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Remember overhead projectors and slide projectors? LCD projectors are the modern day equivalent. They're used to project video, photos, or computer images like PowerPoint presentations onto a screen or flat surface.
LCD (liquid crystal display) projectors are most commonly used for displaying images during presentations, seminars or lectures. But they also have home theater applications.
Most LCD projectors fall in the range $1,000 to $10,000, with the exception of complex installations for large auditoriums, which can runs tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are countless models available. The one that's right for you depends on how you plan to use the projector.
LCD Projector Features
Before we get into a detailed discussion about prices, it's important to understand the various types of LCD projectors on the market. That's because features like resolution, brightness and contrast ratio are the determining factors when it comes to price.
There are four basic resolutions:
- SVGA (800x600) is the lowest resolution and the least expensive. It's sufficient if you're going to use the projector for PowerPoint presentations and the like in small classrooms or conference rooms.
- XGA (1024x768) is a higher resolution that is more expensive. It's a better option if you're presenting detailed numerical data.
- SXGA (1280x1024) and UXGA (1600x1200) have the highest resolutions and the highest price tags. They're really only necessary if you need very fine details to show or are presenting in a large classroom or auditorium.
LCD projector brightness is measured in something known as lumens:
- Projectors with less than 1,000 lumens may not provide enough light.
- Projectors with 1,000 to 2,000 lumens are sufficient normal classroom or conference room presentations.
- Models with 2,000 to 3,000 lumens will provide enough light for large classrooms and meeting rooms.
Contrast ratio is another feature to consider. For clear video images, pictures, and graphics look for a contrast ratio of 400:1 or higher. You'll also want to pay attention to the weight of the machine (particularly if you travel to make presentations) and whether it has multiple computer ports.
LCD Projector Average Costs
You can find good quality LCD projectors that meet most presentation needs in the $2,000 to $8,000 range. Of course, you can spend less for a basic model with lower resolution and fewer lumens or you can spend for more for an extremely high resolution projector.
- The Epson PowerLite 835p wireless LCD projector sells for $3,000 to $3,500. This XGA projector has 3,000 lumens but it's a little bulky at more than 10 pounds.
- Sony's VPL-HW10 LCD projector with 1,000 lumens sells for $2,500 to $3,200.
- The Sanyo PLV-WF10 3LCD projector (a high-end system ideal for large-scale presentations) sells for $5,000 to $7,000. This WXGA projector has 4,000 lumens and a contrast ratio of 900:1.
Keep in mind that the projector itself won't be your only expense. You'll need to purchase a video screen, cables to connect the projector to your computer, and projector mounts. Often, you can negotiate a complete package that includes all of these accessories for a discounted price.
Down the road budget for replacement LCD projector lamps. They usually run $300 to $600 depending on the brand.