Posted on May 18, 2012 By Art Feierman
If you take your projector based teaching seriously, and plan to use the projector a lot, you’ll probably need to pay attention to long term costs. If you will have the projector running say 25 hours a week, 40 weeks a year – on the projector with the worst lamp life, that’s a couple/three hundred dollars every other year. On the best projector, you can run 25 hours a week/40, for 20 years… without a lamp change. Most fall in the middle. I’ve met teachers who have bought replacement lamps out of their own money for a projector owned by the school, simply because the teacher takes great advantage of the technology for teaching, and the school has run out of money for replacement lamps…
There’s so much more that a teacher looking for one projector can consider, but before I forget, big choices include widescreen (wxga) or 4:3 (xga, and there are still some svga projectors out there for $400 or less).
One last thought – if you are a Mac user, with most of these brands, if you want your laptop screen live while teaching/presenting, the resolutions available may be very different from one projector to another. In most cases with XGA projectors – feeding from my MacBook Pro, I ended up with XGA (1024×768) on the screen with XGA projectors, but with two of them, only 800×600. If you have a widescreen MacBook Pro, it really can upset the resolution decisions of a few of these projectors, including widescreen projectors. Sorry, we weren’t able to be thorough about working with Macs, but all fifteen will work with a Mac, just the resulting resolution may surprise you with a few. No worries there are usually workarounds, or you can turn off the computer’s display which should give you more flexiblity in setting resolutions.
If you are a recommender of technology, you may be a teacher, but your issues are more like the IT/AV folks because, you’ve got people asking your advice, and they all want something different, in features and benefits.
The buck stops here, or so they say. I don’t envy you in these days of shrinking budgets. In most cases, you’ll leave a lot of the technology to the experts, but, as you will read, throughout this report a whole lot about cost of operation.
And don’t forget things such as some projectors attached to your network, can be powered up remotely by your IT guy, and you can send messages across to display on all projectors in your school (or district).
From my previous experience working with several large districts, a thought: A lot of districts – and schools – using Federal grant money, tend to buy all the same projector, for all the schools, or in one school, for all the classrooms. To me, that’s a red flag. It’s probably smart to buy all your projectors from the same manufacturer – it drastically simplfies support, but even if we’re talking a school looking for 12 projectors, there’s good reason to have two or three different models to reach different needs. Consider this example: 8 classrooms basic projectors with networking, etc, XGA resolution and 2 projectors for computer rooms that can present from any computer in the classroom.
You might also have two classrooms where having a widescreen projector works better, because most of the best content/coursework for that class subject is provided for widescreen display (maybe Chemistry, or Drama, or Intro to Algebra) – could be any type of class. Or you might want widescreen, and interactivity for some classes. Widescreen projectors tend to be better for interactive environments, as their screen height is lower. Tall screens may be tough to reach with that interactive pen, especially if students are being invited up to the front to use it.
And lets’ go back to those two computer classrooms. Those are probably likely to use a lot of projector hours, if used at all. For that reason, you might want to pay more attention to lamp life and long term costs when deciding on those two projectors, than the others.
Hey, no one said it’s easy. It’s not, if you want to do it right.
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