Buying a new projector for your classroom doesn’t have to be difficult! Although there are hundreds of different makes and models, purchasing a projector can be child’s play if you know how to go about it properly
The most common concern when purchasing a projector for the classroom environment is finding a device that meets your requirements. Classroom projectors are centered on many different considerations and technologies. Which type should you choose and which one is better?
In this post, we will focus on the key technologies and features you should use as a guide to choosing the projector that is right for your classroom.
Technologies – LCD vs. DLP vs. LCoS.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors use different types of lighting technologies.
DLP projectors use a chip which contains thousands of little mirrors to reflect light. The mirrors pass the light through a color wheel which increases image clarity and accuracy.
On the flip side, an LCD projector is designed to transmit light through an LCD panel. The end result is reduced color contrast since the amount of light that can pass through the panel is limited.
What one produces the best image quality?
In terms of classroom use, a DLP projector produces better image quality than an LCD device. And it also provides more accuracy when displaying videos. The images are also backed by higher black levels and less pixilation which provides you with images and videos that are true to life.
Is there any advantage to using an LCD projector?
An LCD projector produces images where the pixels are more noticeable. However, an LCD projector uses less power and gives off less heat than a DLP projector. Another benefit is an LCD projector produces better clarity in low light environments and operate better at brightness levels adjusted to low settings.
What about LCoS projectors?
LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicone) projectors occupy a much smaller portion of the market than DLP and LCD projectors. This type of technology is commonly known as reflective LCD and produces great color accuracy, saturation and bright lighting. LCoS also allows images with 720p high definition to appear in their native state.
What about Brightness? What is the best lamp lumens?
Classroom projectors are manufactured with a wide variety of different light outputs. The amount of light output is determined by the lumens or ANSI lumens. Projectors that have a high rating for lumens will produce a brighter light. Depending upon the number of students in your classroom, a brighter lumens output can be better or worse, depending upon your requirements.
Why does brightness matter?
For example, if you have a large classroom with many students, the images will need to be larger which can reduce the brightness. Therefore, a projector with a high lumens output may be the better choice. Additionally, you should consider how much light is produced in the room.
Usually you should take lessons into consideration and how much note taking will be required. In this case, a brighter lumens output may be the better choice. However, if you plan to use the projector occasionally in a dark room, it may be too bright for students to view.
Another aspect to take into consideration is the types of applications you use including videos, photos, and graphics. If you plan to have some lighting available in the room, a higher lumens output will be necessary. If the classroom is dark most of the time, these types of applications will not require a high lumens rating.
A breakdown of Lumens Output Ratings.
Under 2000 Lumens: This type of rating is used for projectors that are highly portable and produce the lowest light output. This means a projector with this type of rating will be the least expensive as well. It will also require your classroom to be dark in order to provide the best viewing experience.
2000 to 3000 Lumens: A projector with a rating of between 2000 and 3000 lumens is considered to be a standard projector for classroom use. Although the price is a bit higher, this type of device can easily be used in environments with ambient lighting and typically, a totally dark room is not a requirement.
3000 to 4500 Lumens: A projector with a rating of between 3000 to 4500 lumens are ideal for large classroom environments. The rating is high enough to prevent images and videos from appearing faded when used in classrooms with a moderate amount of lighting. The larger images produce better clarity and colors with this type of lumens rating.
4500+ Lumens: A projector with a 4500+ rating is more suited toward an auditorium, stadium, or other type of large venue. This type of projector can range up to 14000+ lumens and contains technology designed for viewing in a space much larger than a classroom. This also makes this type of projector much more costly as well.
If the projector is being shared among multiple classrooms, weight may be something to consider if it is going to be moved around a lot. In this case, you should choose a projector that is not only lightweight (under five pounds), but also serves your classroom needs in terms of viewing technologies.
On the other hand, if the projector is going to stay in one location, weight should not be a concern. Instead, you should focus more on performance and cost.
The type of lens you choose will depend upon your classroom requirements. Most classroom projectors are designed with a zoom lens and keystone correction technologies. Using a zoom lens, you can easily adjust the size of images without having to move the projector around.
Keep in mind that the zoom factor will determine how much you can resize an image. For example, a projector with a 1.2:1 zoom factor will only allow you to adjust an image by up to twenty percent, where a projector with 2.0:1 will provide you with more options. Overall, the higher the zoom factor, the more options you will have in terms of resizing images.
