Projecting to screen from laptop

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Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:28 pm

My in-laws are very involved in the Horticultural society where they live, to the point that they travel around and give lectures and show presentations on the gardens they have grown, visited, and photographed.

They asked me (their tech support) if there was any way that they could take the images from their digital camera and display them on a screen for people in the audience to see easily. He is coming from a schoolteacher's background, so I think he's got something like an overhead fresnel-light projector in mind (having used one for many, many years - now retired). The only things that came to mind for me were:
1) You're gonna need a laptop. They don't have one right now, so that's probably going to run them $1000 all told.
2) Data projectors, such as those that my office has in the conference room, are not cheap. About another $1000 for one of those (purchased new) plus incredibly expensive bulbs to replace.

They're willing to buy a laptop (since they are in the market for a new computer anyway), but the price of the projector sort of stunned them, and I don't blame them; that seems like an awful lot of cash just to show pictures on a wall. Is there a method of doing this that I'm missing if you don't need uber-sharp pictures at super high speeds? Heck, I don't even think they need *moving* pictures... basically, I think he'd be happy if he could do a slide show from the .jpg files stored on his laptop.

This is definitely not my area of expertise, so I bring it to the people who are much more familiar with this sort of stuff. I'm more than willing to do my own research, I just don't even know where to start.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:57 pm

There used to be LCD panels that were essentially see-through -- like a laptop screen without the backlight (or anything else in back). You stuck one of those on an overhead projector, plugged it into the external VGA port on your laptop, and away you went. The nice thing about them was that if you knew there was an overhead projector at your destination, you only had to lug the panel, and they were relatively cheap. But they were very dim (unless you had an overhead projector with some kind of insane bulb) so you needed a near-pitch-black room, and the last one I saw (about a decade ago) was just 800x600. There may be some still around, with higher resolution, but the projector light output would still be an issue.

But beyond that, yeah, projectors are expensive -- and that's before you factor in the bulb replacement costs, which adds up pretty fast (they're not cheap and their lifetimes aren't great). These days your best hope is that somebody has a bigass LCD or plasma 1080p TV at your destination.

Of course, you can go totally old-school: just print out your pictures onto transparent acetate sheets (color laser printers can do that no problem; some inkjets can with the right ink) and use an overhead projector. As long as you're not printing at ultra-high dot density, the results are surprisingly good (though you still need a pitch black room).
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2008 10:25 pm

UberGerbil wrote:Of course, you can go totally old-school: just print out your pictures onto transparent acetate sheets (color laser printers can do that no problem; some inkjets can with the right ink) and use an overhead projector. As long as you're not printing at ultra-high dot density, the results are surprisingly good (though you still need a pitch black room).

That's what I was thinking too. How many pictures are we talking about?
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2008 10:41 pm

$580 free shipping - ViewSonic PJ551D 1024 x 768 DLP Projector 2300 ANSI Lumens 2000:1 - Retail
Viewsonic is also giving away a free projector bulb if you fill out the form on Newegg within 30-days on that model, which should mitigate concerns about bulb-replacement.

$550 free shipping - Acer Aspire AS5520-5908 NoteBook AMD Mobile Athlon 64 X2 TK-55(1.80GHz) 15.4" Wide XGA 1GB Memory DDR2 667 120GB HDD DVD Super Multi NVIDIA GeForce 7000M - Retail

Total Cost: $1130. 1024x768 projector + new laptop.

They can dump the pics via USB to the 120GB drive then back them up with the DVD-R.
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:12 pm

They *can* save the laptop cost if their digital camera supports video out, then you just need to get a projector that has video in and just "play" the images direct off the memory cards through the digital camera.

Edit: apparently I can't type.
Last edited by Flying Fox on Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:07 pm

Excellent point FF.

Not sure if this thing is going to be any good or not... didn't notice any reviews on Google:

http://www.engadget.com/2008/06/05/aipt ... projector/

That's a mini-projector that can read from myriad sources and display a 50" image. Something like that might be perfect.

The Aiptek PocketCinema V10 is a new pocket-sized micro projector which can project a 50-inch image from various media.

It is currently being shown at Computex 2008 and can playback photos and videos directly from Wii, iPod or other media devices via a 3-in-1 AV jack

As well as direct streaming, the device can playback or display media from its 1GB internal memory or via an SD, MMC or MS Pro card.

Many formats are supported including AVI, JPEG, ASF and MPEG-4 and comes packed with a built-in battery and stereo speaker.

The projector utilises revolutionary projection technology from those innovative geniuses at 3M.
Matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves... back to you with the weather, Bob!
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Sun Aug 31, 2008 11:32 am

I'm a little dubious of that Aiptek PocketCinema. You can't defy the laws of physics. To get a bright image, you need a bright light source. The larger the image, the more light you need to get the same apparent brightness. I'm sure they're using the same LED tech found in the latest ultra-bright flashlights, but I'm not sure how many of those lights can illuminate a 50" rectangle at an intensity that most people would want for viewing images (though I'm sure there are detectable photons so it's not a lie, and in a totally black room it might work). There's no information on contrast ratio, brightness, resolution, or anything else, including price or ship date. My skepticism my prove unfounded and it may be perfect for this kind of application, but I wouldn't be making plans around it at this point.
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Sun Aug 31, 2008 1:13 pm

50" is a lot smaller than most projectors -- just over 4 feet. We've had little Mac-mini sized projectors that could do a 6-7 foot screen in brightly-lit rooms for 4 years now; it's probably realistic enough.

