What to Look for When Choosing a Classroom Projector
You're going to need to consider more than resolution, brightness and bulb life when picking a projector.
By Mark Coxon

We’ve all heard of the three “Cs” of choosing a diamond — cut, clarity and color. Some of you may not be as well-versed in the three “Cs” of projectors.

Many think of resolution, brightness and bulb life as the trinity of projector stats, but I propose we look at the following.

Control
How a projector is controlled can play a major role in a successful installation. In some environments, depending on the classification, RF communications are banned, IP control cannot be run through the secure network and even IR cannot be used for control in rooms with windows. This leaves few options, and the most relevant is RS-232. If you want to standardize on a unit for these environments, pick one with RS-232.

RS-232 has its advantages in education as well. The learning curve for the operator, most likely the teacher, is decreased. They don’t have to worry about line of sight or ambient light affecting the control signal, as they may if the system uses IR control. One thing to note, however, is that not all control ports are equal.

I worked in a school where the district provided Extron Pole Vault as the source and control system and NEC projectors. This proved to be a problem. The NEC projector used RS232 protocol for commands, but had a round DIN style connection for control and not the standard trapezoidal, 9-pin DB9 jack for the cables that Extron includes in its kit. The net result was buying $70 adapters for 40 classrooms. It cost the school $2,800 that could have been spent elsewhere if they had purchased projectors with the right control inputs.

Cooling
Considering that heat is the most destructive factor in projector bulb and power supply life, cooling methods should also be considered. Knowing where the intakes and exhausts are on



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