Brightness (which is measured in ANSI lumens or lumens for short) is one of the most important elements of a good projector. Generally speaking, the brighter a projector is the more expensive it will be, so a good rule of thumb is to get the brightest you can afford.
With both home theatre and business projectors, the environment you will use the projector in should determine how bright you need it to be. In the home, you will most likely use the projector with the lights off to simulate the movie theatre experience, so your projector doesn't need to be the brightest on the market. However, the brighter the image the better, so if you can afford a brighter projector, it is always advisable to go as bright as possible.
Brightness is very important in a corporate setting as you will want to keep the lights on during a business presentation. Projectors used in areas with high light require a much brighter output than those being used in a dark auditorium or lounge room with the lights switched off. You should consider whether your projector will be used mostly for text or for video. Text requires high clarity to ensure the entire audience can read the contents and that requires a bright projector. With a video presentation on the other hand, you can generally get away with a slightly lower brightness as every single detail is not quite as important. Also think about the size of the room you are presenting in. A small conference room can get away with a 1500 lumen projector, whereas a large room may need 2200 or 2500 lumens. The more people that are being presented to, the higher level of brightness you will need. Some of the different levels of projectors available include:
- 600 lumens - Poor
- 1000 lumens - Dull
- 2500 lumens - Good
- 3500 lumens - Bright
- 10000+ lumens - Extra Bright
One other thing to look at is brightness uniformity. This refers to the consistency of brightness across the entire width of the screen. On cheaper LCDs, the centre can sometimes give off more light than the edges which results in lower image quality. Some brands have special technologies implemented to combat this. A basic guide to the suitability of different brightness levels:
- Less than 1000 lumens: A small, dimly lit room or smaller lounge room.
- 1500-2000 lumens: An average-sized board room or larger lounge room.
- Greater than 2000 lumens: A large board room or auditorium but can also be used in the home for superior performance.