It’s true that video projectors gradually have been losing ground in the marketplace to large flat panels. But for applications that require ultra-large screen sizes, projectors remain the way to go.
There’s a perfect projector for every scenario. There are dozens of manufacturers developing and selling these devices, but not every projector will be right for you and your organization.
More to the point, not every application requires a traditional business or large-venue projector. Such devices are typically ceiling- or wall-mounted in the backs or centers of rooms, or placed on a table tops, and they aren’t the best fit for a small areas.
For one, there’s the familiar, annoying scenario of people walking in front of the lens or screen and creating shadows. Then there’s the issue of the presenter or teacher getting persistently distracted by a tabletop or ceiling-mounted projector light, not to mention the prospect of less-than-sharp images due to the throw distance to the projection screen.
Simply stated, in more intimate settings such as classrooms, boardrooms and conference rooms, more intimate projectors make sense. That’s where short-throw (ST) and ultra-short throw (UST) projectors excel. These devices are made specifically for applications where the distance from the projector to the projection screen must be, or preferably should be, short. If space is tight, think of these handy projectors. For those who stand in front of a projector screen or whiteboard many hours a day, these projectors are an excellent choice.
Short-throw and ultra-short-throw projectors remove shadows and glare issues from the equation entirely because they can be mounted or placed very close to the screen. For all intents and purposes, all barriers between the projector light and the screen are removed from the equation. For short-throw projectors, this is accomplished by using a wide-angle lens that shines down at a sharp angle. The distance between the lens and the screen is typically as low as two feet or so.
Recently, short-throw projectors have been joined in the marketplace by ultra-short-throw projectors. Where ST projectors use a wide-angle lens, UST projectors use a curved mirror. You can tell the difference between the two categories from the “throw ratio” specification, which is the distance from the projector to the screen divided by the width of the projected image. Most sources identify a UST projector as one with a throw ratio of 0.38 or lower. For an ST projector, the throw ratio range is 0.38 to 0.75.
Traditional projectors offer throw ratios in the 1.5 to 3.5 throw ratio range.
So if an ST projector has a throw ratio of 0.5, and you want to project a 60-inch-wide image, the projector should be placed 30 inches from the screen. That’s just two-and-a-half feet from the screen, mounted from the ceiling if you’d like.
Most ST and UST projectors are based on tried and true Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology, which is lit by a replaceable bulb. But more and more models are coming on line that use Light-emitting diode (LED) technology, lasers, or a combination of the two, to provide longer-lasting, more consistent and energy-efficient light.
Adding further to the attraction of ST and UST projectors is the interactivity available with many models. Using a special pen, presenters and viewers gain the ability to annotate what’s on the screen from anywhere in the room. This takes the concept of the whiteboard to new heights. Some of these projectors are even 3D-capable. Many offer support for tablets and Smartphones.
Another variable is audio. Many ST and UST projectors come with built-in speakers and amplifiers.
Not surprisingly, UST projectors are priced at a premium when compared with ST projectors, but as time passes and more models come online, prices of USTs are dropping (while STs are getting even less costly). According to high-tech market research firm PMA Research, sales of short-throw projectors accounted for 20 percent of overall projector sales volume in the first quarter of 2013. PMA characterized short-throw as showing “strong momentum.”
Two things are for certain: Short-throw projection is here to stay, and ultra-short throw projection is likely to become more dominant in the coming years.
If you have an event coming up where you could use a projector, contact MCC’s Rental Division to find out which option is best for you! You can also contact our Audio Visual Division for further information on permanent installation of the right projector for you and your organization’s needs.