InFocus IN1 Game Projector: Summary, Pros, Cons
InFocus has always preferred to make easy to use projectors. Take almost any projector they make that has a remote control, and when you look at it, you'll find as few as four, and probably no more than 8-10 buttons on their various remote controls. By comparsion, most projector remotes have 20-30 buttons.
In the case of the IN1, the remote has no buttons, or perhaps, I should say, more plainly, there is no remote control. And even the projector itself only has Power (off/on), Volume Up/Down, and Brightness Up/Down, plus a button to select your input source. That's it. The ultimate in simplicity.
This is a projector that can be used by the most sophisticated geek teenager, but just as easily by a techno-phobic adult, or an 8 year old child. Warning! For small children, remember, they must never look into the lens/light, as is it can quickly damage eyesight.
That makes simplicity a major strength of the IN1, Add to that low cost, and its ability to do much of what it claims; Be it to fill a screen or wall up to 100" diagonal (or even larger), with your favorite game, movie or TV material, while also filling your room with reasonable sound (even if not "wall shaking"), and you have a great little device for the kids bonus room, the basement game room, the family room, or just pack it up and take it on vacation, or to visit friends. Take it into the backyard, too, for evening movies or gaming!
As much as I am somewhat critical of the IN1, in terms of its color accuracy (on movies), I realize that the IN1 can deliver plenty of "Wow" for a whole lot of people, and do it at a great price.
Perhaps the real question, is when will the competition come out with a real alternative to the IN1 at the same price point, since as of right now, it is the lowest priced all-in-one projector around. While, unlike other all-in-one projectors, it lacks a DVD player, you can hook up any DVD player to it, including most of those portable DVD player/LCD display units, as long as they can output video and audio.
I've been looking for the right analogy to best describe the IN1's place in the world, and on your shopping list. Finally, it came to me. It was in plain sight the whole time, I just couldn't see it.
The IN1 compares, in many ways, to more expensive projectors, the way the Wii compares to the X-Box 360 and Sony PS3!
PS3 and X-Box 360 owners have been known to sneer at Wii owners, who, they see as having to suffer low resolution graphics (typical of older and lower cost game consoles), including PS2 and X-box, Dreamcast, etc. They see the Wii as no match for the hi-def capabilities of the X-Box 360 or Sony. (Nevermind the neat controllers of the Wii.)
And the buyer of an entry level stand alone projector such as the under $1000 Mitsubishi HC1500, Optoma HD70, or the more expensive and game optimized $1299 Panasonic PT-AX200, will likely have disdain for the lower resolution IN1, and its color accuracy shortcomings. The same attitude might come from those buying much more expensive all-in-one projectors such as the over $1000 720p resolution MovieMate 72, (brand new), which, by the way, just arrived for review.
Perhaps that's really the point. Just like the Wii, (that the IN1 targets as the perfect game console to use the InFocus with), the IN1 is a very viable family home entertainment system.
Time to summarize!
IN1 projector, Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
InFocus IN1 Gaming Projector: Pros
- Very affordable, both initially, and in terms of lamp replacement costs (Replacement lamp costs only $80)
- Simple to set up and use, in fact makes the average TV seem very complicated!
- Should work very well with the Nintendo Wii, and other lower resolution game consoles, and is compatible with the hi-def XBox 360 and Sony PS3!
- Plug in, turn on, use
- Styling: Cool color
- Good brightness
- Optional backpack for transporting the IN1
- Supports component video as well as lower quality inputs (game module only)
- Reasonably good color on both gaming, and for TV viewing
- Optional mirror assembly let's you watch your games, TV and movies on the ceiling - definitely cool!
InFocus IN1 Projector: Cons
- Color accuracy leaves much to be desired, as reds are notably weak on Movies, although color on TV sources look significantly better
- Overall colors are a bit undersaturated.
- So-so shadow detail and black levels, compared to stand alone projectors
- No way to adjust colors or contrast
- Lack of decent documentation, there's a Quick Start Guide, but nothing really to tell you what it can, and can't do.
