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When you take your show on the road, it is easy then ever to convey your message with a top notch, multimedia-rich presentation for use with a large audience. Simply connect a lightweight, portable PC projector to your laptop and project your PowerPoint or other presentation graphics and moving images directly onto a wall or screen.

Like most computer hardware and peripherals, PC projectors are made from similar technologies with few differences between vendors within price categories but important variations in features and ease of use. Here are the features you should consider when picking out your own PC projector:
  • Resolution: Look for 800x600 (SVGA) or 1024x768 (XGA) which ought to be plenty crisp. Your laptop may do a wonderful 2048 x 1536, but projectors that can show anything above 1024x768 are expensive and hardly worth it for general use. You can always lower your screen resolution on your laptop for the presentation and then revert. To help you set up, most projectors automatically sense the VGA port settings and adjust the projector resolution for you.
  • Brightness: Rated in ANSI lumens, a projector needed to fill a normal conference room should have at least 1200 lumens. A large auditorium or church sanctuary needs 2000-3000 lumens or more to travel the distance. Brighter usually means more expensive.
  • Weight: If you are planning to mount the unit in a classroom ceiling, weight is less of a factor, but if you carry it around on roadtrips, look for one that is less than 5 pounds. Lighter -- but all other features the same -- usually means more expensive.
  • Connectivity: Most projectors will hook up to a laptop's VGA connector, but nicer projectors can accommodate digital video inputs and DVD players as well. Also look for multiple inputs so you can switch back and forth between a VHS tape, DVD, and your laptop if you need that flexibility.
  • Audio: If you are doing a real multimedia show, you are better off playing the audio through the projector's larger speaker since your laptop speakers will only be practical in small rooms. Compare the sound and output wattage of the projectors' audio.
  • DLP or LCD? Digital Light Processing (DLP) is a proprietary technology developed by Texas Instruments and resold to vendors; if offers higher color contrast and smaller packaging. But Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) has been out for years and its latest generations produce impressive displays that are, generally speaking, sharper than DLP projectors. You can feel confident that for general road use, either technology is fine, and you can restrict your research based on other factors such as weight, brightness, cost and operating features.
  • Price: Competitive pressure between vendors and DLP/LCD technology has pushed prices down from $5,000 just a few years ago to around $1500 or less today.
Don't forget to look for the cables you need to hook up your laptop and audio. Buying a spare video and power cable is a very good idea because you are likely to forget these or lose them just when you need them.

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