InFocus IN26 Projector Review - Image Quality
These are the issues we will touch on in this Projector image quality section:
InFocus IN26 Projector Brightness
InFocus claims 1700 lumens of brightness. I should start by mentioning that historically reviewers find that few projectors actually meet manufacturers claims, and in reality, most projectors seem to come in with measurements about 20% below claims, although every once in a while a projector will actually exceed claims.
In the case of the IN26, there are several preset modes. the IN26's brightest mode is called Presentation Mode, and the IN26 measured 1221 lumens - plenty for a classroom or conference room with plenty of ambient light.
The other two modes of note, are Film and Video. We would normally expect these modes to be very significantly dimmer, in order to optomize color and contrast for best video viewing.
In Film we measured 516 lumens, and in Video, 504 lumens. Those numbers are not surprising at all, relative to the Presentation mode numbers.
With a usable 1200+ lumens the IN26 projector has no problem handling a bright room on a 5 or 6 foot diagonal screen. With more moderate lighting the IN26 can handle a 10 foot diagonal screen. For video viewing content with dark scenes, lights do have to be way down or off, but that would be true with even twice the lumens. For brighter video content, the IN26 should do fairly well on a 5 or 6 foot screen with moderate lighting. Of course you can run video in Presentation mode, but that will cost you color accuracy, and you won't get as faithful reproduction of the content, in terms of color saturation and contrast as well as balance between the colors.
IN26 Color Accuracy
Color accuracy has traditionally been the weak spot of portable DLP projectors, or for that matter almost all single chip DLP projectors not designed specifically for home theater. The normal problems are mostly with reds and yellow. This is an area (at full brightness) where LCD projectors have had a big advantage. My experience, until recently, is that most DLP projectors, when attempting to do a bright red, produce a dark, wine colored red. Bright yellows tend to come out a murky greenish yellow, a sort of deli mustard color.
I should note, that in the past, some DLP's with poor color in their brightest modes, often have a "video" or other mode at about half brightness, with markedly improved reds and yellows. Of course, this means that if you need/want really good reds and yellows, you end up with a projector about half as bright (or less) than an LCD projector with the same lumens rating.
The InFocus IN26 digital projector, however is one of the newer DLP projectors out there that has much improved color handling. As you can see from the pie chart image, reds are bright, and yellows are also very good. It is unlikely that the vast majority of users will have any complaint with the IN26's ability to produce colors accurately, including reds and yellows. I would say that the IN26 does better than the majority of DLP business projectors in terms of accurate colors, but still not quite as good as a typical LCD projector.
The IN26 produced a sharp image from corner to corner. End of conversation. There are subtle differences from one model projector to another in terms of sharpness, and on a few occasions a projector is found not to be able to focus sharply across the whole screen at the same time, such as beening sharp from the top to near the very bottom, but then be noticeably soft at the bottom.. Or possibly the corners may not be as sharp as the center.
In this case, we consider the IN26 projector's sharpness to be perfectly acceptable.
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The IN26, is of course clear and crisp on normal XGA resolution material, as that is it's native mode. The challenge for any projector, is how well it handles higher resolution source material. Today, it's common for people's laptops or desktops to be higher resolution than XGA (1024x768). Most common are SXGA+ (1400x1050) and UXGA (1600x1200). Then there are millions? of widescreen laptops on the market sporting a variety of resolutions such as 1280x768 and higher.
We tested the IN26 at native XGA and both SXGA+. The image here shows small and medium sized text (8 to 24 point), in native XGA.
The IN26 performs very well when fed an SXGA+ source. Overall, the InFocus performs, very well in terms of handling higher resolution sources. No issues here.
Some projectors have more problem handling white text on black backgrounds or light colored text on dark colored backgrounds. The IN26, overall, did fine in both cases. The image above also shows 10 point type - white text on black, and looks extremely crisp, it doesn't get any better than that.
Basic Video Performance
Our goal here is not to see how the IN26 doubles as a home theater projector, but rather how it will perform on typical video that might be part of a presentation or general meeting. As such we are more concerned about good color, and hardly concerned about black levels.
The InFocus performed very well overall. Contrast was very good, colors, in video mode were more than acceptable for the types of videos most typically found in education or business presentations. The projector lacks separate component video inputs (the highest quality video source) - very typical of entry level projectors. You can input component video with an optional adapter cable through the computer port, but that means you can't have a computer hooked up at the same time. For that reason, I viewed video through the S-video input, with no problems. If the projector had the separate component video, or a 2nd computer input, which would have allowed computer and component video at the same time, that would have been very impressive for a sub-$1000 projector, and I would have looked at the component video performance.