The InFocus X3 is the fourth edition in a series, following the X1, X1A, and X2. Like its predecessors, it is geared towards data presentation, but could double as a part time home theater projector in a pinch. Unlike its predecessors, its native resolution has been stepped up from SVGA to XGA. With high lumen output, long lamp life, and a low street price, the X3 is a solid, no frills projector that is intended to deliver cost-effective presentation performance in the conference room and classroom.
Specifications. 1600 ANSI lumens (reduced to 1100 in low-brightness mode), 2000:1 contrast, native 4:3 full-frame format with a 1024x768 (XGA) resolution DLP chip; 2x speed 4-segment color wheel.
Compatibility. HDTV 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i, and computer resolutions up to 1280x1024. NTSC, PAL, SECAM.
Lens and throw distance. 1.2 Manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" (4:3) diagonal image from 12.5-15 ft., depending on zoom.
Weight. 6.8 lbs.
Lamp Life. 4000 hours.
Connection Panel. One M1-DA port that accepts both RGB and component video signals, one composite video port, one s-video port, one pair of RCA audio-in jacks, one 1/8" audio out, one 15-pin monitor pass-through, and one 12v trigger.
Installation options. Table mount, rear shelf mount, ceiling mount.
Warranty. 1 year.
The InFocus X3 is rated at 1600 ANSI lumens in standard lamp mode and 1100 ANSI lumens in low power mode. Our test unit measured 1406 ANSI lumens in standard lamp mode with settings tailored to presentation, and 1165 ANSI lumens in low power mode. It is unusual to find a projector that surpasses its own advertised specifications. Whatever the reasons for this, the X3 is one bright machine.
The range of focus on the X3 is small; if the projector is tilted upwards or downwards by any significant amount, a portion of the image may appear out of focus. However, when the projector is level, focus is sharp from edge to edge. Financial spreadsheets and text documents are crisp and clean.
With digital photography, the X3 delivers good color saturation, and contrast is high enough to give images a three-dimensional appearance. The high lumen output supports display at very large screen sizes - 120" and beyond. Photographs pop off of the screen and have a dynamic appearance. Color balance is biased toward the green at factory presets, but onboard controls allow for adequate adjustments.
The X3 has vertical keystone adjustment controls. The quality of keystone scaling is on par with most data projectors. Adjusting keystone introduces some artifacts into the image - lines start to show jagged edges, and text blurs and seems "bolded". While some presenters may prefer to use keystone to bold text, it has the potential to become distracting in graphics-heavy usage.
For those considering using the X3 for home theater, bear in mind that it is designed primarily for data use. Accordingly, while it delivers exceptionally good video for a data projector, it lacks some of the features and performance that home theater enthusiasts look for. Its higher lumen output is not easily adjustable for dark home theater levels, and color saturation falls short of what we see on most home theater products. On the other hand, its brightness is conducive to operation with some ambient light in the room.
The X3 does a better job than most presentation projectors with both standard definition and high definition signals. Deinterlacing is certainly good enough for conference room and classroom video applications. However, for quality DVD projection the picture is sharper and more stable when setting the DVD player to progressive scan output. High definition signals from an Xbox video game system looked particularly impressive, showing excellent clarity even during difficult scenes with lots of fast motion.
The InFocus X3's menu system is similar to that on InFocus's other projectors; it is clean, well-organized, and easy to navigate. Adjustment options are divided into two categories, Picture and Settings. There is also an About menu for information regarding hours on the lamp, which source is active, what format the active signal is in, and the projector's firmware version.
The picture menu includes all major adjustments necessary for basic calibration: keystone, contrast, brightness, color, and tint. Many of these are only available when the projector is receiving a video signal; color and tint are disabled when the X3 is displaying data.
For in-depth adjustment, there is an "Advanced" menu with options for sharpness, color space, and color temperature (both preset values and manual controls).
