For the better part of my career I mostly relied on transparencies and an overhead projector to visually explain ideas to groups. With the exception of using a printer to create color images on a transparency, there was little that could be done to improve the quality or efficiency of this training and presentation method.

About three years ago, I borrowed a computer projector and used it for a presentation. I liked it, and started inquiring about the features and costs of projectors. Computer and video projectors used to be big, heavy, and expensive with rather poor image quality. But not anymore. I recently purchased a projector, and I’ll share with you my experience. Now that the price has gone way down and the quality way up, you should consider adding a video projector to your arsenal of training and presentation tools.

Web shopping

The Projector Central Internet site ( provided me everything I needed to know about selecting and purchasing a computer and video projector. The site allows you to enter generic specifications and then provides a list of projectors that may meet your needs. You’re also able to post your interest in buying a projector and various companies bid for your business.

I initially specified a projector that was less than ten pounds, had an image resolution (SGVA or XGA) that was compatible with my notebook computer, had an image brightness (800+ ANSI lumens) that could be shown in a room with lights on, had an image size that could easily be seen by 50 people comfortably sitting in a large room, and cost about $4,000.

When I first posted my interest in this type of projector, I received several e-mails and phone calls from salespeople who asked me a few questions to better identify my needs. I was invited to a nearby sales office, where I hooked up my notebook computer to different projector models to see how they performed.

After a few days of review, I became strongly attracted to the InFocus LP 335 model projector. At 4.8 pounds, it was lighter and smaller than my notebook computer and it exceeded all my needs. But it seemed well outside my budget, having a suggested retail price of $5,999. The lowest advertised price I found on the Web was $5,299.

Since it was simple to do, and I was under no obligation to purchase, I posted my interest in buying this projector. I was curious to see how the “bidding” would go for my business. What happened next surprised me.

The first bid I received was above the lowest advertised price, but once I informed the vendor of the lower amount, they said they would match the price. Over the next three days bids kept coming in and they kept getting lower: $5,100; $4,950; $4,800. On the fourth day, a salesperson called me and said no one could beat a price of $4,700, and he’d ship (no shipping charge) the projector to me within the week.

Although the projector was above my budget, I decided to give it a try. I gave him a credit card number. He faxed me a confirmation, and true to his word, the projector showed up a week later.

Easy start-up

Hooking the projector to my notebook computer couldn’t have been easier. Besides the power cable, there was just one other cable to deal with. Instructions were simple. In a matter of minutes, I turned on both machines, pressed two buttons, and there was the image of my computer screen covering an entire wall. I opened a PowerPoint presentation and used the infrared remote supplied with the projector to walk around and navigate through the presentation. I was impressed.

Next, to impress my family, I decided to see how well the projector would show a movie from a DVD player. In the evening I hooked up the DVD player with high quality speakers to the projector. I moved furniture around in the living room and created a mini-theater (yes, I even had some popcorn). The family was impressed. The image quality was like watching the television but just much bigger. There’s only one problem: I need a bigger screen and a bigger house. The projector is capable of a 100-foot throw distance with an image size up to 776 inches diagonally! Wow.

I have been busily converting all my transparencies into PowerPoint slides. I’m committed now to conducting all my training and presentations using the projector. This includes showing DVD and VCR programs through the projector when appropriate.

It was all so easy. And even though I went above my budget, I’m not disappointed. I believe the quality and efficiency of my training and presentations have greatly improved and will continue to improve. And isn’t this what we’re all trying to achieve?

Sidebar: Consider these benefits

  • A computer and video projector provide greater visual impact to enhance attention and comprehension of messages.

  • Employees are less bored with training and more involved in presentations when larger images are used.

  • Changes to presentations can be made and shown on the fly in software programs like PowerPoint® or Excel®.

  • Other computer programs and Internet sites can even be demonstrated in real-time to a large audience.

  • Scanned images and digital photos showing hazards or best practices are more understandable in the large viewing format.