Professional Projectors

Introduction

Why would anyone spend a four- figure sum on a projector? Projectors aren’t as exciting as other Mac peripherals, so they’re not likely to be objects of desire in the way that the latest high-end monitors or sound systems are. However, quality is desirable in a business environment. Meetings and presentations should be about communicating clearly, and projectors make it possible to do that.

Up at the high end of the market, businesses need brightness. Meetings are just as likely to take place in daylight as in a darkened room – either for practical reasons, or because it’s much easier to take notes and discuss points when there’s good ambient light. So lumens become less about specmanship and more about legibility – with 3,000 lumens and above it’s possible to avoid working in the dark.

Resolution is another issue. You might think that 1,024 x 768 XGA seems ample – and most of the units we looked at will interpolate up to 1,600 x 1,200 with some loss of quality – but widescreen video prefers a 16:9 format, and only one model in our round-up offers this more up to date aspect ratio.

Running costs are another factor. Home users may run their units for a few hours a day, but in a professional setting projectors have to work much harder. Lamp life seems to have settled around a standard of 2,000 hours, which will mean one to two years of heavy use. But replacement bulbs can cost a significant fraction of the original projector price, so we’ve tracked down the numbers to give you a more complete picture.

Noise might seem like a trivial issue, but our loudest unit was loud enough to be distracting, and the quietest was barely audible. Noise makes meetings less pleasant and less productive, so we’ve looked at noise figures to see which units perform the best.

Finally, we looked at warranties. Downtime means wasted time, and it’s unrealistic to expect professional users to ship their units back to a dealer or manufacturer and wait a couple of weeks for a repair. Most of the units we tested come with at least three years of on-site swap out or loan warranties. One or two don’t, so you may want to think twice before installing them where you can’t afford downtime.

So which models can close the deal? Read on to find out…

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