The versatile, 2.75-pound InFocus IN1102 is a superior choice for a double-duty, lamp-based projector that delivers bright, colorful images both in large conference rooms and in cozy living rooms.
With its substantial light output of 2200 lumens, the IN1102 can deliver a viewable screen in rooms with considerable ambient light, without losing image quality. Its native 1280 by 800 (WXGA) resolution and wide aspect ratio make it a good match for displaying images from a MacBook, as well as for showing widescreen DVDs and HDTV. But you'll want to use another source for sound, since this projector's 1.0-watt mono speaker is barely audible.
In our image-quality tests, the IN1102 emerged with top scores in our motion and video tests. It also excelled at rendering sharp, legible text in all of the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents that we threw at it. In graphics tests it surpassed lower-scoring models in reproducing accurate shades of color, including blacker blacks and whiter whites. In DVD movie playback, it did a top-notch job displaying the high contrast, the muted colors, and the gritty details in a tunnel car chase in Quantum of Solace, and it accurately reproduced the garish, richly saturated hues in a cross-country road race in Speed Racer.
For projector-sharing by two presenters, the IN1102 can connect to two computers at the same time--provided that one computer has support for DisplayLink. The IN1102's connector panel includes both a standard VGA input (Mac users will need a VGA adapter) and a mini-USB input that supports DisplayLink technology (a mini-USB cable is included). DisplayLink works by taking information from the computer's graphics processor, compressing it, and sending it over the USB connection. DisplayLink isn't built into Mac OS X; you'll need to download DisplayLink drivers for the Mac and install them.
To test the DisplayLink functionality, we connected the IN1102 to a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro running Mac OS 10.5.8 (Leopard) and an iMac with Mac OS 10.6.1 (Snow Leopard) via USB. Both Macs used the 1.5b5 of the DisplayLink USB Graphics Macintosh Driver. The projector worked without a hitch, and we found that the IN1102 did well in displaying text and graphics images. But its motion performance during DVD playback was choppy at times; sticking to the projector's VGA or other video input sources is best for presenting moving images.
The IN1102's color-coded connection inputs make it a breeze to set up in an office or a home-entertainment room. In addition to its two computer video inputs, it has inputs for composite video, S-Video, and audio, but not for HDMI.
Both of the lens adjustments (zoom and focus) are conveniently located on top of the projector, and three adjustable feet are on the bottom. The well-labeled control panel and remote are easy to use for accessing the on-screen display and performing image adjustments. Both the panel and the remote include a welcome hot-button that provides instant access to seven preset picture modes (optimized for Presentation, Video, Bright, and so on), and the remote also provides page up/down control when you're using the DisplayLink connection.
One unique setup goodie: The IN1102 is bundled with an extralong (nearly 10-foot) power cord, which gives you more projector placement flexibility than you have with the shorter (6-foot) cables accompanying most portable projectors. A minor consideration, but one that veteran road warriors will appreciate.
The IN1102's replacement lamp doesn't come cheap ($325 for a 3000-hour bulb). But its two-year warranty (six months for the lamp) is good.
Macworld's buying advice
Considering its superior image quality and its general versatility as an all-purpose projector, the InFocus IN1102 is a little more expensive that other ultraportable projectors, but it's arguably worth the extra bucks.
[Richard Jantz is a freelance contributor.]