Posted on May 16, 2013 By Art Feierman
Need networking? How sophisticated, push notifications? email lamp warnings? How about over 3000 lumens? Yes? No? Perhaps you need projectors with HDMI or DVI. What about short throw, and especially ultra-short throw projectors? You think you need to equip a room or many with 3D projectors? Will you need projectors with advanced interactive abilities? As we have said repeatedly, there isn’t any, one best projector for school, or classroom or business, and with so many projectors to choose from, there won’t even be one best projector in a particular price range. There are so many variables that each buyer must consider, in choosing the right projector for their viewing requirements.
With luck (or skill), our report will help you cut through what’s out there, and narrow your choices down to something reasonably managable. Discussions about key features, such as brightness, placement flexibility including needing an ultra-short throw projector, rainbow effect susceptability, widescreen vs. standard, networking features, etc. are addressed on the Special Features page. In all fairness, only some of the dozen plus “features” (and their benefits) discussed, are special features, a few are standard stuff, like when we discuss general brightness, or color fidelity, white lumens and color lumens… My point is, that while one projector may be excellent at many things, you may disqualify it because of a specific requirement you have. You might love an Acer, Sony or Epson for their especially long life lamps, but if your requirement is for an ultra short throw projector, it’s not going to be that Epson 96W, or the Sony EX175, nor the Acer X1261P projectors. It might be the BenQ or the Hitachi that we cover in this report, or even the Epson Brightlink 450wi or 455wi, if that’s your need. For some districts and schools, networking may be mandatory. For another district, the emphasis might be on long term cost of operation, which probably means you are leaning to one of the projectors with lamps that last 3000 or 4000 hours at full power, or 4000 to 6000 hours at low power. The long term cost differences due to lamp costs and other maintenance, can often easily exceed the cost of the projector. Some schools are trying to go all digital. If that’s the case, you’ll find that many projectors geared for schools still do not offer a digital HDMI or DVI input. Due to the concept of “no one perfect projector”, we will be giving out multiple major awards again, this year. Bottom line – It’s your job as the potential buyer, to make the final decisions. To help, some (probably obvious) advice. Even before you have determined what features and abilties you want for your projector(s), you may want to make a list of disqualifying features (such as placement range, resolution and aspect ratio, warranty, etc.). That should make the process of selection much faster. Consider the projectors we’ve just reviewed, if you already know you don’t want an ultra-short throw projector – that eliminates several projectors. If you want a widescreen projector, we reviewed nine, plus six XGA projectors this year. The point being: Most of those widescreen projectors manufacturers have near identical models – “siblings” – but in different resolutions and aspect ratios, and certain other features like networking.
Below is a quick look at the fifteen projectors in this report. Most have anywhere from 4 to 8 “sibling” projectors, typically varying by resolution, brightness, or networking, but otherwise being the same series. Interactive Projectors: 3 (several others with limited interactivity, not counted) Short and Ultra short throw Projectors (which includes interactive projectors): 8 DLP Projectors (all single chip): 10 LCD Projectors (all 3LCD): 4 LCoS Projectors: 1 Widescreen Projectors WXGA: 9 Widescreen Projectors HD above WXGA: 1 XGA projectors: 5 3D ready projectors: 9 Digital equipped (HDMI or DVI with HDCP): 13 Over 10 pounds: 5 5-10 pounds: 7 Under 5 pounds: 3 Networking (LAN) hardwired: 9 Networking (wireless): 3 (plus 1 optional) Projectors brighter than 3500 lumens: 3 Projectors less than 2000 lumens: 1
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