It’s hard to believe that the venerable video projector has been around for almost 65 years.
First introduced in the early 1950s, the cathode ray tube projector endured for decades as the go-to video display unit for countless bars, entertainment venues, churches and high-end homes until recent times when it was superseded by digital projection systems.
Today’s pro AV projectors are available in several different types, each offering a wide array of features. The challenge of evaluating pro AV projectors is matching available feature sets to the intended application.
Here are eight features to consider when evaluating pro AV projectors:
Brightness in video projectors is measured in lumens. High lumen ratings equate to brighter displayed images, an important consideration when projectors are used in locations with high ambient lighting.
Small conference-room projectors average 2,000 to 3,500 lumens. Large conference-room projectors range from 3,500 to 5,000 lumens. And large-venue projectors can pump out a whopping 35,000 lumens or more, which makes them ideal for concerts and outdoor projection-mapping events.
There are three different technologies that projectors use to create an image: DLP, LCD and LCoS. DLP (digital light processing) projectors use small mirrors to reflect light toward the screen. A spinning color wheel creates sequential color. Most projectors in movie theaters use DLP.
LCD projectors use three liquid crystal panels to create an image using the primary colors (red, green and blue). When all three are projected on the screen at once, you see a full-color image.
LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) is a hybrid between LCD and DLP. It uses liquid-crystal chips that have a mirrored backing like DLP but that block light using liquid crystal like LCD. LCoS projectors are selling very well and are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25.49 percent between 2014 and 2019.
If you want your projector to double as both a video and data projector, resolutions from 1280x800 to WUXGA (1920x1200) should be considered.
For the sharpest and most detailed picture possible, 1080p projectors should be considered. 4K projectors are available but are expensive. The price should come down as more 4K content becomes available and production from projector manufacturers increases.
Budget is where things to begin to be a bit tricky, because fine business projectors can be had ranging roughly from $400 to $4,000 depending on features. The caveat with the lower-priced projectors is that you lose resolution and other features like connectivity and 3D capability.
Large-venue projectors come feature-rich out of the box and deliver mind-blowing images but at a price that often exceeds $100,000.
Projector prices are always a moving target as more manufacturers enter the retail space and technology becomes cheaper. Solution providers can best help customers budget for the right project when they know the intended application. And it’s never a bad idea to buy more horsepower than you need if the price is right.
5. Network capability
Pro AV projectors with VGA interfaces have been around seemingly forever. VGA connects a laptop or other computer for presentation purposes.
Only recently, with the convergence of pro AV and IT, has there been a need for network-wired projectors that can be controlled on site or off site.
For business applications, look for projectors that can run presentations from a remote server. This feature is priceless when a presenter forgets to bring the presentation or a laptop fails.
A good pro AV projector should come with abundant means for I/O (input/output). Look for projectors with RJ45 ports for LAN connection, RS-232 for control and USB for data transfer.
For legacy devices, projectors should also have VGA and RCA inputs for maximum versatility.
As most pro AV projectors tend to be portable and designed to be moved from location to location, security may be an issue to evaluate before purchasing a projector.
Most projectors sold today come with cable locks using the Kensington system or others and offer good basic protection.
For maximum security, consider projectors equipped with key-code startup/lockout features. With these features activated, a stolen projector has no resale value whatsoever.
Every manufacturer has its own specific warranty offerings. There are many similarities, but there are also a few differences that set them apart.
In general, look for at least a three-year warranty overall and a 90-day/500-hour warranty on the lamp if the projector has one.
As with anything else, high performance typically comes with a high price tag. Yet feature-rich pro AV projectors don’t necessarily have to break the bank. Asking your customers where and how they intend to use their projectors and what their expectations are will help you find the right balance between performance and price.