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InFocus IN3138HD 1080p Presentation Projector Review

Highly Recommended Projector
Performance
4
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
Business
InFocus IN3138HD Projector InFocus IN3138HD
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Street Price: n/a
3D: Full HD 3D
Contrast:5,000:1
Lumens:4000
Weight: 6.9 lbs
Resolution:1920x1080
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Technology:DLP
Color Wheel:6 segments
Lens:1.2x manual
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:3,000 Hrs
4,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, VGA In (x2), HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort, Network, USB, RS232, 12-Volt Trigger
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60
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InFocus IN3138HD
1080p DLP Conference Room Projector

Bill Livolsi, October 8, 2014
ProjectorCentral.com

The IN3138HD is the newest 1080p projector from InFocus. As a projector for classroom and business use, the IN3138HD's 4,000 lumens, native 1080p resolution, DLP Link 3D compatibility, and $999 price tag are sure to attract folks interested in high-brightness presentation. Compatibility with Crestron RoomView, excellent connectivity, and network monitoring capability make the IN3138HD more capable than its price tag would usually indicate.

As a business projector, the IN3138HD is capable and competent, though its maximum brightness doesn't quite measure up to the optimistic 4,000 lumen specification. For document display and general presentation tasks, the IN3138HD is a good option, and it can even handle video from time to time. But the IN3138HD isn't a home video projector, and users in search of their next home theater projector should not try to force it into the role.

The Viewing Experience

As a business projector, the IN3138HD is most likely to be used in rooms with at least some ambient light, so that's where we set up our test unit.

The IN3138HD produces an image that is bright and clean, with sharp detail characteristic of its native 1080p resolution. The projector starts up in Presentation mode, which is a slightly bluish but well-balanced mode for PowerPoint slideshows and other such documents. The projector's five other image modes are all useful for different types of content, so you'll want to give them each a try depending on how you plan to use the projector.

The IN3138HD emphasizes brightness, and content that is primarily black and white looks brilliantly bright. However, areas of color appear dull and under-saturated at times, especially in the presence of bright highlights and when using the projector's brighter image modes. It is especially important, then, to use an appropriate image mode like Movie or sRGB when watching film or video on the IN3138HD.

Key Features

High light output. The IN3138HD is a business and presentation projector, and light output is a primary concern in that application. Our test unit produced a maximum of 3,014 ANSI lumens in Bright mode, with the lens at its wide angle setting and lamp power set to maximum. That's easily enough to light up a 100" diagonal screen in a conference room, or a much larger screen in a room with better light control.

Native 1080p resolution. A native resolution of 1920x1080 gives the IN3138HD the ability to display 1080p HD video without scaling. That means you won't lose any detail in complex spreadsheets, photos, video, or intricate diagrams.

Great connectivity. The IN3138HD's connection panel is crowded with ports, ranging from the standard (two VGA ports, VGA monitor passthrough, HDMI) to the more unusual (DisplayPort, Ethernet, 12V trigger, mini-USB). HDMI, DisplayPort, 2x VGA, VGA monitor out, RJ45 Ethernet, 12V trigger, USB, 1/8" audio in/out,

3D. For those who need 3D, the IN3138HD supports triple-flash 144Hz DLP Link 3D, which is the newest and best available form of DLP Link 3D. The IN3138HD can handle any of the HDMI 1.4 3D input signals, so you can use Blu-ray players or set-top boxes. No glasses are included, but DLP Link glasses are widely available and inexpensive.

Remote control. When we say remote control, we aren't just talking about the credit card-sized piece of plastic that you use to make adjustments. The IN3138HD has an Ethernet port that can be used for network control, monitoring, and support. The projector is also compatible with Crestron RoomView and AMX Device Discovery, so there's a good chance that it will fit into your existing IT infrastructure. That will make your IT department happy and reduce deployment costs.

10W speaker. The projector's onboard 10W speaker is powerful enough to use in a conference room or other small space. For larger rooms, or when presenting content with important audio tracks, an outboard system can provide greater volume and fidelity, but will of course add cost to the installation.

