Light up your life

Roger Frost casts an eye over the brightest and best options for projectors in 2005

With so many to choose from, there is a projector to suit the brightest rooms and hot-desking teachers. Often bundled with whiteboards, it can be hard to resist the half-good projector on offer. And while it's hard to resist buying a board, I'll add that I know someone who can teach brilliantly without one. I do wonder if today's whiteboard mania will be tomorrow's sad, but the good news is that projectors prices fell 20 per cent in the last year.

At one end, we have the Epson EMP-S1H (pound;722) at pound;125 below last years EMP-S1, though the light level has nudged up from 1,200 to 1,400 lumens. It has a carry handle, a slot-in remote control, and is medium-sized so it feel less dense and travels well from class to class.

Easily overlooked is a short-throw lens that lets you place it close to the board (1.8m). And while you measure up your front desk, I'd note one unusual aid to portability: it starts up fast and shuts down in just 20 seconds.

Projectors like the EMP-S1H owe their low cost to an SVGA element which means they can handle an 800x600 screen dot for dot. They display larger screens well (typically 1,024 x 768) but for the best image, and this applies generally, you do best when you set the PC to match the projector and it may be time for projectors to have this fact stamped on them. Those with widescreen laptops should note this well, else you may lose a crucial element from the screen.

Higher up the scale, the Epson EMP-745 (pound;2,199), with 2,500 lumens, has the light-sabre brightness you need in an assembly hall, plus at 1.8kg it is very light. It uses faster wireless ("g"), so you can beam a PowerPoint presentation from a laptop or Tablet PC without a signal cable.

In comparison, Canon's 2,500 lumen XEED SX50 (pound;2,410) is a taste of tomorrow shown by its SXGA+ (1,400 x 1,050) capability. It is super-compact, has high contrast, precision optics and looks the part. More the school choice is the Canon LV-X4 (pound;1,120) at 1,500 lumens with a price due to XGA resolution that suits laptops and gives 1.5 times more screen than SVGA. This unit is quiet, has high contrast and a "blackboard mode" to work on dark surfaces.

The diverse Toshiba range offers a camera-arm option (about pound;250) that lets you point at a book, a test tube or a flower, so all the class can see what you are describing. It helps to have a manicure before use, but given a trade for a whiteboard, I would opt for one of these: it is easy, useful, and it works. In particular, check out the Toshiba S20 (pound;764), to which, for an extra pound;234, you can add a camera arm (S21) or wireless connectivity (S20W). These SVGA, 1,400 lumen projectors use a desirable DLP chip which noticeably ups the contrast. For a higher-spec portable option, I'd look at the Toshiba S70 (pound;1,081) with its 2,000 lumens. The brightness makes it versatile, and its short-throw lens is handy in a small room. It has two computer inputs and a widescreen setting. The S71 is a version with a camera arm.

Finally, Acco has a range which starts with the NOBO S15E (pound;921) and a respectable 1,500 lumens. Its lamp life is rated as 3,000 hours and at 2kg it is very portable. Moving up there is the NOBO X11P (pound;1,309) which is the brighter 2,000-lumen option with higher (XGA) resolution. The price looks better when you appreciate that it barely weighs a kilo. Acco reinforces the advice which, if you make it to the BETT show, is easy to find: get a demo and seek informed advice. Also, ask about security. For example, Network Cabling Solutions have a mean looking ceiling cable but a gander round BETT with a good question, or a Google with a good phrase ("projector was stolen") will alert you to what's required.

Projectors at BETT

Network Cabling Solutions Security Stand S5

Tel: 01622 791001

Interactive Education

Stand W30V100

Tel: 0870 043 4024

ACCO - projectors and display Stand tba

AverMedia - document cameras Stand M20

Tel: 01908 218800

Time Education

Tel: 01282 777799

RM Stand D50E50

Tel: 01235 826000


Canon projectors

Stand A50, W98

Tel: 08705 14372301737 220000

Epson projectors Stand D100

Tel: 0800 22 05 46


Tel: 020 8752 3535

Philips projectors

Tel: 0870 900 9070

Sony projectors


Toshiba projectors Stand V40

Tel: 01932 841600

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