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4:3 or 16:9? Which would you invest in?


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This is currently a theoretical question, but it might not be fairly soon!


I've involved in running 2 conference-style events, both of which I organise the A/V for. They run a general session for upto 400 people, then breakouts for 100 or so each. Rooms/locations/facilities very wildly. Due to a host of reasons, it's more cost effective for us to start looking at buying kit rather than hiring it.


If you were buying (from new) screens & projectors right now for a conference, which would you go for - 4:3 or 16:9? I'm erring towards 16:9 because:


70%+ of our presenters have 16:9 laptops

Many of the rooms we use have low ceilings, so a 16:9 screen can be larger

Things generally seem to going that way (complete heresay on my part!)

For 4:3 sources, I could use something like BoinxTV & a USB grabber to make use of the extra space if I wanted


But, 4:3 would be better because:


Sub-hire is more generally available if we need it

There are far more choices of projector, especially short throw projectors

There are still 30% of our sources that are 4:3

It's a known quantity.


What would you do? I'd really appreciate some advice from people who know much more about this than I do!

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A lot of the conference recently I've seen have moved to 16:9, however have continued using their existing 4:3 screens, simply masking them with the set, and using a 16:9 projector.


Not sure if this would provide a suitable "best of both" solution for you, as obviously you have to have a larger 4:3 screen to allow for the width.

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All future purchasing will be 16:9, the last thing we bought in 4:3 was our Barco CLM R10's, alongside the HD8, with the HD8 getting more work now than the R10's which have tended to be letter-boxed down anyway....


When we look to replace the smaller desk top machines those will be 16:9 type machines too, and we'll be going for 8'x4'6" screens and then slightly larger ones two. Pretty much all the live events work seems to now want 16:9, with the corporate stuff moving that way.


The other option is you get a nice friendly AV company to rent you the kit ;-)

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It kind of depends on your budget. If your wanting the kind of low end conference stuff that most people use then you won't find many 16:9 projectors. Most of the low end stuff is still 1024x768 native. If your going up to mid / high end stuff then sure 16:9 projection is the way to go. I would be unsure about the lowend 16:9 stuff though as most of it is designed for home cinema use rather than business so you'll be missing the brightness and professional features that you'd be able to get on similarly priced XGA projection units.


Assuming your looking for affordable projectors between 5k and 10k lumens then I would probably stick with 4:3 projection at the moment. If you are going brighter than 10k then get a 16:9 1080i capable projector.


I would get 16:9 fastfolds though(!) the screens will out live your projectors and so even if you get 4:3 projectors I'd invest in 16:9 screens as they will fit better into venues and look smarter than masked off 4:3 screens. If you do need a 4:3 screen then they are very easy to hire in. Hiring 16:9 screens is very difficult outside of london.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We're currently looking more towards 1920x1200 (WUXGA) 16:10 projectors for corporate presentation/conference usage. There seem to be a few more appearing on the market such as the Panasonic PT-DZ6700E and seeing as most widescreen computer monitors are 16:10, I personally think that this is what PowerPoint may default to in the coming years (it is an option already on the latest version). This format would be for more data-heavy presentations but it will obviously be able to accomodate 16:9 HD video albeit with a bit of black at the top and bottom, or a higher res 1600x1200 4:3 presentation without any scaling. (You can also get 16:10 projection screens.)


At the moment though, I agree with sleepytom that if you are on a fairly tight budget, 1024 x 768 4:3 is still the most widely used format therefore more products are available at a more reasonable price.



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