by Jennifer Andrews

Little Light
A Guide to Projector and Screen Selection for Small Spaces

By Jennifer Andrews

a projector for multiple purposes is similar to selecting a large-venue machine,
but with a few key differences. You’ll still need to consider some of the same
basic technical specifications — brightness (measured in lumens), resolution
and connectivity, for example — but you’ll also want to compare overall
weight, security features and throw ratios before making your final decision.

The Usual Specs


You won’t need the
same kind of brightness for a small audience as for a larger group; however, you
will need a projector that’s bright enough to give you a nice-looking image in
a lights-on environment.

Buy a projector with at least 1,200 lumens of brightness or
more for lights-on presenting. This is an easy target to hit since most projectors designed
for presentations meet or exceed this amount.


There are two primary
choices of resolution for these types of spaces: XGA (high-resolution, 1024 x
768 pixels) and SVGA (800 x 600 pixels, now considered entry-level resolution).
The best images will result when your computer and projector resolutions match; however, XGA is still more future-proof. If budget allows, an
XGA projector will produce a crisper image and be more compatible with newer
technology. SVGA projectors produce nice-looking images as well, however,
and they are usually the least expensive projectors, with many priced at less
than $1,000.


A multipurpose
projector is often used for different activities and in different locations. That might mean you’ll be using different sources as well,
so try to find a projector that offers multiple connectivity options such as
composite or S-video. These are more common connections on sources such as DVD
players and VCRs.

For future-proofing, think about getting a projector with DVI
and/or component video inputs. Most come with multiple connectivity options and compatibility
isn’t a major issue, but component and digital options are becoming more
common on DVD players and computers and will provide better signal quality.


Portable projectors now
weigh as few as two pounds, and typical brighter multipurpose models weigh
between five and 10 pounds and are very easy to set up and use in multiple
locations. Some portable projectors ship with a convenient carrying case, which
helps keep it and its cables together in one place.


Most of us don’t like to
think about the possibility of theft where we worship, but it’s a reality we
must face. Many projectors include extra security features that will deter
theft, including a Kensington security-lock slot, network notifications via
e-mail (on networked projectors) and keypad-lock protection, which also
prohibits prankish tampering. Of course, keeping your equipment stored and
secure is also very important for a portable projector.

If, on the other hand, your projector is wall- or
ceiling-mounted, some deterrents are built into the mount itself. One common
security feature is proprietary hardware configurations that require specific
tools be used to release the mount and basic locks.

Throw ratios.

One important
projector spec to consider in small spaces is the throw
a measure of the size image a projector can
produce from a given distance. A general rule for calculating throw distance
with a standard lens is to allocate about one foot of screen for every two feet
of space between the projector and screen.

The Short-Throw Lens: A Small Room’s Friend

If you want a large image from a short distance, consider a
projector with a short-throw lens. This feature allows you to create the big
picture you want in a tight space. (Some short-throw projectors can create an
impressive 60-inch-diagonal image from just a few feet away from the screen!)
Many manufacturers have designed projectors with built-in short-throw distances
for small-room applications. They provide throw-distance calculators that help
determine the size of image that can be produced from a given distance by each
of their projectors. Although these distance calculators are generally very close,
they don’t always provide the exact size of an image, which is created at a
specific distance.

Short-throw lenses should not be confused with another helpful
projector feature, the zoom lens.
Manual or digital zoom is a feature on many standard, long-or short-throw
lenses. This feature allows for larger or smaller images from the same
distance, much like a zoom lens on a 35-millimeter camera.

Selecting a Screen

Projection screens are highly recommended accessories, even in
small spaces. Using a screen will create a crisper, better-looking image than
blank walls. Walls are a good substitute if money is tight, but a screen might
actually be less expensive than you think. (Some portable models sell for less
than $200.) First, you’ll need to determine how you want to use your screen.
Should it be portable so you can take it from room to room or offsite for
missionary work, or do you plan to use it in a permanent location? Do you need
the latest and greatest screen with all the flashy bells and whistles, or do you
want something simple and inexpensive?

The four most common screens on the market are:


— These screens readily
travel from location to location.

— An economical choice if
you’ll be keeping the screen in one location Electric — These high-end screens add elegance to their
permanent locations.

— A permanently tensioned screen stretched around a frame and
installed in a fixed location

Many screens are available in each of these mounting orientations. Some will
include additional features such as designer casing, tab tensioning, adjustable
masking borders and more.

The most common screen mounting options for small worship
spaces are:


— Good for offsite Bible
studies, youth group meetings or service-entry greetings; and
— Great for dedicated study areas, dedicated meeting
rooms and cry rooms.

Creative Uses for Portable Projectors

Once you’ve bought your portable projector, don’t just
leave it on the shelf. There are countless creative ways to use it — for Bible
studies, children’s church, in Sunday school classrooms, to display greetings
and announcements before services, during Vacation Bible school, for memorial
services, in church business meetings, for movie nights, and during celebrations
and events. These are just a few suggestions.

Whether you’re displaying community photos and videos or
intensely studying the scripture, portable projectors are a dynamic tool for
sharing God’s glorious message.

Jennifer Andrews is the Internet communications manager for, where she has been writing tutorials on projection
technology for five years. Visit for more information about this
dynamic display technology.


The new Notevision XR-1X projector from Sharp is a sleek,
lightweight, personal projector that easily fits into a carry-on bag with a
laptop. This “pico” portable projector combines high brightness and
high-quality Carl Zeiss™ optics, along with the latest advances in DDR DLP
technology, making it the ultimate choice for both data and video projection.
About the size of a pair of paperback novels, the XR-1X measures 9.7 inches wide
by 2.5 inches high and 4.8 inches deep and weighs just three pounds. Setup is a
snap with a faster start-up than traditional projectors, on-screen-interactive
help for easy setup and operation assistance, color-coded connectors, and
backlit operation keys.



Sony’s portable VPL-ES2 projector is ideal for on-the-move
presenting, combining a sleek, lightweight design with bright, crisp images for
professional presentations during the day and entertainment at home at night. Part of the Sony® SuperLite™ LCD mobile projector series,
the VPL-ES2 weighs just 6.3 pounds and packs into a small case for carryon
convenience. The projector incorporates easy-to-use set-up features with a
bright 1,500-lumen picture. Focusing on ease of use, Sony’s new “Auto Set- Up”
buttons take the hassle out of setup. The lens, tilt, input search, keystone and
pixel are automatically adjusted with a touch of a button. Component video input and a whopping six video modes give
multiple options to connect to PCs, DVD players, game consoles and more.



In July, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America’s
Presentation Products Division will offer its PocketProjector, one of the world’s
smallest projectors. Weighing in at just 14 ounces and fitting easily into the palm
of a hand or a coat pocket, this tiny projector is perfect for mobile
presentations at a moment’s notice. The PocketProjector can be battery-powered
or used with a universal car adapter for truly on-the-fly presentations. The PocketProjector has one of the shortest projection
distances of mobile projectors on the market today: Users can easily create a
20-inch-diagonal screen with only one foot of projection distance, and a 40-inch
image can be created with less than one yard.