My Projector's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades

Listen to the podcast

Question: What criteria do you look at when you're evaluating LCD projectors?

The IT Guy says:
There are several key elements to look at when evaluating projectors, and I'm going to handle them separately over several weeks. (Actually, I'm not sure exactly how many weeks I'll need, as I'm worried a new technology might pop up in the next four or five weeks and I will have to add it.) For now, I'm going to start with brightness.

When you read the specifications for projectors, you will see a measure using a unit called a lumen. For instance, you may see projectors rated at 1,000, 1,500, 2,000 or more lumens. This is a measure of the intensity of the light emitted by the projector. One of the major improvements of this technology over the last ten years has been the increasing brightness at the same time that the projectors have come down in cost, allowing for their use in locations other than pitch-dark rooms with shades drawn.

So how many lumens do you need? It depends on where you will be using it. In a normal room with no windows (or covered windows), you can get by with 1,000 – 1,500 lumens. In a room with more light, you want at least 2,000. (This is also one of those areas where "good enough" is a moving target. It wasn't long ago that 2,000 lumens was top-of-the-line; now often the cheapest entry-level projectors are that bright!) You also want to factor in how far away from the screen your projector will be, as increasing the distance decreases the brightness.

The bottom line is that more lumens are better. Increased brightness gives you a greater range of options in terms of which kinds of rooms or situations your projector will work. After all, it's not often that you have sat in a presentation and thought, "Sheesh, I wish that projector weren't so bright?"!"

Next Tip: Projector Resolutions