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Are you looking to buy a projector? Finding a solution can be a difficult task. Should you opt for DLP, LCD, LED or laser? Short throw or long throw? What projection surface should you opt for or should you maybe consider LED tiles or video walls instead of a projector? The answer to all of these questions of course depends on the environment in which the projector will be used and the purpose it will be used for. However, there are also a number of other factors that need to be considered in every scenario.

How bright should my projector be?

In a brightly lit room you will need a high-powered lamp to create images that can be seen. This comes at a cost – generally higher lamp and projector costs, greater heat output and nosy fans. By lowering ambient light levels by the use of dimmers/blinds you can look at reducing lamp brightness and therefore cost. It’s always a good idea to attempt to take ambient light readings on a bright sunny day; while a projector may be perfectly viewable on an overcast, grey winters day, it will be a different story on a bright sunny day.

What resolution should my projector be?

The higher the resolution the clearer images will be, this could be a critical factor if your primary use is detailed work, in which case a 4K projector will be a must.  If your primary use is showing simple PowerPoint presentations then 720P will probably be perfectly acceptable.

What is Colour reproduction for a projector?

If realistic colours are required, giving consumers, educators, creative professionals and educators the capability to display content the way it was intended to be seen, then a three-chip DLP, LED or laser projector may be best.

Cost of ownership and maintenance for my projector?

These go hand in hand – low maintenance and energy efficient projectors come at a price, but this initial outlay can pay dividends in the long run, negating the need to constantly replace worn out lamps and filters. Lower energy LED and laser projectors will also result in lower energy costs.

What environmental factors should I consider when buying a projector?

In small, quiet venues, a hot projector with its noisy fans are not the best bed fellows and can quickly become a distraction. In such venues it is worth checking out the spec sheet for noise levels.

What Input should my projector have?

With a wide variety of sources, BYOD is an important factor; has your projector got two HDMI ports, for the fixed PC plus a second for the portable laptop, some presenters may still have a laptop with a simple VGA. Consider models that come with integrated WiFi so data can be streamed directly to the projector, or displayed via a network.  Integrated HDBASE-T offers a solution over a single CATx line over long distances and provides audio, video, control over IR and RS232, LAN and power for transmitters.

How should my projector lens be Positioned?

Perhaps the projector cannot be located in the optimum position, does the new projector have a large zoom range, does it have lens shift, so that it can be positioned off axis, has it got enough keystone correction to deal with the angle of projection due to obstacles. Some models will also provide features that will enable you to manipulate the image by using the remote control without climbing up ladders and manually adjusting the projector.

What contrast settings should my projector be?

Is it important that your blacks look really black and not simply a washed out grey, if so a projector with a high contrast ratio is required. A laser projector will be a good choice here. Lasers offer massive contrast ratios with great colour depth. They are energy efficient and have minimal warm up/cool down times offering near instant shut down/start up.

Additional considerations when buying a projector

Laser is undoubtedly becoming more popular and definitely ticks all the boxes in terms of quality and low maintenance. Although the price of laser projectors is coming down it can still be prohibitive for some, however, especially when it comes to the large-scale replacement of ageing projectors. Environment is far and away the biggest issue that effects both selection and installation of a projector so take the time to understand your space. Infrastructure is also important; while your old CAT6 lines ran your 1080P projection well, it won’t cope with the 30Gbps of a Blu-ray 4K movie running at 60Hz, and with 4:4:4 sampling, and 12-bit colour depth. Your infrastructure could be your limiting factor.

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