Classroom Projector Report: Best Education Projectors 2017-2018

It is projector selection time for US (and many other countries) K-12 schools looking for projectors for the 2017-2018 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.

Best Education Projectors

We choose projectors from 15 different projector series, representing 8 major manufacturers. There are over 70 projector models total across all 15 series.

Our Education Projector Report this year looks at 15 new projectors launched in the past year, 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 maturing, as a result, projector manufacturers no longer replace most models every year many are now on the market for two or three years.  Those lasting more than one year, typically will have a price drop in the 2nd or 3rd year to keep them competitive.   For that reason:  Those projectors from previous years reports that received awards, and that still meet our requirements of being current models at least until the fall of 2017, have been integrated into this year’s report.

Although many projectors from last year are still great choices and some of the top sellers to schools, previous winners will not be competing for this year’s awards, but you should consider them excellent projectors fully 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 probably over 500 business and education projectors currently available in the US.

Figure that perhaps half of those would have to be considered suitable or specifically targeted for some aspect of the Education market.

That means no review site or other publication is capable of taking a close look – that is, review – all of those that are possible fits.  There are single state, and even multi-state consortiums buying projectors for K-12, a couple of those do a lot of their own analysis, bring in products to compare, etc., and ultimately cross reference a huge number of projectors.

Our goal is different, rather than categorizing hundreds of projectors and recommending many dozens.  We’re trying to help you understand what good to great  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.

  • What’s in This Year’s Report – The Projectors
    • Reviews Section – Product Capsules, and links to full reviews of projectors listed  in this report
    • The Best In Classroom Award Winners
      • Includes the reasons we gave each of them those awards
    • Learn about our Annual Best In Classroom Awards
  • Defining Expectations – Key Considerations
    (repeated from previous years – with some updates)

    • District Level/State Level IT/AV/Tech Coordinator
    • School Level IT/AV/ Tech Coordinator
    • Teachers
    • Buyers:  School, District, State, Consortium
  • Understanding the physical classroom environment for projector selection
  • Special Features – Are these capabilities you need?

The 2017-2018 Best Education Projectors  report covers 15 projectors directly.  The important thing to remember is that many of the projectors covered, are part of large families of projectors with only minor variations.

For example we may have reviewed and are considering a particular WXGA resolution projector in this report, but that manufacturer likely also offers an XGA, SVGA and quite likely a WUXGA or 1080p model otherwise almost identical. 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 model.

As an example, this year features one NEC projector – the NP-ME331W.  It’s a WXGA projector with 3300 lumens. But the ME series has 8 projectors – 4 are XGA, 4 are WXGA. They vary in some features, and brightness.  In other words, if the ME331W looks great to you, but you need an XGA because you are replacing a lower resolution 4:3 projector, then know that one of the other ME’s is probably the right one for you.  In some cases a brand’s series might have as many as 4 or 5 different resolutions to choose from.

One projector may have as many as a dozen siblings, but most non interactive projectors have families of 4 to 10 to select from.   Interactive projectors, and also Ultra short throw projectors typically have very small families, on occasion even a family of one. Or as in some cases, a manufacturer may have one UST (ultra short throw projector), and another similar one with interactivity added.

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As a result, these fifteen projectors covered in this year’s Classroom and Education report represent upward of 70 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 lacked enough serious interactive or UST projectors to have a category focused on them. This year, however, we have four projectors that are UST, or UST with interactivity, so it’s enough for us to look at the group, and give out an award, or maybe two.

Note that almost any projector these days with MHL support or wireless capabilities to work with tablets and phones, has at least minimal interactivity.  So, when I talk about serious interactivity, I’m talking pens, maybe finger touch controls and more, not just control from apps..

Overall, the benefits of interactive projectors which are typically ultra or very short throw projectors in schools, is that they can be mounted to the wall above the screen, rather than the ceiling.  Also that they are so close to the screen that the intense projector light doesn’t get in the speaker’s eyes.

This normally creates a less expensive, simpler installation, compared to mounting more traditional standard and short throw projectors.  The other benefit is that they are better positioned to not blind the teacher or student standing up by the screen.

Remember this year’s report also contains previous winners of the Interactive Projector category, and of course everything links back to our full reviews.

Again, this year we address the advantages and disadvantages of lamp vs, LED, Laser, and also hybrid projectors (LED/Laser such as the Casio line.)

All of the projectors covered here are available at the time of this publication according to their manufacturers, and none are expected to be discontinued before September 30th 2017.  They should, therefore, all be available for schools to purchase in quantity for the upcoming K-12 school year. And they should be around for the full fall higher education purchasing season as well.

This year’s report includes plenty (five) high brightness projectors suitable for those large university classrooms and (also in K-12 auditoriums and multi-purpose rooms).

There are six of  traditional small fixed install/portable projectors that work well in smaller classrooms.

 

What's Inside Our Education Projector Report?

If you are looking for full reviews of individual projectors, you won’t find them here, only links directly to those individual reviews.   The report itself, contains our conclusions, and also short overviews of each, overviews that typically have more of a slant toward use in education environments than the full reviews.

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 previous winners of our Best In Classroom awards in the last group of review links.

Again, if they were good enough to win a top award last year, or even the year before, they certainly are highly competitive this year.

Another section of this report discusses addresses issues that impact beyond the individual classroom, such as operational costs and issues, from lamp, laser, and LED light sources, to air filters, to networking and advanced networking (including compatibility with automation schemes. such as Crestron).

3D – There was some hope several years back that 3D would sweep into school curriculums and become, if not widespread, at least popular for certain classes.  Studies showed that 3D immersion in the classroom heightens student interest and attention.  Sadly, the practical side of 3D seems to have put the kibosh on any significant implementations.  Things like the cost of 3D glasses, replacing lost or stolen ones (even though they are far more affordable than even two years ago), and the cost of sterilizing them – between usage by different students – seems to have spelled doom for any significant trend, even if 3D is likely to be successful in several vertical markets.  Yes, 3D just might be handy in an architecture or engineering, or biochemical modeling class.

List of Winners

Click below to jump ahead to our lists of winners:

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