Wednesday, April 05, 2006

shopping: buying a great projector cheap

I've been raging on and on about how much I wanted a projector for ages. It seems like the perfect new york device. You put it up in the air, it puts the image where you point it. When I moved into my current apartment in Brooklyn I saw the backyard with a bare wall at the end and knew my projectorless days were numbered. They were probably numbered around at around 150 or so, because yesterday I picked up a Proxima Projectors: Proxima DP9280 PolySi LCD projector for only 200 bucks!

First, a few words about buying it. Do your research, because there are lots of terrible deals out there among the few good deals.


Your standard TV resolution is 800X600. You may find projectors available at lower resolutions than that fairly cheap, but they will not look as good as your basic TV. If all you will ever be projecting is basic tv and movies, 800X600 is all you need. If you are planning on projecting your computer screen or HD content, 1024X768 is minimal and higher resolutions are better(but more costly).

The brighter the better. Honestly. The way a normal TV works is that there are little bits of the screen shooting light out directly at your eyes. This is why you can watch tv with the lights off, but you can't read with the lights off. A projector throws light at some flat reflective surface and the light bounces back at you. An awful lot doesn't make the trip back to your eyes, so a projector is generally dimmer than a regular TV.
For projectors, the brightness is measured in Lumens. You definitely need to try any projector, ESPECIALLY A USED ONE, before you buy. That way you can see how bright it really is and what environments you can use it in. My projector is rated for 3000 ANSI lumens, and looks it. You can play it with all the lights on, no problem. Yes, that means it also uses a ton of energy and is hot like a furnace. Everything is a tradeoff.


This is how I looked for my projector. I went to to craigslist and put in a search for "projector". Every single search on Craigslist has an RSS feed. Hell, every page on craigslist has an rss feed. That's because you can get an rss feed just by appending "&format=rss" to any url in CL to get it back as an rss feed. So use that! Subscribe to your search in your favorite aggregator and check it daily. When you see something that looks like a good deal, email the people and set up a time to look at the merchandise. My projector was so cheap because I waited around until a company was replacing their projectors with the latest models. They asked the secretary to get rid of the old ones and she put up these $12,000 projectors for $200 apiece. Hot dog!

Tomorrow I'll try to put up some photos of the picture quality in various conditions. The projector is huge, hot, and totally awesome. Last night I played tekken5 on a 60" picture. I'm so psyched for the first warm nights and movies in the backyard.