Business projectors haven't been resting on their laurels in recent years. They're getting brighter, showing truer colors and tackling HD video. From $5,000 high-end installation projectors to affordable portables, now is a good time to update your old, low-resolution projector or outfit your sales team with the latest technology.
Two notable projector innovations are short throwing distances and widescreen support. You can find both of these in the $1,399 Epson PowerLite 400W, which can project an 87-inch 16:10 widescreen image from 3.4 feet away. The Toshiba TDP-EW25U, which costs $2,059, also blends these two features. Both projectors have a WXGA native resolution, making them a good fit for use with widescreen laptops. Neither projector is a featherweight, but at under 10 pounds each, you can still take them on the occasional road trip. The somewhat less-weighty, $1,410 Sony VPL-EW5 is a widescreen WXGA projector that uses 3LCD technology and weighs in at 6.6 pounds. It's an affordable entry-level solution that still packs in some desirable features. Another portable candidate is the $1,195, 6-pound XGA Sharp XR-32X. An SVGA version (the XR-32S) is also available, priced at $1,095.
For a budget-friendly conference room solution, look to the $749 InFocus Work Big IN2104. This XGA native resolution projector weighs just under 7 pounds, and a lamp life of 3,000 hours means you won't have to deal with lamp replacement for a while. SVGA and WXGA versions are also available in this series.
The NEC NP3151W, which features a very bright 4000 lumens, may be designed for business environments, but it's also up to the task of handling home theater-quality video. That's a boon for entrepreneurs who put advanced multimedia and video in their presentations. At 16.1 pounds, you won't want to take this projector on business trips, but it would be just right in a conference room at the office for meetings. All that new technology comes with a $4,999 price tag.
On the other end of the size and cost spectrum is the highly portable Sanyo PLC-XW60 XGA LCD projector for $795. It squeaks in at 3.6 pounds and is a good tool for a mobile salesperson or entrepreneur who needs to give presentations on the road. Another projector that delivers a high degree of portability is the ViewSonic PJ260D. This Digital Light Processing projector costs $1,399 and weighs just under 3 pounds.
You don't always have to dim the lights to get a good picture from a projector. Look for a device with a high lumen count. The $2,999 BenQ SP831, for instance, offers 4000 lumens of brightness, making it suitable for rooms with bright light. This model's twin-screen capability can also display images from two information sources at the same time.
Make sure to also look at projectors from Dell, Panasonic and Planar. Narrow down your options by deciding if you need a portable or conference room projector, whether you'll be using a widescreen notebook, and whether you'll be projecting in a brightly lit room or projecting a big image in a small space. You'll pay extra for some of the latest and greatest features, but there are plenty of bargains out there if you don't need cutting-edge technology.