Can I use an LCD projector with video conferencing?

lcdYou can use an LCD projector with video conferencing; however, in most installations we do not recommend video conferencing with an LCD projector as your monitor.  First we will look at the reasons you should not use and LCD projector, and second we will look at the occasions an LCD projector is appropriate.

When there is a video conferencing deployment you always need to consider the other party.  The two common problems with an LCD projector are the specular light and the room lighting.  Remember the camera is always facing from the side or center of the screen to the participants in the room.  The projector is facing the camera towards the screen.  If the projector isn’t lined up correctly it will look like a train charging down a tunnel to those participants at the far end — This is specular light, and it’s very distracting.  The other problem is the light in the room.  If the projector isn’t very bright there is a tendency to dim the lights.   Again consider the other party at the far end.  They need to see your faces – when the lights are dimmed they can’t see faces. It will look like a “60 Minutes” interview of someone in the witness protection program.  This defeats the whole idea of a video conference in the first place.

Flat panel displays are certainly the best option for conference rooms.  Cost is also a consideration.   It’s far more cost effective to use a flat panel display in a conference room because the installation and integration cost to install an LCD projector is much higher.  Smaller LCD projectors also have very weak audio, thus there is a requirement for separate reinforced sound. Reinforced sound means separate speakers; amplifiers; and audio mixers.

All this being said there are times when an LCD or LED projector is appropriate.  Large auditoriums are one example.  If the projector is bright enough to keep all the lights on and the auditorium has tiered seating, an LCD projector will work.   The slope in the tiered seating minimizes the chance for specular light or the projector light shining right into the camera.  Some larger convention centers have video conferencing in larger auditoriums as outside speakers are brought in through video conferencing.   Other applications are large distance learning rooms.  More often than not a second camera is placed in the back of the room so the instructor is seen from the podium for the far end participants.

Audio Visual equipment integrators, knowledgeable on video conferencing, understand the fine tuning needed to avoid specular light and properly illuminate the venue to accommodate video conferencing.  The LCD projectors used in larger venues are very bright and very expensive.  Additionally, they require reinforced sound for the venue, but the work great if you have the budget.

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