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11/96 How To Buy: Presentation Panel


Projection panels are used with overhead projectors, so their quality is important, too. Make sure the overhead projector you use has a rating of at least 1,000 lumens, although you'll get better results with one rated between 4,000 and 8,000 lumens. For a large audience, you need a brighter projector-if it doesn't provide enough light, your presentation won't be seen. Expect to spend $750 to $1,000 for a projector that will shed enough light on your presentations.

Display Technology

Projection panels, also called liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, incorporate either active- or passive-matrix technology. The principal difference between the two is refresh rate: active matrix refreshes at 30 to 60 times per second, while passives are considerably slower. Active-matrix displays provide a crisper and clearer image, so they're the better choice if you give presentations to large audiences or if you use animation or video.


Basic projection panels are available for about $2,000 or less. More sophisticated products, which have their own processors, hard disks, and multimedia features like speakers, can cost as much as $8,000.


Panels are available with resolutions of 640x480 (VGA), 800x600 (Super VGA), 1024x768 or 1280x1024. If you're going to project images from applications, choose a resolution that matches your PC's monitor. If you want to present Web pages, 1024x768 is probably the best choice.

When you grow tired of shuffling through slides and transparencies-and your budget's getting battered by production costs-it's time to start presenting right from your notebook PC. For about the same amount of money it would cost to produce a few presentations' worth of 35-millimeter slides, you can get an LCD panel and sidestep that process entirely. These panels let you make last-minute changes, and they cost less than an all-in-one projector (see All-in-One Solutions ), even when you add in the price of an overhead projector.

Presentation panels offer a lot of latitude when it comes to price and features, but be sure to choose a unit that supports up to 16.7 million colors. And consider one that can connect to two computers or two video sources (such as a VCR) simultaneously. Try out the remote control unit that comes as standard equipment with most panels, and make sure you're comfortable with it. You should be able to fully control your presentation without having to touch the keyboard. Another key feature is autoadjust/autosync, which automatically adapts the panel for use with whatever notebook you are using. Finally, consider the unit's size and weight, particularly if you'll be traveling with it. Some products weigh just 5 pounds or less, and fit neatly into a briefcase. But even if light weight isn't a priority, think twice before you get a panel that weighs more than 7 pounds.

All-in-One Solutions

All-in-one projection units have integrated light sources, so you don't need an overhead projector. When you hit the road with your slide show, you won't have to worry about projection equipment at your destination.

Users are turning to all-in-one projectors in increasing numbers. It's estimated that the all-in-one units will soon account for 75 to 85 percent of sales.

The growing popularity of all-in-one projection systems is due to their price, weight and size, all of which have been trimmed dramatically. These units cost $4,000 to $10,000-not too far out of line with the price of an LCD projection panel and a good overhead projector. But at 15 to 25 pounds, they're more luggable than portable.

On the downside, many all-in-one units support only VGA (640x480), although some products support Super VGA (800x600) through the hardware or by using image compression.

On the horizon, look for lightweight all-in-one systems. Proxima recently introduced the 11-pound LightBook; its price will be about $5,500.

Projecting Success

ProductCompanyContactPrice TypeResolutionColorsSize/Weight
Dukane MagniView 486Dukane Corp. 800-676-2485, 708-584-2300$3,995Active-matrix LCD panel 640x4802 million1.5 by 11 inches; 5.9 pounds
Dukane ImagePro 7010Dukane Corp. 800-676-2485, 708-584-23009,495$9,495All-in-one LCD projector 640x480, 800x600 compressed16.7 million 6.5 by 12 by 17 inches; 19 pounds
In Focus PowerView 820In Focus Systems 800-294-6400, 503-685-8888$4,499Active-matrix LCD panel 800x60016.7 million1.5 by 12.25 by 12 inches; under 5 pounds
In Focus LitePro 210In Focus Systems 800-294-6400, 503-685-88885,499All-in-one LCD projector 640x480, 800x600 compressed16.7 million 6.6 by 16.25 by 13.25 inches; 16 pounds
Proxima Ovation+ 944Proxima Corp 800-447-7692, 619-457-55008,495Active-matrix LCD panel 1280x102416.7 million2.1 by 12.9 by 15 inches; 7 pounds
Proxima Desktop Projector 2910Proxima Corp 800-447-7692, 619-457-5500$6,659All-in-one LCD projector 640x480, 800x600 compressed16.7 million 5.9 by 13.1 by 17 inches; 22.6 pounds
Sharp QA-1800BLSharp Electronics Corp. 800-BE-SHARP, 201-529-87313,995Active-matrix LCD panel 800x60016 million2.4 by 15 by 12.6 inches; 6.6 pounds
Sharp XG-E630USharp Electronics Corp. 800-BE-SHARP, 201-529-8731$4,995All-in-one LCD projector 800x60016 million8.3 by 13.8 by 18.1 inches; 16 pounds

Sites to Be Seen

The following Web sites provide interesting and informative resources for presenters. The Presenter's Web List has links to sites that provide quotes, video clips, clip art, humor and other material that you can add to your presentation. The Computer Based Presentations site provides tips for making computer-based presentations using an LCD panel or projector. This brief guide to classroom computer projection delineates the types of projection systems,including hardware and platform concerns,important features and limitations of the available choices. In Focus Systems provides links to sites offering free software for presenters.

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