How to Choose a Projector for your Meeting
If your job involves setting up or conducting presentations on a regular basis, you may have run into the problem of trying to find a projector that will suit your needs. When looking for a projector, you may have discovered that there are a very wide variety of specs to consider, and some of them may seem like a completely foreign language. How do you decide the best projector option for your application?
In this article, we will make projector buying simple – whether you are looking for a corporate/board room application, home theater, or even a permanent installation. We will look at some points you should consider when choosing a projector, and then we will list out some options and examples to make sure you are making an informed purchase.
Renting vs buying
The first thing to consider, is whether you should rent or buy your projector. Many venues come equipped with some basic AV equipment, but generally it’s just enough to get the job done. You may not always be getting the optimal screen size (click here to read a guide on selecting the correct screen size for your room), projector brightness, picture clarity, or even basic functionality. This option is generally the least expensive. The venue may also have a dedicated on-site AV team, in which case you are likely in good shape. The team will be familiar with each particular room and will be able to recommend the best option for each application. You can also rest assured that everything will work as expected, and that your presentation will run smoothly. Of course, this peace of mind comes with a price, and as with everything, you get what you pay for.
If you are doing one or two medium sized presentations per year, consider just renting the gear from a professional provider so you can focus on the rest of the event. However, if you do many small presentations and require a small projector set up on, let’s say a weekly basis, then buying your own small projection set up may be a good investment.
Generally, you can expect to buy a small projection set-up for $1000-$2000, or you could rent a professional one for anywhere from $500 to $1000. Don’t forget that the rental also includes all the cables, set-up, and tech assistance should it be required. The frequency of your presentations, and your comfort level around technology will dictate whether renting or buying a projector is the right move for you.
The first thing to consider is your budget. Again, when buying a projector, or really any piece of AV gear – you definitely get what you pay for. It may seem tempting to buy a no-brand Chinese projector with unbelievable stats on paper… but these stats are often exaggerated and displayed in misleading ways. In general, you can expect to spend about $600-$1300 on a decent quality portable projector, for small business applications. This type of projector will work for a board meeting for example, but it definitely won’t be sufficient for any medium sized venue above 1500 square feet or so (and you can forget about large venues).
In this tech space, brands really do mean a lot. For the aforementioned budget, try to stick with brands like Panasonic, Hitachi, BenQ, Optoma, and Epson. Even lesser known brands that are more known for producing electronics other than projectors, are still a good choice: LG, Sony, Acer, and Viewsonic. Stay away from any brands you can’t pronounce or can buy on Alibaba. Premium projector brands like Christie and Barco will be untouchable in this price range (but a man can dream, can’t he?).
The next thing to consider is the brightness requirements of your projector. Brightness is the number one factor in the perceived quality of your displayed image and is more important than the resolution. You can have an incredible 4k picture, but it won’t matter if the image is dim and dull.
Consider the event space in which the projector will be used. Generally, the brighter the ambient light, the brighter your projector needs to be in order to overcome this brightness. Since projector screen do not emit their own light and only reflect it (unlike a TV), the screen will be partially reflecting all of the light photons in the room. The idea is that the projector needs to be bright enough to overcome this ambient light in order to produce a legible image.
For example, 1000 lumens will look just fine in a pitch black room. Open a window or two during the daytime, and the picture quality will diminish. Take this projector outside in full sunlight, and you won’t even be able to tell that the projector is turned on. Our eyes can only pic up so much light, and we have to make sure that they are picking up the “correct” light.
To cut to the chase, here are some suggestions on minimum brightness:
- Home theater with all blinds closed: 1500 lumens
- Small board meeting of 650 sq ft: 2000 lumens
- Medium room for 50 guests: 3600 lumens
- Medium/large Venue with 100 guests: 4500 lumens
- Ballroom for 150-200 guests: 5800 lumens
- Large ballroom for 200-350 guests: 10000 lumens
- Larger venue: consult a professional 😊
The above may be an oversimplification, since there are many other factors to consider. However, this should give you a good baseline of how lumens correlate with venue size.
For small business applications, stick with 3000-4000 lumens to cover just about any situation you may run in to.
If you are wondering if the projector might be TOO bright… don’t worry. This is almost impossible to achieve.
After you decide on what brightness you need, the next factor to consider is resolution. Believe it or not, resolution isn’t incredibly important for business presentations. Of course, a higher resolution is almost unequivocally better, but the money spent on it isn’t always the best outlet.
The relationship between brightness and resolution can be rectified in the following way for a given budget:
Home theater applications = resolution is more important than brightness
Business presentations = brightness is more important than resolution
While 4k projection may look mindblowing in the correct setting, it probably won’t do much to enhance your powerpoint presentation. You can never go wrong with a straight 1080p resolution, but really anything around 1280×780 is perfectly acceptable.
Be weary of bootleg manufacturers claiming to be selling a 4k projector for $200. They make this claim in a very misleading way, since no projector manufacturer will provide a true 4k capable chip at this price. What they really mean is that the projector will accept a 4k signal source – the actual projected picture will likely be something like 800×600 – a far cry from the misleading figure of 3840×2160 (4k). Make sure you look at the specifications and look for the “native resolution”, which is the actual resolution the projector is capable of projecting. The legitimate and trusted brands listed above make projectors in a wide variety of resolutions, but they will never make misleading claims.
Finally, you want to make sure that whatever lens comes with your projector is the right lens for you. The lens dictates how quickly the image “spreads out” from the projector, so basically how far the projector has to be from the screen to fill it adequately. You will invariably have limitations on how far the projector can be positioned form the screen, so this consideration is quite an important one.
Luckily, calculating the required distance is quite easy. Let’s say your screen is 8’ wide and your projector has a lens of 1:1. This means that the lens will fill your 8’ screen from a distance of exactly 8’.
If the lens was a .5 lens, then a distance of 4’ would be required to fill the 8’ screen.
If the lens says something like 1.52-2.89, then the lens is zoomable. You would be able to fill the screen from anywhere 12.16’ to 23.12’ giving you quite a bit of flexibility.
As a practical example, let’s say your upcoming venue utilizes an 8’ screen and you need the place the projector 5’ away. You can calculate your optimum lens ratio by dividing 5/8 = .625, meaning a projector with a lens of .625 would fill the 8’ screen perfectly from a distance of 5’. Accounting for zoomable lenses, that figure of .625 just has to fall somewhere in the given lens range. For example, a projector with a lens of .52-1.25 would work just fine for this application, since you can use the zoom feature to find your sweet spot of .625.
Here are some recommendations of the best business projectors for the $500-1500 price range. Feel free to shop around and buy something similar if the below recommendations don’t fit your exact specifications. Remember, one size does not fit all in the space of projection.
Best Business Projector Under $500
Best Business Projector Under $1000
Best Business Projector Under $1500
Have fun with your new projector but remember that if you aren’t comfortable with it’s operation, you can always leave it to a professional. Here at Aventus Audio Visual, we will always make sure that we provide the perfect projector and screen size for your given room. We will also ensure that everything is connected and operating exactly as expected. If you have any questions about the purchase of such a projector, feel free to contact us at any time via our website contact form or via the contact info listed below.
What are you waiting for? Just give us a shout and see how we can help transform your meeting or special event into something truly extraordinary.
Our aim is to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours, but usually much faster. For immediate assistance, please feel free to call (239) 319-9191