In the early days of video and data projection, almost every sale required a demonstration to prove that the projector would be capable of displaying the image in the first place and that the resulting image was bright enough to be seen.
Gordon Innocent, RGB Communications
Displaying a computer image wasn’t so easy back then. Things called ‘interfaces’ were frequently required to generate a signal that the projector could process and display. Being able to see the resulting image usually required black-out conditions or the use of a very high gain projection screen, such as a parabolic screen – a rigid, silver surfaced, curved surface that had critical viewing angles in both the horizontal and vertical planes because it focussed light back into an optimum area.
Because the projectors were so expensive, quite often, we would find ourselves in a shoot-out with one or more competitors.
Now, everything has changed. The signal types and connectors are common and users trust the technology. In the main, projector prices have come down to a point where it doesn’t make financial sense for us to volunteer a demonstration. Even half a day spent on a demonstration can demolish the margin. Who can afford to invest in a range of demonstration equipment in such a fast changing environment?
So, most projectors are sold over the phone now and the key questions are:
- portable or fixed?
- resolution required?
- how many sources are there and what type are they?
Then we play it safe on the brightness and contrast required by suggesting something we know works because we have installed it before. How can that possibly go wrong?
Well quite a lot can!
See below a list of things to consider but in summary, in my opinion if a customer needs the best quality image, the supplier should not specify the projector ‘off the page’. A site survey to decide what features are required, hence which projector best suits, is essential. If the budget doesn’t stretch to the ‘right’ projector, installers should go demonstrate the benefits of increasing it.
If the margin isn’t great on a deal, suppliers shouldn’t worry, as they will make it back on future business from customers who trust the installer to deliver the best solution for them. Even if customers don’t have more business to place in the short term, they might just tell someone else just what a good job their supplier did for them!
- No two installations are ever exactly the same
- Projector specifications on paper and reality vary
- Contrast – In reality contrast is a greater function of environmental conditions such as ambient light so figures quoted are of little use
- When using a zoom lens, the brightness can vary quite dramatically depending on where the projector is mounted. For it not to change, the lens must be ‘constant’.
- Colour accuracy might matter a lot to the user but, doesn’t get a look-in on a lot of specification sheets
- Lens shift horizontal and vertical. Without this siting it where you want to might be awkward
- Image Processing. All projectors have an in built scaler to handle a range of content however the way in which it operates will affect the image quality
- Consider technology –v- usage. – DLP and LCOS are far better for high usage environments than LCD
- Future proof? Resolutions are all moving widescreen (16:10 high res data) as opposed to traditional 4:3. Even if customers think they need 4:3, new developments in BYOD (bring your own device) allow presentations from mobile devices which are invariably widescreen format.