How to compare Portable Projectors
Projectors have come a long way in the last few years. What was once the domain of professional Audio-Visual companies, with their enormous, heavy and technically difficult to use monsters moved into the simpler, more affordable home theatre style of projectors that we see everywhere.
In the most recent years, even those relatively expensive and bulky projectors sold for home theatre use, have evolved further into really compact, feature-packed, portable and easy to operate mini projectors we see today.
However, the market is absolutely flooded with different choices now. So how do you compare and decide which is the projector for you? The only way is to compare the specifications and the price.
While many projectors are being sold by different online vendors that LOOK exactly the same, there really are hundreds of variations that you can’t see just by looking at the picture of a projector.
The things to take into account are the following…
- Size & Weight – the lighter units tend to also have less features built in although the outer case is the same.
- Brightness of the output image – The standard of measurement is ANSI LUMENS and the higher the number, the brighter the image.
- The “Throw” – which is the distance that the projector can be, or needs to be, in order for the image to be focussed properly.
- The Projection Size – Which is how big the frame is on the wall or screen within which the images will be seen. Generally the measurements are taken corner to opposite corner, say bottom left to top right.
- Power Source – This is how the unit gets the power it needs to project the image at optimum brightness and clarity. Some need mains power, some can operate with an external power bank (like a phone charger) and some have onboard rechargeable batteries. If there are onboard batteries, these projectors tend to be heavier in weight.
- Input Connectivity – This is how you get the data from whatever it’s originating from (phone, laptop, memory stick etc) into the projector so it can be thrown up as an image. Generally the most common are USB, HDMI, AV and Wireless methods like WiFi and Bluetooth. The more of these different delivery methods the projector has, the better the product.
- Output Connectivity – This generally refers to Audio or Sound. Usually one output Stereo Jack Port is what most will have. This allows you to send the sound out to an external device like a portable speaker, headphones or other audio device. Most projectors will have a small speaker onboard so in close quarters, you can hear the sound coming from the projector but these are generally only loud enough for 2 or 3 people close by to listen to effectively.
- Mounting Socket – This is a screw port, usually underneath the projector that allows it to be attached to a tripod, gooseneck or other type of stand that allows it to be positioned and aimed with ease. The screw socket should be a standard photographic thread that’s common to all tripods and camera stands.
- Imaging Technology – This is what kind of onboard equipment is being used to generate the image and project the image. Generally LCD is the standard for generating and LED is the standard for projecting.
- Controls – How you control the projector is very important. Most come with a remote control, which is great, however the projector itself should also have a control panel of buttons. If anything should happen to the remote control, battery running out, becoming lost or damaged, it’s important that you can still use the projector without a remote control.
- What Accessories are included – Remote control, power pack and whatever cables or adapters are needed to facilitate whatever input ports the projector has are what you’d expect to see. You don’t want to end up with a projector that you purchased for a cheap price and later find that that saving was eaten up by having to buy all the cables and accessories separately.
- Manuals and Instructions – This is critical. If it doesn’t have a manual, you can be unable to figure out how to properly use all the inbuilt features. Quite often the manufacturers save both parts, space (on the unit) and money by making the controls very minimal but with complex operational sequences to have less buttons that can do a huge variety of things if pressed in the right combination. The manual is really important for understanding and navigating the connectivity and operation of the projector properly and to its greatest advantage.
At the end of the day, comparing which projector is right for you shouldn’t come down to price. Clearly the more reliable, feature-packed and higher quality units will tend to cost more so it really is a matter of getting what you pay for. It’s about comparing what will suit your individual needs the best way, and if you can find exact “like for like” in a cheaper deal, then you’ve got a winner.