Projector Resolutions

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Question: Week Two of projector selection criteria

The IT Guy says:
The resolution of the projector is a measure of how detailed a picture the projector can display. There is an alphabet soup of names for the different possible resolutions for monitors or projectors, and here are the most common you'll see right now:

SVGA - 800 by 600 pixels
XGA – 1024 by 768 pixels
SXGA – 1280 by 1024 pixels
UXGA – 1600 by 1200 pixels

You want your projector to be as close in resolution to your computer's normal resolution as possible. However, projector resolution lags behind computer resolution; most laptops come with SXGA or UXGA resolution (or their wide-screen cousins WSXGA and WUXGA), but you'll find that projectors in a school's price range are XGA. (If you have a few thousand to spend, you can get up to SXGA, though!)

That doesn't mean you can only display XGA images, however. The projector can adjust to display images lower than XGA, and some projectors can compress a higher-resolution computer signal down to fit on the XGA display. (That works well for things like PowerPoints or videos, but not so well for text displays.) Thankfully, that usually happens automatically when you connect the computer and the projector.

What about video? Almost any projector will display standard video from a DVD player or VCR, which is called composite video. However, with the resolution of projectors as high as it is, they can also display high definition video. In order to do so, however, the projector has to have the right inputs, and that is for component video. These cables will have plugs colored red, green, blue, and yellow. You can look for the designation "HD Ready," or look to be sure that the specifications list component video as one of the input signals built in. It may not be necessary yet (most classrooms don't have high definition video players), but very soon this will be the major format for commercial videos, and it wouldn't hurt to be ready to handle it!

Next Tip: Projector Audio—Can You Hear Me Now?