Hands-On Review: InFocus X1

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InFocus Corp., (800) 294-6400, www.infocus.com

Over the last few years, projectors from companies like InFocus have found their way into many classrooms. The trend started at universities, but has now made its way into many K-12 schools as well. And the low-priced, feature-rich InFocus X1 projector will make sure that this trend continues.

The X1 is quite small at 9.8" (W) x 12.5" (L) x 4.2" (H) and 6.8 lbs., but it is not tiny. It offers a fairly standard (for education) SVGA resolution, and is rated at 1,000 ANSI lumens in presentation mode and 700 lumens in video mode, so the lights will have to be dimmed in larger classrooms. Set up was easy, and all of the cables needed were included with the projector. I had the unit operating in less than 10 minutes; most of that time was rebooting Windows. All necessary drivers are bundled with Windows, so the X1 is automatically detected and configured when you reboot. I never needed a disk to use the X1, making moving it between computers fairly easy.

When tested using a medium-sized classroom, the image sharpness was very good. The colors were slightly off, but this is typical for a projector. For projecting VCR and DVD video, the X1 can be configured for either a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, but you must manually switch between them. In addition to the monitor input, there are connectors for S-Video and, with an adapter, component video. The X1 also has onboard 2.5-watt speakers, giving it some built-in audio capabilities.

One significant drawback is the way the unit connects to a desktop computer. The X1 monitor cable plugs directly into the computer video card, forcing the monitor to plug into the X1. This requires that the X1 be on to use the monitor. This is, of course, not a problem with a notebook computer where the X1 simply connects to the video-out port without affecting the LCD screen.

InFocus bundles the X1 projector for the educational market with a VCR and DVD player for $999. The addition of a $999 notebook computer or a $699 desktop computer gives you a complete, ready-to-use classroom video station. You could also put the complete station on a rolling cart, or mount the X1 to the ceiling and connect it to a desktop computer to create the beginning of a smart classroom for under $2,000. - R. Richardson

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2003 issue of THE Journal.

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