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Technology Showcase: Corporate Projectors

Apr 13, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

Today's business projectors squeeze clever features into smaller packages.

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BenQ MP522 ST

BenQ MP522 ST

The projectors being used in corporations today reflect the realities facing our society. They are being squeezed by cost-conscious purchasers, improved by vibrant competition, wrestling with requirements meant to keep our environment clean, and generally improving in quality every year.

The corporate-projector arena has been robust in the past. TFCinfo—a market-research and publishing firm that analyzes specific distribution channels of the advanced display market segment—reports, "We are estimating about 566,000 units of U.S. business front-projector sales generating about $598 million in revenue in 2008." As you would expect, it is anyone's guess what the future will hold considering the general downturn in our economy, and no market-research firm wanted to make a firm prediction.

In January, TFCinfo released its Projector Brand Customer Perception and Preference Study 2009, which found that Epson, Panasonic, Sharp, and Sony were the most-improved brands overall compared to last year. InFocus and NEC tie at the No. 1 spot as the most-considered brands for purchase in large corporations and are among the top three in other key market segments. Epson saw the most improvement in 2008 in large corporations. InFocus and Panasonic posted the largest gains in consideration in small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Sony came in most improved among small offices/home users. And Sharp was the brand that showed the most improvement over last year in both the education and government segments.

Although projectors for corporate installations seem to be the last bastion of the 4:3 screen, the popularity of 16:9 or 16:10 laptop computers has generated a rising call for widescreen projectors to match their images. Many people would like to purchase WXGA-resolution screens, which generally have a resolution of 1355x768—although specs may vary. There is also an increasing interest in resolutions up to WUXGA (1920x1200) to fully match the 16:10 laptop displays or to leave room for a tool bar when showing 16:9 images.

However, with our budgets being squeezed by the economy, most corporate planners will probably be sticking with their current XGA resolutions (1024x768) and letterboxing widescreen presentations to fit on them.

Since projectors are being used for more purposes than ever before, another major trend is to equip them with more I/O options, such as multiple HDMI ports and burgeoning Wi-Fi capabilities of several varieties. That way more departments can use projectors, especially mobile projectors, to suit their diverse presentation requirements.

To make these projectors more user-friendly, we are seeing more short-throw lenses on models designed to hug the wall behind the presenter. This eliminates shadows on the walls and keeps the person that is holding the clicker from being blinded by the light.

Although corporate installation projectors that are destined for boardrooms, meeting areas, or training centers have traditionally been considered to require 3000 lumens to 4000 lumens so they can be seen in ambient light, the pro AV industry is seeing a trend toward value-priced models in the 2000-lumen-to-3000-lumen range. These projectors, in addition to costing less to purchase, require less electricity to operate. Just as people are putting on sweaters and turning down their thermostats, corporate presenters may be closing the curtains and dimming the lights in their projector rooms.

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