Projector Basics

Do you know how to get a projector that's Beyond Amazing?

Here's a few ways to ensure you get the right projector.

Know your brightness.

When looking at a projector's brightness what you really need to do is think about what environment you're placing it in.

If you're using a projector in a low ambient light situation, such as a movie room with no windows, 1,000 to 1,500 lumens should be enough. However, if your environment has some ambient light, such as a small classroom or meeting room with windows and shades, then 1,500 to 2,000 lumens should be enough. Finally, if you're in a situation with bright ambient light, such as a large classroom or meeting room, then 2,000 to 2,500 lumens is ideal.

Choosing a Resolution

The fast and easy answer to getting the best image is to match your projector resolution to your computer resolution.

Here's a list of the different resolutions:

  • SVGA = 800x600
  • XGA = 1024x768
  • WXGA = 1280x768
  • SXGA+ = 1400x1050
  • 720p = 1280x720
  • 1080p = 1920x1080

Look for the right features.

Before you buy a projector, make sure you check out all the available features to ensure you're taking advantage of everything that's out there.

Here's a list of some good features to keep in mind.

  • Plug and play - Just like the title says. Plug it in. And you're ready to go.
  • Computer-free presentations – Some projectors have memory card readers so there's no need to hook up your computer.
  • Digital keystone correction – This allows for versatility in projector placement
  • Wireless mouse control
  • An on-screen pointer
  • Multiple computer inputs for multifaceted presentations.
  • Lens shift for more convenient set-up
  • Wireless connection for projectors
  • Look for both compatibility of OS

Be as portable as you want.

With presentation projectors becoming more and more portable, the question is, how portable do you need it to be. Obviously, one aspect that affects portability is size. The larger the projector the somewhat less portable.

For you jetsetters out there, if you're planning to travel with your laptop and projector, the smaller the better. And if you're going to be using your projector in a foreign environment, be sure to prepare for anything. Here's a few things to consider:

  • Look for a small, lightweight projector.
  • A smaller footprint means better portability.
  • You'll want at least 1500 lumens for ambient light in unfamiliar environments.
  • A remote with mouse control frees you from your computer.

Get to know your connection types.

Component Video
Component video is the most common type of high-quality signal available today. While a composite cable carries the entire video signal on a single cable, component video cables split the signal in three. This connection gives a much better image than do composite or S-video connections; the projector you buy should have at least one of these inputs.
S-Video and Composite Video
S-video cables differ from composite cables in that they split the video signal into two different components, luminance and chrominance, resulting in a significantly better image than a composite cable can provide.
Digital Visual Interface (DVI)
Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is a connection type designed specifically for high-bandwidth, all-digital signals that are anticipated to become the industry standard for HDTV set-top boxes. While DVI is relatively new, watch for more DVI-compatible projectors coming soon.
High Definition Multimedia Interface is a hi-speed Digital interface for both video and multi-channel audio that also incorporates HDCP copy protection.

Aspect ratio(4:3 or 16:9?)

Projectors come with what's called "native resolution." This just means the projector is built to project in either 4:3, 16:9 or both. If you will be using your projector for standard TV, HDTV and DVDs, make sure your projector can switch between these modes.

The difference between ceiling-mounted and table top projectors.

A ceiling-mounting projector is a popular way to set up a home theater. However, before you dive in to the ceiling-mounted projectors you should know that they require a fixed distance from the screen as they have what's called a "throw ratio."

A projector's throw ratio is the relationship between its distance from the screen and the width of the image it projects. For example, if your projector will be ceiling-mounted ten feet away from your screen, the image it projects will be larger than if your projector is mounted only five feet away.

If you'd prefer not to mount your projector, it's easy to find projectors of outstanding image quality that can be placed in different areas of a room.