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!)
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.
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.
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.