Holiday Guide to Business Projector Savings

[ This is a repost of our Projector People Post Business Newsletter Tech News from December 2009 ]

It’s time once again for our Holiday Projector Buyer’s Guide. Here we try and provide some general guidelines for finding the right projector, and we include some money saving tips along the way so you can be sure you are getting the best possible value for your dollar. We’ll start with some tips on business projectors, crossover projectors, and we’ll also preview our home theater guide. And as an added bonus, we will include links to parts of our website where you can find rebates, promotions, discounts, and such. Alright. Let’s get jingling!

Projector People : Savings Places

Before we get into our technical guide, here are a few pages that might lead to savings for you. Our demo projector inventory (usually very limited use projectors), rebates and promotions, Deal of the Day, and other specials we may featured are linked below.

Alright, now that you know where to find deals, let’s talk about how to find the right projector. Projectors for business are smaller, faster (to start up and shut down), brighter, smarter, and cheaper than ever before. I know we say that ever year, but it’s still true. And hopefully it always will be. So, let’s get you up to date on what you can expect in performance and price from a business projector today.

Projector Brightness : More Lumens for You!

2500 lumens seems to be the new benchmark for entry level business projectors. Home theater projectors make up the majority of projectors under 2000 lumens. This is good news for small business buyers because it means just about any projector (no matter how cheap) will get the job done in a small room without outside light. The room may lack the cheer of sunlight, but your $399 projector will look nice and bright in that space. One notable exception would be the new pocket projectors which are drastically dimmer in the 10 to 100 lumen range

Recommended Brightness by Room Size
Room Size Minimum Lumens Suggested Price Range Estimates
Multiple Locations (portable) 3000 lumens $799-$1499
Small Conference Room 2000 lumens $499-$1299
Large Conference Room 3500 lumens $1999 – $4999
Auditorium / Classroom 4500 lumens $2499 – and up

SAVINGS TIP : Features like wireless, networking, and higher (particularly HD) resolution will add to the cost of your projector. If you don’t need ’em, don’t pay for ’em. How do you know if you need ’em or not? Ask the questions… do you have an HD source to watch HD video? Do you have a wireless compatible laptop? Do you have a network in your office? I know, simple stuff, but skipping features is your best way to save money on a projector. But then, features like lens shift, auto-keystone correction, economy modes, and others may be extras you don’t want to live without. You’ll have to determine your budget and needs, but know that there are lower-priced projectors that lack some features you might be able to live without.

Projector Resolution : Sources, Sources, Sources

The key to selecting a projector resolution is to know your source. Like any good reporter, you should investigate the who, what, where, why, when, and how you will use your projector. If your business uses primarily VHS videos (because that old training video is still on a VHS tape) then resolution is not going to be an issue. Go as cheap as possible and save some cash. But if you are viewing detailed spreadsheets or drawings from a computer, you’ll need to invest in a higher resolution. And, if you take your projectors home for the weekend and watch on your Blu-ray player, then it’s time to consider switch to an HD widescreen resolution. If you want to do all of the above and more, HD is probably still the way to go, but call a Projector Expert for some good advice.

Resolution and Recommended Usage
Resolution Recommended Usage
SVGA Only for use with older sources such as VCRs, older computers, etc.
XGA A better choice for 4:3 sources such as NTSC DVD players, many laptop computers.
WXGA Best for widescreen laptops
SXGA+ Best for applications that require high-detail
HD Best for applications with video as primary viewing
3D Best for schools, architects, engineers with that particular need. (3D is a feature on some new DLP projectors)

SAVINGS TIP : An SVGA projector might cost a hundred bucks less in the short run, but as technology progresses it may not be supported by newer sources (computers, etc.). If you have 4:3 sources, investing in XGA will be more “future-proof.”

Connectivity
Connection Type Good to Have Because
Dual VGA / component flexibility. Most common connection type.
HDMI Playing video. Common on newer video sources – DVD players, etc.
S-Video A back-up for older video sources. Particularly useful in school settings.

SAVINGS TIP : If you plan to sneak the projector home on weekends for some movies and gaming, an HDMI connection is a plus. However, a dual component / VGA connection will do the trick if your source (receiver, gaming system, DVD player) has component video out.

So there you have just a few of the basics of business projection. Still have questions? Call a Projector Expert for more advice and information.

Cross Over Projectors

A couple years ago there were business projectors that touted their ‘work and play’ capability. You’d hear the call to “Take this projector home on the weekends!” But more recently, there are also home theater projectors that are promoting their versatility in work environments. This usually means that they have added a VGA input, and that they are a bit more portable than other home theater projectors. Either way, if a projector has both a computer (VGA) input and an HDMI connection, you’ve probably got a projector falls into the cross over category. If you aren’t picky about specific home theater features, or having a perfect image, and you want a versatile projector, one of these might be a good choice for you.

Home Theater Projector Guide

This has been a breakthrough year for low prices in home theater projection. We have broken two barriers. Entry level true HD 1080p home theater for $999 and high-end home theater for as low as $1999. That’s good news for buyers that have been watching and waiting for lower prices.

But since the price gap has narrowed between categories, there are still questions about the “real” difference between entry level, mid-level, and high-end projection. Of course there are always questions about which projector is the best in each category. So, we will be providing you with the short answers to these questions this week, and following up on our blog next week with further detailed analysis. We’d love to do it sooner, but as of this week, we still don’t have all the contending products in stock to offer further review.

So, to start, let’s break up some of the more popular models into their respective categories. This is pretty well covered territory on our blog, but in case you haven’t been following, we’ll go through it again.

Entry Level Home Theater

Mid Level Home Theater

High End Home Theater

So, that’s the category break down for our most popular models this home theater holiday season. We’ll offer a more comprehensive breakdown next week, but for now you can use our handy Projector Comparison Tool to check them out spec for spec. We also have a couple comparison’s of these products already published on our blog. Here, here, and here.

Video of Home Theater Projectors

If you’d rather just see it for yourself, we’ve some video of some of our most popular in action. We have recently added the Panasonic PT-AE4000U, BenQ W6000, and Vivitek H1080FD to our Home Theater Showroom. We’ve also taken some video of the Vivitek H1080FD, Panasonic PT-AE4000U (low quality), and Optoma HD20. We will be adding more as soon as we have a chance to do some head-to-head shootouts.

Whew! That’s going to do it for this week, but check back our blog next week for our home theater guide and more information. And if we don’t see you before, have yourself a Happy Holiday and a Wonderous New Year!