The short answer is, it depends. There are a few key things that will determine whether the additional cost of hiring an HD projector for your event rather than a standard XGA projector is worthwhile.
HD is short for high definition and there are a number of variations and the differences between the different variations are quite significant. You’ll hear terms like 720p HD, HD ready or 1080p Full HD.
Just to be clear we are talking about Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution (sometimes referred to as 1080p / 1080i) resolution. This means that the image is 1,920 pixels wide and 1,080 pixels tall.
1. How big is your projection screen?
Projected images are made up of tiny dots (pixels). The number of pixels is defined by the maximum resolution of the projector. The higher the resolution, the more pixels there are.
The bigger the image you project, the bigger each pixel becomes. For example:
If the image is 1,024 pixels wide and the projection is 1 metre (1,000mm) wide, then each pixel will be approximately 1mm wide (1,024 * 1 / 1,000).
If the same 1,024 pixel wide image is projected 3 metres (3,000mm) wide, then each pixel will be approximately 3mm wide (1024 * 3 / 1000).
Eventually you can start to make out the individual pixels if you are sat close enough to the screen.
2. How far away from the screen are your delegates going to be sat?
The closer you are to the screen, the easier it becomes to see each pixel. We usually recommend HD projection for screens of 12ft and above based on your first row of delegates being around 4 metres from the screen.
3. What’s the resolution of your content?
If not then there may be no benefit in using HD projection. If you have standard definition content to show then there’s no point in splashing out on HD projector hire.
4. How detailed is your content?
If you are organising a medical, scientific or engineering conference it’s likely that you will have at least some presenters who have slides that include detailed statistics or diagrams. In this case it’s often beneficial to have HD projection.
5. Do you have the budget?
HD projectors cost around twice the price of lower resolution projectors to hire. For example, we charge £250 per day for a full HD, 5000 lumen projector. The equivalent 5,000 lumen XGA (1024 x 768) projector is £120 per day to hire. Unless HD projection is essential for your event then you might find better ways to spend the extra cash whether that’s some extra lighting, a more interesting stage design or a contribution to better arrival drinks for your guests.
HD and 16:9 are two different things (see our blog post on the difference between 4:3 and 16:9 projection). You AV company will be able to project in 16:9 resolutions without using HD projectors. Don’t let them try and charge you for more expensive projectors when you simply don’t need them!