InFocus IN34 DLP Portable Projector Review: General Performance
InFocus IN34 Projector: Menus
InFocus has always been pretty good at laying out their menus. The IN34 is no exception. The primary menu is the Picture menu, shown here:
It contains all the basic image quality controls, including brightness, contrast, Color (saturation), etc. You will also find three submenus; one for aspect ratio, one to choose from the many presets, and the Advanced menu.
I won't bother you with an image of the Aspect Ratio menu, but, on the other hand, the Presets submenu is an important one.
The InFocus IN34 comes with three specific Presets, and three more User savable ones that you can configure your self.
The Presentation preset is by far, the brightest, and suitable for most presentations. The color does suffer (reds and yellows) a bit, as described in the image quality mode, but the IN34 puts out a nice bright image on the screen that should be more than fine for most Powerpoint type presentations, as well as work group type presentations - spreadsheets, documents, etc., also diagramming and renderings if color accuracy is not demanded.
The other two pre-defined presets (redundant wording?), are Film and Video, which are almost identical in terms of brightness and color accuracy (very, very good), but have markedly different gamma settings so one brightens the middle ranges of colors and grays, more than the other.
The Advanced submenu covers a lot of territory. There are manual controls for locking in computer signals - although few will ever need them, the InFocus IN34's AutoImage works very well, locking in a clean, noise free signal. There is an overscan control, which comes in handy should you present a video source (such as a TV signal over component video, S-video or composite that has noise around the edges of the image.
There is a Sharpness control, but also advanced color controls, including color space, color temperature, and "Color Control" sub-menus.
I played with these controls and was able to rather easily create a user savable preset that was a compromise between Presentation and Video presets - I was able to end up with substantially better color on reds and yellows, while sacrificing only a portion of the brightness that the Video or Film modes demands. The end result, a still very bright (about 30% less than Presentation) mode, with much better color accuracy (but still not as good as the Video preset).
There are two other main menus: Settings and System. Shown here is the Settings menu. Along with tweaking audio settings and source selection, it allows you to put a custom logo on your startup screen (such as your company logo).
This Settings menu also allows you to define a "custom key" for the remote, to implement a feature you think you will use frequently, at the touch of a button. Important note, the basic remote provided does not support the Custom Key feature, but InFocus offers optional remotes (with more buttons) that do. Some of the things that can be programmed to the Custom Key, include: Auto Image, Audio Mute, Image Blanking, Freeze frame, and Source select...
The System menu handles positioning - setting the projector for front or rear projection, table or ceiling mounting. There is also an Auto Power option to power down the IN34 when there is no signal.
Ok, enough on the menus, there are obiviously more options and choices than I have gone into here, however the reference manual (found on the InFocus website), provides screen shots of all and some good explanations, should you want to read further.
There are many other features not mentioned, among those is PIN control - you can password protect the projector, to keep unauthorized people from using it.
Review continues below this advertisement.
InFocus IN34 Projector: Remote Control
OK, I screwed up! For the second time in the last two years, I managed to forget to take a picture of a projector's remote. No big deal in this case, as InFocus provides, perhaps the most basic remote possible, one with only six buttons. The remote itself is about medium sized - I would estimate between five and six inches long. At the very top, is the power switch.
Immediately below that are four buttons in a common diamond configuration, with the Menu button on the left, slightly above it, and in the middle is the up arrow, below that, the down arrow, and to the right, the Select (enter) button. Below them all, is the Source (select) button, that toggles you through the various inputs. BTW, InFocus labels the sources 1 through 4, but you can assign a particular source to each.
When you connect your computer through the Computer 1 input (DVI-M1), the provided cable splits and has a USB connector on the computer end as well as the video (HD15) connector for the video signal. The InFocus IN34 allows you to configure the projector for presentation control. Doing so will allow you to page forward and page back in presentation programs like Powerpoint to advance (or go back) a page in your presentation, saving you the trouble of buying a wireless mouse system.
The up and down arrow keys will move your presentation forward and backwards, respectively.
Overall, the standard (supplied) remote fits nicely in your hand. With only the six buttons, they are well spaced, and easy to use without having to shift your hand on the remote. The remote itself is not backlit, which would have been nice, however, it is a business projector designed to work in rooms with a decent amount of ambient light. If however, you need to run a video in a really dark room, a backlight on the remote would be nice.
InFocus uses a 2 arrow key navigation system (most projectors use four arrow keys). This, I find, requires a few more keystrokes to navigate around the menus. Where this is most noticeable is when you are in a sub-menu, and want to move back up one or two menu levels. In the menu you are in, you'll need to use the up or down arrow keys to select "Previous" then hit the enter button which will move you up a level, if you have another level to move up, then again, you have to find the Previous and hit Enter again. With four arrow systems, hitting the left arrow normally takes you right up one level, etc. Overall, this is hardly a deal breaker, but I do wish InFocus would add those left and right arrow key functions.
