Projector Reviews

Guide to the Classroom Projector Report for K-12 Education-3

School District Level AV or IT Manager

Ok, you’ve got a budget (hopefully) and some grant money for technology. You know how many projectors you’d like to add to the district this summer.

  • Install all projectors – use portables, or a mix?
  • Do they need to be networked?
  • Is remote command and control important? Essential? Not all teachers are going to remember to turn off their projector Friday afternoon. Leaving it on for the weekend, but unused, can cost real money, when it’s happening a lot. One typical projector running for 60 hours on the weekend will likely cost $5 in electricity. In addition, assuming the average 3000 hour lamp life, that 60 hours will cost you about $4 to $6 a lamp. 10 projectors on each weekend, out of say 200 (5%) – is $100 a weekend. Over a school year that’s about $4000 wasted. Plus you will be replacing lamps (and when used) filters, more frequently, using up expensive manpower.

Long term vs short term costs: Money’s tight? Do you buy a lower cost projector so you can buy more units, even if spending, say 20% more on a projector with low long term cost, would reduce you costs over 5 or 10 years, by 50% or more? Tough call. I do hear from some admins who are so starved for maintenance monies that that have a number of projectors down, simply because they can’t afford the replacement lamps. Those of you doing this a will understand that those costs can put a real dent into your operational budget. In my dealer days, I had a district we sold over 400 projectors to. They literally suffered that problem, of running out of money to replace lamps, and repair out of warranty units. Even stranger, they had grant money for new projectors, but nothing to get the ones they already own, back in action… (I guess that’s like infrastructure in the US, build a new bridge, there’s money, find the money to fix a damaged one, good luck.)

  • Different levels of overall networking and presenting – Command and control and email notification networking is a boon to all you district and school IT/AV/network types, but other features are of far greater interest to the teachers – wireless presenting and wireless networking, having a projector that can display the screen of any computer in the room at the whim of the teacher.
  • Different interfacing for “display”: For example, Display-Link can mean no more VGA cables, and several other benefits presenting from your computer over USB (less expensive cabling for sure). Is that important, how much is that worth?
  • Display messaging. Is there a need to allow projectors to display streams of information coming from the network? In an emergency, theoretically someone at the district can hit a button turning on every projector in the district, and then typing in a message that will be displayed. “Tornadoes – get under your desk” or whatever disaster is threatening.

School Level AV or IT Manager, Administrator, or Network Admin

Like the school district level people, you’re probably neck deep in deciding what projectors and where to put them, installation, and of course, having them all installed. You, though, probably do a lot more interfacing with the teachers. Some of you are “caught” between a “rock” (District Managers) and a hard place “meeting teacher demands”. Hmm, glad I’m not one of you.

School Level AV or IT Manager, Administrator, or Network Admin

Besides most of the same types of decisions as the district folks have to make, (I won’t repeat all those bullet points from the paragraph above), you probably have to deal more with exceptions, options… I’m talking about things such as adding wireless presenting or a remote mouse. Integrating a projector with a SmartBoard, or any number of other possible issues that don’t affect all of your projectors, but some. You are probably the people responsible for keeping the projectors running. Consider cost factors, consider the room requirements.Definitely consider labor – changing lamps, cleaning filters, etc. Oh, I have great confidence that you know your job, you should! After all, probably most of the teachers, and all the district IT/AV and budget people are all telling you how to do it. Good luck!

Teachers - Both "typical" teachers teachers who are key recommenders of technology

While today a large percentage of projectors going into schools are purchased in quanties, no one for a second, thinks that individual teachers aren’t also involved, and in many cases, the only projectors in schools are there because of the teachers – buying one when the money is available. If your network and IT/AV people aren’t dictating terms to you, then it’s pretty much your call. Your first big question is will the projector be mounted? I suspect that a far higher percentage of individual projector purchases at schools are portable projectors in that they are not mounted, but table top, and locked away when not in use. In many cases, the projectors are shared. Check out your room lighting controls! Make sure, if you want to mount, that the projector can be mounted where it needs to be.

Do you need remote mousing? What about presenting from flash drives – computer free – (only viable if you are not ceiling mounting the projector). If the projector is to be ceiling mounted, then you need to run a USB down to your work area. Close captioning – if you need it, most new projectors have it, but, make sure, there were still three of our fifeen reviewed projector that don’t have it.