October 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio October 2002 Current Issue
October 2002 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:


BY Bob Walters

The latest projection technology is lighter and brighter than ever

When I made my first computerized presentation in the mid-’80s, I had to order special shipping crates to get my computer on-site, and it was hooked up to a large three-gun projector that occupied the bulk of the middle row in the meeting room.

Today a myriad of vendors offer projectors of all sizes, shapes, capabilities and prices. The newest being promoted are wireless, Palm Pilotsize and under 2.5 pounds, with superior brightness. If your organization is looking to purchase a projector, or even if you are preparing to rent one, the following should help you find just what you need.

Now that most projectors use the same projection engines from Epson, Sony and Texas Instruments the price differentiation is centered around a few key features: ANSI Lumens, or the brightness of the image; the level of resolution (800 by 600 pixels or 1024 by 768 pixels); and the contrast ratio for how sharp the projected image will appear. These features determine the projector’s core price, which is then influenced by size, weight and the machine’s networking or wireless capabilities.

As with computers, the evolution of new features and capabilities in projectors has slowed down in the past couple of years. The next frontiers are expected to be higher rates of digital quality and three-dimensional projections.

There are more than 25 manufacturers of projectors, and the choices continue to expand as Dell and Hewlett-Packard enter the market. Here are a few of the newer products.

Toshiba (www.toshiba.com) recently introduced two new digital projectors incorporating wireless connectivity using the 802.11b networking technology. The TLP-T700U ($6,295) and the TLP-T500U ($5,995) each weigh less than nine pounds.

From InFocus (www.infocus.com) come two digital LCD projectors for the first-time buyer. The $2,999 LP250 and the $1,999 LP240 each weighs 5.8 pounds. The LP250 projects images up to 1,100 lumens with a resolution of 1024 by 768; the LP240 projects at a brightness level of up to 1,000 lumens and a resolution of 800 by 600.

Dell (www.dell.com) has entered the portable market with two projectors that can be paired with its notebook PCs. The 3.5-pound 3100MP DLP (digital light processing) projector is designed for busy salespeople who appreciate quick setup and breakdown. It also could be used in company conference rooms or even by consumers to play movies or view multimedia presentations on a big screen. The 3100MP is similar to many other midrange projectors in its class, except in cost: Its price of $2,499 is about $1,000 lower than many competitive machines.

Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com) has introduced a line of very small, lightweight digital projectors: the xb31, with illumination of 1,500 lumens and a price of $3,699; and the sb21, rated at 1,000 lumens, for $2,499. Each weighs less than three pounds. HP has a “trade in, trade up” program, where you can return your current projector for credit toward a new machine.

For those of you who want to travel extra light by leaving the computer at home but are unable to run your PowerPoint presentations on your handheld, Margi Systems (www.margi.com) has just introduced an SD card edition of its popular Presenter-to-Go software ($199), which includes an adapter to plug your Palm Pilot into a projector or monitor. The program also works with CF and PC cards for Pocket PCs, and there’s a Springboard module of Presenter-to-Go for Handspring Visors.

Bob Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak software.

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