Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
Not many projectors deliver top-notch video and audio at a brightness level that handles the image washout of well-lit rooms. But the InFocus IN3114 is one that does. Rated at 3,500 ANSI lumens and listing for $1,499, this projector is well suited for mid-sized classrooms and conference rooms when ambient light is an issue. Its native 1024x768 DLP light engine accepts data up to 1440x900 and video from 480i to 1080i. All in all, this bright, 7 lb. projector delivers a lot of bang for the buck.
Brightness and Uniformity: In its Bright preset mode with BrilliantColor on, our test unit put 3,070 ANSI lumens on the screen which is a little less than its 3,500-lumen rating. Presentation and Video modes delivered 1,655 and 1,535 lumens, respectively while Eco mode reduced brightness by 18% in all preset modes. That's not bad when you consider that Eco mode extends lamp life from 3,000 to 4,000 hours and lowers fan noise in the process. The 1.2:1 zoom lens at full telephoto only dropped brightness by 9%, so you're not giving up much picture quality if you have to place the projector farther from the screen. Uniformity was a very respectable 87% with the bottom half of the image a little brighter than the top.
Image Sharpness: Images are in focus from edge-to-edge and sharpness is excellent in the corners as well. Data inputs from my Mac as high as 1344x1008 were seamlessly scaled and showed no artifacts or fuzziness.
Image Size and Position: Image diagonals from 24" to 244" can be projected from distances of 4' to 33', respectively. At about 6' from the screen, the center of the lens is 6" below the bottom of the image, so getting an image of appropriate height for a moderate-size room should be possible without using much of the available ±30° keystone correction. The projector can be elevated by dropping and locking the single front foot, and if horizontal leveling is needed, the right rear foot can be adjusted.
Menus and Remote: The on-screen menus are easy to understand, but they tend to be layered deeply. For example, the Basic Picture menu has 12 different settings while the Advanced Picture menu has 23, and the Setup menu presents you with a dizzying array of 39 choices. Fortunately, most of these are one-time selections, and the menus are easy to navigate with the remote control. The remote itself only has 17 buttons and is laid out clearly and cleanly with very memorable icons. The only function that's a bit frustrating is the unidirectional Preset selection button because if you miss the preset you're after, you must cycle through the six other presets to get back to the one you want.
Connections: The IN3114 has three input connectors for data images (two VGA and one HDMI) and three for video sources (composite video, s-video, and component video via one of the VGA connectors). Since some DVD players will connect via the HDMI connector, HDCP security is provided. There is also a USB port for memory sticks with picture files which are displayed in a slide show format. Two audio input mini-jacks are complemented by a single audio output should external amplification be needed.
For network connection there's an RJ-45 connector, and a D-sub 9-pin connector is provided for remote sensing and control. Monitor loop through is also available in the connector cluster. For security, a Kensington lock assembly is built in.
Preset modes: Preset modes include three selections that change color emphasis to compensate for non-standard projection surfaces such as blackboards and painted walls, and there are four others titled Bright, Presentation, Video, and User with each having its own color and brightness levels.
One very impressive feature of the IN3114 is the accuracy with which saturation, hue, contrast, and brightness are preset in the Movie mode. Just plug in a DVD player, sit back, and enjoy your movie without changing a thing . . . it's that good. The seven preset modes vary the image brightness as described earlier, and Bright mode tends toward green while Presentation has a slight blue tint. Note that image adjustments for saturation and hue in a preset can only be made when connecting composite, s-video, and component video sources. This means that if you connect a video source via the HDMI input, you'll have to go to the User preset to vary saturation and hue if you don't like the look of the Movie preset mode.
Fan noise: Fan noise is modest, but the IN3114 has the mid-frequency noise component typical of color wheel DLP projectors. Lots of air is being moved out the right side of the projector, but the front right surface of case still gets very warm to the touch.
Lamp Life: The IN3114's 280-watt lamp is located beneath the projector's top cover, so it's easier to replace if the unit is ceiling-mounted. In normal mode, lamp life is rated at 3,000 hours, but Eco mode can stretch that to 4,000 hours if you can tolerate an 18% brightness reduction. The current price of the replacement lamp is $299.
Image Quality: It's not often that a modestly priced projector hits the mark in data and video image quality, but the IN3114 delivers in both categories. The PC images have saturated colors that are well balanced. Text and graphics are sharp and detailed, and brightness uniformity tops 85%. Even with full keystone correction of 30°, 8-pt. type is still readable.
Video images have vivid colors, and highlights and blacks are well-defined thanks to the IN3114's 2100:1 contrast ratio. Skin tones are natural, but the Video preset mode is a little bright for movie viewing, and you may want to drop the brightness by using Eco mode. Almost no color or contrast changes are needed in Video mode, but if you want to optimize the video image, you can choose one of four color temperatures and adjust the offset and gain of red, green, and blue in the Advanced Picture menu.
DisplayLink: InFocus offers a proprietary interface technology called DisplayLink which makes computer connection very simple. Rather than the usual VGA and audio cables, DisplayLink uses a single cable connected from the projector to the USB port of your computer. Once a software driver is installed, the DisplayLink circuitry and software detect and identify data and audio signals from the computer and make the proper selections of resolution and aspect ratio for the projector. You may use VGA and audio cables, of course, but it's not required. Be sure to set up your computer to mirror its internal display, and, if needed, send audio to the computer's USB DAC instead of its internal speakers.
Audio Quality:Two 5-watt speakers located at the rear and on the left side of the projector provide nearly all the sound needed for a moderate-size room. At 90% of full volume, there is no buzz or break-up although at full volume, some background hiss is audible.
Maintenance: Like most DLP projectors, the IN3114 has no air filter to change, so maintenance consists of vacuuming the side grills every now and then to avoid any dust accumulation that might impede airflow.
Five Year Warranty: InFocus provides a 5-year parts and labor warranty for the projector and also warrants the lamp for 6 months. This is the longest warranty in the industry, and few vendors offer it.
Projector Buttons: The function buttons across the top of the IN3114 are designed to be sensitive to the touch, but they may have overdone a good thing. No finger pressure, only contact, is needed to activate these flush buttons, so you may inadvertently make a selection you weren't planning on.
Remote Control: With many remotes, you get to know where a function is located by the feel of the keys. However, the IN3114 remote buttons are flush, so you have to look at the button icon to be sure you're pressing the correct key. The icons are easy to recognize, but since there's no backlight, function selection with the remote can be difficult in darkened rooms.
On-Screen Menu: While navigating the menus is straightforward, remembering where a particular setting is located can be a bother unless you're using the projector regularly.
In general, then, the weaknesses of this projector have to do with the user interface. The remote and the menus need to be learned, and more stick time is required to get conversant with the projector than other models we've seen.
The InFocus IN3114 produces very bright, sharp, high quality pictures with both video and data sources. For the money it is hard to beat. Its DisplayLink technology makes connections a breeze even for a newcomer to big screen projection. Remembering what's where in its on-screen menus may present a challenge. But the resulting images . . . video images in particular . . . are worth the effort. It is easy to give the IN3114 our most enthusiastic recommendation, and a solid 5 stars for both performance and value.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our InFocus IN3114 projector page.
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