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Video Projector Buying Guide

Video Projector Setup and Maintenance Costs

Setup costs for a video projector depend on how you plan to use it. For most projectors, you'll need a place to rest or mount the projector. You could place the projector on a table, but that might not be ideal if it gets in the way. You can find a variety of wall and ceiling mounts as an alternative, which could add between $50 and $100 to your projector setup cost.

Another setup cost is a screen. You could use paint or wallpaper a wall for this purpose. However, for best results, you should purchase a dedicated screen. This will run you between $100 and $200 for retractable screens with a manual pull-down mechanism. Automatic screens, which descend at the touch of a button or switch, can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on their size and features. Be sure the screen you choose is compatible with your projector. Besides being large enough for the projected image, the screen should have a texture and color that works with the projector. Compatibility is typically not an issue, though, since many projectors have display presets or adjustable color settings to accommodate different environments.

The biggest maintenance cost for video projectors is lamp replacement. LCD and DLP projectors will have a lamp life between 2,000 and 4,000 hours. That doesn't necessarily mean the lamp will go out entirely. Instead, it means the lamp will dim to about half of its original brightness, causing picture quality to suffer. Replacement lamps cost $200 to $400.

There are ways to keep lamp replacement costs down. Cleaning the dust from the projector regularly and using it as instructed in its documentation will help to maximize lamp life. That leads us to the second cost you'll have with a video projector: filters. Many projectors have filters that capture dust and debris pulled in by the cooling fan. You'll need to replace these filters regularly, adding to your overall maintenance costs.

When shopping, consider Texas Instrument's new lamp-free and filter-free DLP technology. Lamp-free DLP is designed to lower power consumption and significantly reduce maintenance costs. If you expect heavy use from your video projector, the up-front cost of a lamp-free DLP could potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of the projector [source: Texas Instruments].

If your video projector has a battery-powered remote control, the batteries will be yet another maintenance cost for the projector. Besides these regular replacement parts, the only maintenance costs common to projectors is repair costs. Be aware of the replacement and repair warrantees available for the projectors you're interested in. Then, if you know you'll push a warrantee to its limits, consider researching the average repair costs associated with the projector you're interested in.

Next, let's start exploring some classifications of video projectors and the unique benefits and costs associated with each.