The LCD projector that I ordered earlier in the week arrived today. I won’t get a chance to use it in class until Monday, but I tested it out at home so I thought I’d share my initial impressions of the projector.
Overview of the DG-852 Projector
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I ordered the projector. It’s manufactured by a small (and relatively new?) Chinese company – Digital Galaxy. I wasn’t able to find a lot of information regarding their products on the ‘net, and I thought it a bit odd that the manufacturer’s website didn’t even feature the new model that two sellers were offering on eBay.
The ebay seller, digitalgalaxy509, had good feedback. More on that in a separate post, though.
Nonetheless, the specs seemed fairly decent and the price was spot on. Shipping included (3-4 day delivery from China to the United States), the projector cost me about $375.00. That’s better than the cheapest projector I was able to find state-side ($400+).
According to the eBay listing, the projector had a 2500 ANSI Brightness rating (I was looking for 2000+), a 5,000 hour lamp life (I wanted 3,000+), and a max resolution of 1024×768 (enough for me, although I’d have liked more).
The only spec that seemed a bit off was the contrast ratio. 600:1 is lower than I’ve seen on many other models, but some research has suggested to me that anything over 500:1 is generally unnoticable. More on that another time, though.
Test Run: YouTube in the Kitchen
As soon as I got home, I unwrapped the projector and tried to figure out a place to test it. My house is somewhat small and cluttered, and there aren’t a lot of big open spaces to project an image. Luckily, I just finished putting up new drywall in the kitchen, and there was a perfect, newly primed area to project.
I hooked up my laptop, fired up YouTube, and set about getting the projector to work.
Initially, I had a bit of trouble getting it to focus. I was used to the projector we have at school, where the image is almost always in focus and you simply turn the lens to fine tune it. On the DG-852, I needed to rotate the lens and move it out about an inch or two to get the image focused.
After doing so, the image came in crisp and clear.
I tried to simulate conditions like my classroom. I left a light on in an adjacent room to bring in some dim ambient light. It was light enough in the kitchen that I could read (the instruction manual) fairly easily, but it was definitely not fully lit. This is similar to classroom conditions, where I leave the shades open to let in sunlight so that students can see their notebooks.
The ambient light didn’t affect the image at all. Although I’m sure it might have come in sharper if I made the room pitch black, it was clearly visible on the wall. I had to tune up the Brightness and Contrast settings a bit to get it where I wanted, but the projector clearly has enough brightness to out-shine moderate amounts of ambient light.
Overall, I’m impressed with the quality of the picture. It meets my standards, and in that respect it will be perfect for use in my classroom.
But It’s Not Perfect…
Unfortunately, it’s not perfect overall. But I guess that’s to be expected when you purchase a cheap projector.
Aside from the focusing, another pet peeve of mine is the distance the projector needs to be away from the screen. I may be mis-remembering how far I stand away from the board, but it seemed that at roughly the same distance from the wall the projector created a small image. In other words, I’ll need to move deeper into the classroom to get the size image I want (the full height of the white board).
Floor space isn’t a problem. I generally arrange the desks in a U shape, so the middle of the floor is wide open. However, there is a concern about the length of cords. I use a short extension cord to reach the power outlet, and I only have a 10′ cord to extend from the VGA output on my desktop to the VGA input on the projector. Hopefully that’ll be long enough.
My only major concern is the fan noise. The fan is significantly louder than the projector that I have currently. It seems that the openings in the case are bigger, too. On the one hand this creates more air flow (and may be why the lamp is rated for so many hours), but it generates a moderate amount of noise.
I was able to hear the YouTube videos above the fan noise, but I’ll have to see on Monday if its loud enough to distract me or my students in class. I hope not.
The fan also remains on for five minutes after you shut off the lamp (this is a precaution to help cool the lamp down effectively). This compounds the noise problem, because the fan will continue to make noise even after I’ve turned off the projector.
The projector doesn’t come with a carrying case. Not a big deal for me, since I leave the projector out in my room most of the day and locked in a closet over night. Between the lack of a case and the five minute cooldown period, though, this is definitely not a great option for a roaming teacher.
Oi. I hope I don’t roam again next year.
Value for Your Dollar? Pretty Good
Bottom line, I’m pleased with my investment. The projector was cheaper than anything else I could find, and the picture is a great quality. In that department, it more than lives up to my expectations.
I have a couple pet peeves (the focusing and the distance between the projector and the board) and one real concern (the fan noise), but I don’t think either of them will be so inconvenient as to make me not want to use the projector.
Pending some field tests with the fan noise, I’d feel comfortable recommending this to a fellow teacher. It’s not the best projector I’ve seen, but its quality is great for the low cost.
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