How to ensure compatibility with projector when I can't test beforehand?
May 18, 2017 7:08 AM   Subscribe

How do I ensure my computing device will connect to a particular projector when I won't be able to test it until day of?

My grandma turns 90 next month. Hooray! I have been tasked by my family with creating a photo slideshow for the celebration. I love doing this, and I've done it several times before, but not for many years.

My worry and hence this question revolves around compatibility between my computing device and the projector. The rub? I am roughly 2,000 miles away from the projector that will be used so I have no way to test this beforehand.

The projector:


The possible computing devices:

1. 12.9" iPad Pro (using Keynote app)
---- Connection: Lightning to VGA adapter > VGA cable > VGA input on projector
---- Concerns: By the looks of these reviews the Lightning to VGA adapter seems to be quite unreliable? Might not work at all?

2. Lenovo Yoga 2 Ultrabook (using PowerPoint)
---- Connection: Micro HDMI to VGA adapter > VGA cable > VGA input on projector
---- Concerns: I barely touch this stupid ultrabook anymore, would prob have a crap ton of updates to do to get Windows updated and then install MS Office. But, I would be willing to go this route if I were confident that it's pretty much a sure bet it would connect to the projector successfully?

Also possibly relevant:
---- The slideshow does not have a soundtrack. Photos only.
---- I don't even know the lady who owns the projector, she's some relative of a relative, but she did send me pictures of the projector and its inputs at my request. I really don't want to have to bother her with testing anything on her end, if I can avoid it.

Are there other connections I'm not seeing that would work? Which route would you take if you were me and couldn't test compatibility beforehand?

Thanks for the advice!
posted by bologna on wry to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For presenting I travel with the lightning to VGA adapter and I have never ever had a problem with it with Keynote with any projector with a VGA input. Honestly it looks like most of the reviewers are noticing that it won't play protected content, which you could double check your intended app with any VGA device.
posted by ftm at 7:15 AM on May 18

I don't have any comment on the compatibility, but try to make sure there is a replacement bulb handy. Those things fail at the worst times.
posted by mattamatic at 7:39 AM on May 18

Have a copy of the slideshow on a USB stick with you, as well as accessible online. That way you can always find another device that may work if yours doesn't.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 9:19 AM on May 18

Your most likely issue is that VGA resolution of the projector is much lower than the resolutions of either the iPad or the yoga. With a laptop this usually just means you have to tweak the display options so the second monitor (in your case the projector) is at the correct resolution. Not sure if you can "dumb down" the display options on either the iPad or the yoga far enough to be compatible with the 800 x 600 or 1600 x 1200 the projector can handle. So that would be the first thing I would check. Unfortunately, on at least a few OS's I've run into a problem where you can't get into tweaking display resolutions without a second display connected.

One idea is to check if your local library system has projectors you can check out or if you can reserve a meeting room with a projector that has VGA inputs so you can do some kind of test run ahead of time.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:16 PM on May 18

Seconding the idea to have a backup copy on a USB stick. Do you have any family in the area that can test out the projector? That way at least you know the projector is in working condition and someone is familiar with it.

I would also try googling that specific projector model and seeing what kind of connectivity issues it has, if you haven't already done that.
posted by Ahniya at 5:16 PM on May 18

Looking at the spec, the projector is 800×600 VGA input. Not merely is that much lower than your normal screen resolution, it's likely a different aspect ratio. Presenting with the wrong aspect ratio looks terrible, especially when you've only got a letterboxed subset of 600 pixels to work with.

So bring your →VGA adapter plus a VGA cable that you've tested on a monitor or TV (most have VGA input now). At the very least, you should know how to switch to external VGA output/mirrored screen/second display so that you don't faff about at the event.
posted by scruss at 5:13 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]

I speak publicly as part of my job, and I recently sent the IT people into a slight kerfluffle by showing up with my new laptop which has only a USB port. As a result, I bought this adapter, which has a variety of adapters all in one. It was about $45, but now I know I'll be able to connect no matter what projector we use. I also ALWAYS carry a backup of the presentation on a thumb drive. Good luck!
posted by summerstorm at 8:31 AM on May 19

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