Your starter for 10: essential things you should know before buying a projector

Ask any facilities manager who is responsible for buying communications equipment whether it’s easy to choose the right projector for their organisation, and they’re likely to tell you that it can prove to be a tangled web of choices.

However, a projector should be an integral part of every organisation’s armoury of equipment to help employees collaborate and share knowledge. And knowing the difference between terms such as brightness, resolution and contrast can be crucial in helping you to identify the most suitable projector for your needs.

I have set out below a brief description of what I believe to be the essential features of a projector and the common terminology used to describe them. Although the list is by no means comprehensive, it should help to provide a practical starting point for anyone looking to buy a projector.

 Your starter for 10:

  • Brightness – The brightness of a projector – usually measured in lumens – will tell you how well it can cope with natural light. If you’re looking to install a projector in a room that does not have any way of blocking ambient light, then you may need a projector that has more than 2000 lumens.
  • Resolution – This indicates the number of dots (pixels) the projector can display in an image. Common types are XGA (1024×768) and WXGA (1280×800). The first set of numbers represents how many dots are displayed horizontally, and the last number shows the vertical amount. Higher resolutions such as 1080P are generally used for high-definition content.
  • Contrast – It adds depth to the projected image and is classified as the difference between light and dark on a screen expressed by a number, for example 1000:1. Contrast ratio is not so important when presenting flat content such as slide presentations, but it’s likely to be required when displaying video content, particularly for cinematic viewing.
  • Throw Distance – This is the distance between the projector and the image on the screen. Different rooms will require flexibility in placement of the projector. Some of the common throw distances used in projectors are Short Throw, Ultra Short Throw and Long Throw.
    • Short Throw – This refers to the distance (between 36 to 96 inches away) from the projector to the screen. This throw helps block out shadows and glare and is suitable for small- to medium-sized applications where the projector is either wall, or ceiling mounted.
    • Ultra Short Throw – Projection is generally 0 to 48 inches away from the projector and virtually blocks out all shadows and glare. This throw is suitable for smaller applications where the projector is either wall, or ceiling mounted.
    • Long Throw – This is mainly for ceiling-mounted projectors that are used in large rooms with big screens such as lecture theatres.
  • Projector Technology – There are two common types of projector technologies used in most projectors: DLP and LCD. Each has unique advantages over the other:
    • LCD projector contains three separate glass panels – red, green and blue – which significantly deliver better colour saturation and are great for HD experiences.
    • However, in a DLP projector, light is passed through a reflective chip which contains thousands of tiny mirrors that produce a higher contrast, which is ideal for static content.
  • Easy Set Up – Look for a projector that’s quick to set up, and features instant on and off which means no waiting time for a projector to warm up or cool down. Features including auto image correction, lens shift and keystone correction will help you align the image quickly.
  • Connectivity – HDMI is important for connectivity to HD devices, especially if you require audio from the same port. USB ports will allow you to project images and videos from a USB device great for PC free slideshows.
  • Wired/Wireless Projection – There are various ways to project content without connecting to a hardwire. Wireless enabled projectors mean you can project wirelessly. Wireless optional projectors mean you will need to purchase the wireless module separately.
  • Lamp Life – Look for a projector with a long lamp life. I would recommend looking for a lamp with at least 3,000 hours. Filters can also help to protect the lamp from dust which in turn can help to keep the projector running smoothly.
  • Warranty – It can be overlooked sometimes but it’s important to have service support available after purchasing a projector.

Explore Ricoh’s range of projectors to find the right one for your organisation. 

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