Home Toys Article
- February 2005 -
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What To Know About Buying Projectors
A successful installation is both a thoughtful, strategic combination of good basic specs serving as a foundation, and a suite of operational clues that fit your application requirements.
So the specs have been determined, you have looked through every possible web site, dug through every informational portal, and talked with a myriad of telephone and online projector sales people. Now what? You're pretty confident that you have what you need to make a smart and savvy decision. You're ready to write the bid, right? Wrong! You're not ready if you've only looked at and talked about fact sheet specifications. There's a lot more to choosing a projector that meets your needs.
So what else do you need to know? Well, like a good CSI detective you need to investigate the motive, the scene and the methodology. Questions to ask yourself are: What do I really need? How far do I need to place the projector from the screen? What types of images will I be projecting? Are they colorful? Are they just slides, or will I be showing movies, too? Do I need special lenses? How about projecting to a white board? Will the ceiling clearance be high enough to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements? How long is the lamp life? Does it last that long in full power? What about filters? How often do I need to change or clean them? How long is the warranty period, and what does it cover? How many computers, VCRs and DVD players can I hook up to it? Do I need a speaker for each device connected? And finally, does the projector actually produce an excellent, high-quality image?
You can't get this data from telephone or online help: you need to talk to professionals, see the projectors and view the images. A successful installation is both a thoughtful, strategic combination of good basic specs serving as a foundation, and a suite of operational clues that fit your application requirements.
A good detective considers the following:
Connectivity - after all, that's why you're buying projectors…right? To connect to something so you can display, present and communicate, or even entertain. Most multi-media classrooms use a selection of different media sources. In most cases, however, they usually have only one screen you will probably use the projector as your display device for all your media sources. So, be sure to determine that the projector will supply maximum connectivity. For instance, the Mitsubishi XD450U ColorView® and XD480U ColorView units offer connectivity to at least two computers and two video sources, with an extra DVI port that can serve as a third digital connection for a computer or a DVD player.
Throw Distance - the distance needed between the screen and the projector to project an image that fills the screen should be devised to ensure that the projector is capable of filling the intended screen size within the room. Depending on the orientation of the room, and the availability of where a projector can be installed, special lenses may be required.
Throw Axis - the horizontal path of the projection, defined in relation to both the height of the projector versus the height of the screen, with the aim of having the projector project a square image that fills the screen, is another consideration that is important in many schools and training conference rooms, especially when used with electronic white boards (EWB). When using an EWB, the board has to be about six feet high to be reasonably reachable by the average teacher or presenter. With a ceiling height averaging about nine feet, many users find it challenging to ceiling-mount the projector while trying to meet OSHA height requirements, which dictate that devices hanging from a ceiling should not be lower than 82 inches. In other cases where a screen can only be pulled down to a certain height, an average table of 30 inches is often too low for a projector to fill a screen whose bottom edge is higher than the table. The newest line of Mitsubishi projectors, including the XD450U, XD480U and XD400U, are designed with a higher throw ratio that easily solves this problem without going through extraordinary measures.
Lamp Life - is another important consideration because it has an ongoing impact on performance and operational costs. Some manufacturers offer projectors that run in two modes, a regular, full brightness mode, and a lamp conservation mode. Good investigators learn that the brightness specification of a projector is always stated in full brightness mode, and lamp life is almost always stated in lamp conservation mode. Often, when running in full brightness, a lamp won't last as long as it states, or vice versa - determined by what mode is used. It is worth deciphering this feature and knowing how to maximize overall lamp performance. In many projectors like those in the Mitsubishi line, a lamp conservation mode runs a brightness mode that is about 80 to 85 percent from full throttle. The lamp life in this slightly conservative mode can be extended as much as 150%. That is almost 10 times the return on your compromise, and definitely worth considering! Most Mitsubishi projectors are designed with two lamp modes with a 15% / 150% brightness conservation ratio. In fact, the Mitsubishi XD400U is also the only projector in the industry that offers 2100 ANSI lumens that runs with a 5,000-hour lamp rated in full brightness.
Maintenance Issues - are also extremely important to consider. A projector is one of the most important devices in the classroom or conference room, and keeping it working properly sometimes means keeping the class or business moving forward. So maintenance issues such as lamp hours, ease of lamp replacement, filter cleaning, and ease of filter maintenance are all important aspects of ownership to consider. Mitsubishi offers a ceiling mount versatile enough for you to change filters or replace lamps without having to take the whole projector down. It is designed to have a set of piano hinges that hold the projector in place while one side flips down to allow regular maintenance. The Mitsubishi XD400U series is even more advanced, which is designed with an air-tight optic chamber that eliminates the need for a filter at all. Imagine the liberating experience of using a filter-free projector. No more dirty filters to clean and no more overheating or malfunctioning projectors due to clogged filters.
Finally, Warranty and Service - should also be carefully investigated. These determine how truly trouble-free a projector can be in its lifetime. Most projector manufacturers offer two to three year warranties but be aware that sometimes this is more restrictive and limited because it doesn't cover the optic engine itself,. Also, these warranties do not cover the lamp, which is considered a consumable that is normally covered for only 90 days.
With its new XD400U series of projectors, Mitsubishi takes the mystery out of service guarantees and warranties. First, the projectors are the most maintenance-free to be launched by Mitsubishi or any other manufacturer. They are designed and built to be filter-free so there are no filter hassles. In addition, the XD400 comes with 5,000 hours in full brightness, and the XD450U and XD480U offers 5,000 hours in lamp conservation mode with brightness up to 2500 ANSI lumens even in low-lamp mode. And finally, to underscore and emphasize its low-maintenance projectors, Mitsubishi is offering an unprecedented one-year warranty on the lamps of the XD400U series, on top of its already award-winning, three-year warranty with Express Replacement Assistance (ERA). A one-year warranty combined with 5000-hour lamp makes these projectors easy to maintain and cost-effective to buy.
So what do we now know? When buying a projector, more often than not, it looks often fabulous on a spec sheet. Now that you're a good detective, you've learned that in order to have a successful installation, there are many other things that need investigating. Getting a clear answer to these other factors is equally important, if not more so than meeting basic specifications. Spec sheets or remote sales people cannot provide the information you need, in this advanced stage of projector selection. So, don't rush to buy on specs or price alone. That really would be a crime!