One of the better values in conference room projectors available today, the InFocus INL3148HD features a high-output laser engine at a low price for the budget-conscious among us who need to light up a boardroom or classroom screen.
- High value laser projector
- Low operating costs
- Excellent assortment of connections
- No integrated WiFi network connectivity or dongle option
- No on-board USB media reader
- Loud fan
Delivering more than 5,500 lumens for a $2,100 discounted street price (normally $2,300 street, $3,149 list), the Infocus INL3148HD laser projector has value as its watchword. Among the least expensive projectors in its class, the INL3148 goes further with low operating expenses that make it one of the cheapest projectors to use. It should be a top choice for filling a conference room screen when the budget is the most important criteria.
The all-black INL3148 uses blue diode lasers to pump out more than 5,500-lumens of light, making it a good candidate for everything from a large conference room or small auditorium to a college lecture hall or a dual-purpose room, such as a cafeteria that doubles as a training room.
The projector's light path uses a three-segment phosphor wheel that turns the laser's blue beam of light into streams of blue, green and yellow. It then travels through a four-part color wheel to create blue, green, yellow and light-yellow segments. At this point, the light is reflected off a 0.65-inch DLP S-600 imaging target, creating a 1920x1080 image at an aspect ratio of 16:9. (For those seeking 1920x1200 pixel resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio, InFocus offers the INL3149WU with otherwise similar specs.)
With an output rated by InFocus at 5,500 ANSI lumens and a contrast ratio of 500,000:1, the INL3148 should be more than bright enough for a lights-on, shades-up presentation. Aimed at putting readable infographics, websites and spreadsheets on the big screen to foster discussion, the projector can also be used with 3D material if the audience wears optional DLP-Link glasses to break up the right and left visual streams.
With a rated life of 30,000 hours—the equivalent of more than 14 years of use for eight hours every workday—the INL3148's Quantum Color Engine has the potential to outlast just about every other piece of computer gear in an office or school. It should also save thousands of dollars over its life compared to a conventional projector because it will not need periodic lamp replacements. In fact, the more, the INL3148 is used, the bigger the dividend.
The INL3148's optics create a uniform focus across the screen that makes it easy to set up. Its fairly generous 1.6x zoom lens makes filling a screen a snap from a range of mounting locations, but like others in its class, the lens lacks powered focus and zoom. Two thumbwheels around the lens barrel allow manual adjustments. Capable of projecting image sizes from 28 inches to 25 feet diagonal, the INL3148 filled a 60-inch screen from 73 inches away. You can check ProjectorCentral's InFocus INL3148HD Calculator to see the range of throw distances for your preferred screen size.
With its array of connections in the back, the INL3148 offers a reassuring mix of old and new. In addition to the expected HDMI 1.4 port, it has an HDMI 2.0 connector capable of accepting 4K video (which is displayed at the projector's native 1080p resolution). There are two VGA-in and one VGA-out ports as well as inputs for composite video and S-video, the latter two being increasingly hard to find these days. A USB-A port is for service or providing power to a wireless HDMI streaming dongle such as a Roku or Amazon Firestick, but it will not accept media files from a USB memory stick for display on screen, a feature that is found in some competitive models.
The INL3148 has an RJ-45 port for connecting to the building's wired Ethernet data infrastructure; it allows control via AMX, PJLink, ProjectorNet and, of course, InFocus control software. However, the projector lacks either built-in Wi-Fi or an optional USB dongle to connect to a wireless data network. A wireless presentation adapter that can feed one of the projector's HDMI inputs, such as the InFocus INA-EZCASTPRO ($129 MSRP), must be budgeted for wireless sharing from PCs or mobile devices. An RS-232 connection provides another control option, and a second RJ-45 connector is a dedicated HDBaseT port for long-distance runs of video and control data over Category cable.
The INL3148's versatility is enhanced by two 3.5 mm audio inputs, one designated for a microphone, and a pair of built-in 10-watt speakers. The speakers tend to sound hollow and are most appropriate for spoken-word material. In a larger room, like in a lecture hall or boardroom, most will choose to use the 3.5 mm audio output and external sound system.
