InFocus X2 Digital Multimedia Projector review: InFocus X2 Digital Multimedia Projector

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MSRP: $2,399.00
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Excellent brightness and contrast; optical zoom lens; quick start-up; sharp focus; great online resources.

The Bad Huge and heavy; no mini audio input connector; uneven focus in spots; loud fan; manual shutdown procedure.

The Bottom Line The InFocus X2 is the projector to get when brightness and the ability to give a show with the lights on counts for everything.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Service and support 7.0

InFocus X2 projector

The InFocus X2 digital projector may not be the smallest, lightest, or least-expensive budget projector on the market, but it is one of the brightest, and it can pump out a lights-on presentation in most boardrooms. Based on a 0.55-inch Texas Instruments digital light processing engine, this SVGA projector is tops in the budget class for brightness, uniformity, and contrast, but it has a frustratingly uneven focus and a cumbersome shutdown routine. At about $900, the X2 puts out more light per dollar than any budget business projector, and the $300 replacement lamp is rated for 4,000 hours of low-power use, or a reasonable 7.5 cents per hour. The X2 could be a good choice for users who care more about power than portability.

The InFocus X2 is an anonymous-looking projector that stretches the bounds of portability. At 12.9 inches by 9.8 inches by 4.2 inches (DWH) and 6.8 pounds, the X2 is big for a portable projector, and it's nearly 2 pounds heavier than the Hitachi Performa CP-RS55 (check back for a review of the Hitachi projector). Add in the cables and the remote control, and you have a cumbersome 7.8-pound travel package, and the InFocus X2 doesn't come with a bag. The recessed lens can zoom in and out by 10 percent, but the focus and zoom adjustment rings are so close together that they're easily confused. Five feet from the screen, the projector can create a 39-inch diagonal image, which is on the small side compared to that of the Sharp PG-B10S or the Sony VPL-ES2 . Happily, for such a bright projector, it has minimal light leakage.

The projector works in 4:3 or 16:9 mode and has a variety of color-coded connectors for VGA-in and VGA-out, S-Video, and composite video, but the projector's audio connections are odd. The X2 has a miniplug output and stereo RCA inputs, but not the more convenient miniplug input. The projector does come with an adapter for connecting a notebook's audio to the projector's 2.5-watt speaker, but those little adapter bits are easy to lose. The miniplug input would be a better feature. It does have a unique 12-volt output for powering a motorized screen, but this feature is more trouble than it's worth for most users, because the motorized screens tend to be complicated to set up and use. The projector comes with a variety of cables, including a handy combination VGA-USB cable.

Getting the X2 started is a surprisingly quick task. The image appears in only 22 seconds, but it takes another 15 seconds for the projector to build to full brightness. The unit's 12-button control panel is oddly designed--it's missing a power button--and isn't intuitive. There's a separate on/off switch below, but you'll need to use the remote control for proper shutdown, then turn the fan off manually when the projector has cooled down. While we like the remote control's ability to navigate a PowerPoint show, make the screen go blank for quick notebook changes, and call up a variety of special effects, the unit lacks a laser pointer, an indispensable tool for giving presentations, so you'll have to juggle yet another tool. Changing the lamp takes a couple of minutes and involves snapping open a hatch, removing two bolts, and extracting the module by pulling on its power cable.

The CNET Labs' business projector tests show that performance is the X2's strong suit with 1,776 lumens of brightness, a phenomenal 97 percent uniformity, and a 516:1 contrast ratio, meaning that whites are white and blacks are black. Unfortunately, the projector's color balance isn't as satisfying, particularly its greens, which look a bit yellowish. The image was always rock solid without any flicker, ghosting, or streaking, but full-motion video appeared somewhat jumpy. The X2's exceptional ability to display sharp type makes for a good PowerPoint machine, but the focus is maddeningly uneven, with a soft spot in the upper-left corner. Be warned: this is one loud projector--loud enough to drown out normal conversations held next to the projector--but its low-power mode can quiet it a little. Although its output drops to 1,432 lumens in low-power mode, it still outshines the brightness of its competitors' full-power modes.

InFocus backs the projector with a two-year international warranty--a step down from Sharp's three-year policy. The lamp is covered for only 90 days or 500 hours of use, which is par for the course. The company's Web site is a treat for novice and expert presenters alike, with courses on making presentations, PowerPoint templates, glossaries, and projection calculators. There's also a series of how-to guides for different connections, FAQs, manuals, and software downloads. To get personal attention, you can call InFocus's free, toll-free hotline (available 24/7 for the life of the product), go to the company's online chat room, or use the site's e-mail link, but only if you register the machine.

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