- No menus
- No remote control
- No computer input, for displaying from your PC or Mac.
- Lamp life is only 1000 hours - but since the lamp cost is so low, it really isn't a con, when all is considered
- Throw distance. For larger screen sizes, the IN1 sits fairly well back from the wall or screen (for 100" screen - 12.5 feet back). In smaller rooms that may put the game player, movie watcher closer to the screen, than the IN1, which means the sound would be coming from behind you.
- Very short, 90 day warranty
InFocus IN1 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Audible noise - quieter than some stand alone projectors
- Color performance on TV sources, is respectable, and not disimilar from other all-in-one projectors like the Optoma DV10.
InFocus IN1 Summary: The Bottom Line
The IN1, is probably more at home at Toys-R-Us, Circuit City, and Best Buy, than your local specialty home theater dealership.
After its initial one day launch in November, at $499, InFocus moved the price point to $549, and it may go up from there. Ultimately, the InFocus IN1 definitely works, but not for those looking for any serious level of picture quality performance.
The IN1 serves best as a family shared projector, that will entertain the kids and teenagers (and adults) for video gaming, primarily with the Wii, or other non-HD game consoles. That said, it will work fine with the X-Box 360 or PS3, it's just that those are hi-def resolution game consoles, so you aren't getting an image on the screen or wall, that comes close to what those game consoles are capable of. To see the PS3 on a 1080p projector is something to behold.
Overall, that makes sense. Those with the higher budget for X-Box 360 or PS3, probably bought those game consoles, expecting outstanding imagery on the screen. As such, I suspect many of those will opt for higher resolution all-in-one projectors, or higher resolution stand alone home theater projectors.
But, that leaves millions of people owning a Wii, or other game consoles, that will work great with the IN1.
When it comes to movie watching, don't expect outstanding color performance. While most people, especially kids and teens, will be pleased with the huge screen image, the IN1 isn't for those of us that expect color performance along the lines of almost any home theater projector, Plasma TV, or LCDTV. On TV viewing the color is a little better, but still, not for those who care a lot about such things.
While no other projector (to my knowledge) other than some funky single panel LCD projectors that may appeal to DIY types, sells for as little as the IN1. The IN1 has some competition. The competition, though is mostly close outs of more expensive projectors, and those usually aren't around very long. Do expect other low cost all-in-one projectors to hit the market, though, and offer more competition.
For example, currently (12/07) closeouts of Optoma's DV10, and refurbished versions of Epson's original MovieMate 25, are down around the $500 range. Each has strengths and weaknesses compared to the IN1, but both of those, are, for example 16:9 aspect ratio devices, with more resolution for movie watching. How those two, however, stack up compared to the IN1 for game playing, I can't tell you. I can, though say both of those have better color accuracy than the IN1, although not that much better in the case of the DV10. The DV10 does have a computer input. In the case of the old MovieMate 25, it also lacks a computer input, and while it delivers much better color, its black levels are slightly worse than the IN1's. Realize, of course, that being a VGA (640x480) resolution projector, means even if it had a computer input, it would not look good with standard XGA resolution computers, nevermind the even higher resolution computers most of us buy today.
What can you expect? At the very entry level of projectors, there have to be real trade-offs. In the case of the IN1, you trade away high resolution and color accuracy, for a low cost projector, with the lowest cost of operation around, and one that is simple to setup and use. The IN1 delivers on the promise of an affordable projector that can fill most of your wall with a huge game image, movie or TV event.
The question is, how many people will find the IN1 suitable for their budget and mix of games, movies and TV/sports. My guess is that the IN1 has the ability to sell well, and please many buyers, be they kids or adults. A big question is whether or not InFocus can get the word out on it, in these last few weeks before Christmas.
Perhaps, most importantly, my teenage daughter thinks the IN1 is really cool, and almost immediately told me that she wanted one for her room! Perhaps that's the best endorsement.