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If you typically give presentations to groups of more than two or three people, consider an LCD projector. When hooked up with a notebook computer, an LCD projector displays your presentations on a wall where everyone can easily view them, eliminating the need for clients to crowd around a tiny notebook computer screen. An LCD projector also shows your presentations in brilliant, high-quality colors so they're attractive to watch.

Two of the most important considerations? The LCD projector's weight and image brightness. Many vendors offer a line of portable projectors that are smaller than standard LCD projectors and considerably lighter, typically weighing from 13 to 19 pounds. If portability is your top concern, you may find the "ultra-portables," which can weigh less than 10 pounds, an even better solution. But keep in mind that choosing a smaller, lighter model may mean compromising on certain functions.

Image brightness is most commonly measured by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) lumens. The higher the ANSI lumen rating, the brighter the picture. Models on the lower end of the scale hover around the 200 ANSI lumen range while higher-end models go up to 600 lumens. Unless you have very advanced needs, LCD projectors in the 200 to 300 ANSI lumen range will work just fine.

A very affordable, entry-level LCD projector is the LP225 ($3,899) from In Focus Systems. It weighs about 16 pounds and comes with just the basics: 250 ANSI lumens, a TFT active-matrix display, and standard SVGA (800 x 600) and VGA (640 x 480) resolution. If these features meet your criteria, then the LP225 is a sensible solution. An optional Smart Remote to control your presentation from anywhere in the room is also available.

A more advanced model--but one that's still well within most homebased budgets--is Proxima's Lightbook 20 ($4,995). This ultra-portable model's most notable features are its weight and size. The Lightbook 20 weighs a modest 11 pounds and its design is very compact (9.4 by 13.5 by 4.9 inches), so it's a viable solution if you travel a fair amount and need to take it with you. It has 200 ANSI lumens, SVGA and VGA resolution, and a TFT active-matrix display. More advanced functions include a LightBoard drawing tool for highlighting and drawing on a projected image, and Keystone automatic image correction.

If you give presentations to small groups but don't want to use an LCD projector, Sigma Data has a solution called SigmaVision ($1,595). The 10.4-inch TFT active-matrix portable screen plugs into the VGA port of your notebook computer so that up to five people can view your presentation without crowding around a single laptop display. Powered by a rechargeable Duracell NiMH battery that runs up to 21¦2 hours, the SigmaVision weighs less than 4 pounds so it's easy to bring along as a second screen for viewing presentations.

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