Projector Networking

Digital projector networks

Digital projector networking has become an extremely useful tool for large businesses and schools. Because the digital projector is connected to a network, it gains the ability to utilise files, including videos and presentations, that are present on other computers in the network. This Bamboo AV advice article should help you understand the networking and file sharing capabilities of network projectors. We will explain the difference between a regular projector and a networked projector, and the various benefits (both to managers and to users) that networked projectors allow. We will also discuss the various types of network connectivity available for networked projectors so you can make the decision on what type of networked projector connection is right for you.

Projector networking

Prior to the advent of computer networks it was necessary to physically connect peripherals to a computer to use them. If you wanted to use a project a presentation stored on a computer, you would have to connect that computer to the projector you wanted to use with a cable. If the computer was located far away from the projector, this became very difficult to achieve. Instead of this, nowadays a device like a printer can be added to a network, thus allowing all computers connected to the network to use and control the printer remotely. This ability to share resources across multiple computers can save users time and money. A networked enabled projector works in a similar manner in that it enables the networked projector to share files and allows it to be used in conjunction with other computers in the network.

The difference between network projectors and regular projectors

Initially, a projector with networking capabilities may seem to appear, function, and project exactly like any other projector. The substantial difference offered by network projector is the ability to allow multiple computers to access it, due to the projector’s capability to form part of a local area network (a LAN). By using an inbuilt network interface card, a network projector can assign its own unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. This can allow for any user to communicate with the device and remotely control the way the projector functions.

Benefits of network projectors for users

There are numerous benefits a network projector can offer users to enhance convenience and productivity when presenting. For example:

  • Back-up options – In many cases if the projector’s remote control is misplaced or lost completely, users would be rendered helpless. With a network projector, a computer on the network can be used to remotely control the projector and run through the presentation in exactly the same manner.
  • Faster tech support – As the network projector can be accessed remotely, IT technicians can simply troubleshoot the projector from their desks. This means they do not have to walk over to where the projector is located and physically alter the projector, thus substantially increasing the time taken to fix any problems. This is especially helpful if the IT department is located in another building, or worse still, in another campus!
  • Network capabilities- When connected to a network the projector can make use of network functions. For example, an Internet enabled local area network can allow for the projector to directly browse the Internet.
  • On-board storage – Networked projectors have the ability to upload files, such as PowerPoint presentations or spreadsheets from a computer on the network then download them directly to an internal storage device in the projector and vice versa. This is extremely convenient as the presenter then does not have to worry about carrying around data contained in soft media such as CDs or discs, or connecting a computer directly to the projector to access files since everything can be accessed directly via the network.
  • Password locks – By being able to securely store files, users do not need to worry about presentations being accidently deleted or tampered with.

Benefits for managers

By using a network-enabled projector, the IT department of a company can remotely perform maintenance tasks on the projector without having to leave their office. Money can be saved and the productivity can be greatly enhanced thanks to the following:

  • Maintenance warnings – Should a network projector require its filters to be cleaned or its lamp to be replaced then the projector can be set to automatically send these requests via e-mail to the IT department.
  • Maintenance monitoring - Projector lamp life can be remotely monitored by technicians on the network to make sure that when a lamp is nearing the end of its life, before the lamp warning light has even turned on, the technician knows to have a spare projector lamp ready.
  • Automatic shutdowns  – To save money, network enabled projectors can automatically turn off at a set time. This means that electricity is not wasted by keeping all the projectors on the network powered up over weekends or holidays.
  • Connection alerts  – If a projector disconnects from the network then an alert can be forwarded to the IT department who can then proceed to reconnect the projector.
  • Projector control – IT technicians have the ability to access either a group of projectors or just one remotely.
  • Remote troubleshooting – If a user is experiencing difficulty, the majority of simple technical issues, such as picture size or input selection, can be fixed remotely.

Where to use network projectors

Network projectors are most suitable for use in large organisations that use multiple projectors and have a dedicated IT department available. The potential for an increase in productivity makes such technology extremely appealing and suitable for large businesses and schools.

However, to implement such a system in smaller organisations is probably not worth the cost as the primary benefit to be gained is that a large number of projectors can be easily maintained remotely. If an establishment is using just a few projectors, it is preferable to simply manually maintain them.

Network connectivity

Currently, the most common way for projectors to connect to a network is via a wired Ethernet network cable. While this does ensure an optimal connection speed, it can sometimes be difficult to find a connection port, or when found, running an unsightly cable across the room can be a nuisance.

However, with the rapid increase in the implementation of Wi-Fi enabled networks many manufactures have begun to make projectors with inbuilt wireless capabilities. This allows users far more flexibility as they do not have to worry about connecting cables or aligning the projector next to an Ethernet port in the wall. Instead all a user needs is a laptop with wireless functionality to send their presentations to the network projector.

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