With the advent of low cost, large format, flat screen monitors, it has always been a goal of mine to see how they would work as a Powerpoint solution. I have a 23 inch widescreen that I picked up a year ago that I’ve been testing at different distances, with a variety of media.
I like to use emotional photographs in my presentations along with minimal text. Photographs are a little harder to see at a distance than title text, so they are a good test of legibility. I have had good results with the 23″ monitor at distances up to 15 feet which make this a great solution for small conference rooms and an audience of up to 25 people.
This solution is ideal for Toastmasters meetings, rotary clubs, and many other small group settings. Basically this is an electronic replacement for the average paper flip chart. The main challenge is to mount the monitor high enough so it can be seen by people in the back row. It works especially well with title sized text.
I have looked around for tables or other mounting devices and have found that most of them are too low to work well. So far the best solution has been a taller cocktail style table or a display rack that is commonly used for retail sales.
I ordered a 6 foot gridwall wire rack unit from Display Warehouse to test out the idea. The unit I purchased was six feet high and has a very sturdy wire mesh. It comes with two legs and adjustable feet. The unit will accommodate monitors up to two feet wide and the open wire mesh will allow you to mount the monitor at varying heights.
The main thing I have run into in my testing process is to find a good way to attach the most common flat screen monitors. There are a variety of hooks and shelves available, but computer monitors vary widely on their mounting options.
Currently I have tested it with a couple of hook brackets at the bottom of the monitor and mounted a shelf on the back for a laptop. While this is not ideal from an aesthetic viewpoint it did give me a chance to test the concept. The rack does have a slight amount of sway, but is very stable in an upright position.
Overall the monitor can be mounted about 2/3 of the way up the rack which is a nice level for most meeting rooms. The cost for the rack and shelves is under $60 which makes it a very affordable solution for your company, club, or civic organization.
My next goal is to work with our maintenance department to come up with a way to mount the monitor without the external brackets and come up with a permanent and easily removable solution. The closer the monitor can be mounted to the wire, the better the center of gravity, and the less chance of any swaying/tipping problems.
With the cost of larger flat screen monitors coming down, this type of solution can be done for 300-400 dollars which is much cheaper that buying a projector. I’m sure you could easily scale this up and use a 30-40 inch monitor with a stronger rack or table.
If you add a small table to place your laptop on, you can easily use the presenters view in Powerpoint and take you presentations to the next level. You’ll just need a monitor cable long enough to reach from the monitor to your laptop.
Overall I am pleased with this project so far. It works well for small rooms and the black wire mesh adds a nice aesthetic. You can easily add pictures or signs to the gridwall for a nice standalone display for a showroom or display window.