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Office Design
Projectors vs. TVs
What factors should you consider for a display in your meeting rooms and classrooms?

When it comes to video in classrooms, it's still a price and size game, and projectors continue to have the lead in terms of value.

Flat panel video displays may be coming down in price and going up in size, but they still don't offer the big-screen experience necessary for educational use.

"Flat panel displays have made their way into many conference rooms, but still haven't pushed projectors out of classrooms," observes Mike Tomei of Tomei AV Consulting, a firm specializing in education projects. "Projectors still provide a larger image at a cheaper cost for a typical classroom AV system design."

Furthermore, some of the arguments formerly made against projectors are becoming less valid, he adds: "Lampless projector technology is now eliminating some of the service issues that previously made projectors more undesirable."

Whether flat panels are still in contention or projectors are the absolute choice, the factors that determine video configuration settings remain constant.

Size of the classroom

In terms of size, Brock McGinnis, sales manager for Westbury National Show Systems Audio and Visual Solutions Division, provides a good rule of thumb for deciding whether to go with a flat panel or projection setup: "Viewing distance should always determine screen size. After that it's cost. Single displays are only financially advantageous to 80 inches or 90 inches diagonal. Tiled narrow-bezel displays (or video walls) can extend that to 110 inches (2x2 55-inch) but the cost, at that point is significantly higher than projection."

Ambient light in the classroom

Ambient lighting factors into the classroom size versus display size question: Can a display and content be acceptably viewed clearly by the entire class?

Wall space

As far as wall space goes, Tomei mentions some pretty inarguable features in favor of projection: "Faculty members can never have enough whiteboard or chalkboard space in a classroom, and installing a large flat panel display in the middle of the front wall eliminates a board. A projection screen can be raised to expose a board, or an image can be projected on a writable surface."

Other considerations pertaining to the ever-present quotient of budget include, according to Brad Thomas, general manager of products and higher education for AVI Systems.

Installation Costs

• Downtime (i.e., Does the panel manufacturer have a three-year, 48-hour exchange program? Is the institution capable of de-installation and re-installation upon potential failure?)
• Purchased consumables sitting on the shelf
• Total cost of ownership (TCO)
• The presence of a plan to move from analog to digital

Then Thomas mentions the biggie: Price. "As size goes up and price comes down, campuses will further debate projectors versus displays!" So there you have it. When choosing between projectors and displays in classrooms, all of the above must be considered, but ultimately, the answer is price.