Choosing a video and slide projector for permanent installation in a corporate boardroom or conference room is different from picking a mobile laptop projector for, say, road warriors to stash in their luggage.
Choosing a video and slide projector for either the conference room or a mobile laptop projector still requires an eye for resolution and brightness, splash screens and Wi-Fi, but features like password security, ceiling mounts and network control suddenly matter. Projector vendors such as InFocus, Panasonic, Viewsonic, Hitachi, Sanyo, Sharp, NEC, HP, Dell and others offer different combinations and qualities of some or all of what you need in corporate video and slide projectors for the conference room and mobile laptop projectors.
What follows are the 15 issues to review and consider when you set out to choose a video and slide projector for the conference room and a mobile laptop projector.
Security and Passwords
At the top of the list is security for the projector itself. Anything as small and lightweight as a typical projector is a potential target for theft. Probably the most common security feature is a password that you have to enter before you can view anything.
Types of Passwords
Any password option is worth having, but there’s more than one variation on passwords, and many projectors offer more than one. Some projectors can be set to ask for a password every time you turn them on. Depending on how many people are using the projector, however, and how often each one uses it, this could lead to people writing the password down where a thief might find it.
Motion Detection and Password
A more interesting option depends on built-in motion detectors. Some projectors can ask for a password when the projector senses that it’s been moved. A major advantage of this approach is most users will never have to bother with a password, and won’t need to know it, making it easier to keep the password secure.
Some projectors let you create your own splash screen. The screen will show when you turn the projector on, and you can use it to announce who the projector belongs to. The splash screen should have a password of its own that may or may not be the same as the power-on password. Some also require a separate password before you can change the screen.
The Limits of Passwords and Splash Screens
The Limits of Passwords and Splash Screens
Keep in mind that although a password or splash screen can stop a thief from using a stolen projector, it doesn’t do anything to stop the theft. It’s a good idea to put a label or sign on or near the projector announcing that it can’t be used without the password. Make sure the text is big enough so it’s hard to miss. (If you put it on the projector itself, be careful not to interfere with any cooling slots.)
Keep in mind too that you need to guard against losing the password, or being locked out of using the projector because someone changed it-whether an ex-employee on the way out the door or someone who just forgot to let people know the new password. In some cases you can give the dealer or manufacturer the serial number to get a code to override the password. Another approach lets you generate a code from the projector that the dealer or manufacturer can use to determine the password. In either case, once you confirm your ownership, you should be able to get a code that lets you use the projector again.
Passwords are all good and well, but they won’t stop anyone from walking away with the projector. For that you need physical security. Look for a Kensington lock slot for attaching a cable with a Kensington lock, a security slot you can thread a cable through or a security bar that you can wrap a cable around (often by threading the cable through the security slot). The point is to let you tie the projector to something else that won’t move, using a sturdy, reinforced cable.
Simply installing the projector in a ceiling mount offers some level of protection against casual theft, since it takes more time to remove the projector from the mount than pick up a loose projector and stuff it in a bag. Some ceiling mounts are designed with security in mind, and include lock and key mechanisms to protect the projector. Using a security cable in combination with a ceiling mount is even more secure.
A last line of defense against theft is an alarm. A thief may know the projector’s password and not worry about being seen removing the projector from its mount, but he or she is bound to attract attention walking through the office with an alarm screaming from the bag he or she is carrying. A few projectors have their own built-in motion-sensitive alarms. You can also buy one separately and mount it on any projector, typically using epoxy that comes with the alarm. Another variation is an alarm that goes off when a tether is cut or unplugged.
Remote Administration and Wi-Fi Network Control
More and more projectors offer network connections for remote administration, a trick that can save a tremendous amount of time for the admin. The process works pretty much the same way as remote administration for network printers. Typically you can use a browser to connect to a Web server built in to the projector. The Web pages let you monitor the projector status and settings, as well as change settings. Most newer projectors with remote administration features even have e-mail alerts that can send messages to warn you when a cooling fan isn’t working, for example, or when it’s time to change the lamp.
Presentations by Network
Some projectors use network connections to let you connect and show presentations, a convenience that potentially lets users show presentations from any computer connected to the corporate LAN. Network presentations typically take advantage of proprietary presentation programs-analogous to drivers for printers-so users can send data to the projector.
Presentations as Conference Tools
Some presentation programs that work over a network also let you show output from more than one computer at a time-typically up to four-dividing the screen into a separate section for each computer. This can be a highly useful convenience in a conference room, where two or more people can show information from their computers on one screen at the same time.
Wi-Fi support in a projector adds the ability to connect the computer wirelessly, which is often the easiest way for each presenter to connect his or her own computer.
Redundancy is always a good thing to have, particularly in something like a projector, where, if the lamp blows in the middle of a presentation, you’re pretty much dead in the water. Some projectors offer dual lamps, so if one lamp dies, the show can go on.
Eco-mode-a pun that combines economy with ecology-typically extends lamp life by lowering the light output. It also lowers the noise level, since less light means less heat, with the projector needing less cooling and, therefore, less work from the fan. Using less power also reduces the cost of electricity and saves money on expensive lamps, since each lamp lasts longer. All of this is important to anyone’s budget and increasingly important in general, given the growing emphasis on greening IT.
Keep in mind too that you won’t lose much perceived brightness in eco-mode, so in most cases it’s well worth using. Perception of brightness is on a roughly logarithmic scale, which means you have to drop the brightness in lumens by a factor of 10 for people to perceive the image to be half as bright. Most eco-modes drop the brightness by only 15 to 20 percent compared with standard mode. You’ll see a visible, but not dramatic, difference in brightness, while lengthening the life of the lamp by as much as 30 to 40 percent.