With the release of the LP280, InFocus has introduced its first projector to sell at street prices below $2,000. InFocus had the education market in mind when designing this product. But mobile presenters on limited budgets will find that it covers all the basics as well. It is a no-frills, economy-class projector that gets the job done at a good price. The LP280's companion product, the LP290, is basically the same projector with native XGA-resolution LCD panels instead of SVGA. Both are portable 5.7 lb units with data, video, audio, monitor loop-through, and PS/2 (RS-232) and USB mouse support.


You notice a few things right off the bat when firing up the LP280 or LP290. First, you find that they are relatively quiet and the fan is low in pitch. No problem talking over fan noise here. Second, they throw a big picture from a short distance, so you have a lot of flexibility in setting the projector at the proper location to produce the desired image size. Third, they throw off no extraneous light from the casework. People in your audience who may be sitting behind the projector won't be distracted by the glare of its lamp beaming out of the air vents.

Light engines. The LP280 is rated at 1000 ANSI lumens and 400:1 contrast ratio. It delivers native 800x600 resolution from its three 0.7" LCD panels, and will compress up to SXGA (1280 x 1024). The LP290 is rated at 1100 ANSI lumens with 400:1 contrast. Its native 1024x768 XGA panels deliver higher resolution at a higher price. The LP290 will also compress an SXGA signal. Both projectors use a 132-watt UHP lamp rated at 2000 hours of useful life. Retail price on the replacement lamp is (at this writing) $349.

Zoom lens and throw distance. Both units have a 1.3x manual zoom lens that gives you extra fine-tuning ability to set the size of your projected image. A 60" diagonal image can be thrown from a distance of 5.9 to 7.7 feet, depending upon the zoom setting. If you need a larger image, you can back the unit up. Placing it about 11 feet from the screen gives you a 100" diagonal image.

Connector panels. Along the right side of the projector you will find an S-video port, and composite video jack, one 15-pin D-sub VGA input port, one 15-pin D-sub VGA monitor loop-through output port, one single pin audio jack, an RS-232 port and a USB port.

Video compatibility. The LP280/290 accepts NTSC, PAL, SECAM, PAL-M, and PAL-N. There is no HDTV, 480p, or component video capability on these units (no, there is no cheap home theater solution here-don't even think about it).

Performance and commentary

If you need a bright, light weight portable projector for computer-based presentations and graphics, the LP280 is great for the money, which at this writing is officially $1,999 on the Internet. The step up to the LP290's XGA resolution takes you up quite a bit in price, currently $3,499 on the Internet. Frankly, we'd think twice before shelling out an additional $1500 for nothing more than an XGA upgrade. So the LP290 is not the value proposition that the LP280 is.

When digital keystone adjustment is set to zero (more on this below) and the LP280 and LP290 are fed their respective SVGA and XGA native-resolutions signals, they deliver sparkling, razor sharp data images. Video quality may be described as very adequate for business and classroom use.

As noted above the LP280 will compress an XGA or SXGA signal, and the LP290 will compress an SXGA signal. However, the compression on these units is not particularly clean. If you are planning to present Powerpoint-type slide presentations, this is not a big issue. But if you are routinely presenting detailed material like text or financial spreadsheets, you will not want to use the compression modes on these machines. Stick to matching the native resolution of the projector to the output resolution of your computer and you will be fine.

Both the LP280 and LP290 have fixed optical keystone correction as well as digital keystone adjustment. Fixed optical keystone correction means that the projector automatically projects the image up somewhat if table-top mounted, or down somewhat if ceiling-mounted, while maintaining a proper rectilinear image. If the centerline of the lens is perpendicular to the screen plane, the image will be displayed with 90-degree angles at the corners, and the centerline will intersect near either the bottom or top of the image depending upon whether table- or ceiling-mounted.

If the centerline of the lens is not perpendicular to the screen plane (because you have to tilt the projector up to hit the screen for example), the projected image will be a trapezoid. Digital keystone correction will compensate for this and bring the projected image back to square. That is, if you want to use it. The problem with digital keystone correction (and this is a problem on almost ALL projectors in this price class) is that it distorts the text, creating a somewhat fuzzy look to the image. As with the compression issue above, if you are presenting detailed text or financial data, the distortion produced by digital keystone adjustments is usually much more objectionable than the trapezoidal shape of the image to begin with.

If we were giving the presentation and we had to set up the projector off-angle from the screen, we'd set the keystone adjustment to zero, deliver clean, crisp, easy-to-read images to the audience, and ignore the trapezoid. That is not only how we'd use the LP280, but just about any other digital projector under $5,000 as well. Trust us, your audience will love you for it.


The LP280 delivers good bang for the buck, and those on limited budgets should give it a close look. Educators will find it to be a cost/effective solution for the K-12 classroom, especially with education discounts that may push the net selling price even lower. Any computer-based presentation you want to give will look great with an SVGA source. Powerpoint presentations from an XGA source are also displayed without any problem at all.

The LP290 is not as impressive in terms of cost/performance. The current price gap of $1500 between the LP280 and LP290 is too large. There are competing XGA-resolution machines on the market at street prices at or below the LP290 that offer equivalent data performance and much stronger video capability. So we recommend that you pass on this one unless the price comes down significantly.

Specs, photo, and dealers for the LP280
Specs, photo, and dealers for the LP290