Our goal was never to identify a single absolute best projector out there. First of all, it would be a herculean task. There's no publisher in the industry that could begin to pull that off. There are at least 500 projectors sold (in the US) for business or education use, by some 50 brands. Of those, perhaps 10 or 15 percent are extremely high power, or specialty projectors, that K-12 can live without, but most of the rest are likely very useable in schools. For perhaps half of those, the K-12 market was a definite focus in the design of the projector. All that math suggests there's at least three hundred projectors currently available for K-12 school use and 2/3rds of them were likely designed with education use as the primary goal (it is the largest single projector market).
Use our awards as guides to the projectors that impressed us the most, and therefore help you understand, at least, what (we think) a best projector looks like. Ultimately you want to find the one that best meets your needs. Often our biggest benefit is to occasionally point out something that you may not have considered.
The second section of the Classroom Projector Report: Best School Projectors for K-12 Education, is our attempt to let you expand your range, by letting you apply what you learned from the individual classroom projector reviews and awards. Then apply that to a larger selection of projectors. To do that we've looked at a number of "series" of projectors from major manufacturers.
We realize that it is common for a manufacturer to have 4 or 5 or even 7 similar projectors - say all with the same brightness, same box, same lens, but the one we reviewed might XGA, but among the others in the seriees might be an SVGA resolution projector, and Widescreen 1280x800, and perhaps versions of the XGA and Widescreen models, that have networking.
Last year when we looked at Casio, as they had what was probably the largest single series of projectors that was relevant. They have eight similar projectors in one series. I'm talking the same series as last year's reviewed XJ-A140. In Casio's case, it broke out like this:
Four lower power projectors - 2000 lumens, and four that are otherwise the same, but 2500 lumens
Four projectors are widescreen, four XGA (yes, two of each are 2000 lumen, two are 2500 lumen)
Four projectors have USB and wireless presenting, four do not.
And that, folks, creates a total of 8 projectors all slightly different from each other. Last year you could buy a Casio that's 2000 or 2500 lumens, with or without USB and wireless presenting, and with those combinations you then only have to choose between XGA and widescreen WXGA resolution. This year they've added even more models, but since we've reviewed another Green-Slim, we've included instead, 3 very different Casio's in this section.
Other series may have a lot more differences from one projector to the next, but usually at least a chasis, and many other components in common.
With that in mind we look at more than a dozen different series of projectors in this 2011-2012 school year report.