When it comes to keystone correction, this type of technology prevents images from taking on a trapezoidal shape when viewed at angles other than straight ahead. Some classroom projectors will correct this problem from a vertical standpoint where others will correct it horizontally, or both.
Keystone correction is convenient when you cannot position the projector directly in front of the screen. Additionally, the projector may be designed with manual adjustment or a motorized configuration.
What is Aspect Ratio and Contrast Ratio?
The aspect ratio in a projector means the ratio of its width to height. If your classroom projector has a 4:3 ratio, it will produce images which are close to being square in shape. On the other hand, if the projector is equipped with a 16:9 aspect ratio, the images will be rectangular as opposed to square.
Contrast ratio refers to the ratio of the brightest and darkest parts of an image. Depending upon the type of lighting you are using in the room, projectors with two different contrast ratios can appear to have the same performance. Therefore, if you are using a moderate amount of lighting in your classroom, the lumen rating will be more important than the contrast ratio.
Don’t forget to check input and Output ports.
Depending upon how you plan to use the projector, multiple inputs and outputs may or may not be a primary consideration. For example, if you plan to connect multiple video devices, the number of available inputs will be an important consideration.
The same rings true for multiple computers. If you plan to connect more than one computer and the projector only has one input, this will not be possible without disconnecting one device before you connect the other one.
Another consideration is classroom projectors that are equipped with media players. This type of projector does not require you to connect a computer and instead, offers inputs for camera memory cards and SD cards. In most cases, this type of device can also accommodate a USB external flash device as well.
It is also important to consider the type of video signal input. Typically, there are two standards which include DVI (Digital Video Input) and HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface), similar to your computer. Projectors such as SMART and Epson offer these technologies to prevent hassles with analog to digital conversion. Instead, it allows you to stream digital video and audio simultaneously.
Does resolution matter?
Resolution refers to the ability of the projector to display a measured amount of data using a specific number of pixels. The higher the resolution, the more pixels the projector will use to display images. The numbers used to describe the resolution refer to the width of the screen, as well as top to bottom of the screen. The number typically looks like this: 1080p x 720p or something similar.
High resolution projectors.
High-resolution projectors are capable of displaying images that have smaller pixels. High resolution devices are typically more expensive but produce higher quality images. Lower resolutions do not produce as sharp quality as high resolution. However, if you have no requirement to see fine details such as in engineering illustrations or complex spreadsheets, this projector is less expensive.
Low resolution projectors.
If you are going to use the projector for basic classroom applications such as documents, educational videos, or PowerPoint presentations, a lower resolution projector may suit your requirements just fine.
What about Running Costs?
Another thing you should consider is the cost of the projector vs. the cost of running and maintaining it. If you have an inexpensive projector, it may be costly to run over the long term or vice versa. Projectors also have lamps that wear out over time and must be replaced at a cost sometimes as high as £262.00.
Additionally, the amount of hours of usage such as up to 3500 hours is always calculated to the maximum in the specifications. As the lamp reaches its maximum, the image quality slowly diminishes before the lamp must be replaced. For this reason, many institutions frequently replace the lamps to maintain image accuracy and brightness.
You should also do your homework when it comes to projector maintenance. If you can plan for expenses ahead of time, you will be certain your budget can handle replacements and maintenance costs in the future.
Contact us if you need any advice about ongoing projector maintenance costs.
If your school has a lot invested in classroom technology, security is naturally a concern to keep replacement costs low. Different makes and models of classroom projectors such as those made by SMART and Epson, typically offer security accessories to help you keep the equipment under lock and key.
Some of the accessories cost extra and some are included with the projector, depending upon which model you choose. Accessories such as anti-theft cables used with laptop computers are also available with classroom projectors. The cables attach to the projector and then pass through a secure point which serves as an anchor.
Other projectors accommodate security fasteners. This is hardware that allows you to secure the projector when you mount it in a location in your classroom. Such a projector is commonly equipped with password protection which prevents access in addition to theft using the security hardware.
This guide will provide you with a basic foundation of what you should know before buying a classroom projector. Many of the popular brands that occupy a large portion of the educational technology market include SMART and Epson projectors. Each company offers a wide variety of different types of devices with varying specifications and security features to choose from. If you apply the knowledge you have learned here, you should find a projector that is suitable for daily classroom use.