After last year’s plummeting prices, projector technology is seriously good value. £1000 now buys a projector good enough for the most sun-soaked classroom. Even less money buys today’s 1500 lumens benchmark. This year’s models show there is more to a projector than a light beam.
There’s a debate about the choice of projector types (DLP and LCD) though if you get to the BETT Show, you’ve a way to see for yourself. While you are there you can see if 200 lumens brightness counts for much either. Better still check out how the technology’s shaping up - starting with Sahara who launch a security conscious projector. Like the car radios of yore has a front panel that you store away. You use a remote handset to control the ‘Sahara Protector’ (£899) but if someone wants to take it for a ride, unplugging it renders it inactive. Just refit its panel and all works again. The panel has a unique code so if a thief acquires one they can’t use it to reactivate another projector. The ‘Protector’ has high (XGA) resolution and beams out 1400 lumens. It’s easily spotted as the projector wearing the most dazzling orange colour but there’s a silver model if style is a priority.
InFocus have the X3E projector (approx £1000) that for security uses PIN code activation. It’s lamp life is double what many offer and unusually the lamp guarantee lasts three years. InFocus also has the ERA award winning LP600 projector (£950) which is bright, easy to use and has a USB thumb-drive socket. With this you can show photos or use PowerPoint without a laptop. The LP120 (approx £1200) is a cute mini model that weighs a kilogram and is easily carried in a briefcase.
How far is your projector from the screen? With the NEC WT615 (£3300 approx) you can place the projector as close as 10 inches (26cm) to see a full 60 inch picture – and not throw a shadow on the screen. The WT615 uses three ‘aspheric’ mirrors to bounce the light inside itself until it’s big and beamy. More that this, the WT615 has an “Easy Electronic Board” feature: move its ultrasonic pen on the screen to mouse around the PC or run slideshows. You can also annotate what’s on screen and save the image to the projector’s memory.
When you want the class to see what you’re doing, a visual presenter (nee document camera) plugs into your PC or projector for all to enjoy. The Avervision 130 (about £310) is the most basic model and yet it’s several times sharper than a web cam and can plug into a TV too. Teachers use them while demonstrating science, making food, or as one teacher said, to save on photocopying. This model even records so you could demo a move in PE and play it back for all. It’s mature easy to work technology with uses all around.
Epson have the great value EMP-S3 (around £499) projector with 1600 lumens and when the bell goes a button shuts it off instantly. At the high end comes the Epson EMP-765 (around £1200) with its 9 second warm up time. This sleek, high resolution model beams 2500 lumens, has a USB thumb-drive socket that can play movie clips and fast ‘g’ wireless capability that you can manage from afar. It weighs just 1.8kg.
If adding remote access to a projector appeals, do see the RM Ekko (£199). It connects to an existing projector to make it a bit like a network printer. All sorts of PC’s can connect to it, control it or show their stuff. Its wired connection also bodes well for performance.
Today many projectors scan their sockets to see if a PC is connected and that’s great news to the folk who are, as I write, flummoxed by a projector not talking to a PC. If that happened to me I’d blame myself for not reading the manual before the lesson. So let’s cheekily gaze to the future and wish for another innovation: a projector with a manual printed on its case.