InFocus IN26 DLP Portable Projector Review - Overview
07/26/2006 - Art Feierman
There was a time (long, long time ago), when 500 lumen XGA projectors sold for more than $10,000. Now consider the InFocus "Work Big" IN26, a medium sized, portable digital projector featuring DLP technology. This latest InFocus projector features 1700 lumens, and has a suggested list price of only $999. That in it's own right isn't that surprising, in fact there are a number of projectors in the 1500 - 2500 lumen range that sell for around $1000. With a $999 list price, however, many dealers will discount slightly from there.
InFocus has designed the IN26 for sheer simplicity. This is a projector that a person who can't cope with having separate remotes for their TV, cable box and DVD player, will have no trouble dealing with. If anything you could say it has a minimalist design. That will definitely appeal to a significant segment of the market. Upon unboxing and pluging in the InFocus IN26, I was really surprised by it's simplicity. In a world of remotes with 10 to 20 buttons, the IN26 has only six.
It is truly a "plug and play" projector. Some will like this a great deal, others will favor projectors that offer more controls to play with. That said, this is a projector the technologically challenged will love.
Overall, it's an average size DLP projector in the 6 pound price range. You can find smaller, even drastically smaller projectors with similar brightness, but then, the IN26 should do very well in K-12 schools, where too small is often considered a temptation for theft. Let's get started:
InFocus IN26 Portable DLP Projector Basic Specs:
Technology: DLP front projector
Native Resolution: XGA 1024x768
Brightness: 1700 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.1:1
Lens shift: No
Lamp life: 3000 hours (no low power mode)
Weight: 6.0 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year parts/labor, optional extended warranties available
InFocus IN26 Physical Tour:
Starting at the front, the IN26 offers an offset mounted, recessed zoom lens, with a 1.1:1 ratio. Translated, the zoom provides little placement flexibility. Rather, it's about placing the projector close to the correct distance to fill your screen, and using the zoom to make minor adjustments to properly fill the screen. Many projectors in this size, will offer 1.2:1 or even greater zoom lenses for placement, but the IN76 is a true entry level XGA projector, and most won't care whether it's zoom is 1.1:1 or 1.25:1.
Also on the front in an Infra-red sensor for the remote control.
Moving to the top, in the center front of the top is a bar for dropping down the front projector foot directly below it. Directly behind the zoom lens is a recessed area with a pair of lens rings - one for focus, one for the zoom adjust. That takes us to the back of the IN26's top, where the control panel is located.
In fact, the control panel has far more controls than the remote. As you can see, starting from the left, there is the Power button. The next four buttons include an "auto adjust" button designed to lock onto the source signal for best results, and below it, the ever popular "presets". InFocus gives you a choice between "Presentation", "Film", and "Video" as well as sRGB a preset found on almost every projector designed to allow a display to produce the same colors as sRGB output devices (which would include some web pages. (That way a deep red dress on a website will have the same color on the projector.) Next door to those buttons are the keystone up and down controls.
Review continues below this advertisement.
That takes us to the Menu and arrow buttons. You will note that InFocus uses only a 2 arrow system, while almost everyone else uses four. The Select (enter) button next to them allow you to do "select" type functions which includes moving to the next layer of menu. However to move back up a menu, you would need to select "Previous" the first item on each menu (but the top menu) then hit the Select button to complete the move. This system is easy enough to use, however I prefer the 4 arrow key designs myself, as this often calls for an extra keystroke (or two). Completing the control panel are volume up and down buttons and the all important Source button to change from computer to video, etc.
When it comes to inputs, the InFocus IN26 is typically equipped for an entry level XGA portable projector. There is a computer input, and a computer output (monitor out). Having the monitor out allows the IN26 to "play" in the education K-12 market, where most teachers use desktops, not laptops and need the output if they want to see on their computer screen, what is being projected. The computer input can alternately handle a high resolution component video input. The IN26 projector does not have a digital input, but that is common in this price range.
There's a USB port, as well as two video inputs; the usual "low res" composite video, and also an S-video. Lastly there are a pair of RCA jacks for stereo audio, and an audio output as well. The InFocus IN26 notably, lacks a rear infra-red sensor for the remote, relying instead, on the front one. This could be an issue if you are presenting in a moderately large room, and are standing behind the projector. You would have to bounce the IR signal off the screen to the front of the projector. The range of the remote is pretty good, but I'd be happier if the IN26 had a rear sensor in addition to the front one.
That concludes the tour of the physical layout of the IN26. Time to consider the quality of its image.