There are so many reasons that you might be shopping for a new projector. Maybe you want to turn your home into a cinema with a home theatre projector. Maybe you are a business that needs a projector for meetings and presentations. Maybe you are a venue that projects during performances and special events. Or maybe you are a travelling sales person who needs a portable projector for your pitches.
Whatever the reason, it is important to understand that not all projectors are created equal. You should do some research so you know a little about the different features available in the projector market, in order to get something that suits your needs.
However, we understand that all the technical specs and jargon can be a little bit overwhelming. That’s why we, the projector experts, have put together this ultimate projector buying guide. Here you will find all the facts you need, without any of the confusing terminology.
Then, if you still want help determining which product is best, you can always speak with one of our friendly projector specialists.
First you should determine what kind of user you are. This will help you start looking at the right kind of projector. Some of the most common user types are:
Projectors for Home theatre
You are a home user who wants to invest in a home theatre projector for your living room or home cinema. Home theatre projectors are a great way to enjoy your favourite TV shows and movies, and spend quality time with your friends and family.
Projectors for Business
You are a business or company looking for a projector for meeting rooms, conference rooms or large presentations. There is a wide range of projectors available for business purposes depending on the size of the room you are projecting in and the type of presentation you have. You should consider things like throw distance and connections, which are detailed in this guide.
Projectors for Portable Presentations
Portable projectors are used by a wide range of people, such as travelling executives, performers, and even real estate agents. They are handy small sized machines that can be taken with you just about anywhere and can project onto any suitable surface.
Many projectors are marketed and labelled based on their most popular usage, so once your sales specialist knows what you are using your projector for, they will be able to direct you to the best options.
Next, you should think about what resolution best suits the kinds of images and videos you will be projecting. The most common projector resolutions include:
SVGA (800×600 pixels)
This is the lowest level resolution featured in projector technology and is suitable for PowerPoint presentations for business and educational uses. There is not a high level of detail, but it is usually sufficient for simple images like tables and figures, and provides an affordable projector option for those on a budget.
XGA (1024×768 pixels)
XGA is a little bit of an older style of projector technology but is still widely available. Lots of laptops, especially older models, feature XGA resolution so will be best paired with this resolution. It is a good idea to consider your output resolution to find the best match projector.
WXGA (1280×800 pixels)
This resolution has the same vertical resolution as XGA but adds 20% more in horizontal resolution. It works well with laptops and smartphones.
WUXGA (1920×1200 pixels)
The first of the higher end resolution options, the WUXGA resolution is good for large venues and conference rooms, and usually spaces that have a permanent installation. These projectors are capable of outputting HD 1080p content.
1080p (1920×1080 pixels)
These projectors are the number one choice for home theatres as they are well suited for displaying wide screen, high definition content. The image quality is comparable to Blu-Ray and HD technology.
It is important to consider the brightness of the projector you are buying because this will have a strong impact on the image quality you are outputting. Projector brightness is measured in ‘lumens’ so you should look out for this word when you are inspecting different projector options. However, it isn’t always the case that the highest number of lumens will be the best projector for you.
When looking at projector lumens you should think about:
– How much ambient light will be in the room. If the room is completely dark or has the option to draw blackout curtains, you can get away with using a projector with less lumens. However, if there is lots of ambient light in the room you will need a high lumen projector. Similarly, if you are going to leave the lights on so people can take notes, you will need extra lumens.
– The number of people that will be in the room where you are projecting. This will help you decide the image size you will need, and therefore how bright you will need the image to be. Basically, the more people in the room, the bigger the image will need to be so everyone can get a clear view.
– What kind of projector screen you will be using. If you are using a wall instead of a purpose built projector screen, usually these won’t reflect the projector image quite as well, so you will need a little extra brightness.
Projectors with less than 2000 lumens are normally small portable projectors that can easily travel with you wherever you need to go. The standard lumen range of most medium grade projectors is 2000 to 3000 lumens, which is suitable for most business and education purposes. For this grade, you will need to dim the lights for the best image clarity. Stepping up to 3000-4500 lumen projectors gives you the ability to project with more light in the room, but is also a step up price wise. The highest lumen projectors are those with 4500+ lumens and are used in large boardrooms and auditoriums when the largest, and brightest images are needed.
Projectors come with a range of different connection options, so it is vital that you know the connectors of the devices you want to project through so that you have the right ports and cables.
HDMI is commonly used with computers and laptops. Almost all newer models have HDMI ports, which allow for high definition projection of video, audio and images through a HDMI cable.
VGA is another common type of connection for computers and laptops. Some older models will only have a VGA port. This technology is analogue so provides a lower quality image.
RCA also known as A/V is another connection type that carries audio and video signal, usually through 3 ports.
USB is a handy plug and play option that allows you to project straight from a pocket drive for ultimate convenience.
Display port connections are mostly used for connecting video, but can also transmit audio. You can add adapters to projectors with display port connections to be compatible with older ports if needed.
Wireless technology is the latest and hottest way to connect to your devices. Projectors with wireless capabilities don’t need any cords at all and can connect straight to compatible devices via the wireless network.
A projectors throw distance basically refers to how far it needs to be from the projection surface in order to display the projection. A long throw distance means that the projector will be positioned further back in order to display a large and clear image. Often these projectors are permanently ceiling mounted. A shorter throw distance is suitable for a smaller space where the projector needs to be situated closer to the projector screen or wall. Some projectors now have an ultra short throw distance for those extra small meeting rooms where a projector is placed very close to the wall.
When you buy a projector you should also think about which accessories you are going to need to bundle everything together in a package and get the best price possible. Some popular accessories include:
– Projector screens for creating the perfect backdrop for your projections.
– Projector mounts for permanently mounting your projector to the wall or ceiling.
– Projector cables to connect your projector to your devices, depending on the types of ports and connections you are using. Adapters are also available.
– Replacement lamps. Most projectors have a lamp life displayed in the list of features, which will give you some indication of how long your projector lamp will last before it needs to be replaced. It can be a good idea to buy a replacement lamp at the time of purchase so you aren’t’ caught out when your original lamp dims.
As you can see, there is wide range of projectors available, each with a very distinct set of features and technology. Hopefully this guide has given you the information you need to embark on finding the right projector for your needs.
If you still have questions, or would like to speak to someone about our wide range of high quality projectors, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team of experts today.