Choosing Your Projector

With over 200 projectors now on the market from an increasing number of manufacturers how do you choose the best projector for your requirements? The purpose of this page is to help you to make that choice and to understand the main parameters involved. 

There are 5 major factors to consider in selecting the right projector along with any number of minor factors to influence your decision. The major factors are BRIGHTNESS, RESOLUTION, CONTRAST RATIO, WEIGHT and BUDGET - the priority order is down to you. Other factors include type of technology, number of inputs, lamp life, cost of replacement lamps, manufacturer, warranty, special features, supplier after-sales support, etc. We address each major factor in turn.

BRIGHTNESS - The light output from the projector commonly expressed in ANSI lumens (American National Standards Institute measurement of candle power). The choice here is determined by the environment - in a darkened room a brightness of 1500 ANSI lumens will produce an acceptable XGA image (subject to distance) and 3000 ANSI lumens is adequate for short range projection in daylight conditions. Above 3500 ANSI lumens will produce good quality images in most meeting environments. For conferences and larger venues with a capacity of 100+, 4000 ANSI lumens should be considered as a minimum and we recommend a demonstration to assess the performance prior to purchasing. Fixed installation projectors generally have greater brightness (up to 15000 ANSI lumens for theatre/auditoriums) but with a commensurate price tag. Often, the type and size of screen used can greatly enhance the apparent brightness of a presentation but as a general rule the larger the screen surface and the lighter the environment, the greater the required brightness. It is also important to note that a lamp slightly reduces in brightness during its life.

RESOLUTION - This relates to picture clarity and is expressed as the number of pixels displayed. The following terms are applied:

SVGA = 800 x 600
XGA = 1024 x 768
SXGA+ = 1400 x 1050
UXGA 1600 x 1200
(4:3 aspect ratio aka "Video format")

SXGA = 1280 x 1024
(5:4 aspect ratio)

WXGA = 1366 x 768
Full HD = 1920 x 1080
(16:9 aspect ratio aka "Widescreen")

WXGA = 1280 x 768
WUXGA = 1920 x 1200
(16:10 aspect ratio aka "Widescreen")

The higher the resolution, the crisper the image (subject to distance) - and generally the higher the price!. XGA is the most common 4:3 ratio resolution. Under normal presentation circumstances, XGA will be totally acceptable but for fine line drawings or spreadsheets, SXGA+ or UXGA is advised. Data projectors have a single true resolution but may accommodate other resolutions using in-built compression or expansion technology known as scaling. It is best practice to match your projector with the native resolution of your computer or other input source.

CONTRAST RATIO - This is an indication of the dynamic range of a projector. Very simply, low contrast ratios offer poorer distinction than high ratios. This ratio, in combination with the brightness, resolution and projection distance will determine the image quality. Ratios of 1000:1 and above yield good performance for most applications but if projecting over long distances or in daylight conditions opt for the highest ratio you can. In churches it is often worth prioritising brightness over contrast ratio.

WEIGHT - Data projectors are generally categorised into 5 groups: SUB MICRO PORTABLES, MICRO PORTABLES, PORTABLE, DESKTOP and FIXED INSTALLATION. Each heading gives some clue towards the intended application and weight. 

Sub Micro Portables are the latest development in projectors providing convenience in a small package. Weighing in at under 2.0kg this category includes both SVGA and XGA versions and are ideal for ultra mobile requirements.

Micro Portables are small enough to be classed as micro without the increase in price attached to the Sub Micro range. These projectors weigh in around 2kg to 3Kgs and as with most projectors are available in both SVGA and XGA resolutions. These projectors tend to have less features than their big brothers in the Portables category.

Portables are the most popular choice in projectors for mobile presentations due to the weight and features. Many of today's models offer high brightness (up to 4000 ANSI lumens) and include a range of advanced features. Weight range is regarded as between 3kg and 5kg and most major manufacturers now offer these in XGA and WXGA resolutions. If you need a projector with features for mobile presentations then this is the best category for you.

Desktop Projectors are within the range of 5kg and 10kg and designed more for office environments where a projector may be needed for different rooms and occasional mobile presentations. Available in all resolutions this category generally accommodate higher brightness and more features than available on Portables e.g. additional source inputs.

Fixed Installation projectors are 10kg and above and designed more for presentation suites and conference venues. They can be ceiling mounted or desk/table top and can offer the highest brightness of all categories. Training suites and Auditoriums are best served by fixed installation projectors. High in features and flexibility they are also generally the more expensive category.  

BUDGET - Often a decisive factor in choosing the right projector. In general you get what you pay for - the higher the specification the more it will cost but as with most technology related products you get more for your money today than you did 12 months ago. Ultimately the amount you spend on a projection system should reflect it's importance to your organisation. 

PROmotivations represent leading manufacturers of projectors in the UK. We conduct extensive price checks every month to ensure a highly competitive approach and offer spares and accessories to compliment our after sales support. We will be pleased to offer advice and recommendations appropriate to your needs.

Please feel free to call us on 0845 370 3220 if we can help.

DEMONSTRATIONS - We are pleased to offer free demonstrations on request. All we ask in fairness is that if you decide to purchase, you allow us the final opportunity to supply.

Projector demonstration subject to projector availability and your church's location in relation to our Midlands offices.