There are many choices when it comes to projectors for the classroom, full size ones, portable ones, or even new “Pico” projectors. What you need will vary depending on how you intend to use your projector. There are many different factors that play into what projector you should use in your classroom. One factor would be portability, useful for taking the projector around to multiple rooms so it is not stuck in one particular class. Inputs are also important, you want to be able to present off of anything, and if you have more inputs, there are more options for how you present. Brightness is probably one of the most important, brightness is key in making sure even the kids at the back of the class see what you’re showing.
Some of the competitors in this space are the Acer C120, the Optoma PK320, and the AAXA P4-X. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks; some are brighter than others, while some offer better inputs.
Portability is one of the biggest points of any pico projector, and it matters especially if you will be taking the projector around to multiple classrooms, sharing it between teachers, but that portability shouldn’t mean it’s underpowered.
The Acer C120 is the smallest of the bunch, but it gives some crucial tradeoffs to get that title, the case seems flimsy and cheaply made, and the focus wheel never seemed to get the picture 100% in focus. The AAXA P4-X is slightly heavier than a few others but gives a much sturdier case construction, and an included tripod, great for propping up the projector when giving a class demonstration. The Optoma on the other hand is very small, and has a shiny black case, which looks good but grabs fingerprints! The 3M MP220 is the heaviest of the bunch, weighing almost twice that of some other models, which puts it a step down in the portability category.
Inputs are a vital part to any projector, being able to plug in any device to a projector is very handy, especially with the number of devices people are carrying with them nowadays. The C120 definitely takes a hit in this department, offering only USB connectivity to a PC. The AAXA P4-X has a variety of inputs, everything from Mini-HDMI, VGA, and AV connections, offering teachers and students multiple ways to plug in devices. The Optoma includes everything the AAXA P4-X includes except for VGA, missing a crucial connection that teachers might use to connect a PC to the projector. The 3M MP220 has a combined VGA/RCA/Apple plug, but no HDMI, losing access to plug in a BluRay player, or other high definition sources.
The last, and arguably most important part of a projector for a classroom is brightness, being able to see the screen from across the room is vital to learning and keeping kids engrossed. The Acer C120, the AAXA P4-X, and the Optoma KP320 all have brightness ratings of around 100 Lumens, which is a good brightness for an average room environment. The 3M MP220 only has a brightness rating of 65 Lumens while on battery power, we were not given a rating for it when it is plugged into AC Power.
Overall, these are all good projectors for a classroom environment, but in our opinion, the AAXA P4-X is the best all around, providing great variety of inputs, good brightness, and portable enough to carry around from classroom to classroom.
3M MP220: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2379831&CatId=23
Acer C120: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=7757866&CatId=4298
AAXA P4-X: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2323101&CatId=1755