Baby pico projectors are an attractive offer, providing you don’t need high-quality video to fill the wall. But if you do need an image that rivals, even beats, that available from a large-screen television, you need a good home-cinema projector.
Or perhaps a multi-purpose device such as the InFocus IN3116, which can serve as a high-grade business and boardroom projector, portable enough to be packed and carried, yet with high-definition capabilities to enable some solid widescreen entertainment too.
The InFocus IN3116 is something of an all-rounder, a DLP projector from a specialist projector company with added features like USB video connectivity.
With this option, you can hook up without to a PC or Mac without using regular analogue or digital ouputs like VGA and DVI. This DisplayLink technology still lags behind the established video ports in picture quality, but can have its uses in sending video wirelessly, with the help of an additional Liteshow adaptor.
The InFocus IN3116 comes very well packaged in a zip-up nylon carry case, with accessories such as cables and remote control all neatly tucked away in dedicated pockets.
Included in the bag are power leads, USB and VGA cables, but no HDMI digital video leads. You get a quick-start printed guide, as well as a full instruction printed manual.
Take the IN3116 out, and you find a relatively lightweight unit, weighing just over 3kg, and standing quite tall at around 12cm high.
The InFocus IN3116 works well straight from the bag, with automatic setup features (auto keystone correction and auto input sensing) letting you achieve a good image within seconds of switch on.
An extensive but approachable menu system let's you tweak a multitude of parameters if you so wish. Across the chassis top are touch-sensitive controls for all functions, and even dedicated keys for keystone, to save going into menuse first.
Options through the menu include simple brightness/contrast adjustments, as well as more in-depth gamma and RGB colour levels. Also here are presets for different media modes – like film, video – along with screen types, such as beige wall.
One of the first tweaks we made was to switch off auto keystone, as this would keep hunting for adjustment whenever the projector was wobbled on our testing table.
But the first and most important tweak is to image size and focus. These are both via manual controls, afforded suitably precise adjustments from large-diameter knurled wheels that are accessed from cutouts in the case, just behind the lens.
We're not aware of any optical advantage to having the peripheral ring glow in soft cobalt blue around the lens assembly. It's on whenever the projector's on – but can be permanently switched off once you start digging deep into the setup menus.
InFocus IN3116: image
Image quality is outstanding. Viewed from a distance of just 3m, you cannot see the pixel components of the picture - only a smooth, film-like rendering of video. At Normal brightness setting, you could use the IN3116 comfortably in daylight in a half-darkened room and still appreciate a usefully vivid picture.
Dim the light levels further, and you’re rewarded with an exceptionally rich and well-contrasted image with crisp definition. Focus was consistent across the width of the picture.
Our only quibble here was a hint of purple fringing, observed in certain high-contrast edges; but only when examined from close to the screen/wall.
Throughout our testing, we saw no distracting motion artefacts, and while the dreaded DLP rainbow flicker was present, it seemed lower than from our experience of older TI-licensed Digital Light Processing projectors.
Depending on your sensitivity to the effect, you may still see colour-wheel patterning in black/white contrast areas such as film credits.
Acoustic noise levels were not especially low, with two large fans venting through the projector’s right side. It’s quiet enough to talk over in the classroom or boardroom, and we even enjoyed a film or two, although we’d really rather it was several decibel quieter. For more permanent installations you could fasten it to the ceiling to move it further from ear level.
We tested predominantly through the projector’s (single) HDMI input, but to cover most real-world connection bases you’ll also find analogue composite video on an RCA phono socket, S-video on mini-DIN, as well as VGA D-Sub for old PCs.
The DisplayLink technology for USB has improved such that you can just about watch full-motion video now. We did find the colour and focus here were below the quality you’d see through true video inputs, and the overall framerate is lowered just enough to be annoying in film playback.
Still, it could be a handy backup for still images and simpler Keynote presentations, for example. Another USB port allows easy playback of files stored on a USB thumbdrive or hard disk.
The IN3116 takes a 280W metal-halide bulb, specified for 3000 hrs life, which currently costs around £200 to replace.