The 2012 Classroom Projector Report is sponsored by:
Here we provide brief information regarding how these small projectors for the classrom are physically laid out, placement flexibility, and more.
Projector Physical Appearance
This year (2012-2013) the mix of projectors is a bit different. We decided to include a few of the latest Pocket Projectors. For some reason many call them pico projectors, but most are in the 1.5 - 3 pound range, and far larger than those actually "fit in your pocket" smaller picos. Physically, those Pocket Projectors most noticeable physical attribute is a size of a thick paperback novel, give or take.
For the rest of the projector world looks come in three flavors - a wide assortment of traditional portable/fixed install projectors, many with footprints the size of a sheet of paper, or a bit larger, then there's the Short Throw Projectors - and Very Short Throw Projectors with their huge lenses, and finally, the ultra short throw projectors vary in technology, but all look completely different than any other projectors that have been around the last few decades.
For "cool" you have to like BenQ, for their iridescent blue lens hood (racing stripe)
Although most projectors going into schools get mounted, there are plenty of teachers, (and business people) who work with unmounted projectors and need to move them around. For that reason, handles are nice, but projector manufacturers, for some reason, rarely include them. Sadly, none of the full side projectors
This year, as it turns out, only 3 of the projectors - just the Pocket LED Projectors, weigh 5.0 lbs or less.
On the other hand, lots of heavy weight projectors this year, between 10 and 20 pounds , mostly due to a number of ultra-short throw projectors, which all seem to be "weighty", regardless of the different interesting technologies used to create an ultra short throw projector.
When it comes to some of those very-short throw projectors, be careful moving them around, or rather those that have protruding lens glass. Cover with lens cap whenever not using if it is not mounted.
This year, the Epson Brightlink 455wi and the Hitachi CP-AW250N are true ultra short throw projectors that normally sit just inches from the screen. Should you be moving either one, the Epson doesn't have an exposed lens or mirror, and the Hitachi neatly folds the lens assembly to closed position, protecting it's optical components.
As to the rest, many have slightly or fully recessed lenses. A few have sliding door "lens caps" for protection, all of the rest come with lens caps, and most are tethered, so will hang from the projector (helping keeping you from losing it, if the projector gets moved around).
Projector Control Panels
For more on the various control panels see the individual reviews of the projectors.
Typical Control panels below, for the Mitsubishi WD380U-EST and Epson PowerLite 435W projectors, respectively:
Almost all control panels have a few things in common: Power switch, 1 to 3 indicator lights (often with different flashing patterns to provide more info), a Menu button, and Enter button and four arrow keys in some configuration or another (round, diamond, in-line...), and an input (source) button. Also found on many is an Escape (or back) button for navigating menus, a Help button, Eco-mode (on at least one), perhaps an AV mute, or picture mode might be found on extra buttons. Only the Acer lacks a contrrol panel, it just has a power switch and a holder for the small remote on the top of the projector.
All the projectors in this review have a number of things in common. All, but the Epson and Hitachi ultra-short throw projectors have their input panels on the back.
HDMI or DVI digital inputs: This year HDMI (or DVI) can be found on almost all the projectors aimed at the school markets. Few, though are HDMI 1.4a, which is needed for Blu-ray 3D support. Every one of the 16 reviewed for this report sports HDMI. No doubt digital will continue to grow in popularity, as it has a number of advantages that outweigh some of the expenses. Even the pocket projectors all had HDMI. Kudos!
Monitor out: Every one of the full sized projectors offers a monitor out. With the pocket projectors that's a mixed bag, so if you will be using a pocket projetor with a desktop computer (sure sounds unlikely), you will want one that has the monitor out, or perhaps one that can work off of USB for the display.