InFocus LiteShow III - Review Summary
A summary of the InFocus LiteShow III pros, cons.
5/20/11 - Art Feierman
InFocus LiteShow III Projector: Bottom Line
The LiteShow III - or LiteShow 3 - your choice - is the latest LiteShow from InFocus. The idea behind this LiteShow is to provide a networking solution for getting your display information from your computer, or network, or thumb drive, into your display. It's easy to setup, and easy to use, although it does offer a lot of options.
Below, the first screen you will see on your display with the LiteShow III hooked up to it. Note the passcode in the upper left corner (in this case 8542, but it changes each time you fire up the LiteShow, unless you disable the password feature set:
On your computer, when you launch the LiteShow application, you will see a small window appear for inserting the passcode. It's that easy. There are a variety of admin choices for setup, and the ability to engage or skip many of the features mentioned on these pages, but the simple truth, it is very straightforward, and quick to get the LiteShow up and running, assuming you aren't allergic to peeking at the manual.
The LiteShow III can accept network and presentation information over it's RJ-45 networking input, or it can receive the info wirelessly through its wifi abilities.
Either way, it eliminates the need to directly hook up your computer you plan to present with, to the projector with the traditional VGA (analog computer) or HDMI cables.
My primary experience with LiteShows over the years has been to use them wirelessly. This LiteShow III, while more advanced, with more features than previous LiteShow's, has some limitations, and some strengths worth discussing here (and repeated on the pros and cons lists below.
First, let's summarize lag. When transmitting wirelessly, there is definite lag. Typically it seems to be from a fraction of a second (probably at least .1 seconds), to about one full second. That said, some display features can take a lot longer. I mentioned how my mac, switching over to it's screen saver, (which changes photos on my screen every few seconds), grinds the LiteShow to a near halt, with some things taking up to about 10 seconds. Note, however, this is in part due to the computer changing something key in the way it outputs. Under normal use, while I'm writing, or surfing the web, reading the news, the delays seemed to stay mostly around 1/4 second or less. Not bad. Still, that can be a touch slow when navigating quickly, you have to pay a touch more attention, as I learned while three of us were looking up stuff online (and using the projector instead of my laptop display).
Video, is another story. While running a video on your laptop itself poses no real problem, the LiteShow III tends to only show one new frame in the video every so often, maybe 1-4 times a second instead of the 15 to 30 fps normally used on such videos. As a result the video projected from the LiteShow III input definitely lagged the source, but more importantly was very jerky, and "not ready for primetime" if smooth video is what you need.
But, don't panic. For any crucial video (even watching a movie), you can instead of using standard display mode, you can use the menu to switch to video streaming. This feeds the data from the computer right to the Liteshow III, bypassing the display processing in the computer. Of course nothing appears on the computer's display, but the video being shown is nice as smooth, as good, I would think as you would get with a normal cable running VGA from the computer to the projector.
The point is, the LiteShow III can be a great tool to use, especially when doing traditional work and presentations that do not have video in them.
That the LiteShow III can also handle audio is a real plus!
The split screen capability can be a great reason alone to go with a LiteShow III. I can definitely see that use in a conference room, or a school, when more than one person is presenting. The ability to show four screens at once (one in each quadrant) and easily enlarge any one to fill the screen, really can do wonders for collaboration, whether in the classroom, or planning your next vacation with your familiy, each doing some of the online research.
Pricing needs discussing. With an MSRP of $299, the price seems reasonable. Street price seems to be below that with online prices reported up to about 20% off (based on a quick search).
Since this is the only device of its exact type that I am aware of, it's hard to put a true value on it, but consider:
- LiteShow III allows projectors that lack built in wifi, to do what similar projectors with wifi, can do. In the projector world, when there are two almost identical models, one with wifi, one without, the usual price difference is about $100.
- Thus, if wireless presenting without the other frills, is all you need, and you haven't bought your projector yet, you might want to just buy a wireless capable projector
- LiteShow III, brings more to the party. Up to four projectors displayed at once with quick switching offers capabilities found in only a very few of the projectors with wireless capabilities.
- Another way to go, instead of the LiteShow III would be one of the HDMI wireless transmitter products - such as those from Gefen and Peerless. The thing is, even if you have HDMI (on computer and display), these are far more expensive products costing SEVERAL times that of the LiteShow III. From our testing of those devices, they have an insignificant amount of lag. Whether that will rationalize an extra $300 - $700, it will depend on whether you are doing a lot of videos and other things that affect the LiteShow's throughput. While the video streaming option works just fine, running a video inside powerpoint posed no speed or jerkiness issue with the $999 Gefen we reviewed last year. (yes almost 4x the price, and more than many projectors
All considered, the LiteShow III will probably appeal most to presenters who travel with their projectors, and also in more permanent setups, with installed projectors, such as in a classroom or boardroom, and especially computer labs and training rooms.
Consider the LiteShow III to be an excellent collaboration accessory in many environments as well as a solution for carrying around less heavy cabling, and for faster setup and launch of presentations in rooms where screens are larger and the projector 8 - 15 - 30 feet back from the screen (and the computer).
While we would have loved to see no real lag, that's not the point. Alternatives exist - at higher prices, such as wireless HDMI, but this LiteShow offers a healthy amount of capabilities, at a reasonable price. And on top of that, it's pretty easy to setup and use, complete with very good documentaton (something I rarely get to say). For these reasons Projector Reviews is pleased to bestow upon the InFocus LiteShow III, our Special Interest award, which goes out to select specialty projectors as well as impressive accessories such as this one.
InFocus LiteShow III Projector: Pros & Cons
InFocus LiteShow III Projector: Pros
- Wireless transmission between computer and projector (or other display)
- Also supports hard wired network (RJ45)
- Allows up to four computers to be displayed at once on the projector (or other display) in four quadrants, or quickly click to have just one fill the display
- USB Token allows for fast installation
- Create duplicate Tokens, for multiple computers, for when in a hurry, as computers can work from the Token, and not have to have the software (on the token) installed. Thus, plug a Token (USB flash drive) into your computer, and start talking to the LiteShow III.
- Extremely reasonably priced compared to HDMI solutions
- Choose video streaming when you need video and audio with little lag and without any jerkiness due to dropping frames.
- Support for PC free Powerpoint presentations
- Really good documentation - for everything we actually tried to test, the documentation was good, understanable, and worked!
- 1 year warranty (and InFocus support) good for a device selling for under $300
- Password options
InFocus LiteShow III Projector: Cons
- Definite lag - typically .2 to 1 second. On most screens with my MacBook Pro, I'd say 1/4 second for normal browsing and computer use.
- Audio driver not fully installed on Token, some extra work needed for full audio support
- A true widescreen version would be a good option
- For on the go presenters, could be smaller and lighter (less featured LiteShow II was much smaller and lighter)
- Overall a very good solution, but probably not the best solution for someone using content that requires speed. Showing a browser window (say CNN.com) with a video running will get you that jerky only one frame in several.
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