Are PICO projectors any good for business presentation, light movie watching, general stuff? I've seen some nice units, some at 500 lumens or so, like the fact that they are light, small and very portable. Any good recommendations for business?
The image size that you can expect from a 500 lumen pico projector is about 6 square feet, or less than the size of a 42" LCD in your typical boardroom. Likewise, resolution and image will be decent, but not anything to write home about.
They just aren't there yet. They aren't bright enough for proper travel use and they don't have high enough quality for home theater use. About the only serious use they have is as entertainment projectors for kids to use or to take with you on travel to watch movies on the hotel room wall.
They have a lot of potential in upcoming years as brightness increases, but you would be far better served with a traditional projector, especially for business presentation use where lumens matter a great deal. Under $700 there are a number of widescreen projector with more than 3,000 lumens available for use.
They can be great for all those purposes as long as you are fine with 720p HD and can darken the room to the point that it's too dark for most people to read small print. You can get away with readable levels of light but your contrast will suffer. A bright, bulb-based projector will be good for about twice the diagonal screensize if everything else is kept the same, but choices that are notably better quality usually cost 50%-100% more unless your situations allow for low color-brightness. Either way, if you have to compete with full lighting and/or the sun you are not going to win those fights.
If you are truly planning on using ANY inexpensive projector for a business presentation, test it out at home in the same light, at the same size, with the same presentation source. Almost everything is great from a laptop vga/hdmi, but any other sources are questionable and should be tested to make sure they are compatible and to see if the projector has any crash/freezing/remote-control problems. Also, this will allow you to tune your image a bit and see if it's acceptable for work.
For fun and movies; most of the led models above 400lumens are clones of eachother, so go ahead and grab the cheapest version that has the features you'll need. And doublecheck that you can return it if you don't like it. Some online retailers (tigerdirect, newegg) are exchange only and don't allow returns on projectors!
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