Recommended Home Theater Projectors
When anyone writes in asking for home theater recommendations for products under $3,000 the answer is easy. The InFocus LP340 is a phenomenal product in this economy budget range and we recommend it enthusiastically.
The LP340 is an SVGA machine with a single-chip DLP light engine, rated at 1300 ANSI lumens and 400:1 contrast. One of DLP's significant advantages is that pixel structure is softened considerably to the point of being almost invisible (depending on screen size and viewing distance of course) in this resolution. The good news is that you can't see too much of the pixels, but the downside to this, along with the lower 800x600 resolution, is that the picture tends to be a bit soft when projected onto a large screen.
The LP340 will not accept a component-progressive scan 480p input from a DVD player. However, the LP340 has a terrific line doubler and scaler on board. So if you set up a standard DVD player with the S-video connection you will get an amazingly good picture for the money.
An even better alternative however is to use a computer with a DVD drive and DVI output. DVI, or digital visual interface, eliminates the need to convert the digital signal on the DVD to analog for transmission. Thus the jitter that is produced in the digital/analog conversions is eliminated, and the picture is the most stable it can possibly be. (A special cable is required for this, and it doesn't come with the LP340. However, you can order it from InFocus.)
The primary weakness of the LP340 is color fidelity. Most DLP machines do not enable you to adjust red, green, and blue to achieve optimum color performance (the NEC LT150 noted herein is an exception). Color saturation and accuracy is not as good on this product as as they are on the LCD products in this review. And the LP340 shows a bias toward a slightly greenish hue that is bothersome to some and not objectionable for others. For those who want to take the extra step, the greenish bias can be largely corrected with the use of a very light magenta filter. However, if you are particularly offended by colors that don't look as precise or as rich as you would like, you should probably stick with LCD technology.
The LP340 has a composite RCA jack, an S-video jack, a DVI port, and an RGB port. So there is some connection flexibility stemming in part (ironically) from the fact that you cannot feed a component-progressive 480p signal into the RGB port as you can on many other products. This being the case, your best DVD input options are either DVI or S-video. Either way this leaves the RGB port free to accept an HDTV source without using an external switch box.
All things considered, the Infocus LP340 is an outstanding performer for the economy-minded home theater enthusiast. If you are more sensitive to pixel visibility and less concerned about color accuracy, the LP340 is recommended even above the NEC VT540. In this price range, everything is a trade-off. No projector is perfect and each product has advantages that another does not. But InFocus has packed an incredible amount of solid video performance into this product. If you are budgeting up to a max of $3,000 we don't believe there is another product in this price range that comes close to the performance of the LP340.
The Differences between the LP340 and LP350
We are often asked by people considering the LP340 whether they should step up to the LP350. What are the differences, and do they warrant the additional cost? The answer, once again, is we can't decide for you if the extra cost is worth the benefit. All we can do is describe for you the differences and let you be the judge.
The visual differences between the LP340 and the LP350 derive exclusively from the fact that the former is SVGA (800 x 600) and the latter is XGA (1024 x 768). So the first visible difference is the pixels themselves. Pixels are subtle but visible on the LP340 if you have a screen size 6 feet or wider and your viewing distance is less than twice the screen width. On the LP350 they are entirely invisible.
Second, the LP350 renders a crisper, smoother image due to its higher resolution. At a viewing distance up to twice the screen width, the LP340 has a softer, very slightly fuzzy indistinctness in details due to its lower resolution. On a screen size of less than 6 feet in width, this becomes much less of an issue. But if you plan on using screens larger than 6 feet wide, image sharpness becomes more of a factor.
Third, the LP350 is able to deliver better color than the LP340 due to the simple fact that there are more pixels on the screen. With 64% increased pixel density per square unit of image area, the LP350 has a better ability to render subtle shadings with better results. The result is that the picture looks a bit more well-integrated because of this.
In general, the larger the screen image, the more pronounced will be the advantages of the LP350 over the LP340. Whether these advantages are worth the 50% incremental price is a matter of personal taste.