Last year, I vehemently implied that BenQ held the crown with their current HT1085ST projector, I was wowed with its punchy color, agreeable versatility, and excellent picture quality. It took only a few of Super Smash Bros. all-nighters encompassing eight and three-quarter feet (105” diagonal) of wall space to briefly overlook this higher-than-average asking price — however, money is still an object for most buyers.
InFocus, one of the few remaining and respectable American projector manufacturers also knows how lucrative the market is and didn’t waste an opportunity with the IN3138HDa. An amalgamation of business meets cinema that comes together, despite some unusual quirks sprinkled here and there.
At first glance, the IN3138HDa does appear to have a bit of an identity crisis on its hands; the black gloss body, purposeful control panel, zoom lens, and blue accented ring look consumer-friendly but the dimensions (10.3 x 11.2 x 4.8 inches, 6.9lbs) can’t hide its origins of TPS reports, spreadsheets, and Powerpoint presentations. Even the credit card-style remote is functional but anonymous like an accountant talking about financial trends and his golf swing during a luncheon.
Look around back though and you’re treated to a more accommodating array of two HDMI (MHL is on one), composite and S-Video, 3.5mm stereo input and output, RS232, and finally a 12V trigger. For the office, two VGA inputs along with output are present and a RJ45/LAN terminal that not only offers advanced remote management over a network, but even for multiple projectors which can be done over a PC but also controllers from AMX and Crestron — ideal for very customized system installations.
Things become more familiar with a single 10 watt speaker that produces a straightforward sound, but hardly remarkable as home theater acoustics goes. Fortunately there’s enough stability to keep treble at bay for intensified elements for films such as Godzilla and The Expendables 2.
Performance of the IN3138HDa is comparable to the BenQ HT1085ST I tested late last year, except that this boasts an extremely high default lumen count of 3200/4000 (eco/high) for theoretical unspoiled viewing during the day. But this assumption wasn’t entirely true as ambient sunlight still washed some of the picture, although you’ll still be able to enjoy The Steve Harvey Show just fine.
Color temperature exhibited a cooler tone that’s easily remedied and saturation was nearly on par with only minor adjustment in BrilliantColor and changing display modes, “Movie” was our basis for most of the testing but fine-tuning the picture through “User” mode is ideal. Despite using the latest DLP Dark Chip 3 from Texas Instruments, blacks and contrasts work in darker rooms but look crushed somewhat in dynamic scenes.
Obviously, stereoscopic 3D for Blu-ray, games, and PC content (Nvidia 3DTV Play) through DLP-Link works as good as other DLP projectors and looks great with the expect dimness of the active-shutter 144Hz glasses (but none are included). For input lag we observed 68 milliseconds over HDMI 1080/60p which are pretty average figures for today’s TVs and projectors, and acceptable for gaming purposes.
If the IN3138HDa is guilty of anything critical, is that this might one of the more stubborn projectors I’ve encountered for home theater integration. With a Pioneer VSX-1123-K AV Receiver hooked up we noticed that the IN3138HDa didn’t want to acknowledge already configured resolutions of 1080p, whether it was a PlayStation 4 or Wii U console where each source was recognized at 720p instead. This irregularity was solved when we manually adjust the video settings of both the projector and receiver; it’s a annoyance unless you intimately know your setup.
The IN3138HDa is a very good projector that holds a middle ground between quality and value, effectively undercutting the BenQ HT1085ST by a few hundred bucks which is my recent Editors’ Choice pick. This is undoubtedly a professional display loosely geared for the living room (it’s even considered a meeting room/classroom network projector on the InFocus website) with some unintended merits for serious installations. Although for the most effective versatility, you’ll probably have to put a little bit more effort into making it work seamlessly with a receiver and/or sound system.