Probably the one piece of AV equipment most used at any insurance meeting or conference — even incentive conferences — is the data/video projector. It is imperative that planners keep up with the technological advances that are occurring almost daily in this area.

What's It For?

What are you going to use the projector for? Whether you plan to purchase or rent, this should be the first consideration. Is it to be used in a fixed installation, or does it need to be portable? Will it stay in your building, or must it fit in an airplane overhead? How large will the audiences be? What control will you have over the room lights? What is your budget? Here are some considerations.

If the projector is to be used primarily for video, let your vendor know that. It used to be that though data projectors would project video, the image quality was poor. One often needed to purchase an outboard box to improve the image resolution of video. Now, this capability is often built in, or can be obtained much more cheaply than before.

Size Matters

The major classification of projectors based on size is microportable (6 pounds or less), ultraportable (6 to 12 pounds), portable (12 to 24 pounds), and conference room (24 pounds and over.) Even though projectors are getting brighter and smaller, one still sacrifices something with the smaller ones, including types of inputs, and other bells and whistles.

What about resolution? The standard at this time is XGA (1,024 × 768), but the high-end projectors offer SXGA (1,280 × 1,024). If budget is an issue, don't rule out SVGA (800 × 600). It is still very good, and is often $2,000 cheaper than a comparable XGA projector.

Brighter is better — within reason, and your budget. Most of the new portable and smaller projectors have 800 to 1,200 lumen output. For larger ballroom presentations, you can easily obtain projectors with over 2,000 lumens. And 4,000 to 5,000 lumen projectors are out there.

You may want to match the output of a projector with other mediums. If, for example, you want to run data and slides at the same time, you may not want the brightest data projector. And don't forget to check on the extras — what is the lamp life? Most are good for 1,000 hours, but the better ones are good for 2,000 hours. Also, check on the cost of replacement lamps. They can run from $400 to $800. Consider that brighter output usually means there is more heat put out, and perhaps a noisier fan.

Other bells and whistles that may be important to you: Keystone correction — this squares up the image on the screen, zoom ability, and the number inputs, and outputs.

What's with DLP?

You probably have noticed that all the data projectors on today's market appear to be using LCD (liquid crystal display) or DLP (digital light processing) technology. The DLP technology utilizes a semiconductor chip on the surface of which is a rectangular array of hundreds of thousands of controllable microscopic mirrors that reflect varying amounts of light. A chip a little larger than a postage stamp can feature almost 500,000 mirrors.

Watch Out for “Typo-squatters!”

Have you ever tried to log on to a Web site, and accidentally keyed in .com instead of .org? Or misspelled the site by one letter? You then may have found yourself in advertising hell (the Internet version). You were the victim of typo-squatters — people who have purposely registered misspelled domain names with the intent of making money off your typing errors. This is a practice pioneered by the porn industry.