Friday, June 27, 2008

Projectors Tips for Classrooms

Projectors in the ClassroomThese days as technology continues to expand and projectors become cheaper, many classrooms and auditoriums are starting to buy projectors for educational purposes. Projectors are ideal to have in the classroom as they are the most versatile when compared to chalk boards and white boards. Because most schools constantly find themselves on a tight budget or short on funds, we'd like to give you a few tips to give you're projector the best bang for your dollar.

First off, for use in a classroom you are going to need a bright, high-contrast projector that everybody in the room is going to see. The typical ANSI lumens recommended for a K-12 classroom is 800-1500, for universities and auditoriums you would want something around 2000-2500 lumens. When looking for the ideal contrast ratio needed for your classroom, it all depends on what you will be using your projector for. A contrast ratio of 500:1 is plenty if you are simply displaying text documents, power point presentations, or other static image data. However if you are going to be displaying video content, you are going to want something with a much higher contrast ratio.

The next thing you are going to want to consider for your projector is the resolution. Obviously it would be a waste of money to buy a full 1080p projector for use in a classroom, but just what is a good resolution? The typical SVGA (800x600) resolution is perfect for nearly all K-12 classrooms and will save you money when compared to buying higher resolution XGA or SXGA projectors. Also buying higher resolution projectors will less light output for the same price.

You should also consider the weight of the projector you are looking to buy. Some projectors weigh as little as 5 pounds, and while extremely convenient these come at an additional price. For classroom use, unless you plan to constantly move your projector, a heavier and bulkier projector will work just as well and can be less expensive. Selecting a projector that weighs about 20 lbs will give you reasonable portability and will save you money compared to the much lighter designs.

You should also pay attention to the bulb life of the projector you are looking at buying. Projector bulbs can cost upwards of $200 to replace and most projectors have a bulb life of about 3,000 hours. It may also be beneficial to run your projector in economy mode to preserve bulb life.

Short term Projector Rentals are also great for classroom-like settings where you are traveling to give a presentation in a conference room or auditorium.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Extend Bulb Life

Today’s projectors burn out after about 2000 hours of use and with an average bulb price being $350 don’t you think that you should try and get all 2000 hours out of your bulb. Well here is some easy tips to remember when using your projector to extend your project bulb life.

• Operate your projector in a clean dust-free environment.

• Keep your projectors air filter clean. Make sure to clean your projectors air intake filter ever three to six months. This varies on the amount of dust in your room.

• Keep the exhaust vent at least 2 feet away from any object. If your exhaust intake does not have adequate clearance, you risk the chance of your projector overheating.

• When replacing the bulb or handling the bulb do not use your naked hands/fingers, use gloves. Even the slightest bit of oil on the bulb can cause it to blow due to a hotspot forming on the bulb.

• Use “Lamp Economy Mode” whenever possible. If you use this feature you can see as high as a 50% increase in lamp life with only a 20% reduction in brightness.

• Do not unplug your projector until your projector has cooled off for 5 minutes. Hot Bulbs are very fragile and the vibration caused by movement can break the lamps filament.

• Once your projector goes off, do not turn it back on for at least an hour. A bulb must be stone cold when you start it, or the projector will send to much voltage early in the heat-up cycle, and you will drastically shorten the bulb life.

• Do not shake or jostle your projector. Projectors are sensitive to these types of movements, especially when the projector is on.

• Do not turn a projector on in cold weather. If it is 40 degrees or below, your projector lamp will have a tendency to explode if you turn it on immediately. Same goes for hot temperatures. Never leave your projector in a car on a hot or cold day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sports Bar and Restaurant Projector Tips

Sports bars and restaurants have always been a place where people go to relax and enjoy a sports game live on a big screen. Big screen bring excitement to local bars and apart from other establishments who have several small screens where many people have to strain their eyes just to see.

One of the best options to bring the big screen to a sports bar today is a projector. Projectors are sleek, lightweight, easy to install, and project stunning native 1080p high definition video. Here are some easy and quick tips to help install a new projector in your bar or restaurant.

