Projector technology is now seriously good value - pound;1,000 buys a projector good enough for the most sun-soaked classroom - and machines at the 1,500 lumens (brightness) benchmark are even cheaper.
This year's models show there is more to a projector than a light beam.
There's a debate about the choice of projector types (DLP and LCD) - go along to the BETT Show and you'll be able to see the difference for yourself. And while you're there, see if 200 lumens brightness counts for much.
At BETT you'll also be able to check out the latest technology - starting with Sahara and its security-conscious Protector projector (pound;899).
Like some car radios, this has a removable front panel to deter thieves.
To install the projector the panel must be in place. It can then be removed to a safe place and the projector will remain operational via its remote control until it is unplugged from the mains. The Protector has high (XGA) resolution and beams out 1,400 lumens.
InFocus has the X3E projector (around pound;1,000). Its security feature is PIN-code activation. Its lamp life is double what many offer and, unusually, the lamp guarantee is three years. InFocus also has an Education Resources Awards winner, the LP600 projector (pound;950). It is bright, easy to use and has a USB thumb-drive socket, which enables you to show photos or use PowerPoint without a laptop.
The LP120 (approx pound;1,200), is a cute mini model that weighs a kilogram and is easily carried in a briefcase.
(Each of these projectors is featured in our fantastic Learning Space competition on page 48.) How far is your projector from the screen? With the NEC WT615 (pound;3,300 approx) you can place the projector as close as 10 inches (26cm) to see a 60-inch picture - and not throw a shadow on the screen. The WT615 uses three aspheric mirrors to bounce the light inside itself until it's big and beamy. It also has an "easy electronic board" feature: move its ultrasonic pen on the screen to mouse around the PC or run slideshows.
When you want the class to see what you!re doing, a visual presenter, or visualiser, plugs into your PC or projector for all to enjoy. The Avervision 130 (about pound;310) is the most basic model and yet it's several times sharper than a web cam and can plug into a TV as well.
Teachers use them while demonstrating science, making food, or as one teacher said, to save on photocopying.
Epson has the great value EMP-S3 (around pound;499) projector, with 1,600 lumens. When the bell goes a button can shut it off instantly. At the high end is the Epson EMP-765 (around pound;1,200).This sleek, high-resolution model beams 2,500 lumens, has a USB thumb-drive socket that can play movie clips, and fast wireless capability. It weighs just 1.8kg.
If adding wireless access to a projector appeals, see the RM Ekko (pound;199). It connects to an existing projector to make it a bit like a network printer. Its wired connection also bodes well for performance.
Don't miss at BETTI
WT615 NEC Stand V80 A projector that works right up close to the screen.
Tel: 0845 234 40 40
130 Visual Presenter Avermedia Stand M20 Show the class what you're doing.
Tel: 01908 21 88 00
Ekko RM Stand E50 An adaptor to network a projector.
Tel: 01235 826000 www.rm.com
InFocus Tel: 0800 0286470 www.InFocus.comuk Toshiba Stand V40 Tel: 01932 822818 www.toshiba.co.ukeducation Epson Stand B72 Tel: 01442 261144 www.epson.co.uk
Sahara Stand B82 Tel: 0208 319 7700 www.saharaplc.com
Samsung Stand C46 Tel: 01932 455 000 www.samsung.com