Multimedia Projectors for Showcasing Images, Documents and More Wirelessly from Your iOS Device
Whether you’re teaching a class or presenting a business plan, a multimedia projector helps get your message across. A conventional setup involves attaching a computer to a projector using a VGA cable, but cable-free alternatives are becoming more popular, including streaming content from the smartphone in your pocket or the tablet under your arm.
Wireless connectivity is especially convenient if the projector is mounted to the ceiling. All of the projectors here can be ceiling mounted. They also support rear projection. But even in a temporary setup in which the projector is placed on a table in front of a screen, eliminating the A/V or data cable is one less object over which audience members can trip. Wireless connectivity, though, depends on a compatible projector. Some projectors offer wireless capability out of the box, while others make it an option in the form of a USB adapter, also known as a Wi-Fi dongle.
Some manufacturers of multimedia projectors have introduced free apps that you download into your iOS device for streaming specific types of content to particular models. If you switch the iOS device’s Wi-Fi network setting to the projector, you may not be able to get on the Internet at the same time. If you’ve already transferred photos and documents into your mobile device, that shouldn’t be a problem. Still, some apps are designed with more flexibility, meaning that you’re not necessarily cut off from the Web while wirelessly connected to the projector. Still other solutions include attaching an Apple TV media receiver to the projector’s HDMI input and using the media receiver’s built-in Airplay capabilities to duplicate your iOS (iPad, iPhone or iPod touch) screen.
While this roundup focuses on multimedia projectors in which the projector manufacturer is offering a free iOS app, every projector still can be used in a traditional configuration cabled to a computer or DVD player, among other source components. So, when you’re shopping for a projector, conventional specifications like screen resolution and picture brightness are still important considerations.
BenQ QPresenter HD
QPresenter is a wireless projection set-up app that transfers photos and documents you’ve saved to your Apple iPad or iPhone to a BenQ network projector through a Wi-Fi connection and projects them on the big screen. It also allows you to manage the files before you present them. The app is free from the Apple App Store. Compatible files include JPG photos, PowerPoint (PPT) slides and Portable Document Files (PDFs). The app works in conjunction with BenQ’s network projectors. For example, plug the optional BenQ Wireless Dongle Adapter into a USB input on the BenQ SH910 DLP Digital Projector, switch the projector source to network display and see the images in the palm of your hand blown up larger than life.
The Benq SH910 DLP Digital Projector is the only Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) model in our roundup. At 4000 lumens, it’s also one of the brightest. The projector forms the picture using a Texas Instruments Digital Light Processor (DLP) micro mirror array with little loss of light since the panel is reflective rather than transmissive as in a 3LCD panel. It features a 1.5x zoom lens and 20 watts of stereo speaker power.
As Epson makes clear, the iProjection app makes it possible for an itinerant trainer or sales rep to travel light and present from their mobile device. It also affords untethered freedom for a teacher who likes to walk around the classroom while still controlling the show from his or her iPad, the same device that contains the presentation content. The great thing about Wi-Fi is that you don’t need line-of-sight as you would with an infrared remote. The iProjection app is compatible with a bunch of formats including Word documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel charts and Keynote files. It also streams PDF, JPG, TIFF and PNG files.
Epson offers an extensive selection of app-compatible projectors including these PowerLite models: the 96W, 435W and 1835. All require the optional Epson Wireless LAN Module for wireless reception and control. Each is a 3LCD projector with 16 watts of audio power and inputs for VGA, HDMI, A/V and Ethernet connections, among others. Brightness and resolution vary: the 96W offers 2700 lumens and 1280 x 800 pixels; the 435W is 3000 lumens with the same resolution; and the 1835 with 2500 lumens but 1024 x 768 resolution. The latter has the greatest picture zoom at 1.6x.
Suppose you want to use a Windows notebook as your source component. Plug the Epson Quick Wireless Connection USB Key (ELPA08) into the computer and the key sets up a direct wireless connection with the projector—no Wi-Fi network necessary. When you’re done, you simply disconnect the key and the computer’s original settings are restored, so reconfiguration isn’t required.
NEC Wireless Image Utility Lite
NEC Display Solutions offers several projectors that take advantage of the NEC Wireless Image Utility Lite app for transferring image and PDF files from your iOS device. The app supports automatic detection of the projector in the “Simple Access Point” and “Ad hoc” environment. What’s different about the three NEC projectors here—the NEC NP-P350X XGA Entry Level Projector, NP-P350W (the widescreen version of the P350X) and NEC NP-P420X XGA Entry-Level Professional Installation Projector—are that the wireless adapter is included. (Just don’t forget to plug it in.) The P350X/W projectors display 3500 lumens while the P420X offers 4200 lumens. The latter is the brightest projector in the bunch. Each of these NEC models contains a 1.7x zoom, the most powerful in our roundup.
Panasonic Wireless Projector for iOS
Panasonic’s Wireless Projector for iOS application may be the most flexible of the group because it can stream Web sites, too. It lets you send PDF files and JPEG images saved to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to a Panasonic wireless projector over a wireless LAN (Wi-Fi), and project them. You can send PDF files transferred from a PC via iTunes to the Documents folder of this application and JPEG images saved to the Photos folder of your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. You can also project Web sites with the built-in Web browser and photos taken with the built-in camera on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. In addition, the application also lets you rotate the screen, enlarge or reduce the screen with a pinch operation, and flip through pages with a flick operation.
The app works with several Panasonic models including the PT-VX400NTU 3LCD Portable Projector and Panasonic PT-LB90NTU Projector. Both have built-in Wi-Fi reception, so you don’t attach a dongle. If you want to use a computer as your source component and you’re utilizing the wireless LAN connection on the projector, you don’t need to connect a cable between them. Both projectors incorporate 3LCD panels with a resolution of 1024 x 768. At 4000 lumens, the PT-VX400NTU is brighter than the PT-B90NTU with 3500-lumens. The former also affords slightly better contrast and a lens shift feature.
Meanwhile, there are ways to endow a wired projector with wireless capability. Any projector with an HDMI input used in a Wi-Fi-enabled location can take advantage of the Airplay capability built into a late model Apple TV. The caveat is that the Apple TV box is cabled to the projector. The wireless leg is between the Apple TV and iOS device. With Airplay you don’t necessarily need to use one of the projector manufacturer’s apps to make content fly, and you’re not necessarily limited to specific types of content.
In any case, if you’re planning to buy a multimedia projector, you may want to consider its wireless prowess as an appealing feature you can take advantage of today if you have a compatible mobile device, or tomorrow if you’re planning to get one.