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Classroom Buyer's Guide - Portable Projectors

In general, the weight of the projector is very much related to it's application and its brightness. Of the 1,100 to 1,200 projectors currently shipping they range in weight from 5 ounces for the lightest pico projector to the 400 pounds for the biggest light cannons.

If we look at the brightness range of these projectors, our lightest pico projector delivers 11 ANSI lumens and our heaviest light cannon delivers 30,000 ANSI lumens. Clearly there is a correlation between weight and brightness. If we divide the ANSI lumens by the weight of the projector we find that the pico projector is 2.2 ANSI lumens/ounce and our biggest light canon is 4.7 ANSI lumens/ounce.

Now our pico projector is not a burden to carry and our light cannon is hardly mobile; however, there is a class of projectors that attempts to pack a lot of lumens into a small light package - the portable projector. At ProjectorCentral we define a portable as a projector weighting 5 pounds or less, but let's look at the highly portable projectors that are less than 3 pounds. It turns out that the average lumens per ounce is an amazing 50.6. That's 23 times more performance per pound than the pico projector and 11 times more performance than the light cannon.

If we look at the entire class of portable projectors (5 pounds or less), we find the average lumens/pound is still a healthy 35.2. So when weight is an issue, whether you're going across the hall, across the street, or across the country, you'd like the projector to be light and to have plenty of brightness. Portable projectors give you this benefit; however, there is another important consideration in choosing a mobile projector - fan noise.

A lot of brightness means a lot of heat and in a small package the challenge is getting rid of the heat without a lot of noise. The hotter and smaller the projector is the more difficult it is to move air quietly. So take a look at the audible noise rating on the projector. You'll find this on projector spec pages and in Feature Search.

Audible noise is measured in decibels (dB). A projector with an audible noise rating of 30 dB is about the noise you can expect in a library and normal conversation is about 65dB. So in choosing a portable projector, give consideration to the audible noise. Too much audible noise will be a distraction to you and your audience. If you can, take the time to hear the projector in operation. You'll likely find that higher frequency sounds are more distracting than low frequency sounds.

Be aware that a highly mobile projector has a greater probability of being stolen, especially if it is to be shared between rooms and buildings. The best defense is a strong policy that ensures that the projector is immediately returned to a secure storage area after use.

If sharing is an economic necessity, be sure to consider the needs of all the potential users so that the projector or projectors that you purchase meet the needs of the intended users, are easy to transport and setup, and can withstand the punishment of constant relocation.