The Settings menu contains such items as speaker volume for the onboard 2.5W mono speaker, a low power lamp mode toggle, and the option to assign the remote's "Effect" key to one of several options: It can blank the screen, mute the speaker, cycle through the aspect ratio options, cycle the sources, re-sync with the input device, display the "About" menu, or freeze the screen. However, blanking, mute, and source selection already have designated buttons on the remote. So using the Effect button for these functions is not necessary.
As for the remote itself, it is simple and utilitarian, with few buttons. There are forward and back buttons for cycling through presentations, volume controls, source controls, a screen blanking button, the aforementioned "Effect" button, and menu manipulation controls. It would have been useful to have keystone adjustment controls on the remote as well, but keystone must be adjusted via the menu. Also, the remote is not backlit, nor do the buttons glow.
Many data projectors include digital zoom to allow presenters to show fine detail in their material. Some also include a pointing device--either a laser pointer built into the remote or a digital cursor. The X3 lacks these features, which may be a consideration for those using the X3 for digital presentation.
The X3 has three simple aspect ratio options: 16:9, 4:3, and Native. Since the X3 was not designed as a home theater projector, it lacks some of the more advanced options present on comparably-priced home theater machines, such as positioning 4:3 material in the center of a 16:9 screen. On the other hand, 16:9 material is displayed using a 1024x576 pixel matrix. If this is the default mode of operation, you can use the Native mode to display 4:3 in 640x480 format. This is somewhat smaller than the 576-line widescreen format, but it is much clearer and sharper due to lack of scaling.
The addition of a monitor loop-through on the X3 makes this projector particularly suited for a classroom setting; teachers can display their desktop on both the projector and their normal monitor. This feature, as well as the X3's high lumen output and contrast, make it a good choice for the education market.
Connectivity on the X3 is limited. There are dedicated ports for composite and S-video; however, any signal more complex than these must be fed through the M1-DA port via an adapter. A 15-pin VGA to M1 adapter is included with the projector. However, other connection types require separate adapters that are available from InFocus, including an M1-DA to Component video adapter and an M1-DA to DVI adapter. You can save time and frustration by discussing your intended usage with your dealer to ensure that you get the adapters you will need.
Surprisingly, there is a hard-wired power switch on the projector, but no power button. This means that to shut down the projector properly after use, you must use the remote. Simply turning the power switch off results in a hard shutdown of the projector which bypasses the recommended cool-down time (the period after the lamp shuts off when the fan keeps running). This can have detrimental effects on lamp life, and is not recommended. It is unfortunate when a function available on the remote is not available on the projector's control panel; after all, people do lose remotes from time to time. [EDIT: InFocus has recently informed ProjectorCentral.com that a hard shut-down has no detrimental effect on lamp life; instead, "the purpose for leaving the fan on to cool the lamp is to meet the requirement of allowing the customer to turn the projector back on as soon as possible with the requirement being a maximum wait time of 90 seconds. The lamp must be cooled to below 200C to re-strike it. In the X-series this occurs normally within 90 seconds so the decision was made to not cool it actively."]
The X3's fan noise is typical of most portable data projectors, and somewhat louder than most home theater units. It should present no distraction in the typical conference room or classroom, although you may become conscious of the fan during quiet interludes in a movie.
Like many data projectors, the X3 features a low throw angle offset - in this case, 12% of the image height. This means that for a 100" diagonal 4:3 image (80" wide by 60" high), the bottom edge of the image will be a little over 7" above the centerline of the lens.
The InFocus X3 delivers exactly what it is designed to deliver--excellent, crisp, bright data images in XGA resolution for a modest investment. Its long life 4000 hour lamp and exceptionally good video round out the package to make it a solid projector value for the money. It is not fully loaded with every feature you could imagine, either for data or for video. However, the X3 is an impressive low cost projector that should perform admirably as an all around presentation workhorse in the classroom and smaller conference room.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our InFocus X3 projector page.