The control panel for the projector is on top; it is compact and functional with its eight buttons. In addition to those for turning the projector on and off, there are keys for adjusting the keystone correction, changing the source, opening the menu and navigating the projector's multitude of adjustments. The small, supplied remote control worked from as far as about 30 feet away and adds things like the ability to blank the screen, adjust the volume, and invoke the INL3148's power-saving Eco mode. It has a button for changing the projector's Picture mode, but it didn't do anything on my sample.
The INL3148 is covered by warranty for only two years, a year less than the three-year warranty that some competitors, such as Optoma, Vivitek, and Epson include on their laser models in the 5,000-lumen class, and considerably less than the 5 years offered by NEC. On the other hand, InFocus rates its laser light source to last for 30,000 hours of use, 10,000 hours longer than most laser projectors.
The INL3148 is aimed at permanent installations, but its 12-pound case can be moved from room to room if needed, and it has a square lens cover to protect its optics. The projector measures 4.6 x 14.7 x 11.9 inches, considerably smaller and lighter than many others at this brightness. Still, the InFocus will likely require two technicians to install it, especially if ladder work is required.
Underneath, the projector has three feet, all of which are adjustable to get the INL3148 level in temporary installations. Additionally, there are three attachment points for using a ceiling or wall mount. These worked well with generic projector mounting hardware.
To keep its cool, the INL3148 requires about 12-inches of open space around its edge. It can be used for front or rear projection in tabletop or ceiling-mount configurations, and supports portrait and 360-degree orientations.
In terms of placement flexibility, the INL3148 offers the aforementioned 1.6x zoom lens (1.4-2.24 throw ratio) and +15% vertical lens shift. The projector can correct horizontal and vertical keystone distortion of up 30-degrees up or down and right or left. At a 15-degree tilt, the INL3148 lost 7% of its brightness, which is less than some competitive models we've tested. However, the INL3148 has two other tricks up its sleeve for challenging installations. It can pull in or out any of the image's four corners, and has a mechanical shifting mechanism (in lieu of any horizontal lens shift) that can move the image slightly right or left. It does so by masking off the image's edge, however.
On the lab bench, the INL3148 took 42.5-seconds to start up, which is on the long side for a laser-based projector, though not likely to be problematic in a typical business environment. It took a quick 2.5-seconds to shut itself down and turn off the fan. Like other laser light sources, it doesn't require any extra time to get to full brightness. There is no auto-detect to automatically power-on the projector when a live HDMI signal is present, as is found in some more expensive models.
The projector has seven Picture modes that range from Presentation, Bright and Cinema to Game, sRGB and DICOM Sim for viewing medical scans. The oddball is the HDR Sim setting, which lowers color saturation while increasing the contrast to make the image look more like it came from an HDR source. There's also the option of creating a user-defined setting based on adjustments to the projector's color temperature, RGB gain, brightness, contrast and sharpness. At any time, you can change the setting for the DLP target's Brilliant Color that effectively alters the saturation of the image's colors.
In addition, the INL3148 can compensate for different colored projection surfaces, a big plus for schools that want to repurpose rooms not necessarily intended for projector use. It's always best to stick with a white projection surface or a specialized contrast-enhancing screen, but when you don't have a choice, the projector can help and has settings for a blackboard, yellow, green, blue, pink or gray wall.
The projector's Bright mode blasts out its most intense light, going beyond InFocus's 5,500-lumen spec with a measured reading of 5,800 ANSI lumens. As is found in many projectors, the image in this mode has an annoying green cast to it, but should be fine for displaying charts, infographics and typical meeting fare. By contrast, the Presentation mode takes on a purplish tone and puts out 4,631 lumens; it is probably the best compromise between all-out brightness and acceptable color balance.
