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What to Look for in a Projector for Business

By Amy Beth Miller for America's Backbone Weekly

Choosing a new projector for your business can be daunting, with hundreds of choices in the marketplace. But a few simple questions can efficiently narrow your options. Begin planning your purchase by answering the following:

How will you use the projector?
Most workplaces will need a data or business projector, which are designed to handle PowerPoint, spreadsheets, and PDF files, as PC Magazine explains. Home entertainment projectors are primarily designed to display video, and few businesses need the capabilities of a gaming projector.

How you plan to use your projector will determine whether you want additional features, such as a built-in audio system or the capability to project 3D images.

Where will you use the projector?
If your main concern is portability, small, lightweight "pico" projectors can fit into a briefcase, pocket or even the palm of a hand. Pico projectors can be run from a smartphone or tablet or even be embedded in them.

Beyond that, understanding where you will use the projector will allow you to narrow your choices based on two vital characteristics:

  • Distance. The "throw ratio" of a projector measures how large it can project an image from a distance. For example, Canon U.S.A. Inc. claims two of its new portable projectors can display images measuring 80 inches on the diagonal from less than a foot away.
  • Brightness. The light level in the room; whether you're projecting onto a screen or wall, and whether you're projecting still images or video will determine the light output (measured in lumens) your projector needs. Several websites offer general guidelines for projector brightness, including Projector Central and ProjectorPeople.com.

How will you connect to your projector?
If you are connecting your projector to a laptop, you need to know which types of connections that laptop can take. If the projector will be used frequently in collaborations, make sure everyone can hook up to it. Options include VGA, DVI and HDMI cables; USB connections; and wireless capability.

What level of image quality will you need?
Balance your desire for a crisp image with your budget. Image quality is measured in resolution: two numbers referring to the pixels displayed, and/or a set of letters. Common options range from 800x600 (SVGA) to 1920x1200 (WUXGA) for high-definition, widescreen displays. Projector Central recommends at least SXGA+ (1400x1050) for detailed displays such as complex spreadsheets or engineering drawings.

From there you can narrow your choices based on additional features and price, but note the market is changing. While lamp life used to be a primary concern in projectors, new models use LEDs and lasers for light sources, and last much longer. For more detailed information, check the projector buying guides at sites such as Best Buy and Projector Central, and the top ratings from TechRadar.

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Amy Beth Miller is a writer and editor helping people succeed in business for more thana decade. She has written news articles, features, blogs, newsletters,e-letters white papers and training manuals.
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