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Definition: data projector


A device that projects computer and TV output onto a white or silver fabric screen that is wall, ceiling or tripod mounted. Data projectors are widely used in classrooms and auditoriums for instruction and slide presentations.

Although many projectors have built-in speakers, projectors designed for TV and movies are called "front-projection TVs" and support display enhancement technologies such as HDR. See front-projection TV and HDR.

A data projector has HDMI inputs for set-top boxes and computers. It may also have a VGA input for older computers. Earlier projectors had analog video interfaces (composite, component and S-video). See DLP and 3LCD.

Increasingly Smaller and Lighter
In the 1980s, the first data projectors weighed more than 40 pounds, using a single cathode ray tube (CRT) to project a monochrome image. When color units came out, they weighed even more because of their three CRTs (red, green and blue). CRT projection systems gave way to considerably smaller units.

In the 1990s, projectors became transparent LCD panels, but although significantly lighter than CRTs, they required an overhead projector for illumination (see LCD panel). After the turn of the century, stand-alone projectors shrank to a pound or two (see pocket projector), and within a few years to only a few ounces (see microprojector). See extended desktop mode.




The Good Old Days
Starting in 1980, Alan Freedman, author of this encyclopedia, lugged a monochrome data projector to the computer literacy classes he taught to non-technical managers. Projector, computer and rolling cases weighed over 100 pounds.






Twenty Years Later
In 2000, using Texas Instrument's DLP technology, Compaq introduced the four-pound MP1400, one of the first lightweight data projectors. (Image courtesy of Compaq Computer Corporation.)






Another Decade Later
In 2012, ViewSonic introduced its Pico projector, weighing less than a pound. (Image courtesy of ViewSonic Corporation.)