Basic Information to Help You Choose a Multimedia Projector

Multimedia projectors, in tandem with laptop computers, have replaced overhead transparencies and slide trays as a method of teaching, in sales or marketing situations, and any type of presentation where visual displays are used. They are easier to transport and use and provide sharper pictures, making your presentations more professional and informative. If you are in a teaching or marketing position, or often find yourself needing to present materials to an audience, a multimedia projector may be something to consider. And if you want one as part of your Home Theater System, these work well for that, too. We present basic information on the types of projectors available, price ranges, manufacturers and other details to help you decide if this is something you can use, and how to select the one right for you.

Types of Projectors--Which is Best?

There are three basic sizes of multimedia projector: Ultralights, conference room projectors, and fixed installation projectors. You'll need to know which one is best suited to your needs before buying. And you'll need to consider what your budget can afford, too.
  • Ultralight Projector
    Best suited to a salesman or someone who is constantly on the road with his or her presentations. The newest models now typically weigh in at about three pounds, they now offer pictures nearly as good as the larger models. Some manufacturers are beginning to offer even smaller models, but the prices are higher for these.
  • Conference Room Projector
    Useful if you move your presentations from room to room in the same building, they are a little bigger and provide better display. They are heavier than the ultralights, but usually the picture quality is better. These can also come with added features such as extra video or computer ports, remote mousing, or laser pointer.
  • Fixed Installation Projector
    This type is usually installed in a permanent spot, such as an auditorium or presentation hall. They can weigh as much as 100 pounds, and are more costly, but provide the best quality display and have other features the other two types do not have. Consider this type if your usage falls under this description and you have the budget to afford it. There aren't as many available models in this format as in the more portable ones.

Additionally, there are two "types" of projector: the LCD and the DLP. The LCD, or Liquid Crystal Display projection system works by shining light through transparent LCD cells. DLP, or Digital Light Processing, works by reflecting light through hundreds of tiny mirrors. This is newer technology, and at one point was more expensive. Prices are now dropping down closer to the LCD types.

It may not be easy to decide, but we recommend comparing the two types before buying.

Extra Features to Consider

Here are some features that either will be included with your projector, or are optional:

Inputs. Your projector can't project by itself, you will undoubtedly be hooking up a laptop, VCR or audio player and maybe even a mouse. Check out the input and output options and buy the one which will meet your needs.

Remote Control
Your remote control should be able to advance the displays, zoom in or out, control audio, switch between input sources, and laser point. Most also come standard with mousing capabilities and screen markup that allows you to digitally draw on screen.

Picture Adjustment
You should be able to adjust the picture's contrast, brightness and sharpness per presentation. "Keystone correction" is useful if you have to set the projecter at an angle to the screen. With this adjustment you can square up the borders and remove distortion.

If you will be giving the same presentation to a number of audiences, consider a projector with its own memory. You can insert a disk or PC card into respective places and use the same presentation without using your computer. Handy if you don't want to drag the laptop to the presentation, but this also assumes you'll not be making any changes to the presentation while you are there.

Makes, Price Ranges, and More

The InFocus X350 ranges in price from $266 to $350. has good picture and sound quality. Both PC and Mac compatible, this model includes color-coded cables for instant setup. It's portable, too.
InFocus' WorkBig IN24 is also portable, weighing in at just under 6 pounds. It's a DLP projector with excellent sound and picture quality. Price ranges from $384 up to $700.
Optoma HD70 ranges in price from $816 to about $1,000, and features keystone correction. Weighing in at a little more than 5 1/2 pounds, you'll find it easy to take with you wherever you go.
Toshiba's TDP-T100U is DLP format, portable at 6.6 pounds, and produces a quality display. Recommended for home or office use.
For stationary, or "fixed installation" multimedia players, we found two that look good to us, if this is what you are looking for. Sony's VPL-VW100 prices range from about $4,700 on up to $10,000. Panasonic's PT-D5600U goes for $4,050 to about $7,000. It's also "fixed installation.


We found these available at Circuit City and Best Buy, as well as, and had the most information on these and other models, as well as places to buy.

As always, there was more information available at the above sources than what can be presented here. Whether you use a multimedia projector as part of your home theater system or in your business or school, we hope you find this information useful to you.

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