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Choosing the Projectors for our 2014-2015 Classroom Projector Report 1

Posted on May 9, 2014 by Art Feierman

We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year's Best Classroom Projectors report.

At Projector Reviews, choosing the projectors to be included in the report each year is more of an art, than a science. This year was more unusual than most years, so I thought an explanation might answer some questions some of you may have.

Our Goal

Our goal is to include in the report reviews of projectors that are, in one way or another, suitable for some aspect of the education market.   But we do not specifically write reviews for education.  Each projector brought in is reviewed for what it is, it may be ideal for education, not so hot for business, or it could be a projector that's very good in different environments - such as a small fixed install / portable projector that might end up in a K-12 classroom, or being carried around by a sales person, from customer to customer.
We try to be selective.  Most major manufacturers have between 20 and 40 business and education projectors in their lineup (many similar but with different resolutions or brightness).  As with all projectors we review, we look first, for those we consider "a cut above"   It's common for me to pass on certain models, simply because they just don't impress me on paper, in terms of performance or value proposition.  (It's why we rarely have a "bad review." We've even brought in projectors and decided not to review them for that reason.)

The Criteria

The criteria that matters for our Education Projector report is that the projectors we want to include in the report should all be available for purchase in the June-July timeframe by schools, when K-12 schools purchase most of their projectors.  This year 17 of the 18 will still be current product at the end of the 2014 summer, while one, to our surprise, "should" be available, but was just marked end of life, but there seems to be inventory left.  We considered it for an award, but due to the questionable ability to deliver, decided it shouldn't receive an award.

Why Some Brands Are Missing

I said this year was a bit unusual, It's not because of what projectors were included, but what manufacturers do not have a presence this year, so I'll mention some we had hoped to include, but it just didn't work out:

Casio Projectors

Casio is the leader in projectors with solid state light engines (LED, Laser, or a combination), with over half the marketshare for that class of projector.  Their absense this year was due to our requirement that the products be available in quantity this summer (2014).  Casio has not yet brought in the new crop of projectors.  They wanted to have a projector to be reviewed, but the timing just didn't work out.  They were missed because they have education oriented projectors with those LED light sources, which of course means no lamps to replace, which of course means, no digging for money for replacement lamps several years down the road.


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Hitachi Projectors

Hitachi is one of the largest sellers of projectors into the education marketplace, especially K-12.   This is the odd story.  Hitachi, it seems instituted a "No Product Reviews" policy.  I have no idea why, perhaps they didn't like one of the reviews I, or some other projector review site did.  Tis a strange thing, and a shame, since they are a serous player in the education market.

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Optoma Projectors

We've reviewed more Optoma projectors than any other brand but one, and they've won more awards from us than any other brands but two, and they certainly have projectors geared for education.  This one was more of a communication issue.  We've worked very closely with Optoma through their PR firm (most companies use their PR firms to handle review units - it makes sense).  Earlier this year, Optoma dropped their PR firm (if they've hired a replacement they haven't contacted me).  At any rate, we had been talking with the old PR firm, and had expected an education projector to arrive, that would be reviewed and included in the report.  Sadly, nothing arrived.  We did put in a section this year for pocket projectors - for those teachers who require a portable projector to carry with them.  We included the Optoma ML550 in the report, and BTW, it took top honors in that category.

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