Which projector is right for your school? Let EdTech’s reviewer help you decide.
InFocus IN36 projector
The InFocus IN36 provides big performance in a small package. Weighing in at just more than five pounds and measuring only 2.9 x 8.6 x 10.4 inches, this projector will meet the needs of the user on the go, but also deliver the goods in most classrooms. The IN36 has an aspect ratio of 4:3 with a native XGA resolution of 1024 x 768. It has 3000 lumens at normal mode and 2400 ANSI at econ mode with a contrast ratio of 1000:1, which gives the lens about a 2,000-hour life. The IN36 has a price tag of $1,399 and a two-year warranty.
The first thing I noticed about the IN36 was its size and weight. This projector is very small for a nice digital laser projector (DLP) unit, a huge plus for mobile users. Powering the IN36 up and displaying the screen took about 15 seconds to achieve full brightness, quicker by a few seconds than the Toshiba TLP-X3000U. This projector’s normal mode is bright enough to be used with the lights on and the window blinds up, which is great for the classroom. One huge advantage the IN36 has over the TLP-X3000U is the option for DVI and RGB computer connections. While most notebooks do not have a DVI output, InFocus includes a DVI-to-RGB cable. Those with newer notebooks will have to purchase a DVI-to-DVI cable. InFocus’ cable also has a USB plug for remote- control support. My notebook found and installed this automatically, and I was able to use the controls easily. The remote has six buttons, far fewer than the TLP-X3000U remote, but I was able to use the remote from every angle of the room, unlike with the TLP-X3000U, which needs direct line of sight.
The color was rich on the IN36, and the blacks were extremely dark. Colors were more vibrant, compared with the TLP-X3000U. Pictures were amazing to view on this projector, and it handled movies from a DVD player without a hitch. The menu system on the IN36 is easy to use but lacking some information Toshiba’s menu includes, such as current settings for brightness, contrast and color. Text is clear and readable but not as crisp as the TLP-X3000U. Smaller text is hard to read on the unit, but as the font size increases, so does the sharpness. Fonts larger than 12 point were the most clear. The IN36 has a few more buttons on the top of the projector than the TLP-X3000U, allowing quick adjustments during a class or presentation. Also, the size of the IN36 really gears it toward the user who needs to move it from room to room.
This projector has no automatic keystone correction option. The keystone works fine, but I find Toshiba’s one-button option much simpler. Like most projectors, this model does not have the best speakers. While they are superior to a notebook’s speakers, they aren’t sufficient to play back most media. The IN36 does not feel as physically solid as the TLP-X3000U. Another missing factor is the lack of network support via wired or wireless. These days, users expect to be able to connect to an existing network for management and control. One last thing I did not like about the IN36 is the noise from the fan and the amount of heat. This is probably due to the small size of the projector. I worry that this heat may lower the life of the projector and force the bulb to burn out quickly.
CDW•G price: $1,399
Toshiba TLP-X3000U projector
- Resolution: XGA
- Maximum Brightness: 3000 ANSI lumens
- Display Technology: LCD
- Dimensions: 3.6 x 9.7 x 11.3 inches
- Weight: 6.2 pounds
Out of the box, the Toshiba TLP-X3000U is an attractive projector. The black-and-silver finish with the stainless-steel buttons on top really stands out. Weighing in at just more than six pounds, this model is designed for the mobile user. The TLP-X3000U has an aspect ratio of 4:3, native resolution of XGA 1024 x 768, projection screen size from 33 inches to 300 inches, and a contrast ratio of 400:1. The brightness is 3000 ANSI lumens, and it has a lamp life of 2,000 hours in normal mode and 3,000 hours in low/econ mode. This projector has one RCA input for audio and video, two RGB inputs for computer signal, and one ministereo 3.5mm plug for audio. The TLP-X3000U can handle digital television formats up to 1080i, and it uses a 0.7-inch DLP lens.
Getting started with the TLP-X3000U is simple. Startup takes 15 seconds to be able to read the screen and 25 seconds for full brightness. The TLP-X3000U has a bright enough display to use in a room without dimming the lights. With the lights off, the economy mode is better. Keystone correction works well. I was able to perform the keystone correction with two button presses, and it took five seconds. Without having to look at the manual, I was able to make all of the small adjustments in just seconds, a great perk for those who are less technically oriented. The TLP-X3000U’s contrast is crisp, and I had to make few adjustments to achieve dark blacks. I plugged my Xbox 360 into the RGB port, watched the movie Serenity and was surprised at the picture quality, especially with the unit’s 4:3 aspect ratio.
The TLP-X3000U is an ideal projector for schools. Its sharpness is outstanding and text shows up perfectly, even when displaying a full page. I created a few PowerPoint slides with text and images, and they were easy to read. Navigating the menu is simple, and the unit shows exactly what changes you have made. The TLP-X3000U comes with a remote and a USB remote mouse receiver so you can use the remote to control your computer. This is great for advancing PowerPoint presentations but can be a pain when trying to perform day-to-day computer tasks. The USB receiver worked without the need to install any drivers on my Vista notebook. Because the remote uses infrared, you must have direct line of sight between the remote and the USB receiver. The fan is surprisingly quiet for the unit’s size, quieter than the IN36. A decent carrying case and two-year warranty come with the projector.
There are only a few negatives to this great projector. First is the lack of widescreen aspect ratio. I know that most business-class projectors do not have this, but because the projector can handle the high-definition TV resolutions of 1080i and 720p, it would be great to include the proper aspect ratio. The unit’s speakers are poor, and I wouldn’t suggest using them as your primary sound source in a large room. The lack of some sort of network access via either wired or wireless is a drawback. The appeal of this unit is somewhat limited, given that you can buy a 1080p, 42-inch LCD for the same price. Most rooms can’t take advantage of this unit’s 300-inch picture.
CDW•G price: $1,296