Data Projectors for PowerPoint Shows – Cost, Set-up & Alternatives

I appreciated the specific questions about my data projector that Jennifer and Mara asked in my last post.  Because my response became a bit long, I decided to put it in its own post.  Thanks for the great questions! (And Jennifer, I’m a techno-toddler, so if I can do this, you can, too!)

Data projector and flash drive

I love how skinny my Casio is.

 What model do you use and how much does it cost?  I’m using a Casio Data Projector XJ-S35, 2000 lumens with 2000-hour lamp life (that means if you were to do 4 hour-long presentations per school visit and did 50 visits per year, the bulb would last 10 years.) I bought it from ProjectorPeople in 2006 and it cost me about $1700 back then. Replacement bulbs are $395.00. But wait! Don’t despair!  Casio has a new model, The Casio Green Slim XJ-A145U that uses new lamp technology (no more mercury bulbs) so the lamp will never need replacement, and the price of the projector is about $999.00.  It’s reliable, and the expense is relative.  It’s been totally worth it to me. For helpful information, check out “How to Buy a Projector” in PC Magazine.  (Disclaimer: I’m not an employee of Casio or The Projector People, just a satisfied customer!)

 Brightness? Brightness is measured in lumens. Under 1000 lumens requires a totally dark room.  My Casio has 2000 lumens.  It works great in multipurpose rooms that are “light-challenged” as in windows everywhere and not a curtain in sight.


Basic set-up: computer, data projector, black power cord for projector, and the blue-ended cord that connects your computer to the projector. I also bring along the white power strip (just in case!) Set up time? Fast!

 Ease of set-up?  After you do it a couple of times, it’s a piece of cake. Five minutes tops if you’re using your own equipment and not relying on the school’s set-up.


I keep my flash drive on a key chain so I can find it faster.

 Alternatives to owning your own projector:  First, be sure the school you’re visiting has PowerPoint installed on their equipment. Then 1) you can bring your PowerPoint show on a flash drive and download it onto a school computer (this will retain any fancy formatting you’ve done in PowerPoint like transitions); 2) Convert your PowerPoint to jpegs on a flash drive and plug it into a projector that has a USB port (this acts as a slide show, so fancy transitions are gone) or 3) bring your own computer, on which you’ve loaded your show, that the school’s projector will hook to. If you have a Mac laptop, you may need a Mac-to-VGA adaptor.

 What if there’s equipment failure and no visuals?  Dance!  Seriously – one time, I was in a multipurpose room where the light was so bright, no images were visible.  If you do enough school visits, this will happen eventually.  So be ready to pull out your storytelling skills, grab your props and get on with the show.

 Parting advice:  Arrive early for set-up. Be prepared for the worst and consider it a gift from the heavens when everything goes as planned.

10 Comments on “Data Projectors for PowerPoint Shows – Cost, Set-up & Alternatives”

  • That’s GREAT information! thanks so much!

  • Thank you, Alexis! This information really helps, and I appreciate this website–A LOT!!!

  • I’m happy to know this helps, Jennifer & Mara. If you have any burning questions about school visits, be sure to send them my way!

  • I could talk about projectors all day! All night! I’m in love with my projector (which happens to be an Epson, but as long as an author has 2000 lumens, that’s what I think matters). Putting together pictures is terrific fun and creative…and I use the same skills I use in writing fiction, but no editor says, “This is wonderful–but not wonderful enough.” :>

  • You are so right, Jane. The equipment is just the vehicle to deliver your presentation story, and the creative possiblities are endless. I used to do thematic slide shows accompanied by music, so this is very similar (but easier!). I loved rearranging images until I acheived just the right impact.

  • When I remember, I email my PP files in advance for the school to test out. I still bring the flash drive because you never know — you might be given the wrong laptop without the files on it… or a hundred other possible things.

    Recently, I bought a hot pink coiled key cord to attach to the flash drive. You know, those kind loops of rubbery coiled plastic like an old fashioned telephone cord. I’ve never really had a problem with losing the flash drive, since — knowing my sloppy habits and my messy desk, where it could get lost — I INSTANTLY tuck it into a pocket on the side of my laptop bag every time I use it.

    But at one visit, I took it out to install the files and in the moments before I had a chance to install, it absolutely vanished. I looked everywhere, to no avail. Luckily, it was a school right in my own town, so we had time to call my husband and ask him to bring my laptop. Later, as I was packing to leave, I found I had tucked it into my dark purse. Dark purse, dark flash drive, old author with bad eyes: the perfect storm! Ha! So now it has a bright pink coil attached, to make it more visible.

  • Great article, Alexis. I have a question. What is the resolution of your projector? Does it make a difference to the presentation?

  • Genetta – The resolution for my Casio is 1024 x 768, which, according to my Computer Guru, is pretty standard today.

  • Oh dear, I’m just so excited about this site! What an amazing help everything you put up is! Thank you!

  • Thanks, Lindsay. And if you have any burning questions that we can answer here, be sure to let us know.