Posted on June 1, 2016 By Art Feierman
It is projector selection time for US (and many other countries) K-12 schools looking for projectors for the 2016-2017 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 maturing, as a result, projector manufacturers no longer replace most models every year. 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 2016, 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 are at roughly 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 this year’s report covers the usual 15 or so projectors directly, remember that many 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. One projector may have as many as 11 siblings, but most non interactive projectors have families of 4 to 8 to select from. Interactive projectors typically have very small families.
As a result, these eighteen projectors covered in this year’s Classroom and Education report represent upward of 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 enough seriously interactive projectors to have a category focused on them. This year we again, have two fully interactive projectors, both are impressive, but two isn’t enough competition for an award, as neither was really superior to the other (although a good deal different). 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 day serious interactivity, I’m talking pens, maybe finger touch controls and more, not just 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.
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 2016. So, they should 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).
Of course we’ve covered a number of traditional small fixed install/portable projectors that work well in smaller classrooms.
We even have a reasonably bright battery powered pocket projector this year, and a couple that are reasonably bright but need AC power.
If you are looking for full reviews of individual projectors, you won’t find them here, only links to them. 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, they certainly are highly competitive this year.
As no surprise, we again report that a few of our top award winners this year and last, 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.
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. Unfortunately, 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, and the cost of sterilizing them between usage by different students seem to spell doom for any significant trend.
Click below to jump ahead to our lists of winners:
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