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Deciding whether to choose a TV or a projector for a classroom

When it is time to add or renew the display technology in a classroom, the first choice is usually between whether to install a TV (sometimes known as a Display) or a Data Projector.

This guide provides a list of things to consider and in which ways either a TV or Projector might best meet your needs.

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As with any technology decision, you should also consult with students and teachers and connect with other schools to ascertain their experiences. Specialist audio-visual companies will also be able to give further advice and recommendations.

When it comes to the time to install the projector or TV you should ensure the usual classroom teacher has plenty of input so that the image position and size are suitable and the cables are run to a suitable point in the room.

Professional learning

Teachers may need some training to help them understand how to use the technology that is implemented so remember to factor-in some professional learning time.

Size and position

The major factor to consider when choosing a projector or TV is simply the image size. Unless it is very large, small detail on a TV screen is not easy to see from the back of a classroom. Commonly, websites do rely on small details so a TV may not be appropriate. If the main purpose for the TV or projector is for small groups, large images or if the room itself is small then a TV might be more suitable. If the room is large then a projector may be preferable. Or, you could consider purchasing two TVs connected with an HDMI cable that both show the same image.

A good viewing experience requires you to also carefully consider glare, reflections, viewing angle, height, and the viewer's distance from the screen.

Decision making considerations

  Projector TV
On-going costs

Power usage high

Replacement bulbs (although newer laser projectors have much longer lifetimes)

Power usage low

No on-going costs

Other potential costs


Mounting bracket

AppleTV/Chromecast/Miracast device

Theft prevention measures eg window locks, window bars, security cages, alarms, CCTV, tags, leashes

Getting a power supply to the projector

Getting a VGA and/or HDMI cable to the projector

Mobile trolley if required

Mounting bracket

AppleTV/Chromecast/Miracast device

Theft prevention measures eg window locks, window bars, alarms, CCTV, tags, leashes

Getting a power supply to the TV

Getting a VGA and/or HDMI cable to the TV

Image size Adjustable – Medium to Large Fixed – Medium
Image brightness Initially good but fades Bright image that stays bright for a number of years
Image sharpness Average Good
Mobility Relatively mobile (unless wall/ceiling mounted) Not easily mobile unless mounted onto a specialist mobile trolley
Annotation Can project onto a whiteboard and annotate using a whiteboard marker Can only annotate on the device being displayed, for example, tablet, laptop, and so on
Ease of installation

Can be difficult if room is not suitable eg high or low ceiling, wall space not available, difficult to get cables to teacher’s desk, and so on

Tends to require a specialist installer

Needs a suitably sized separate screen/flat and reflective surface

Can look obtrusive in the room

Tends to be easier to install but takes up significant wall-space

Could be done by a caretaker

Tends to be unobtrusive on a wall

Robustness and Ease of Use

Can be prone to brackets becoming loose

Fans can be noisey

Can give out a lot of heat

Can take some time to start up

Vibrations can easily affect image

Shadows can be annoying

Poor image brightness can mean you need to turn off the lights or close the curtains

Requires maintenance like cleaning or replacing filters and bulbs

(Almost) instant-on

Silent to operate

Doesn’t give out lots of heat

Sturdy when properly mounted

Shadows are not an issue

Little maintenance required

Additional possible features Interactivity either built-in using special pens or via an IWB Projector

Internet capabilities and apps

Touch-screen interactivity


  • Unless a TV is being used for small group work or the projector/TV has particularly good built-in speakers, a separate audio system is also likely to be required.
  • Wireless connectivity from the device to the projector or TV of some kind is preferable to having to cable-in from a fixed location. This allows for greater mobility and sharing of what is on everybody’s screen rather than just what is on the teacher’s screen. Wireless connectivity can be achieved either via in-built capability or a separate device like AppleTV, Chromecast, Miracast, or others. Visit Options for Displaying Mobile Devices on TV and Projector Screens  for more information.
  • Connecting the projector or TV to the school network and internet adds functionality but also complexity. Carefully consider if you would really use this functionality to justify the additional expense required.
  • New, LED bulb-free projectors are becoming available that don’t require bulb replacements but these are currently considerably more expensive.

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