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#1
Old 05-07-2015, 11:49 AM
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Location: Nashville, TN
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Need a CHEAP digital projector for Powerpoint presentations-- help!!

Hey all,

So I'm starting to do presentations for speaking at different events/groups and giving a PPT presentation as part of it. A digital projector that hooks up to my laptop and shows PPT is something I'm just going to have to buy myself if I want to use it. I'm a patient advocate speaking about Right to Try laws-- I'm not getting paid anything. And I'm speaking for church groups, disease advocacy groups, conferences, other nonprofits, etc etc. There's never any way to know if they will have this kind of projector or if it will work (I've learned that through sad experience.) Obviously, this HAS to be CHEAP!!

There seems to be a wide range of prices now for these kind of projectors. I don't need speakers, and I don't need the best possible picture quality either.

The problem is that the inexpensive ones always seem to say that they should NOT be used for PPT presentations, and I can't figure out why. Here's a good example: Taotaole Multi-media 150 Lumens Portable LED Projection Micro Projector. It's $90, which really is about what I can manage. But then the small print on the Amazon site says:

Quote:
The projector is not recommended for PPT or business presentation, ideal for home theater movies and video game use.
Does this mean that the output won't look good enough for a Fortune 500 company, or that it won't work for PPT at all for some weird reason? I just need something that will make the slides visible and possible to read the large print. I am basically doing charity work and funding it all myself, and I can't spend more than this. All advice greatly appreciated!
#2
Old 05-07-2015, 12:02 PM
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How big are the rooms in which you'll be presenting? How large an image do you want to project? What's the lighting in those rooms? The projector you mentioned has only 150 lumens of light output. That's going to be dim in a large room or one with the lights on. For about $500 or so, you can get projectors with about 3000 lumens of output.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 05-07-2015 at 12:03 PM.
#3
Old 05-07-2015, 12:08 PM
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And I just noticed that the resolution of that projector is only 320x240. That's half of the VGA standard of 640x480, and I doubt that anyone even runs at only VGA any more.
#4
Old 05-07-2015, 12:21 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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Displaying text clearly is actually harder than displaying ordinary video and pictures. In particular, color fringing around text is frequently noticeable on substandard screens.

One good way to test a monitor or TV screen is to display white on black text and see how clear it is. Sales-bots, of course, much prefer to show you "nature" scenes and such.
#5
Old 05-07-2015, 12:22 PM
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I recommend bringing along a backup bulb.
#6
Old 05-07-2015, 12:55 PM
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So far, the only places I anticipate doing this presentation in for the near future are pretty small rooms (they have been so far.) I am self-funding this project as a labor of love and determination (I'm the patient, remember? Even the better-known patient advocates like Ted Harada aren't really getting any funding that I know of. I just can't spend $500 of my own money on a projector! That having been said, I *might* be able to go up a little more if I have to.
#7
Old 05-07-2015, 01:27 PM
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I bought one of these cheap LED projectors - different brand, but clearly exactly the same as the one your link (if it was not broken) would go to on Amazon. I knew I should not expect much for the money.

It's an interesting little device; bristling with inputs and inbuilt features, but hardly useful for anything.

In a daylit room, it is utterly useless

In a room lit by a single 60w (equivalent) bulb and no other light sources, the image is of acceptable brightness when projected onto two sheets of A3 paper (=A2, which is about 23.5 x 16.5 inches - so equivalent to a 28 inch diagonal screen)

In complete darkness, it projects an image of acceptable brightness (once your eyes have adjusted to the dark), on a bright white wall, at about 50 inches diagonal.

Not sure of the native resolution of mine - as the technical specs on many of these devices are misleading or outright false - I think mine might be only 320 x 240. It looked just-about-OK-ish for video and photos, but text and graphics were noticeably poor.

You get what you pay for and I am not unhappy with my 50 worth of projector - I will probably do something weird with it.
The USB port on it that is intended for a memory stick for slideshows delivers sufficient current to power my Raspberry Pi - so I might hack it together with that.

If you're in the market for a projector that you want to do anything useful with, don't buy one of these. Get a brand people have heard of - Epson, Optoma, InFocus, even Acer or BenQ if you're on a budget.

