Selecting a Suitable Business Projector

Selecting a Suitable Business Projector for a Boardroom, Training Room or Meeting Room

There are a number of considerations when choosing a projector for your Boardroom, Training Room or Meeting Room.

In any Boardroom, Training Room or Meeting Room, getting your message across using a projector can sometimes be a frustrating operation. Common problems are: the projector won’t operate, the computer won’t connect or the image is shrunk down on the projection screen and your presentation can’t be read. To ensure the projector you are choosing is fit for purpose, there are 6 main areas you should consider. These are; the environment in which the projector will be located, the projector screen size, the connection required, the type of projector, the projector brightness and resolution.

1. Environment in which the projector will be located

Questions you should consider are: Will a projector work in this space? Is the lighting suitable? Is there natural light and will blinds or curtain control be required? Is a projector the best solution for the requirement?

Room Light: In a corporate environment, display of media using a projector usually occurs with a reasonably large amount of ambient light in the room. It is not feasible to turn the lights off to undertake a presentation because participants in the meeting or training session may wish to take notes and often the meeting takes place as part of a forum or discussion. In addition, if videoconferencing is a requirement for the space, even higher levels of ambient light will be necessary to support the camera operation in the room. In this case, projection may not be the best option or rear projection (screen with the projector behind) may be the solution. Either way, the light output from a projector in this environment if used, will require a high light level output to ensure the image is bright enough to be useful. Generally, with artificial room lighting and little or no direct sunlight into the room, 3500 ANSI lumen output will be required for a 100 inch image. If sunlight is present in the room, 5000 or more ANSI lumens will be required and some window treatment installed to minimise and control the natural light.

Location:The next issue is to determine where the projector will be located. For security and minimisation of setup time, often the projector is ceiling mounted in a fixed location. This means that a presenter can bring their laptop into the room, lower the projection screen, turn on the projector, connect and operate. If the projector is table mounted, it should be viewed as a portable installation and additional time allowed for presenter setup.

2. Projector Screen Size

Questions you should consider are: Will the screen be large enough? Will the screen be visible from all parts of the room? Will it physically fit?

Projector screen size will be dictated by the room size and ceiling height. Computers are moving more toward 16:10 or 16:9 aspect ratio with very few computers now outputting 4:3 aspect ratio. This assists with determining the screen size but when confronted with a 2700mm high ceiling, the image size can rarely be larger than 120 inch diagonal as the bottom of the image is too low for people at the rear of the room to view. If a larger screen size is required because of the length of the room, support monitors part way down the room may be required to allow all meeting participants to see the presentation. The rule of thumb for the display size versus the viewing distance is approximately 4 to 6 times the image height. That is for example, a 100” 16:9 image of 2214mm wide x 1245mm high would allow a viewing distance of between 4980mm and 7470mm.

3. Connection Type

Questions you should consider are: What devices do I actually need to connect? Where do I want the connections to be? What type of connection do I need i.e. VGA, HDMI, DVI, Display Port?

In your meeting room, training room or boardroom, whatever type of connection your laptop, PC or any other device you are connecting to, the projector must be able to support this type of connection. Four types of video connection for a laptop or PC will require consideration. These are: VGA, DVI, HDMI and Display Port connections.

VGA Connection:This is legacy analogue connection which is still present on many laptops and PCs. VGA will be with us for some time yet and is often a requirement for external presenter connection. You may have all HDMI laptops within your organisation, but if you use “outside presenters” they may not have HDMI laptops so this should be considered when deciding on the type of connection your projector will require.

DVI Connection: This is the Digital connection as the predecessor to HDMI but without audio and on a larger ‘D’ type connector. DVI connectors are large and are problematic in regular connection and re-connection. Use HDMI and adaptors if any connections are required using DVI.

HDMI Connection: This is the Digital connection for many computer and audio visual devices and it is becoming available on many newer laptops and computers as the only video output. HDMI is proving to be the connection of choice for most new laptops which are not Apple and almost a must have in the corporate environment. This connection type may be mandatory in your selection of a projector.

Display Port Connection: This connection is the computer specific video interface for laptops and computers which is compatible in some instances with HDMI, but not always. Display port in the case of Apple is compatible with HDMI so don’t provide this connection type specifically, but provide passive adaptors just in case.

Finally for this aspect of the selection, consider where you would like to connect the laptop or computer. A laptop connection is usually at the boardroom table, meeting room table or presenter’s table. However, dependent upon the building design and construction, it may not be possible to locate a floor box where required and a wall connection may be the next best option. If this is restrictive, a permanent computer may be the answer, located within the room with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

4. Projector Type

For corporate use, the projector should be either an LCD or DLP type of projector. This is because the technology with both types of projectors is cost effective and available in high brightness and high resolution. LCD and DLP projectors are also reliable, have long lamp life and are relatively maintenance free. There are many different projector lens options available for LCD and DLP projectors and they have been designed with this purpose in mind. LCD and DLP projectors have resolutions and scan convertors which will allow for the connection of most laptop and computer video formats.

5. Projector Brightness

For a boardroom, meeting room or training room, consider purchasing the brightest projector you can afford (3500 ANSI Lumens +) Projector brightness is measured in Lumens. The higher the Lumens, the brighter the projector image will be but this also comes at a price. In a Boardroom or Meeting room, it is rare for a projector to be too bright. Today, because they are so cost effective, it is common to install in a boardroom, meeting room or training room a projector of 3500 ANSI lumens. If your budget allows, consider a 5000 lumen projector as this will create a brighter, clearer image.

6. Projector Resolution

For a boardroom, meeting room or training room, consider purchasing a projector with the maximum resolution you can afford (1920 x 1200 pixels) The resolution of the projector should be as high as possible and preferably, 1920 x 1200 pixels. This resolution will cater for most current laptops and computers and provide a sharp, easily read image on screen. If cost is an issue, a good quality lower resolution projector (1280 x 800 pixels) will generally allow higher resolution signals to be connected and scale these to suit the projector. Alternatively, the laptop or computer can have the resolution changed to suit the projector however; this should be fully tested before a presentation as it may lead to undesirable changes which are not something you would like to occur when undertaking a presentation in front of your board members.