In response to my last post about using laptops for presentations it has been suggested to me that using white (or a very bright color) as the background color can help some displays synchronise with the signal. I haven’t had an opportunity to test this but it seems likely that as most computers are configured with a white background nowadays the display hardware is optimised for this case.
Another benefit of a light background is that it provides more ambient lighting to the room where the presentation is held. If all the lights are turned off (sometimes there is no dimmer switch) then the radiant light from the screen is the only form of illumination for the room.
Finally with the way the current generation of beamers work there is less heat trapped in the beamer if there is mostly white on the screen. This will hopefully decrease the incidence of hardware failures during lectures (which unfortunately are not uncommon in my observation).
Based on a comment on this blog entry I did a quick survey of the color scemes, black on white, yellow on blue, and white on green. Black on white got the most votes with some people saying that yellow on blue was most aesthetic while black on white was easiest to read (“clear and boring” was one comment).
One person pointed out that the light diverges slightly so black on white makes the letters look smaller while white on black makes them look bigger. My response to this is to use a slightly larger font.