Open Mic: Choosing Tools

How to consider new projector advancements in evaluating display options
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The projector has been a long-standing display solution in classrooms, office and presentation spaces, large venues, and even on-the-go. Many clients may request flat panel displays as they’ve become more accessible in price, but panels may not be the right choice for every installation. The projector can remain the right choice based on flexibility and pricing—many people are aware of that. What clients may not know is the legacy of benefits is being rejuvenated with new advancements that make projectors a relevant option for a variety of spaces and applications. The old idea that they may have to compromise with price, resolution, and connectivity is no longer the case. Here are some ways you can think about the role of modern projectors for yourself and explain the options for your clients.

When selecting a projector (or several) for an installation, start with the time-honored factors: brightness, content and source needs, users of the system, longevity, budget, and the size of the space/throw ratio. Large spaces like theaters and lecture halls may need a brighter display and longer lamp life, as the ceiling-mounted projectors become more difficult to service. On the other hand, for smaller offices and classrooms, portability, connectivity, and resolution are likely the features to prioritize, where projectors can be moved around the room or set up on a desk or table. Ultra-short throw technology has also made installing a projector in any venue easier, because the projectors can be placed directly in front of the screen, removing any concerns about shadows or the need for mounting brackets.

In any use case, it’s important to really understand and visualize the users’ workflow and desired experience. Many times there is a difference between a client’s initial priorities and the things they really care about. In the end, clients value simplicity for operating any display or collaboration technology; and they will ultimately evaluate their purchase based on how often the room or equipment gets used and how it feels to use it. Today’s projectors are simpler to use than ever before with new connectivity that makes content sharing simple from any device. Now, projectors can be installed in better, out-of-reach places, where users no longer need to reach the device to physically connect to their laptop. Previously, projectors may not have been the right choice for installations because there wasn’t an optimal place to install the projector where it was within reach when needed. With the right projectors, that is no longer an obstacle.

Brightness used to be an advantage for flat panel displays, but now projectors can provide clear images for even bright spaces; some clients will prefer the look of a projected image over a panel. The display quality of projectors today has resolution up to 4K and brightness that works even in well-lit rooms. Currently, laser options are the brightest and can last up to 30,000 hours, and LED is quickly catching up to make 3,000-lumen displays more accessible.

Compatibility with a range of devices can be critical for certain applications, especially schools, as preferred devices may change over the lifetime of the projector. Talk about those roadmaps to ensure the projector won’t prematurely become irrelevant due to IO.

When purchasing any piece of technology, consider not only the most recent advancements, but future ones as well in selecting projectors. For example, you may want to look for projectors that have the ability to support 3D content and 4K. While businesses and schools may not yet regularly use 3D content, this advancement is coming quickly from the graphics industry: Facebook supports 3D posts and so can PowerPoint presentations. As businesses take on 3D modeling and schools use 3D content for project learning, it will become a client-requested feature in projection.

Consider that these conversations about workflow, experience, and future planning for what they are: a way to bring you closer to your clients and make you more indispensible to their enterprise—whatever display device they ultimately choose.

Dave Duncan is a project and applications engineer and has been a product line manager at InFocus since 2006.

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