Over the years, portable projectors have become
lighter and less expensive. Now, these smaller, cheaper machines
also pack a lot more functionality for users. Today’s new
“computer” projectors really are multiapplication devices.
The formats most meeting planners are familiar with are LCD and
DLP. LCD (liquid crystal display) relies on three mirror panels
that act as a prism to project the red, green and blue lights that
comprise the picture. DLP (digital light processing) uses a DMD
chip (digital micromirror device), where every pixel on the chip is
a reflective mirror, and the image is projected through a spinning
LCD projectors are now available for less than $1,000, while
DLP units start at around $1,500 and can cost more than $3,000,
depending on the selected features.
Why So Much?
Several factors determine the price of a projector.
" Resolution is the number of pixels displayed
side to side and top to bottom on the screen. These numbers are
important to know when matching devices (laptops, personal digital
assistants) to projection capabilities.
The four most common resolutions are: SVGA, which is 800 pixels
side to side by 600 pixels top to bottom the most available format
and the least expensive. It’s good for most basic uses, including
XGA projects at 1,024 pixels by 768 and is preferred if you are
showing lots of graphs or numbers.
SXGA is 1,280 pixels by 768 and provides a good basis for
streaming video but does not project spreadsheets as well as
UXGA, at 1,600 pixels by 1,200, is the highest available
resolution in most LCD and DLP projectors. It is preferred for
videos and other high-quality presentations. UXGA also is the most
" Brightness is measured most often in lumens;
the higher the number, the brighter the image.
" Contrast is expressed as a ratio between the
brightest and darkest areas of the image. Look for projectors with
contrast ratios of 400:1 or higher for the clearest images; go as
high as possible if you plan to keep the lights on in the meeting
" Weight is important for the road warrior who
lugs the projector from town to town. However, the less the
projector weighs, the more you’ll pay.
" Connectivity is another factor to consider.
You probably won’t always use the same PC for presentations, and
you might also have to connect other sources, such as a video
player. So make sure the device can hook up in as many ways as
possible, such as SVGA, S-video, etc.
On the Shelf
Some of the more popular brands available now are the Sharp
Notevision XR 1S ($1,300; www.sharpusa.com) and the Mitsubishi SE2U (less than
$1,000; www.mitsubishi-presentations.com). The ASK Proxima
C170 ($1,700; www.askproxima.com) has a LitePort that accepts USB
flash drives, allowing you to project without a PC.
On the Horizon
The newest and most expensive technology is liquid crystal on
silicon. LCOS excels when the technology is paired with a powerful
lens for projecting very large images from a small distance.
Canon’s new Realis SX-50 ($5,000; www.usa.canon.com)
can project a 100-inch image from just 10 feet away and maintains
the high quality expected in digital video presentations.
When looking at purchasing a new projector, it is important to
think in terms of not only the equipment you are currently using,
but where you expect to be. Digital video presentations are
becoming more popular, and you might want to consider a projector
that will provide as wide a range of capabilities as possible.