It’s that time of year again! The future leaders of the land will be back in the trenches, eager to learn, well-behaved, and interested. At least that’s how it should be. So we thought now was a good time to provide a handy buyers guide for one of our most important assets, our educators.
Our recent Education Buyers Guide Podcast is also available for you to download. We will cover a few of the things we discuss in the podcast below, but the Podcast includes additional information that may be of value. Find our Podcast here.
What do Educators need to look for in a projector?
Educators, or those who purchase AV technology for schools, often have similar concerns when buying projectors. In our experience some of the primary concerns are cost (value), longevity and durability, and features. There are other concerns including security and networkability that may arise when the projectors will be permanently installed.
Cost and Value
As you can imagine, budgets vary widely for AV equipment for schools. Some schools may be looking for high-end projectors that can be added to their LAN, while others may be looking for a low cost projector to replace an older unit. The cost of a projector usually hinges on three basic specifications; brightness, resolution, and features. We will talk about features in a moment, but for now lets focus on brightness and resolution.
Resolution is a more black or white issue because there are fewer options, and in most cases a projector can scale to the resolution you need – though the image may not look perfect. Basically you want to match the resolution of the projector to the resolution of the source (i.e. a computer, VCR, DVD player, etc.) that you will be using. In a school setting the best resolution is typically XGA (1024×768 pixels). If you have SXGA+ (1400 x 1050) resolution computers, then an SXGA+ projector may be a good choice for you. However, they are significantly more expensive than XGA, and XGA projectors can almost always scale to SXGA+ resolution.
The brightness of a projector is measured in lumens. Ambient light and audience size will be the determining factors for the number of lumens you need. Larger audiences require larger screen sizes, which require brighter projectors. Ambient light can often be controlled in a school setting, but lights on presentations are preferable to low light.
- 2000 – 2500 lumens will be sufficient in most classrooms with 40 students or less.
- 2500 – 3500 are recommended for classrooms from 40-100 students.
- 3500 or brighter in rooms with over 100 students may be necessary if the room has a lot of ambient light.
These are just general guidelines. Please feel free to call and speak with a Projector Expert if you think your school may be an exception to any of these general rules.
Projector Discounts for Schools?
Schools and other non-profit companies may receive additional discounts from many manufacturers we carry when they are purchased from an authorized reseller. Sometimes our prices are already discounted beyond the manufacturer discount, so be sure to call and ask a Projector Expert to get your best price. You can ask about programs like the NEC Star Student program.
Longevity and durability
Longevity is a concern for a lot of users, but in a school setting this is amplified due to the large number of end users and potentially less cautious audiences (aka students). The good news is most projectors have reasonably durable plastic casing. Some manufacturers’ offer a more ‘industrial’ design, like NEC, Mitsubishi, and Epson, but what may be even more important is the technical support and warranty offerings. Watch for longer warranties when you buy from authorized resellers (like ProjectorPeople.com). In some cases a warranty for both the projector and the lamp may be extended specifically for educational institutions. Call and talk to a Projector Expert to learn more about these special offers.
As is true for the durability factor, ease of use is also a concern because there are so many end-users touching the product. Features like automatic setup and source detection help take out the “technically challenged’ factor. Other great additions include faster shut down and start up times, a real benefit when projectors are going from location to location in a single day. Listen to our Podcast to hear more about this and other features for educators, including more on projector networking.
Here is a quick look at some features for the educational environment.
Projector Features for Educators
- Multiple inputs (a VGA, s-video, and composite input are recommended)
- Integrated speakers (5 watt or better is desirable)
- Audio output for external speakers
- Longer warranties (3-years is usually the longest manufacturer offering)
- Wall-color correction technology (project on a blackboard with great looking color)
- Quick start-up and shut down (save time and extend battery life)
- Automatic set up and source detection