12V trigger. Normally only found on higher-end projectors, a 12V trigger allows the IN3138HD to control a motorized retractable screen or other powered accessory device. This can reduce clutter in the conference room by having the screen retract out of the way when not in use.

Performance

Light output. The IN3138HD is rated at 4,000 lumens maximum. On our test unit, we obtained a maximum usable output of 3,014 ANSI lumens with the projector in Bright mode, the lens at its widest angle, and the lamp at full power. Bright mode is greenish and has poor color, but it is useful whenever maximum output is necessary and color fidelity is a secondary concern.

Presentation mode, at 2,100 lumens, is more balanced than Bright mode. It has a bluish cast instead of Bright mode's green, while color and contrast are improved significantly. Presentation mode is the projector's default mode, and it's the one most suited to general office document display (hence the name). For Powerpoint slideshows and spreadsheets, Presentation is the way to go.

Game mode's 1,562 lumens produce better color than either Bright or Presentation mode, though they retain Presentation mode's slight blue tint. On some projectors, Game mode has less input lag than other modes, but that is not the case here.

Movie mode and TV mode, at 1,599 and 1,638 lumens respectively, are a lot like Game mode in that they have decent color and contrast, but their warmer color temperature makes them more appropriate for film and video use. Both modes still apply significant BrilliantColor, leading to highlights that are much brighter than other areas of the image.

The final mode, sRGB, measures only 782 lumens. However, sRGB mode produces 100% color brightness and the best contrast performance that the projector is capable of. This mode does not use BrilliantColor at all, giving it a natural, balanced appearance that is ideal for film, video, photography, and other content where color is crucial.

In any of these modes, you can use low lamp mode to reduce output by 24% while extending lamp life from 3,000 to 4,000 hours. Low lamp mode also cuts down on the projector's fan noise, which is almost a requirement in small rooms.

Contrast. As a conference room projector, the IN3138HD makes no special effort to improve its black levels, since it is most likely to be used in rooms with ambient light. However, in the projector's more color-balanced modes you can actually coax reasonable performance out of film and video content thanks to a decent gamma setting. With occasional film and video content, the IN3138HD will do just fine.

Color. Most conference room projectors don't bother with accurate color, but the IN3138HD does. The factory grayscale calibration for Movie mode is only about 50 degrees away from perfect 6,500K, though the gamut isn't anything to be proud of. If you're dead set on getting good color out of the IN3138HD, you can spend some time in User mode. A few small adjustments will give you a balanced image with no BrilliantColor that measures 6,500K across the board.

Sharpness and detail. The IN3138HD is quite sharp, especially with native-resolution 1080p content. Text is crisp and clean, while fine detail in video is plainly visible. Detail is less perfect in upscaled or downscaled content, but the only area that gave us trouble was small text (under 12pt) displayed in a scaled image. We sent a 1920x1200 signal to the projector, and the resulting compression artifacts made the 10pt text on screen appear blurry enough that some viewers might have problems reading it. But content without small text or critical fine detail was rendered cleanly, even at non-native resolutions. Try to send highly detailed content to the IN3138HD at its native 1080p, when possible.

Input lag. The IN3138HD measured 33 milliseconds of input lag over HDMI using a native 1080p signal. That works out to 2 frames of a 60 fps signal. That's fast enough for gaming, and video will not require an audio delay device.

Limitations

Light output. Though the IN3138HD claims 4,000 lumens maximum output, the best we could get was just over 3,000 in a usable image mode. Lumen output measured higher if we cranked brightness and contrast to their highest levels, but doing so had a serious detrimental effect on image quality and is not something we recommend. Even at those extreme settings, we were unable to hit 4,000 lumens. And in the projector's more color-balanced modes, light output hovers right around 1,600 lumens.

