by Jennifer Andrews

By
Jennifer Andrews

The past year has brought many changes in the world of video
projection. From lower-priced projectors to longer-lasting lamps, the latest
technologies should put more of these machines into the hands of those spreading
the Good Word.

1. High-Resolution Projectors for Less Than $1,000

Two years ago, we saw the first video projector (InFocus’
X1) drop below the $1,000 mark. These low-priced projectors were
typically SVGA (800 x 600) resolution, and ranged in brightness from 1,000 to
1,500 lumens. The price reduction helped keep SVGA projectors among the most
popular sellers.

But time marches on, and now you’ll find SVGA projectors for
less than $700, and XGA 2,000- lumen projectors selling for less than
$1,000.These price drops are great news for growing churches on tight budgets.

High-resolution home-theater projectors are also getting less
expensive. Native high-definition signals are now commonplace and can be bought
for as little as $999. (Check out the Sanyo Z2 LCD projector from
www.projectorpeople.com.) Portable projectors are a great option for youth
groups and family movie nights. The high-definition, native-widescreen resolution
will also make your purchase more future-proof, which might spare additional
expense to your church in the next few years.

2. More Brightness for Your Buck

As high-resolution becomes more affordable, so do
higher-brightness projectors. In the past, church leaders aimed to fit an XGA,
2000-lumen projector into their budgets.

Today, with established budgets, churches can afford to
purchase 3,000- to 4,500-lumen projectors for the same price. This allows
medium-size churches to buy brighter systems, which might also allow for larger
screen sizes. Churches that might have been priced out of a projection system
(limited by large amounts of ambient light) will now find it much more
affordable to go that direction.

3. Longer-Lasting Lamps

Projector lamps have nearly doubled in lamp life on average
over the past two years. This is partly thanks to improvements in cooling
systems. Manufacturers are specifying longer-lasting lamps (as much as 5,000
hours) and are even increasing the lengths of their lamp warranties. Expect to
see more manufacturers offering at least six-month/ 1,000-hour warranties in the
coming year. Mitsubishi offers a one-year/1,000-hour lamp warranty on new
projectors — significantly better than the manufacturer’s own previous
90-day warranty.

4. Economy Modes Have Become Standard

An economy mode is now available on most current projector
models. This handy feature allows you to extend lamp life and lower fan-noise
levels, with slightly lower brightness. In some cases, the lower lumen output is
a useful feature as well.

As projectors get brighter, there are some applications in
which the brightest setting might actually detract from the picture, washing out
black and other dark colors. This occasionally happens in home-theater
environments, where lighting is completely controlled.

5. Filterless Projectors

A great benefit to projector owners who use ceiling-mounted
models, new filterless projectors make scheduled filter cleaning unnecessary.
Sealed optical systems allow manufacturers (like Mitsubishi) to eliminate
filters from their designs altogether.

Previously, filter cleaning was the one regularly scheduled
maintenance required for a projector. It was often overlooked because projectors
were hard to reach, or it was simply forgotten. Filterless projectors are a
great option for churches who intend to ceiling-mount their projectors in
difficult-to-reach locations such as sanctuary ceilings.

6. DVI Cables Run Longer

Special boosters and improved internal parts have allowed DVI
cables to run longer than they used to — now up to 100 feet. This is good news
for those who have installed new projectors but have been unable to take
advantage of digital video quality because cable runs were too long. DVI cable runs more than 25 feet will need a distribution
amplifier.

7. 802.11G Wireless Support

The new, faster wireless standard — 802.11g — is now
available on select wireless video projectors. The higher bandwidth makes for speedier transitions, fewer
artifacts, and more power to run applications such as PC video.

Some manufacturers have also designed external wireless
products with an 802.11a standard. There are external wireless solutions that
allow you to project wireless mpeg video and standard NTSC television
broadcasts. However, wireless high-definition video still isn’t a viable
option.

8. Higher-Resolution Projectors on the Way?

It seems a logical next step to increase projector resolutions
to match the outputs of today’s higher-resolution laptop computers.
Manufacturers and resellers often instruct buyers to match their projectors to
that of their computers; however, projector technology hasn’t kept pace with
the changes in laptop resolution.

Currently, the highest-resolution LCD projectors are SXGA
(1280 x 1024) and QXGA (2048 x 1536). Widescreen formats include WXGA-H (1280 x 720) and WUXGA (1920
x 1200). These ultra-high-resolution projectors cost significantly more ($4,000
or more) and aren’t expected to fall into a lower price category for some
time.

Higher-resolution projection systems beyond XGA (1024×768)
aren’t crucial for applications such as PowerPoint, or entertainment
applications such as playing DVDs — churches’ primary uses for projection
equipment.

