Posted on August 1, 2021 By Paul Wilkie
This month’s sponsored article is brought to you by BenQ, who are creating the latest portable projectors designed to take on the road, making the latest content easier to access than ever before, reducing the headache of navigating multiple remote controls, and upgrading your entertainment value dramatically.
Typically when you think about projectors, you may visualize a big theater room, or an office board room, or maybe even a recent art exhibit you visited. We would forgive you for thinking this way because frankly, that’s what a lot of projectors are designed to do. But we are pleased to see the good folks at BenQ are thinking creatively about projectors and the ways they can be used, well, just about anywhere. And that got us thinking, what are some situations where a portable projector would be really useful and fun to have, that aren’t the typical places you might have seen one?
The immediate thought of course are backyards and BBQs, which are perfectly valid and cool places to use projectors. After all, the backyard movie theater may have been one of the few things the Covid-19 pandemic brought us that isn’t so awful. There is also a simple answer as to why we think so many people automatically defer to the backyard or a BBQ for projector use: because projectors are inherently not that portable. Which is a shame really, because we can think of many ways a portable projector can add a really fun element to your trips with family and friends, whether you’re a parent, or someone just looking to have a good time.
In this article we’re going to share our five favorite ways to use a projector to elevate your experiences in a variety of places and situations. But before we do that, it’s worth exploring what makes a projector truly portable vs something that may only be considered, “movable.”
It’s safe to say most projectors are designed to be the opposite of portable. Higher end projectors are extraordinarily sensitive pieces of equipment, with carefully considered technologies designed to deliver amazing picture quality with a larger format screen capability. You could probably argue that most projectors would break fairly easily with a single drop, or getting doused by a pool. But what if we asked more of our projectors?
The rugged-ification of our products has been a trend we’ve seen in nearly every other industry after all. Cameras, video cameras, speakers, cars, you name it. Why have projectors been left out of this equation? While we can’t control what manufacturers do, we can pontificate on what makes a truly portable projector, and ask them to think about how we can make projectors truly “portable” and not simply “movable.”
To start, we need to address Sound Quality. Yes! When you take a projector with you somewhere, you expect it to sound great. It’s not always assumed that projectors come with built-in speakers, and in the case of higher end models, they don’t. For a truly portable projector, it needs to have great-sounding speakers built into it so your friends and family can hear just as well as they can see, no matter where the projecting is taking place. We recommend identifying something that has at least a 2.1 capability, giving you great-sounding treble and bass and at least 15W of power to ensure everyone around the campfire can hear what’s being said on screen.
This should go without saying, but having enough Brightness is extraordinarily important when considering a projector you’ll likely use outside or in another unpredictable lighting environment. We recommend something that can comfortably deliver at least 300 ANSI Lumens, which will ensure proper delivery of the image outside.
Also, knowing that you’ll be taking a projector with you to strange new environments does present some unique challenges when it comes to projection. Namely, the ability to properly auto focus, keystone, and project at an angle. We recommend identifying a projector that offers maximum flexibility for these factors, including at least 135-degrees of projection angle and +/- 40 degrees of vertical keystone for placement.
Further, we need to address the situation of power. While there are more opportunities to remotely power products than ever before with the latest camping equipment and vehicles, it’s still a good idea to consider a projector with a built-in battery. This reduces headaches when it comes to projecting truly anywhere, and is an important consideration when we’re making the distinction between projectors that are movable, versus truly portable.
Access to the latest content is another critical factor when discussing portable projectors. If you’re out in the woods, chances are you’re not going to have a local server or DVD player handy. As such, you’ll need a projector that can easily access content, like Android TV or the ability to cast directly from your phone. You’ll still need an internet connection to bring it to life, but that’s what the glory of mobile hotspots are for anyway.
Finally, for portable projectors to be considered truly portable, you need to consider something that is life proof. Between destructive kids, pools, lakes, rivers, rain, and everything in between, taking projectors outdoors does require a bit of a tougher build than a traditional projector. We recommend identifying something with an IPX rating, which determines the amount of water and drop proof a product is. It should effectively protect the projector against accidental spills, drops and dust from being outdoors. Bonus points if you can get one with a carrying bag and handle, which makes it even easier to tote around with the remainder of your gear.
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