Data projectors and front projection TVs are remarkably similar. In fact, many data projectors and front projection TVs come from the same manufacturers, are driven by the same technology and have many of the same features. But data projectors aren’t typically meant to be used interchangeably with a front projection TV. It is possible—but there are a couple reasons why you might not want to.
Data projectors for business and conference room purposes are much less expensive than front projection TVs. There are some good reasons for that, almost all of which have to do with the quality of the picture.
In terms of cost, LCoS is the most expensive, DLP is the next most expensive and LCD is the least expensive. Guess which one usually gets outfitted for data projectors? LCD projectors are usually not as good at reproducing true black and darker colors, which is a non-issue for static displays and PowerPoint presentations. LCD has been getting, however. Also, ultraportable (or “pico”) projectors will usually be DLP projectors.
The one issue that might bother you with a DLP projector is that it sometimes creates a “rainbow effect”—or, a flash of color that’s visible to viewers when they move their eyes quickly across bright objects that are set on a darker background. Most viewers won’t notice, but remember: if you are presenting to seasoned business men and women, chances are they’ve seen thousands of presentations and are exactly the type of people who will notice (and be bothered by) the rainbow effect caused by a lower-end DLP projector.
The ability to tweak the aspect ratio between 4:3 and 16:9 is a feature usually reserved for projection TVs. This is to help you compensate for wide screens or standard sized screens.
Projection TVs will have higher resolutions in the 1080p range. You won’t usually find resolutions that high in a data projector, and you won’t usually need a resolution that high. What’s the point of a PowerPoint presentation in HD?
This is the main difference between data projectors and projection TVs. Data projectors are usually optimized for portability—in fact, they make projectors small enough to slip into your front pocket. Granted, older data projectors may still need a cart to transport around the office, but typically, data projectors have become smaller and more efficient. Projection TVs, on the other hand, are not meant to be moved around. They may be fixed permanently to the ceiling or as part of an entertainment system.
So, does it make sense to try to save money by using your projection TV as a data projector or vice versa? For most purposes, not really. Projection TVs are overkill for business presentations and are hard to lug around. Plus, they’ll be expensive to replace if they get broken or damaged during travel. Data projectors, on the other hand, don’t usually have high enough contrast, gain, resolution and aspect ratio settings in order to reproduce a sufficient picture for everyday TV or Blu-ray watching.