The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Best Projectors for Courtroom Trial Presentations

A very informative article was just published on 3LCD vs. DLP projectors, even if it has been published a few times already over the past few years (2001, 2003, 2004, 2005). While the basic technology of the two types of projector remains constant, there have been improvements and changes in the popularity of the two - thus, the updates on the original article. If you're so-inclined and enjoy a lengthy techie read, you will certainly come away with a better understanding of what's out there, how it works and how it is performing in the marketplace. If you'd prefer an executive summary from a trial presentation perspective, read this instead (you will save at least 15-20 billable minutes).

Texas Instruments' DLP technology has invaded the shelves of Costco and other major retailers - both brick and mortar and online. They are relatively inexpensive, so most anyone can justify the cost to own one. Even a solo law firm on a shoe-string budget can now afford to own, rather than rent a projector for trial presentations - or can they?

Without going into exhaustive detail on how the technology works (you can do that by clicking the links above), I will summarize that LCD (liquid crystal display) and DLP (digital light processing) projectors have two very different methods of painting a picture on a screen.

LCD has 3 light-emitting panels, each of which can be at full brightness, or dimmed for darker colors and shadows. The lumens rating is a true indicator of the power of the projector.

DLP, on the other hand, uses a chip to emit the constant white light source, a series of mirrors (one per pixel) and a rotating color wheel, through which the light passes, thus creating the display. The downside of this is that in order to display darker colors, less light (lumens) is displayed on the screen by tilting the mirrors away from the lens. In other words, a DLP projector lumens rating is based on full-on white, and other colors may be as low as 50% of the rated lumens value of the projector. There is also a "flickering" effect which may be visible at times, due to the rotation of the color wheel.

So, which is better for courtroom use? Well, it appears there is more light available from an LCD than a DLP, meaning a brighter picture. This is critical, as most courtrooms are well-lit, many with sunshine flooding the room during the day.

More importantly, a DLP projector produces a very nasty looking highlighting feature when used with TrialDirector or Sanction trial presentation software. It actually appears to be a yellowish-green color - but certainly not the yellow that you will see on your own monitor. In my opinion, DLP is not a good choice for trial presentation, regardless of the price difference.

The projector used in court should typically be a minimum 3000 lumens, LCD technology. There is little benefit to displaying documents and other evidence if it cannot be easily and clearly viewed by the jury. An optional short-throw lens will facilitate placement of the projector nearer to the screen, and out of the way of counsel, making it less likely for you to display documents on your forehead.

While these projectors will run upward of $2000, they can also be rented, and generally the rental costs are shared between parties. Plus, you won't have to worry about lamp-life, spare bulbs, set-up and taping of cables, etc.

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