Can anyone recommend a good projector?
June 20, 2022 7:58 AM   Subscribe

I've been asked to speak at a conference and they've asked me to bring my own projector for my presentation. I don't have one. Can anyone recommend a good one?

Ideally, I'd like it to be able to do the following:

Work with both PC laptops and Chromebooks (I'm not sure yet which I'll be using that day)

Not cost a ton (presenting is not a regular gig for me)

Be easy to use

After the conference, it would be fun to use the projector for movie nights or projecting PDF sewing patterns

I'd love any recommendations you have!
posted by christinetheslp to Technology (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How many people are in the audience? Will the room be fully dark? If it's more than a few dozen people in a dark room, something capable of projecting bright and large enough to read is probably going to be way out of the price range that you want to spend.

I'd also say that as someone who speaks at a dozen or so conferences a year, asking a speaker to bring a projector is very weird. That's what single day rentals are for (and should be paid for by the conference, not someone who I assume has agreed to speak for free).
posted by Candleman at 8:30 AM on June 20 [20 favorites]

It is weird. But if that's the way it has to be, are there any other presenters whose projector you could borrow/rent?
posted by kevinbelt at 8:50 AM on June 20

Also, if they don't have a projector, do they have a screen? You can project onto a wall but it's really not going to work very well.
posted by Candleman at 8:53 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

This suggests that the location is not a normal conference venue or otherwise set up for business or teaching. Consider what other local infrastructure you're expecting that may not be there and perhaps confirm anything you do expect.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:55 AM on June 20 [5 favorites]

You might be able to borrow a projector from a library; my local library has a bunch of assorted "technology" that they'll loan out.
posted by jordemort at 9:15 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]

And if this is a normal conference venue and they're trying to skirt the rental costs by having you bring the equipment, there's very often rules against that so make sure you won't have your talk shut down midway by an angry venue manager.

The biggest measurement you'll care about is Lumens. You'll see $100 projectors on Amazon that will claim to be 2500 Lumens. Trust me, they aren't.
posted by Candleman at 9:20 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

Not to be extra, but you’ve been put in a difficult position here. I’ve been a projection designer and the questions you need to ask them are:

- what’s available for power
- how big is the room
- how many people are in attendance
- what surface is available to project on

If the room is larger than a small conference room, you can’t do this well on your own and you should plan to fall back on photocopied handouts or an easel you can bring yourself.

If it’s a conference room size, look for an office projector around 2-3000 ANSI lumens (and don’t trust Amazon or AliExpress listings not to lie about this, look at projector central).
posted by sixswitch at 10:16 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]

I work for a lighting and projection company. Projector spec, like has been said very much depend on the darkness/size of the room, resolution of the projector as well as the throw distance of the lens. You can not ever beat the sun with even the brightest of projectors. So first priority is to have the space as dark as possible.
Then the question of brightness, if it’s high contrast stuff, like dark text on a white background then I agree 2-3k lumens should be fine for a conference room. If it’s images you might want to go up to the 4/5k range. A decent projector of this spec - we like the NEC ones in this range- would run about £500-£800.
Resolution wise, don’t bother with 4K. WUXGA (1080p) is fine and will give good results on a moderate sized screen.
Good luck. And agree that it’s an odd request!
posted by multivalent at 10:41 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]

Nthing people above, this is an unusual request to make of a speaker, at least for an academic conference. I have organised (academic) conferences for many years now, small (25 ppl) to larger (300+). Presenters send me what they need, and i organise at our expense. Even for zero budget events.

If you are going to buy/bring your own, you will need to know at least the size of the room, size of screen, power source. Also think of cables, from your device to the projector. Where will the projector be placed? Is there furniture planned for that? Does your presentation require sound.
Is there some staff on site knowledgable to set up/trouble shoot? If not, don't do it. Doing both (presenting and tech) is not at all advisable. Especially If you just bought it and have not used it much yet.

Another point to consider is transport. The bulb inside is not only very fragile (the filament inside, not so much the bulb itself) but also quite expensive (If the projector is any good). Are you flying there? Will you be able to take it as carry on?

Practically speaking, if the venue is a hotel, with conference rooms, the hotel should be able to provide. It should be at the organisers expense.
If the venue is some sort of teaching institution, still they can rent one locally.
If it is someone's home, i would still not consider bringing your own a good solution because of potential problems No one but you, the speaker, can solve (on a new device no less).

Consider hand outs. Even if you had to bring them/print them yourself it should be less hassle.
posted by 15L06 at 10:51 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]

PS If they insist, and it is a small room, ask if there is large screen TV. It may be easier to hook up your device to a TV. But still, you cannot / should not be the one presenting and operating the tech side, so getting the cables cannot be on you.
posted by 15L06 at 11:03 AM on June 20

I've presented at many conferences/speaking engagements and have organized a few conferences, and this seems like a very odd request to me. What is the size of the conference? Is attendance free? Has everyone who is speaking been asked to bring their own projector?

I can certainly understand that purchasing projectors can be a big expense for a small nonprofit or for a free conference. At times the nonprofits I've been involved with have borrowed projectors and laptops from members when money was tight, but we would never think to ask a speaker to provide their own equipment beyond possibly bringing their own laptop. Very often we contract with A/V tech companies and they are worth the cost in terms of making sure everything runs smoothly and the presenters don't have to worry about fiddling with technology.

As others have stated, the presentation/room circumstances will dictate what kind of equipment would work best. A small, dark room with not many people in it, you could probably get away with a mini-projector in the $100-200 range, anything else and you will be paying $500-1000.
posted by Preserver at 11:43 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]

Agreeing that this is very weird. That said, my local library rents a reasonable projector for a fairly cheap price and at least one other local non-profit will rent out their projector. Maybe that's an option for you. I'd expect to spend $800 or more on a projector good enough for a conference presentation unless the room is very dark and small, so renting might be a more reasonable option.
posted by ssg at 12:50 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]

Nth'ing that this is an unusual ask.

If projection or a large TV turns out to be impractical, you could also look into a sync'd presentation that you distribute to attendees via a short URL, for them to view on their own devices. I believe Google Slides has a mode where it'll advance every "viewer's" slide when the presenter advances.

If this is the kind of event where most people will have a laptop or tablet with them.
posted by hovey at 4:53 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]

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