Projectors are the latest new sewing technology - making digital patterns easier and faster to use. In this product review I evaluate two similar projectors side-by-side for their potential sewing performance.
As a sewing industry professional, I have used projectors for years in my classrooms. But recently, I find myself using them more and more in my work studio instead.
Digital patterns (patterns that have been translated into PDF or other print-on-demand format) become more and more popular. They're much more economical than buying individual patterns when it's a pattern that you use frequently. They also have the advantage of "instant gratification" - you don't have to drive to the store or wait for the mail. You can purchase, download, print and start sewing! But they have a drawback - you must first print them off. If you need to make alterations, that usually also means tracing your printed copy onto pattern tracing material. This is a big use of time and wastes a lot of paper! Using a projector allows you to skip the printing step and project the pattern directly onto your pattern tracing material (or fabric, for projects that do not require alterations).
Evaluating a Projector for Sewing Use
When I am evaluating a projector I am looking primarily for three things: 1) ease of use, 2) projection size, and 3) brightness/lumens. I test in my studio with basic overhead lighting (moderately bright). For this test I set up the projectors literally side by side to see how they compared.
Evaluation #1: Ease of Use
The Vankyo Leisure 470 versus the Vankyo Leisure 470 Pro feature virtually identical user interfaces but there are some slight differences. Both projectors feature handy screen mirroring using WiFi, as well as HDMI, and USB connection options. The Leisure 470 also offers a VGA connection which may be handy for those with older equipment. Both projectors have the same basic interface that is easily navigated with the included remote control. Focus and keystone adjustments are both manual and easily adjusted, although the manual keystone adjustment is limited so it's important to set up the projector relatively straight. For my side-by-side the Leisure 470 Pro was screen sharing from my iPhone; the Leisure 470 was mirroring my laptop via a USB cable.
Evaluation #2: Projection size
When we look at projection size, this is where the differences start to show. The Leisure 470 has a native resolution of 1280x720 pixels. The Leisure 470 Pro has a native resolution of 1920x1080. In a nutshell, it means that when projecting at the same distance, the Leisure 470 Pro will have a larger projected picture. It also means that when projecting a large picture, the Leisure 470 Pro will have a slightly sharper picture. (Click here for a more extensive explanation of what resolution means.)
In the photo below, I have both projectors side by side. They are actually 6" closer to the paper screen than ideal - suggested minimum distance is 60". But I had to move them closer in order to fit both projected images onto the same screen. They were both able to focus clearly at that shorter distance. The difference in color is likely due to the different devices used - I send a "picture" of the image on the left to Evernote and then projected it with my iPhone. Color tone can be adjusted on both devices. But you can see the difference in native size projection. I prefer a large native size because I can trace more of my pattern before having to move the image tracing materials.
Evaluation #3: Brightness/Lumens
The brightness of a projector's image is generally given in lumens. The higher the number, the brighter the image. This is especially important if you intend to use the projector in a lit room. The Leisure 470 projects at 120 lumens, while the Leisure 470 Pro projects at 170 lumens. The photo above is a bit misleading because of the picture color difference. But the Leisure 470 Pro should be slightly brighter. I felt that under moderate lighting conditions such as my regular studio overhead lights, both projectors were perfectly adequate.
Both of these projectors feature a very compact size for the quality and size of image that they project. Surprisingly, the Leisure 470 Pro is the smaller of the two, at a mere 198x145x75 millimeters. (7.8"x5.7"x3") The Leisure 470 is not much larger, and both come in a very nice carrying case that includes the remote, a power cable, HDMI cable, and user manuals. This is really handy if you plan to travel with the projector. The projectors are also set up for use with a projector mount that can be attached to a wall or ceiling for convenient use.
My Choice for Sewing
When it comes to investing in a projector for your sewing room, my basic rule is "bigger and brighter is better". The larger the projected image and the brighter the image, the easier it is to use for tracing large patterns in a variety of light. That being said, everyone's budget is different. Both of these projectors do a great job of projecting a clear image at a good price. For my use, the larger projection area and higher lumens of the Vankyo Leisure 470 Pro is worth the increase in price and would be my choice. But if you are on a tighter budget and can mount the projector at a greater distance (projecting from the ceiling or high wall to the floor, for instance), the lower priced Leisure 470 may meet your needs perfectly.
Want a closer look? Check out these and other projector options at Vankyo's website (sponsored affiliate link):