The InFocus IN3138HDa ($999) delivers a balance of resolution, brightness, weight, and price that you won’t find in many business projectors. Built around a 1,920-by-1,080 DLP engine, it’s suitable for showing lots of information onscreen at once or showing images with fine detail. Beyond that, it offers a 4,000-lumen rating and weighs only 6 pounds 14 ounces. If you need a high-resolution business projector that’s bright enough for a midsize room, light enough to carry with you, or both, its particular combination of features makes it worth serious consideration.
The IN3138HDa isn’t as light as portable projectors with lower resolutions–or as small, at 4.8 by 11.2 by 10.3 inches (HWD). It also isn’t the least expensive 1080p business projector. The BenQ MH630 costs less, for example. However, the InFocus model is both unusually light for its brightness level and resolution, and it’s a near bargain as well.
Most 1080p models that are bright enough for midsize rooms, including the Panasonic PT-RZ370U, which is our Editors’ Choice high-resolution data projector, are meant strictly for permanent installation or a cart. They tend to be loaded with convenience features, like lens shift, that translate to high prices and heavy weights. The IN3138HDa leaves those kinds of extras out. It’s still suitable for permanent home theater installation, but it’s also light enough to bring with you.
According to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommendations, and assuming a 1.0-gain screen, 4,000 lumens should make the IN3138HDa bright enough in theater-dark lighting for a 250- to 335-inch image (measured diagonally). In moderate ambient light, the appropriate size would drop to about 165 inches.
As with almost all DLP projectors, these numbers should be treated strictly as a point of reference, because the IN3138HDa has a significantly lower color brightness than white brightness. The difference can affect both color quality and the brightness of color images. (For more on color brightness, see Color Brightness: What It Is, Why it matters.) As a subjective matter, I found a 92-inch (diagonal) image too bright for comfortable viewing with the IN3138HDa in my tests, even in moderate ambient light, but had no trouble finding a lower brightness setting that was appropriate for the image size and ambient light level.
Setup, Image Quality, and Audio
Setting up the IN3138HDa is standard fare, with a manual focus and a manual 1.5X zoom, which gives you a lot more flexibility than you have many models for how far the projector can be from the screen for a given size image.
Connectors for image sources include two HDMI for a computer or video source, two VGA for a computer or component video, plus S-Video and composite video ports. Both HDMI ports offer full 1.4a support, so you can connect directly to a Blu-ray player or other video source for 3D, as well as 2D, content. One is MHL enabled as well. There’s also a LAN port, but that’s strictly for controlling the projector over a network.
See How We Test Projectors
On our standard suite of DisplayMate tests, the IN3138HDa showed only minor problems. Colors were nicely saturated in all preset modes, but a little dull overall. Yellow in particular was a little dark in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness color model in most modes, and a little on the green side in some.
Largely making up for any color quality issues is the fact that that the projector did an excellent job holding fine detail in testing. This is generally more important than color quality for data images, and particularly important for applications that need high resolution. White text on black, for example, was crisp and readable in my tests at sizes as small as 6 points, and black text on white was readable at sizes as small as 4.5 points.
Video quality is good enough to be watchable for short clips, which is better than some DLP projectors can manage. Here again, colors are a little dull, but the real problem is rainbow artifacts–the red-green-blue flashes that are a potential problem for any single-chip DLP projector. I saw few enough of these artifacts with static data images that it’s unlikely that anyone would find them annoying. With full-motion video, however, anyone who sees them easily, as I do, is likely to find them bothersome for sessions lasting more than a few minutes.
The audio system, with a 10-watt mono speaker, is loud enough for a small conference room and acceptable for spoken words, but it would be an exaggeration to call it good. I was able to make out every word in one of our more demanding test clips, despite a slight bottom-of-the-barrel echo effect, but music in a title sequence was badly distorted. For good-quality sound or higher volume, you’ll need to connect an external sound system to the stereo audio output.
If you need top-quality, high-resolution images, including top-tier color quality, for a permanent installation, be sure to consider the Editors’ Choice Panasonic PT-RZ370U and the Canon REALiS SX80 Mark II, another top pick. If price or portability matters more, and you don’t need a projector that’s quite as bright as the InFocus IN3138HDa, you might also want to take a look BenQ MH630. But if price or portability is a key consideration, and you need a high-resolution projector that’s bright enough for a midsize room, the IN3138HDa is a strong contender.