Last edited by Mangetout; 05-07-2015 at 01:29 PM.
#8
Old 05-07-2015, 01:34 PM
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About twenty years ago, our PowerPoint presentations were made using an old-fashioned overhead projector. We had the slides printed onto letter-size transparencies and then manually changed the slides. I'll bet that you could find an overhead projector cheap someplace and you could print the transparencies yourself or have them printed cheaply. But you'll look like a refugee from 1995.
#9
Old 05-07-2015, 01:50 PM
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If funding is that scarce, look at used projectors.

At the moment, there's someone in my area selling what used to be a $2900 projector in 2005 for $95 on craigslist. This particular one is "only" 720p, so it's borderline obsolete for high-def home theater, but it's certainly good for your use. Buy a spare lamp on Amazon for $55 and you'll have an image far brighter and sharper than anything you can buy new at that price.
#10
Old 05-07-2015, 01:56 PM
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In my experience the OEM bulbs for those projectors cost several hundred dollars each. So even if you can find a cheap used projector, the bulb is expensive. These new LED projectors are nice, in that the light source lasts a long time and stays cooler.
#11
Old 05-07-2015, 02:22 PM
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Overhead slide projectors! Now that's going old school. It might be a good idea for right now, though...I mean it when I say that this is a NONbudget project. I am one person, one patient with no funding from anyone but myself, speaking about patients' rights and spreading the word about access to experimental treatments. if we get further into it, they'll probably move this to IMHO.... so let's not and say we didn't! Maybe eventually I can get donations from the nonprofit that wrote the model legislation, but for now, I think that the slide projector idea might actually be one way to go.
#12
Old 05-07-2015, 02:42 PM
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This really is one of those "you get what you pay for" areas. You might consider a kickstarter or gofundme. Or, given that it's a small room, consider a flat screen TV. You can get a 24-32 inch TV or computer monitor for very small money. It's going to be more of a pain to lug around, but the picture will be better and brighter and, hey, you have a TV.
#13
Old 05-07-2015, 03:05 PM
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Do you have a smartphone? If so, there are contraptions that let you use the smartphone's screen as a projector, or you could even build one yourself (it's basically an empty box with a lens). A quick search showed several for $10-50. You can get an actual projector that connects (and mounts to) your smartphone for $50-150.
#14
Old 05-07-2015, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstarfire View Post
Do you have a smartphone? If so, there are contraptions that let you use the smartphone's screen as a projector, or you could even build one yourself (it's basically an empty box with a lens). A quick search showed several for $10-50. You can get an actual projector that connects (and mounts to) your smartphone for $50-150.
I really doubt that would have even a significant fraction of the brightness of the cheap LED projector that the OP started looking at.
#15
Old 05-07-2015, 03:24 PM
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http://brookstone.com/25-lumen-p...L1_Electronics

this has 640x360 (odd ratio) nice and small but with low illumination.

Last edited by md2000; 05-07-2015 at 03:24 PM.
#16
Old 05-07-2015, 04:04 PM
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That would work if the OP wants to hold her meetings in a broom closet, with the lights turned off.
#17
Old 05-07-2015, 07:12 PM
jdc jdc is offline
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Projector Alternatives

Why not print your stuff on paper and mount to foam board and bring a deck of posters instead of using LCD projector. If the groups are mainly on the small side, that could work. You could even ask for projector to be provided and bring your poster deck as backup.
#18
Old 05-08-2015, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
About twenty years ago, our PowerPoint presentations were made using an old-fashioned overhead projector. We had the slides printed onto letter-size transparencies and then manually changed the slides. I'll bet that you could find an overhead projector cheap someplace and you could print the transparencies yourself or have them printed cheaply. But you'll look like a refugee from 1995.
This is indeed workable, and cheap for a unfunded volunteer effort.

I recently saw a name brand overhead projector + spare bulb listed on Craigslist for $25 or best offer. And you can buy transparency sheets that work in most laser or ink-jet printers, so print the slides you need, and add or update them whenever you want. (But if you buy them at the local Office store, you'll pay about as much for them as for your overhead projector. Plan ahead, and buy these from the internet.)

The TV is also a workable idea. Lots of people are upgrading to larger TVs, so you can often find used ones on Craigslist for quite reasonable prices. Get yourself a 2-wheeler cart, build a carrying case for the TV out of triple-layered cardboard & foam, add a box for cables, extension cords, printed materials, etc. and it's pretty easy to transport this.
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