Projector Resolution

There is not a whole lot of options as far as aspect ratio's. You can choose between the cost effective 4:3 resolution projector or the high quality 1080p widescreen 16:9 HD projector. When you are choosing for projects like this we recommend never going any lower than an XGA 1024x768 standard 4:3 resolution. At this level you are looking at a decent picture at an extreme low cost. If you go any smaller resolution will start to produce a grainy image.

For people looking for top quality, you will want a HD 1920x1080p resolution projector. These kinds of projectors create truly a stunning image. Prices are also going down on HD projectors due to the market becoming very competitive.

Projector Brightness

One of the most important things to consider in your primary viewing areas is the amount of lighting that is in that area. A good thing to look at when looking for a place to put your projector is a place that had controlled lighting. Controlled lighting will save you money and space. If you are capable of dimming your viewing area when you want to project an image, you won't have to purchase a super bright projector which will cost more and be larger in size.

When thinking of screen size make sure to properly light it with the correct amount of lumens. For screens smaller than 80 inches diagonal, 1000-2000 lumens is recommended. For screens that are 80-120 inches diagonal, 2000-35000 would be adequate, and 120 inches + would need a projector that has 3500 or more lumens. Of course you would need to take in consideration the ambient light of the room, which is why a controllable light source makes things so much easier.

Smoking Rooms

If your business if going to allow smoking indoors make sure to pay special attention to what type of projector you are buying because some manufacturers may not honor the warranty in a smoky environment as sometimes smoke may cause damage to the system. Your best choice is to buy a DLP projector as they are more resistant to smoke damage.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a white projector screen can sometimes become stained from constant smoke exposure which can then distort the color of your projected image. Your best bet is to either project on a grey screen or on a wall if possible.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

You Should Ignore Projector Contrast Specs

Now you may be asking yourself just why you should ignore the contrast specifications when looking at projectors. Well the answer is quite simple. They don't tell very much if anything at all about what kind of picture you should expect to see on the screen, and they say even less about how one model will compare to another. While vendors aren't posting distorted or false specs to try to make the projector seem better, its just that the contrast ratio is the least informative spec on the sheet.

Why Are Projector Contrast Ratios Worthless?
  • First and foremost, contrast ratios for projectors are not measured on the same basis and are influenced largely by many unstated variables. One of the most significant factors to consider are the projectors operational differences. Some projectors have dynamic irises that open and close to adapt to the amount of light that needs to be projected depending on a given scene. Others have color wheels with white segments that are turned off when dark colors are displayed and other projectors don't have any of these features. Because of this there is little to no basis of comparison between projectors.

  • There is another equally if not more important factor to consider that is often ignored on the projector spec sheet, and its known as gray scale. Imagine if you will you had a project that produces the highest contrast ratio on the market. Imagine it produced the darkest and deepest black you've ever seen and some of the most brilliant whites. Sounds nice doesn't it? Now imagine that this projector couldn't distinguish between subtle shades of gray. It would surely produce a horrible picture that you would have never expected by just looking at the contrast ratio.

  • When manufacturers measure contrast ratios for their machines they use special dark rooms with no ambient light to measure the contrast ratio. Unless you have a totally black room your own perception of contrast will not be nearly the same. Any amount of light that reflects in your room will cause the contrast ratio to drop in your projector. This light may come from light reflected from the projector screen, ambient light in the room such as windows that let in light, or light leaks from the projectors vents.

  • Another important factor to consider is the lumen output of the projector itself which will have an impact on how you perceive the contrast ratios. If you've got ambient light in your room one of the easiest ways to help solve this problem is to use a projector with higher lumen output. This is because light in the room defines the minimum black level, while lumen output from the projector determines the brightness of the highlights. In many situations it is often the projectors lumen output responsible for the range between the black and white on the screen and not the contrast ratio. However, there is a limit to how many lumens you should use. Using an extremely bright projector in a dark room will undoubtedly strain your eyes and give you a headache. Rapid transition from dark scenes to bright scenes that can often be distracting and painful.