How many people will need to see the screen?
A 42" plasma screen is the most common size and will usually be sufficient for a smaller meeting up to 20 people. Several other sizes, bigger and smaller, are available, including 32, 37, 40, 50, 61 inches and now up to 81". Remember that these screen sizes are a measure of the diagonal dimension of the screen, so a small variation in this vital statistic can make a big difference to the actual screen area.
What will you be showing on the screen?
Both data (from a computer) and video can be used to input into the screen. Some LCD screens and plasmas have a TV tuner built in; others will need a separate tuner if you wish to receive TV signals. Do you have a TV licence? What about a video or DVD player?
How big is the room do you need a PA system?
There's nothing worse than being unable to make yourself heard! If there is audio on your material do you have a way to amplify this? Many screens have basic speakers on them, but these are less use for larger events.
What is the difference between LCD and plasma screens?
The technology is converging is terms of quality and size availability. It used to be that plasma was larger, but LCD was brighter. These differences are now reducing as the technologies converge. The choice of LCD or plasma rather depends on the intended use of the screen.
What about the Resolution?
This is the number of pixels available on the screen. The higher the resolution is, the greater the definition and sharpness of the image. This is more important with larger screens where the pixel size is more noticeable, and less important when displaying images from a video source because rapidly changing images make the pixellation less noticeable. Nowadays, it is usually best to go for at least XGA if showing data and at least SVGA if showing only video.
Wall mounts and desk stands
When considering the hire of a plasma screen, remember to consider how it will be presented. The usual method is to use a fixed or wheeled base with steel poles attached. The bracket on the back of the screen is then slid over the poles to allow a decent viewing height. The poles can be of different lengths to allow different heights.
James Hunter works for Status AV, one of the premier plasma screen hire companies in the UK.