Did you ever crowd around a person's computer monitor trying to see the latest graphic feat? A Multimedia Projector takes that image from the computer and projects it onto a wall or screen so many people can see it clearly and comfortably. Several models are designed for portability and are especially useful when making business or academic presentations at other places. Just connect your notebook or desktop computer to the projector's audio and video ports and project a multimedia experience for all to share.
Multimedia Projectors may also offer viability for the visually challenged. The large image, as presented on the wall or screen, can help make characters and images easier to recognize.
Things to consider when purchasing a Multimedia Projector include computer compatibility (most work with current PC and Macintosh systems), brightness of image, resolution capabilities, and portability.
Multimedia Projectors, like computer monitors, are capable of presenting images in a number of different resolution settings, including these popular ones VGA (640x480), SVGA (800x600), XGA (1024x768) and SXGA (1200x1024). There may be models that can't display at all these resolutions. Higher resolutions become important when displaying more sophisticated graphics and animations. VGA and SVGA may be adequate for presenting text (ie Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc).
Brightness - Lumens
Another crucial factor to image presentation is brightness. Like all projectors, an electric bulb acts as a light source and a brighter bulb provides a brighter image. Each multimedia projector uses a very special bulb, usually designed specifically for the brand or model. Brightness is measured in Lumens, following standards defined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If you go to the supermarket and purchase light bulbs for your home, you may notice that there's a 'lumens' rating on the package. You might observe that a 60-watt standard bulb may provide more lumens than a long-life bulb. The more lumens available, the brighter the projection is.
Brightness is associated with the brilliance of colors and the flexibility to present under many conditions. At 600 lumens, you may need a very dark room to see your projected image clearly. Shaded or dimly lit rooms may require more than 1000 lumens for adequate imaging.
When being used for visually challenged individuals, a high-level of brightness may be vital.
Portable projectors may tend to be less bright than standard desktop multimedia projectors. That, of course, may be associated with size of unit and with a portable energy source (battery) instead of standard AC electric current.
Compatibility & Interface
Multimedia projection devices may receive images to display from a number of different sources. Many models come with multiple ports. Data ports for connection with a PC or Mac are very common. With desktop computers, the cable that connects to your monitor from the computer is what goes into the projector. There are adapters that will allow you to see the same image on both your desktop monitor and the projector at the same time. With a notebook computer this becomes easier as there is already an extra monitor port on most computers. So all you have to do is run a cable from your notebook to the projector. Other standard ports may include RCA video and audio ports, S-Video ports, and option mouse ports. Not all units work with PCs and Macs.
Features / Effects
Many effects to presentations may be achieved using a remote control. One of the more common features is the zoom function. Zooming a projected image changes the size of the image without moving the projector. Some projectors even allow you to freeze a frame, which works very much like a 4-head VCR pause function. A picture in picture mode is also available with higher-end models that can work with multiple inputs.
Built-in technology is sometimes used to square projected images even when projected at an angle. Although rare, some models even come with speakers. Most of the time these speakers are mono, barely audible and prove ineffective unless used for small group presentations. Special laser pointing devices may also be included with the sale of a projector, or may be sold separately.
Most projection units weigh from 6 to 16 pounds. Some models are specifically designed for portability and may have handles, carry cases, and alternate power sources available. If portability is important for your needs, you can easily find several to choose from. Please note, however, that being light in weight and compact in size may require some sacrifices in performance, when compared to non-portable units.
All multimedia projection devices come with remote controls. Remote controls serve as a primary functioning device for the unit. Many features like zooming and freezing frames are made using the remote control. Many remote controls for fancier models come with a built-in mouse, so that when you're displaying a computer application from a computer, it becomes easier to navigate. The operating range for most projector remote controls is about 16 feet.