InFocus IN34 Lens Throw, and Lens Shift
The IN34 lacks lens shift (a feature rarely found on a business projector weighing under 10 pounds). Without lens shift, to maintain a rectangular image, you have the keystone correction controls. Using keystone correction is like using compression technology (to handle a higher or lower resolution source), in that it will cause some degradation of the image quality. This will be seen on smaller type, mostly 14 points or less. Large type Powerpoint like presentations should show virtually no visible degradation at any normal viewing distance.
As to positioning - lens throw, as noted on the first page of this IN34 review, to fill a 100" 16:9 aspect ratio screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 12 feet 2 inches, or as far back as 15 feet one inch. You can easily calculate the distances for other screen sizes, from this information, or the table in the User guide, the Appendix in the Reference guide, or the lens throw chart on the InFocus website.
IN34 ScreenDoor Effect and Rainbow Effect
As an XGA DLP projector, the pixel visibility is very low, and the screendoor effect should not be an issue on normal viewing, be it data or graphics. The IN34, as a DLP projector, does rely on a color wheel, and as a result, like all sigle chip DLP projectors (that would be all under $10,000 DLP projectors), can produce the rainbow effect, which a very small percentage of the population can see. Rainbow effect is mostly visible on moving scenes such as videos, and most often when brighter objects move quickly across a dark background. As such, very few will ever see rainbows when viewing data. When it comes to video, the fact that this is a business projector allows InFocus to use a 2X (two times) speed color wheel, compared to the 4X and 5X wheels found on home theater projectors which are designed primarily for video viewing. I happen to to be "fortunate" to be slightly sensitive to the rainbow effect. I think that's a good thing for a reviewer, because I can relate to others that can make it out. I never noticed the rainbow effect on data, unless I was doing things like shaking my head and blinking quickly- trying to spot it. On video sources, I had no trouble making it out, but for normal "business" video, it shouldn't be an issue, unless you are one of those very few, most susceptible to it. In all these regards, the IN34 is typical of portable DLP projectors.
Review continues below this advertisement.
IN34 Projector - Audible Noise Levels
Certainly not the quiest projector around (LCD projectors tend to be a bit quieter overall), but with 35 db claimed in high lamp power mode, it is about average. In a presentation, you can hear the fan noise but the level is very reasonable, no having to "shout" over it.
InFocus IN34 Portable Projector Brightness
I measured performance in the three preset modes. Presentation, Film, and Video. Here are the results:
Presentation Mode - The IN34 measured in at 2838 lumens, actually exceeding the 2500 lumens InFocus claims. Now that is a rarity. Few projectors actually measure higher than factory claims. Epson has a reputation for almost consistantly doing that, but no one else comes to mind. As such, I am most impressed with the output of the IN34, and as I have said repeatedly, it is a very bright projector for it's class - a five pound projector. The IN34 has plenty of lumens in Presentation mode for handling most small conference and meeting rooms on screens from 5 foot diagonal up to 100" diagonal, with lots of lighting, and can, of course handle much larger screens, even 25 foot diagonals in a room that is mostly darkened. Most impressive!!!
Video and Film presets produce almost identical results, and both are significantly lower lumens than Presentation mode, as would be expected from a DLP projector. Video measured 948 lumens, and Film, 967 lumens. The important point here, is that this IN34 projector still cranks out about 1000 lumens in modes that will provide excellent color accuracy, when needed, and 1000 lumens is enough to handle a 5 or 6 foot diagonal screen with moderate room lighting (perhaps half of the florescent lights on in a conference room).
Color temperature for all modes was also fairly consistant, with Presentation mode around 7000K and the other two modes in the low to mid 6K range (suitable for movies).
Although I did not measure it, the InFocus spec sheet indicates that there is a "whisper" mode that reduces brightness by 20% (2000 lumens claimed).
Overall, I repeat, a really nice bright projector for one that weighs in at only 5.2 lbs.
INFocus IN34 Lamp Life, and Lamp Replacement
Hmmm! Not particularly impressive in this catagory. The IN34 claims a 2000 hour lamp life, which is the industry average.
Lamp replacement is typical, the Lamp door is underneath the projector, and unfortunately, like the vast majority of portable projectors, would require you to unmount the projector from a ceiling mount (should you be ceiling mounting the unit), to change the lamp.
OK, that covers general performance. Take a quick peak at the very, very short Warranty page, and then it's time to summarize, and look at the pros and cons.