That said, a 4-foot screen is also roughly the size you can use if everybody is sitting around a conference table -- you don't want people trying to look at it from more than ~12 foot.
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Sun Aug 31, 2008 10:57 pm

Agreed. I still think camera --> projector or camera --> laptop --> projector is the best solution.

It will be interesting to see if the microprojector technology takes off. Unlike all the crap on cell phones, if you could dump media onto them and shoot a 50" image onto a relatively lit room and it be visible, that'd almost be as cool as the Star Wars hologram communicators.
Matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves... back to you with the weather, Bob!
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Sun Aug 31, 2008 11:16 pm

computron9000 wrote:It will be interesting to see if the microprojector technology takes off. Unlike all the crap on cell phones, if you could dump media onto them and shoot a 50" image onto a relatively lit room and it be visible, that'd almost be as cool as the Star Wars hologram communicators.
That's the theory. And the demo (Microvision is a legit company -- I used to know its founders -- but let's not forget the "Demo" Corollary of Clarke's Law)
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2008 4:57 am

Either way, I hope the OP realizes his choices are extremely limited.

I do NOT recommend going the old-school route (light bulbs, mirrors, and transparencies). If anything, you get a very nice display (that could be hooked to a TV or laptop for home use) plus a laptop for $1100.

If you hold out for microprojectors, you are probably asking for trouble.

Maybe consider buying USED if budget is an issue?
Matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves... back to you with the weather, Bob!
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2008 4:43 pm

Thank you all for your excellent advice and input. These comments are in response to everyone on the thread.

I don't think my in-laws are interested in waiting for Aiptek to get their prototype turned into a production model, nor in being early adopters, but thanks for the link - *I* was interested in reading it.

That leaves the camera->laptop->projector mode. (Thanks also to those who suggested camera->projector; I'll definitely keep that in mind, but they're looking to get a new computer anyway so might as well include it in the equation.)

I wish I could do NewEgg, but they don't ship to Canada -- at least, not economically. Still, thanks for the links, as they did provide some good research material. I seldom think of going there, since purchasing from them is simply not an option for me.

I found a review of the review of the Viewsonic PJ551D which was mostly positive (http://www.goodgearguide.com.au/index.php/taxid;2136212928;pid;5850;pt;1) but which did have this to say about using it to display photos:
Like most portable projectors, it's not fantastic for viewing photographs and video which have a lot of detail in dark areas, but in most situations it performs well.

This led me to wonder; is this a problem with *all* projectors, especially budget ones?

I found another projector, however -- the Epson PowerLite 77c -- that is pricier, but still not outrageous ($719 CAD vs. $579 CAD at http://www.ca.buy.com) with even *better* reviews (http://www.projectorcentral.com/epson_p ... jector.htm), stating in part:
As expected from an Epson projector, color is superb. When using photographic content, colors are vivid, accurate, and well-saturated. Subtle nuances are not lost between differing shades of the same color, and there was no evidence of gradation artifacts.... (Conclusion) Great color makes photography presentation a joy....

So this might be the one I steer him towards.

If it were me, I'd definitely look at buying used... but I'm also more comfortable with technology than they are. I'm fairly sure that he would not be comfortable with making a purchase like this over eBay (or similar) as he would have no recourse if something broke, or if he had to 'return it'.

I know that this is not the laptop board, but I'm wondering: why was that one presented over anything else - price? Two things about it caught my eye:
- only 1 GB of memory. That doesn't seem like enough these days, and memory is cheap.
- separate video card. I have always used onboard video for them, and it has always performed adequately. I would think that these days it would be even better. If I'm running through a projector, though, is a separate video card going to be necessary?

Thanks again for all the assistance.
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:17 am

That laptop just seemed reasonable price per performance/features for your application. 85% was Cost.

As for the projector, if spending $140CAD extra isn't an issue, I'd redirect that towards the laptop or a portable projector screen. if you were considering transparencies and old-school tech, the cheapest projector you find will still be vastly superior.

As for black levels, it should make sense intuitively that shining a light at a surface to reproduce colors that anytime you need black and it is very close to dim detail that that would be the hardest to do. Either the light from the detail area "bleeds" and makes the black area gray, or you darken the image to keep black-black and lose the detail. Say, versus bright-white background with nothing on it.

Even a cheap projector, when used with a screen, will dominate a slightly more expensive projector on a marginal or even ideal wall.

You should really check this site out:

http://www.projectorcentral.com/

They have some package deals, used listings, tons of info on projectors. Here's a package deal probably outside of your budget, but pretty cool:

http://www.projectorsuperstore.com/prod ... D=ProjCent

Projector, portable bag + screen, laptop case, etc. Basically an all-in-one portable presentation kit.
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Re: Projecting to screen from laptop

Postposted on Fri Sep 12, 2008 11:13 am

Although it's only 640x480, what about using a ThinkPad 755CDV?

It has a removable cover on the LCD specifically for projecting from it...
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