
If you are looking for full reviews of individual projectors, you won’t find them here. Within the report itself, are our conclusions, and also short overviews of each, that typically have more of a slant toward use in education environments.
On the next couple of pages, we provide links to those full reviews, and to the shorter overviews of each, contained in this report, and with more of an education slant.
Many projectors these days stay on the market for 2, 3 or even 4 years. As a result we’ll also run through the award winning projectors from last year’s report that are still on the market as of this time.
We have included those winners in the last group of review links.
If they were good enough to win a top award last year, they certainly would still be highly competitive this year. We are pleased to report that a few of our top award winners last year, also managed to prove to be some of the top selling projectors into schools. (source – Pacific Media Associates, who publishes regular reports on unit sales for our projector industry.) More on that elsewhere.
Another section of this report discusses addresses issues that impact beyond the individual classroom, such as operational costs and issues, from lamp and LED light sources, to filters, to networking and advanced networking including compatibility with automation schemes. such as Crestron.
Some of these projectors support 3D, and we do identify them. Despite the extra benefits of 3D, overall use of 3D content remains pretty uncommon.
Click below to jump ahead to our lists of winners:
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