Projectors, Anyone?

Digital projectors. A few years ago, I thought they were cool, but a bit teacher-centric. I really didn’t like Smartboards, since I felt they were the ultimate “sage on the stage” tool.

Meanwhile, times change. I still don’t like Smartboards (perferring tablet PCs for such action). As for projectors, however, it seems that they are becoming essential classroom tools. Just about all of our teachers want their own ceiling-mounted projector, right down to Pre-K. Primary uses are showing stuff from off the Internet, sharing student work, video clips, and other “in action” sort of presentation. I’m surprized by how few use the projectors for S-Video feeds from DVD players (as I do in Film and Video).

Canon ProjectorSo, we started a few years ago with some VGA projectors, but they were a joke. We soon started buying only XGA projectors. We began with Canon LV-X1 projectors, most of which developed signal input problems about only 1-2 years of use, and some have been repaired and some haven’t. They were around $1500 a piece. Before we knew of the problems, we had a set of LV-X2s, which haven’t had the input problems, but still aren’t our favorites.

MitsubishiAfter that, we starting buying Mitsubishi XL5U projectors for around $1245 each, and they have been solid work-horses. Problem with them– noisy fans. Some faculty have a problem hearing students in the back of the room with the fan blasting in the projector. Another problem– tiny remotes that are relatively expensive to replace.

MitsubishiThis year, we’ve ordered Mitsubishi XD205U projectors for $919 each. They are smaller and have ugly plasics, but they are almost silent and have larger remotes. They are also significantly less expensive. We ordered one, and it seemed to work fine. Now we have five more, and we’ll likely order five more later on.

Basically, we’re slowing covering all the main classrooms on campus. Our general procedure is to order a basic Peerless mount from Cousins Video, and a 50 foot combo VGA/S-Video cable and mount the projectors ourselves in classrooms with open ceilings (phys plant has an electrician in to set up a plug-in). If the classroom has a drop ceiling, we get a plate that replaces a ceiling tile and have the mounts professionally installed, with a metal outlet box on the teaching wall.

Ugh, that’s enough projector talk for today…

(Small tip: hook a video camera’s outputs into the inputs of a digital projector, and then do live action video of the projected image. Have students move through the distortion fields. Fun.)

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