In Cinema mode and HDR Sim, the images warm up significantly and show much more accurate flesh tones, so these would be better for previewing an ad campaign or going through a photoshoot's results. On the downside, the output drops to 3,702 lumens for HDR Sim and 3,413 lumens for Cinema, however, most users will probably opt to view these modes in a darker setting to best retain their more accurate color. In gaming and sRBG modes, the output is 3,566- and 1,995-lumens, while setting the projector up to display medical scans in DICOM Sim mode delivers 4,263 lumens.
The INL3148's Eco mode is unusual and can be turned on or off with the remote control. Tap the key and the output drops to 50% of full output, or 2,915 lumens, while lowering the projector's power drain from 300 watts to 161 watts. At this point, you can adjust the setting in 5% increments from 50% back up to 100%.
Using its Bright mode, the system's 300-watt power drain is on a par with other projectors in its class. It doesn't use any power at idle, making for estimated annual expenses of $81 if it's on for eight hours every workday and you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. Also, along with its long laser life, the projector doesn't require the periodic replacement of a dust filter, further reducing maintenance costs.
When it's being used, the INL3148's case was cool to the touch. At its exhaust vent, the projector measured 111 degrees Fahrenheit, which is on a par with projectors that put out half as much light. InFocus rates the projector at 27dBA of fan noise in its sound-proof test chamber, but in my mock conference room, it was audibly loud, registering 45dBA in Normal power mode on a sound meter 36-inches from the vent, and just slightly less in Eco mode (with a room background noise level of 35.7dBA). If the projector is set up on a table or a wall near participants, this might prove to be annoying, but if the INL3148 is in a projection booth or ceiling mounted, it shouldn't be a problem.
From start to finish, the InFocus INL3148HD is a budget-oriented laser projector for conference rooms, education, or other large-venue applications that can inexpensively put bright and vibrant images onto a big screen. It is able to deliver up to 5,800 ANSI lumens of measured light output and offers both flexible set-up options and a good mix of input ports that should serve most new and legacy installations. Like some other lower-cost projectors, it lacks the ability to directly connect to a building's wireless network, and its fan was louder than we've measured from some competitors in this class. But while it may not have the bells and whistles of its competitors, at its regular $2,300 street price, and especially with recent discounts to $2,100, the INL3148 is a bargain projector that does the job, does it well, and saves money in both the short and long term.
Brightness. By using the INL3148's Eco setting, the projector's output can be reduced to 50% percent of full brightness. It can be adjusted in 5% increments all the way back to 100 percent brightness. In its Normal power setting, the INL3148 put out 5,800 measured ANSI lumens, 6% over its 5,500-lumen spec. This drops to 2,915 lumens at the 50% Eco setting. Happily, the system's electrical draw falls accordingly, with the INL3148 using 300 watts at full power and 161 watts in 50% Eco mode.
Here is the INL3148's ANSI lumen brightness for each picture mode, with Eco readings taken at that mode's 50% setting.
InFocus INL3148 ANSI Lumens
Zoom Lens Light Loss (from widest to maximum zoom): 42%
Brightness Uniformity: 87%
Fan Noise. InFocus rates the IN3148's noise level at 27 dBA under unspecified test conditions, which is unusually low for a 5,500 lumen laser projector. In casual measurements in my mock conference room, it registered 45dBA in normal mode and 43.3 dBA in Eco mode as measured at a three-foot distance from the exhaust vent; the room had a background noise level of 35.7dBA. This level of fan noise might be an issue if viewers are in close proximity to the projector, but if the projector is ceiling mounted or used in a projection booth it should not present a problem.
- HDMI Version 1.4
- HDMI Version 2.0
- Computer RGB in (x2, 15-pin D-Sub)
- Computer RGB out (15-pin D-Sub)
- RS-232C Serial Port
- USB (Type A, for accessory power, service)
- Composite video (RCA)
- Wired LAN (RJ-45)
- HD Base T (RJ-45)
- Audio in (x2, 3.5 mm)
- Audio out (3.5mm)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our InFocus INL3148HD projector page.