InFocus LP650

  • Editors' rating
    7.8 Very good

Pros

  • High brightness
  • wide range of inputs.

Cons

  • Expensive
  • network management requires proprietary software.

InFocus has been producing business projectors for a long time now, and is known for high-quality and occasionally innovative products. Although the LP650's optical specification is respectable, it's not amazing. However, in line with the company's business focus, this is a network-connected, controllable and manageable projector that's designed primarily for the corporate meeting room. It's just a shame that it requires some proprietary software to achieve this.

The LP650 is a DLP-based projector featuring Faroudja de-interlacing, which is supposed to improve the image quality when using an interlaced image source such as a DVD movie. Although the specifications are perfectly respectable, this isn't a particularly leading-edge projector. Its native resolution of 1,024 x 768 and contrast ratio of 800:1 have been available for a while, and don't set the LP650 apart. The brightness of 2,500 ANSI Lumens is more of a differentiator, and we've not seen many projectors this bright -- it also manages this without being too noisy (InFocus claims a noise level of 34dB, and the LP650 is certainly no louder than a desktop PC).

Being DLP-based, the LP650's image quality is sharp and there's no 'screen door' effect as seen in many LCD projectors. There's no perceptible fringing in normal use either, although the LP650 appears to use a standard colour wheel rather than one tailored to movies like we've seen on some home cinema projectors. The zoom ratio of 1.4:1 is a bit higher than normal, adding to this projector's versatility.

Although it's by no means an ultraportable projector, the LP650 is movable at 4.5kg and 11cm by 35cm by 32.5cm, and even includes a carrying handle. You get a custom carrying case with a moulded insert for the supplied power, VGA and video cables. Colour-coded Velcro wraps for each cable are also supplied.

The LP650's main input is a DVI-like connector that carries digital and analogue inputs, in addition to the USB connection for the projector. A special cable breaks out the video and USB connection -- a standard DVI cable won't fit the connector on the projector. Other inputs include a VGA port, component video, S-Video and composite video. There's a monitor-out VGA port, and an audio output that duplicates the selected input.

In addition to the signal inputs, there's the aforementioned USB connection, which allows you to use the LP650's remote control as a pointing device for the PC to which it's attached. Further connections are a serial port and a 10Mbps Ethernet port. The serial port can be used with terminal emulation software, or a custom application, to control the LP650's settings -- for example, when it's used as part of a multi-projector installation.

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The inclusion of a network interface on a projector is rare, but makes perfect sense now that networks are ubiquitous in most companies. Or rather, it would do if InFocus had chosen to make it more useful. You can manage the LP650 over a network, but you have to use a proprietary software suite, called ProjectorNet, to do so. There's no Web interface, and you can't use a standard protocol such as SNMP. Even with ProjectorNet, you can only manage the projector settings; you can't send content over the network to be projected. Furthermore, ProjectorNet is a complex client-server application that uses a central database to manage all the projectors in your installation, with a separate client application being used to alter individual or collective settings.

The LP650 is a perfectly good general-purpose projector, which has plenty of brightness and contrast to cope with a wide range of venues and light levels. It's relatively quiet, and the variety of inputs means you can use it with just about any image source. This versatility doesn't come cheap, though, with a list price of £2,835 (ex. VAT).

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