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Multimedia Displays and Projectors
The rapid evolution of display technology has produced a wide and sometimes confusing array of choices for today's visual presenter. Determining which is right for your business requires an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of each of the various display technologies and how they impact your particular presentation environment.

Projectors

Whether the techology employed is LCD, DLP, or otherwise, projectors have two principle benefits - flexible image size and/or portability.  In general, projection is the least expensive choice for larger audiences.  By properly positioning your projector in relation to the screen, along with the correct lens option, images up to 300" diagonal size are easily attainable. 

In choosing the correct screen size for any room, endeavor to make the image large enough to be seen by the farthest person back without overwelming the nearest.  Even in larger rooms, it may be that multiple displays are preferable to single large image.  In addition to the size of the image, the format also needs consideration.  Although most of today's video production is done in HDTV format, a 16:9 width to height aspect ratio, there are volumes of existing content still in use in the "legacy" 4:3 format.  Another popular format is 5:4, typically found in engineering applications.  If the budget allows for it, obtain a projector that accomodates all the computer and video resolutions you may encounter.  If you are uncertain, you may do well to consult a City-Tel Communications specialist who can help you understand the optimum product, and then andy trade-offs you may be required to make if there are budget constraints. 

Projector brightness is another major issue.  This is because ambient room light is simultaneously reflected by your projection screen, in effect competing with the projector.  Especially in large venues, you need to address the fact that projector brightness is disbursed over a large area, thus reducing effective light output.  If it is possible to minimize extraneous light on the screen, using window shades or having lights on dimmers, this may lessen the brightness needed from the projector.  Of course, balance must be excercized when attendees need sufficient light to continue to take notes. 

Regarding portablility, today's traveling presenter equipped with projector weighing no more than 7-8 pounds (or less) can still make a dramatic impact.  If this is a need for you, consider whether a screen needs to be toted along as well.  Today's portable screens are much easier to set up than their bulkier predecessors.

Lastly, keep in mind that there will be some maintenance involved with any projector. Whether installed or portable, be prepared to replace lamps from time to time, varying from as little as 1000 hours up to some 5000 hours.  Lamps range anywhere from $200 to $400 on most standard projectors, but can be more with high performance or multi-lamp systems.  There are also filters to be kept clean or replaced.  Don't be fooled by claims, especially with DLP projectors, that a filter isn't needed.  Dust is still dust, and a build-up will distort your image even if it doesn't cause service issues.  And on LCD projectors, clean filters allow a steady airflow for cooing, essential to long-term satisfaction with the product. 


Flat Panel Displays

The biggest change in both LCD and Plasma TV's is that they have become more affordable, especially in smaller sizes.  Bother are usually rated at about a 60,000 hour "half-life", the point when the brightness dims to about 50 percent of the original output.  That equates to 8 hours per day for more than 20 years! 

The question often arises as to which is better; LCD or Plasma?  Here's a few basics to help you.  LCD technology was originally designed for still images, such as a computer display.  Therefore, Plasma TV's still tend to outperform LCD on motion video content, although the gap has closed considerably.  While plasma may offer a more lifelike view of video and pictures, the higher brightness and contrast inherent in LCD TV's tend to make them easier to see in a brightly lit room, such as is found in most business environments.

So rather than one being better than the other, it usually comes down to your a combination of your viewing environment and personal preference.  Even for home theater use, some people may just prefer the higher contrast offered in an LCD, whereas some like the softer look of Plasma.

One other thought - be careful about the lure of lower cost consumer products for use in a commercial environment.  Nearly every manufacturer's warranty is null and void when the unit is installed in a business.


Alternative Technologies

Other options also exist to introduce multi-panel video walls, touch panel displays or holographic capabilities to your display.  See our Digital Signage section for more information regarding these displays or contact City-Tel Communications to discuss your unique application. 
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