recommendations for purchasing a Powerpoint Projector

"Hi, can you make any recommendations for purchasing a Powerpoint Projector. I also need to upgrade my laptop so any tips there would also be welcome, especially in terms of compatability between the two, etc. Thanks."

 Purchasing a projector or a computer need not be a headache.  You can see our guide on what to look for in a projector here, and what to look for in a computer here.  Note that as of this writing, Windows XP will only be available for just over a month more.

 The key things will be portability, brightness and reliability. 

As for compatibility between the two, most projectors will be able to take an RGB video input and probably a DVI digital video input as well.  Laptops tend to have an RGB out as standard.  Digital video outputs are less common.  The projector will not care what operating system or application your laptop is running.  You will probably have to tell the laptop to send a video signal to the projector when you want to use it.  On most laptops, this is achieved by pressing a combination os the FN key and F4 (or on some F8).  In others you can right click on the desktop and will be able to specify whether the projector shows the same as the laptop screen or acts as an extension of the desktop, etc.



Computing for less than 80 cent a day

It is possible to pick up a business system nowadays without breaking the bank.  If you are happy to buy direct and can stay focused on your priorities when specifying your system, you can get great value.  The trick is to avoid being seduced by the glitter of unnecessary accessorisation.  A computer system is made up of three tiers:

  • the hardware, i.e. the box, typewriter and telly,
  • the operating system, i.e. the software to control the box and provide an operational environment in which to work
  • the applications, i.e. the software which allows you to do things.


Open Source Software

What it is

When software is described as "open source", it means that the underlying programming code has been made publicly available under a copyright license (or arrangement such as the public domain). This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form.  Open source is often commonly referred to as "free" software.  However, the free refers freedom to use modify and share the software rather than a ticket price, although often the ticket price is also free.

Open source projects are often built by a community of developers, often volunteers and as such resonates with the community and voluntary sector. 

What should I look for in a projector for my PC?

"I want to do presentations for client groups out of the office. What advice can you give me in relation to purchasing a projector that I can attach to a PC?"

The characteristics of a projector are as follows:

  1. portability
  2. size
  3. resolution
  4. brightness
  5. contrast
  6. zoom
  7. maintenence
  8. display technology

What type of computer should we buy for our charity?

"What type of computer should we buy for our charity? We need one for letters, email, internet, a database and an accounts package. We were thinking of getting a laptop for handiness but maybe it's comparatively too expensive to justify. What would you suggest?"

 Buying a computer should not be a headache.  The single most important question to answer is "what do you want to  use it for?".  Once you can answer that question, all other decisions will follow.  Ordinary everyday business uses, e.g. letters, email, internet access do not require massive computing power, so a specialised machine is not necessary.  For the average community organisation, the key characteristics for a new computer would be reliability, speed and maintainability.

You could be tempted to buy the cheapest of the cheap machine.  However, often times the savings made on the purchase price are negated by frustration on the part of the user as they sit idly waiting for applications to load or processes to run, staring helplessly at the on-screen egg-timer!  It is often the sensible approach to spend a little bit more on a better quality machine, to turn a PC into a productivity tool, rather than a barrier to your work.


Choosing a provider to host our website

What do we need to consider when it comes to choosing a provider to host our website?

Once your website is ready to launch, you'll need a to find a suitable way to "host" it. Hosting refers to the process of storing your website on a computer that is permanently connected to the Internet, thereby allowing constant access to it by your intended audience. You may wish to have your Internet Service Provider (ISP), e.g. Eircom host your site. This is often a good option for anyone starting off with a basic website, especially as your ISP will also be able to provide you with Internet access and email facilities. However, if you are launching a more advanced website, you might want to consider going with a dedicated web hosting company, e.g. or

Broadband - Ask before you buy

The Carphone Warehouse produced a very informative broadband guide in their March 2008 Buyer's Guide.   It is part reproduced here.{mosimage}


What to look for in a PC

Choosing a new PC can be a daunting prospect.  Where to buy, what to choose, how many gigaquads of technowotsit you need… it can all seem quite the challenge.  However, there are a few core questions which, when answered, can help reduce the pain of purchasing.


Choosing a Printer

There are three main kinds of printers available:

  1. Laser
  2. Inkjet
  3. Dot-matrix

Other 'specialist' printers include: Multi-function printers, Plotting printers, and Drafting printers. We will touch on Multi-function machines later, but first, let's talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the three main kinds of printers, listed above.

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