Goldilocks Projectors — Finding Just the Right Fit For Your Classroom

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This Screen is Too Far…This Shadow is Too Distracting!

Placement of your tech matters. Does your classroom have existing installation fixtures that must be used? Does your projector need to travel from classroom to classroom to accommodate the greatest number of students? Perhaps a pico or handheld projector would work. From Portable to Traditional, Short throw to Ultra Short Throw— deciding on your projector’s future “home” is key before purchase. The newer short throw projectors can be placed or installed mere inches from the white board or wall viewing space. This allows teachers to present from the front of class without distracting shadows marring the information, image or video playing behind them.

Casio’s Throw Distance Calculator lets educators plug in Installation Type (table or ceiling), Projection settings and Units of Calculation to determine the ideal location to either permanently install the tech or place a mobile cart or table for it to sit.

This Classroom’s Too Big…This Display’s Too Small!

When it comes to finding the perfect display or screen for the classroom, it’s not a cookie cutter question. The importance of every student having a clear view of the projected image or content is obvious, how to determine that ideal size is slightly more complicated. Classrooms can be designed as symmetrical square layouts, wide or long configurations. Some might even have nooks or learning stations.

Consider two main aspects of your space when choosing a projector or display. Both the size of the viewing area and the distance from which students are viewing the information and images. Projector company Epson uses the 4/6/8 rule for AV installations. Taking into account which activities are used with the screen, the ideal viewing distance can be calculated. Four times the height of the screen works well for precise analytical viewing, six times for typical basic viewing and eight times is adequate for passive viewing. The 4/6/8 Simulator Tool lets educators plug in their particular screen or display size, classroom size and seat layout for a visual on where the limits of each type of viewing end. (This could also be handy for seating assignments based on the needs of particular students.)

This Total Cost of Ownership is Juuuust Right!

n a perfect world, every school could blindly pick the tech that fit their needs. But budgets are a reality for any district. How big the hit is determined by far more than the price on the tag. In fact, “soft” costs can add up to 20% to the bill. To reach a true bottom line, it important to compare not just the price but the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). One big budget concern is ongoing maintenance costs and energy bills. Not only do LampFree or hybrid projector options nix the need to buy additional replacement lamps, they also eliminate the costly process of replacing lamps — time needed for ordering, shipping costs, blocking time in the classroom for installation, man hours with an experienced installer. These costs all add up. Likewise, eco-friendly hybrids can use up to half the amount of power per unit than other lamp-based projectors and extends the operating life up to 20,000 hours. Credits might even be available to offset costs in some states or districts.

Luckily, finding the TCO isn’t complicated, in fact most websites offer TCO Calculators to compare products by simply plugging in a few data points like daily/annual usage, energy cost and filter cleaning or lamp replacement costs (including labor and time resources).

Sascha Zuger

Sascha has nearly two decades of experience as a freelance journalist writing for national magazines, including The Washington Post, LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, National Geographic Traveler, and others. She writes about education, travel and culinary topics.