Projector Guide

Projectors can often seem more confusing but when you know what you want to project, and what you want to project onto, you can usually narrow your selection down to a short list of models. Our guide below may be helpful, and if you are still unsure simply contact us and we will be happy to help you.

Brightness is measured in Lumens. Brighter environments, bigger screen areas and longer projection distances require higher brightness. However it is important not to buy a projector that is too bright, as this can cause "hotspot" reflection that will spoil the projected image.

For most daylight room environments using a screen up to about 2m wide, a brightness between 2200 to 3000 lumens is adequate. This will usually serve an audience of around 20 seated adults.

Larger environments, such as halls and auditoriums, will typically have a screen from 3m to 4m wide and a projector with a brightness from 4000 to 6000 lumens.

Higher brightnesses are available, and are typically used in outdoor and very large screen environments.

A projector will typically project an image from a computer or media player (Sky Box, Blu Ray). It will try to display the image as faithfully as it can. To get the best results it is important to match the projector to the type of image it will be displaying, and to ensure that your projection screen is of the proper proportions.

A digital image is actually a grid of pixels. The number of vertical & horizontal pixels is the image resolution. A projector has a "native" resolution, which means the number of pixels physically available in its imaging system. The higher the native resolution, the better the clarity of the image can be. An image of a higher resolution may be "supported", but the clarity will suffer.

The proportions of the image (vertical pixels x horizontal pixels) is called its Aspect Ratio. Traditional Projector Screens use a 4:3 resolution (also called "standard" or "video"), so that if the number of horizontal pixels were 400 then the count of vertical pixels would be 300. More modern aspect ratios include 16:9 (Movie widescreen) and 16:10 (widescreen Business Computers). So a 4:3 projector screen would not be an ideal match for a 16:9 projector screen, because the image would not fill the screen height.

The most common resolutions may also be referred to by an established letter code. Here is our quick cheat sheet of common Native projector resolutions

Resolution Resolution Name Aspect Ratio Aspect Name
Entertainment (Hospitality & Home Cinema)
1920 x 1080 1080p (Full HD) 16:9 Movie Widescreen
1280 x 720 720p (HD Ready) 16:9 Movie Widescreen
Business & Education Computers
1920 x 1200 WUXGA 16:10 Widescreen
1280 x 800 WXGA 16:10 Widescreen
1024 x 768 XGA 4:3 Standard
800 x 600 SVGA 4:3 Standard

Contrast ratio is the measure of how dark the "black" parts of the projected image are. A projector cannot project the colour black, so it simply blocks out as much light as possible in black areas of the image. The higher the ratio, the better it does this.

For general business and education projectors a contrast ratio of 500:1 is adequate and 2000:1 or higher is excellent - it is difficult to notice any further improvements above this.

For entertainment projectors playing video & games the contrast ratio is more important. The higher the better, as it makes images appear move vibrant and colours more intense.

In projectors, LCD and DLP are the names to two competing imaging systems. Over the years advances in both systems have reduced the differences between them.

Most LCD projectors have more accurate colour reproduction. DLP projectors are generally smaller, lighter and filter free such that they are slightly easier to maintain.

Very high end DLP devices have a considerable advantage in image intensity, and are most commonly used for professional movie projection.

The wider a projected image has to be, the further back a projector must be positioned. The distance (from lens to screen) is called the "throw" distance, and it is determined by the projector lens. Most projectors come with an integrated lens, but some higher end projectors have a range of swappable lens options.

If you are replacing a projector and wish to keep the existing screen/board you will either have to make sure that the new projector can projector properly at that distance, or be prepared to fit the new projector in a different position.

If you will be presenting in front of the small screen or whiteboard you would be best using a short or ultra short throw projector. Having the lens close to the screen makes it easy to avoid the beam of light, so reducing shadows and avoiding glare for the presenter. The shorter the throw distance, the better.

If you are fitting a projector for a large screen in a difficult position you may need a projector with lens options. However, this will likely be an expensive option.

For most mobile, meeting room and entertainment uses a standard throw projector will be perfectly fine.

Most business and education projectors still rely on the long established VGA connection. Although basic this remains the norm because there is a VGA output port on almost every device, and is perfectly adequate for most tasks.

Most modern Entertainment devices (Blu Ray, Sky, Freeview) use an HDMI cable to deliver a high quality image. If you are looking for a projector for home entertainment or hospitality you should make sure that the projector has an HDMI port.

Most projectors have a built in powered speaker, but this is rarely suitable for anything but small, quiet environments. A projector with a total audio output less than 12 watts is not well suited for playing to more than a small group of people (10 or less). We would strongly recommend that you either connect the projector to a sound system or add powered speakers to your purchase.

Projectors are usually set up to cast an image at an angle. In this position the image is distorted. The digital "keystoning" feature allows the image to be adjusted to compensate, so that a nicely rectangular picture can be achieved. Lens Shift (which may be found on high end projectors) is similar to keystoning, but physically angles the lens rather than using digital correction.

Most projectors come with a lamp, which will eventually need replacing.

A lamp module normally has an Lamp Life specification. This is normally the approximate number of operating hours before the lamp is expected to fail or drop below adequate performance levels. Most modern projectors have a Bright mode and a dimmer Economy mode. Switching to Economy mode whenever possible will prolong the life of your lamp.

A typical lamp life is around 2000 hours of standard operation, though some newer lamps are now offering over 6000 hours. In addition, most projectors have an economy mode that increases life span by dimming the image.

Lamp Life figures are usually based on continual use up to 5 hours per day in a clean, well ventilated space.

Standard Throw

Standard (Mid) Throw Distance Illustration

Short Throw

Short Throw Distance Illustration

UltraShort Throw

UltraShort Throw Distance Illustration

Company Information

Choose-AV
31 Byron Road
Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom
RG10 0AE

Tel: 0843 461 0009
Fax: 01189 080787

Choose-AV is a trading name of
Dreamlauncher Limited

Company number 3967596. Registered in England and Wales

VAT Registration Number 727 4324 36

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