9. Do-It-Yourself Installation Assistance

Lens shift

has become much more
common in the past year, with many more manufacturers including it on their
home-theater and installation products. Lens shift is a function that allows for
easier positioning of your projector in installed environments. Some projectors
provide room to move the lens left, right, up and down within the housing.

Using lens shift will produce better results than using
digital keystone correction because it maintains the integrity of the original
image rather than compressing the pixels to square the image.

Optical zoom

allows you to make a
larger image from a given distance, without physically moving the projector or
sacrificing image quality. As easy to use as a zoom lens on a camera, the
optical zoom usually is just a turn of the lens or a press of a button.

Projectors have varying degrees of zoom capabilities. Some can
nearly double the size of your image. Optical zoom is listed in the projector
specs as a number such as 2x, or “two times,” for double the image size from
the same distance.

This feature might also allow you to use shorter cables,
meaning less signal degradation and a lower cable cost.

Most projectors have an offset lens rather than a centered
lens.

That means when planning where to hang your
projector mount, you must account for the degree of offset rather than just
centering the mount based on room specifications. A projector with a centered
lens takes this extra equation out of the picture for easier installation.

A Distributor’s Wish List

Based on our interactions with customers, here are a few hopes
for future projection technologies:

  • Seamless wireless video (built-in or external solution)
  • Battery-powered portable projectors
  • Self-masking chips, or lenses which
    adjust to eliminate black bars in non-native format
  • Greater zoom capability
    on more models for greater flexibility in installation or portable use
  • More
    bayonet-style lenses for more pre- and post-installation flexibility
  • Competitive pricing on RF remotes for electric screens

Jennifer Andrews is the Internet communications manager for
ProjectorPeople.com, where she has been writing tutorials on projection
technology for five years. Visit www.projectorpeople.com for more information about this
dynamic display technology.


Toolbox

THREE BRIGHT NEW OPTIONS

Canon’s

LV-7245, LV- 7240 and LV-X5 multimedia
projectors incorporate smooth, modern design and a generous array of new
features for quick, easy operation. LV-7245, LV-7240 and LVX5 provide 2,500 ANSI lumens, 2,100
ANSI lumens, and 1,500 ANSI lumens of brightness, respectively. All are designed
to deliver maximum impact in minimum spaces, making them well suited for
presenting data from laptop computers, video from VCRs and DVD players, or live
images from the Canon RE-455X Visualizer. They can also be connected to Canon
digital camcorders and digital cameras. All three models have a short throw distance capable of
projecting a 100-inch image from only 9.8 feet away — an essential feature for
use in classrooms, conference rooms, courtrooms, meeting rooms and other
everyday venues that require projection portability, brightness and image
fidelity.

800.OK.CANON
www.usa.canon.com


NEED A PROJECTOR THAT GOES THE DISTANCE?

You’re sure to get a lot of mileage from Shepherd
Ministries Multimedia’s
current top-selling model,
the Sharp XR20S DLP projector. It’s designed to fit changing multimedia needs and maximizes Texas Instruments’ patented DLPtm technology for impressive image quality and reliability.
TrueVisiontm advanced video circuitry optimizes performance, while exceptionally
quiet cooling lets the audience pay attention to the message, not the method. XR20S offers 2,000:1 contrast ratio for high clarity; onscreen guide help functions; and extended lamp life (up to
3,000 hours in economy mode).

800.646.8336
www.shepherdmin.com


PROJECTORS, SCREENS AND SERVICE

For your complete projection setup, check out Full
Compass
. You’ll find a wide selection of data and multimedia
projectors from BenQ, Canon, Panasonic, Sanyo and Toshiba. The company also offers projection screens by Da-Lite. Sales professionals are available by phone to help you get the
lowest price and the most appropriate equipment for your needs.

800.356.5844
www.fullcompass.com


ILLUMINATE YOUR CHURCH

Marked by stellar brightness and image quality — and with an
array of options and control features — the DP8500x from projectorpeople.com
gives you flexibility in an upgradeable platform that
helps to protect your investment. Upward compatibility offers a stay-on-top-of-technology future,
including laptop and wireless control. The Proxima DP8500x offers a number of
features that make installation easier, including optional user-replaceable
bayonet lenses (offering throw ratios from 0.8 to 7.2:1), which allow
versatility and changed in three easy steps. Power zoom, focus and lens shift,
plus horizontal and vertical keystone correction provide greater installation
control. The DP8500x has flexible connectivity options including three PC
inputs, three video inputs, and support for HDTV and computer sources up to UXGA
resolution. You can also control your projector from your computer via RS-232 or
TCP/IP interfaces, a very convenient feature for large installations.

888.248.0675
www.projectorpeople.com