LP350 10/10. Date Posted 27/08/2002.
When most people think
of projectors, they either think of film projectors, like those in the
cinema, or CRT projectors. CRT projectors create a brilliant picture,
by using three bulbs, one for red light, green light and the other for
blue light. The main problem with CRT projectors is that they are not
only expensive but very heavy and therefore are impractical for portable
LCD projectors were
until recently the only alternative to CRT projectors. They were alot
cheaper, using only a single bulb and lighter. However, the quality difference
between an average CRT projector and a LCD projector was markable. The
Infocus LP350 uses new technology developed by Texas Instruments, DLP.
In many cinemas, when digital films are projected (like Toy Story) DLP
projectors are being used (albeit ones rather more expensive than the
LP350). The first thing that strikes you about the LP350 is how small
it is in comparison to a CRT projector - I thought the courier had made
a mistake when he delivered a parcel so small, I thought could not possibly
be a projector. The new LP130, is even smaller! At three and half thousand
pounds the LP350 is not cheap when compared to a television but by projector
standards it is mid-range and is actually quite good value. You also have
to take into account the cost of the bulb, which is several hundred pounds.
The bulb lasts for 2000 hours, and the projector has a "hour usage"
function which lets you know exactly how long you've been using the projector.
It also warns you after 2000 hours to change the bulb. At 2050 hours it
will stop working, until the bulb is changed.
The Infocus LP350
is easy to set up. All you need is a large wall, a video source and some
way for closing off the light from the outdoors. Then you need to focus
it and adjust the zoom for the picture to fit the wall. It has several
inputs, composite video, S-Video, audio-in (to use its inbuilt speaker,
which is no substitute for a speaker system), analog computer graphics
input and DVI input (which is a digital input which can be connected to
many newer graphics cards and can accept HDTV input). For American users
HDTV is now a reality so this is perfect for you! This digital input means
that this is basically a future proof machine.
The S-Video input
is the best to use for video (since it offers better quality than the
composite input). It would have been nice to have several S-Video inputs,
to connect several video sources at once. As it is you'll need to connect
your DVD and Sat. box to a video and then connect it to the projector.
The video can also act as a tuner to watch television through. Provided
you have a good quality video recorder with its own S-Video inputs, the
quality difference between connecting a DVD direct to the projector or
through the video is virtually identical. The picture quality is outstanding
and the brightness (1300 lumens) is more than enough for nearly all users.
In fact the quality is almost too good, because it shows up all the imperfections
of your source, but not so much that you are distracted by it. It also
has a sharpness setting if you wish to blur the image slightly. Watching
digital sources like DVD and digital sat, it is perfect, even when the
picture is several feet across, so if you buy this, it is well worth upgrading
to a digital sat, DVD and D-VHS recorder! Strangely when watching VHS
tape, the picture is as good as an ordinary analogue signal, since the
lower quality of the VHS tape, seems to smooth out the imperfections -
however, it is no way as good as digital. It can also handle computer
sources to. The picture through the analog computer input is outstanding
and is rock steady (ideal for presentations through Powerpoint), which
suggests the DVI input would have been even better. Unfortunately I was
unable to test the DVI input, because I did not have the cable. You can
also control the computer mouse, through the Infocus remote control, which
would be ideal for presentations.
The menu system which
controls the settings, such as brightness is very easy to use. It can
be accessed either through the buttons directly on the projector or through
the remote. It also gives you several size options for the picture, which
can change the pictures dimensions to widescreen, native or standard etc.
The zoom on the lens can enlarge the picture further. I found that I had
to change these settings, whenever I changed sources. Over the few weeks
that I had the projector, it proved to be reliable, it took about two
minutes to reach full brightness, and never cut out or slightly went out
of sync. In order to preserve the bulb life, the LP350 should be put in
standby mode for ten minutes, for the bulb to cool, before being switched
off. The fan is noisy, but is very effective in cooling the projector.
It must be noted that the LP350 needs at least 60 cm clearence between
it and the wall for the fan to function effectively.
Put simply, this projector
is great. It is small enough to be stowed away when not in use, and you
have the added bonus of being able to use it for work (presentations).
Many other projectors struggle to handle data and video effectively. This
projector handles both equally as well.