Projector Reviews

Don’t Overlook the Details

 

Thank you to Sony, for sponsoring the Custom Integration section of Projector Reviews!

Ventilation

All projectors generate a good deal of heat, so this is an important consideration and is worth the extra time to consider. Ventilation is an incredibly important factor that will determine the performance and the lifespan of the projector. Placing a projector in a well-ventilated area will help reduce the heat generated, which can potentially damage the internal components if it is exposed to too much heat.

You’ll need to consider a good air exchange for the projector’s fan to operate properly. Make sure you know where the intake and exhaust vents are located on the projector. This information can be quickly found in the projector’s manual to ensure there is enough room around the projector for proper circulation. Many home theater projectors have intake/exhaust vents on the sides or the back of the projector, therefore installation up against a wall or tucked in a corner, may not be an option.

Keeping the temperature of the projector’s environment on the cooler side can help as well. Projectors prefer cool environments. Here’s a simple rule you can use as a guide. If the temperature in the space starts getting close to or over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the projector may need to work harder to keep itself from getting too hot. This can result in a higher noise level coming from the unit (not to mention damage to the projector itself).

Cleaning

One simple thing that can be done to prolong the life of any projector is to keep it clean. Make sure the projector’s vents aren’t clogged with dust and dirt. A clogged air filter reduces ventilation, which in turn, increases the projector’s internal operating temperature. Check filters regularly and more often in dustier environments to clear them out. One benefit of DLP projectors is sealed optics and many are even filter free. Sealed optics combined with a lamp-free light engine (Laser or LED) make a lot of modern business and consumer projectors nearly maintenance-free.

Projector Noise

Another important consideration when installing a projector is noise. Because of the need for cooling a projector discussed above, projectors have fans, and they can get a bit loud. Fan noise normally increases as the unit light output setting is increased. If the projector is mounted close to the viewer, the fan noise can be distracting especially during quieter scenes. On of the reasons why better home theater projectors command a premium is because of their superior noise isolation.

Another way to reduce the noise coming from a projector is to place it in Eco Mode. Eco mode can lower a projector’s noise, which is typically coming from the cooling system and any other mechanical parts that may be part of its design.

Depending on the brand and model, noise could be impacted from an estimated, 26dB-28dB by slowing down fans and even setting HDR content at a slightly lower brightness level. Also, keep in mind that typical projectors produce noise of about 28dB-30dB. When compared with other electronic devices like your notebook PC or gaming console, these sound levels are completely reasonable and don’t end up distracting from the entertainment or presentation.

Something to note that is reducing noise is that many projectors are starting to use sealed light engines with lasers and LED and phosphor chips instead of color wheels. This reduces the noise generated by these key components.  More efficient LED and laser light sources will allow for fan and filter free designs which will help reduce noise even further.

Lastly, to reduce noise, sometimes a large very bright business and cinema projector will be relocated in another room behind the viewer or in a noise isolating enclosure. This approach increases the complexity of the installation and the overall cost of the project but keeps the room incredible quiet.

 

System Control Solutions

projectors in the classroom

A projector is usually part of a more elaborate system which might include multiple sources, a motorized screen, and an audio system. Most users would prefer to control everything via one remote control.

Many control systems allow control of the AV system but also lighting, blinds, and curtain. Whether the system is complex or simple the ability to easily control everything will enhance the user experience whether it be a classroom, conference room, or home theater. Companies like Crestron, RTI and URC have been doing this for years and, in the last decade, this category has exploded with many other companies offering solutions that are more intuitive and less cost prohibitive. These systems provide virtually everything needed to control the projector and connected AV components.

The choices are too numerous to list all of them here. Make sure you do your research to find a few options that meet the user’s current needs and provide the ability to expand in the future.

 

The Cables

HDMI supports high-resolution video and multi-channel audio through a single-cable connection which is why is the most popular way is A/V cable. Connecting the projector to a system normally requires a long HDMI because many projectors are ceiling mounted far away from the video sources. The longer the length, the harder it is for a HDMI cable to pass a large amount of bandwidth. Many home theater projectors support 4K HDR and there tons of HDR sources available including 4K Blu-ray, streaming boxes, and gaming consoles.

Not all HDMI cables can support 4K UHD resolution or HDR content. A lot of passive HDMI cables over 5 meters struggle to pass the higher bandwidth (18Gbps) required for 4K@60fps HDR content. For longer distances an active HDMI cable (copper or optical) should be utilized. They are also several HDBaseT HDMI extender solutions available that can transmit 4K HDR video up to 50m (164ft) a single Cat6e LAN cable.While HDR is currently not widely used in business and education applications, that will likely change soon.

Even if the user is not concern with HDR content today, make sure that a high-quality HDMI cable or HDBaseT (HDMI extender) solution is utilized. While it may be a little more expense now to use a 18Gbps HDMI solution, it will eliminate the high labor cost and hassle of running a better cable in the future.