Native 1080p. In business environments, the preferred widescreen resolutions are 1280x800 or 1920x1200. The former matches up with many laptop computers, while the latter maintains the same 16:10 aspect ratio but can also natively display 1080p HD video. But 1080p itself is 16:9, so content created for native 16:10 displays can only be displayed with black pillars to either side of the image. If the majority of your content is 16:10, that's worth considering before making a purchase.

Color light output. The IN3138HD measured 3,014 ANSI lumens maximum. However, ANSI lumens only measure a projector's brightness on a pure white test image, and most of the content you'll be using is not pure white. Color light output can be a useful indicator of how a projector will look when using content like photographs or video, where color and image balance are more important. Color light output is obtained by measuring the brightness of red, green, and blue, adding them together, and comparing the result against the readings taken from a white test pattern.

On the IN3138HD, sRGB mode is the only preset image mode where color brightness measured 100% of white. The next best modes, Movie and Game, both measured 55%. TV mode measured 52%, Presentation mode came in at 43%, and Bright mode measured only 28%.

If you do need to display photographs or video, sRGB mode is a safe bet -- but it measured only 782 lumens. You can also use Movie or Game mode and decrease BrilliantColor if image balance is not to your liking (though this will both decrease white light output and kick you over to User mode).

Fan noise. The IN3138HD is bright and small, so it's not surprising that it has a loud exhaust fan. In a small room, fan noise is loud enough to be noticeable even when the lamp is set to low power, and the high lamp setting will heat up the whole room given enough time. This won't be a problem for short presentations and rooms with adequate ventilation, but the fan noise is still quite present.

Locked presets. The IN3138HD's image modes cannot be adjusted. The settings they come with from the factory are the settings they keep, and changing any setting will boot you over to the single User memory. You can adjust absolutely anything in the User setting, but you only get one. If you need to store two sets of settings, you'll have to write one of them down.

Comparison:
InFocus IN3138HD versus BenQ HT1075

Since the InFocus IN3138HD and the BenQ HT1075 are both 1080p projectors priced under $1000, a few comments on how they compare are warranted. But they are not at all built for the same purpose; the IN3138HD is intended to be an inexpensive conference room solution, and the HT1075 is an entry level home theater projector.

Seeing these two projectors side-by-side, their images look nothing alike. The IN3138HD prioritizes brightness, and its image has brilliant highlights and somewhat dull color. The BenQ HT1075 prioritizes contrast and color, so its image has deeper blacks and more accurate color that appears higher in brightness and saturation. Coincidentally, both projectors' Movie modes are about the same brightness; the IN3138HD measures 1,638 lumens while the HT1075 comes in at 1,782 lumens. However, most of the IN3138HD's lumens are only available for white light output due to BrilliantColor and the configuration of its color wheel. Speaking of color wheels, you will see rainbow artifacts much more often on the IN3138HD than you will on the HT1075, both due to the brightness of highlights and its slower color wheel.

So if the HT1075 has a better video image, why would anyone buy the IN3138HD -- even for business? For starters, it has connectivity that the HT1075 lacks, adding DisplayPort and multiple VGA connections as well as monitor passthrough and RJ45 networking. It is compatible with enterprise technologies like Crestron's RoomView system, and it can be monitored from a central location, thereby making life easier for your IT department. It has much higher light output for certain types of content, giving it an edge when you do need maximum brightness. Purchasing one of these projectors and then expecting it to do the job of the other is a good way to set yourself up for disappointment -- but then again, you shouldn't get frustrated with an apple because it's bad at being an orange.

Conclusion

The InFocus IN3138 is a solid choice for conference rooms. It is an inexpensive high-brightness projector that has great connectivity, full 3D capability, and network monitoring. If you need a conference room projector, it is definitely worth a look.

The IN3138HD includes certain features that make it ideal for conference room use, such as high white light output, excellent connectivity, wired networking, and compatibility with Crestron Roomview and AMX Device Discovery. If you're looking for a home video projector, other models exist that are built to do that job, and they do it well at the same price as the IN3138HD. The IN3138HD is built to be a solid conference room projector, and it performs that task quite well.



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(05/19/19 - 09:49 AM PST)
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