When you want something better than the so-so flat panel in your hotel room, a tiny projector like the new InFocus IN1118HD can have a bright sharp image up on the wall in moments. Thanks to a quality build and solid engineering, this projector performs beyond what you’d expect given that it’s smaller than many hardcover books.
InFocus IN1118HD Mini-DLP Projector
- Little but mighty with output over 100 foot Lamberts
- Full 1080p native resolution
- Single-chip DLP with 170-watt bulb
- Includes carrying case
- Accepts streamed content with built-in decoders
- Supports 3D content
While it’s always fun to review fancy home theater projectors with their vast calibration options and super-accurate color, it’s also cool to see displays that seek to fill a different niche in the front-projection market. Portable models are nothing new in these pages but today I’m checking out the smallest projector I’ve ever worked with – InFocus’ new IN1118HD.
Single-Chip DLP, 6-segment Color Wheel
Native Aspect Ratio:
1920 x 1080
1.15 – 1.5
30″ – 300″
15% Fixed Vertical
1 x HDMI, 1 x Composite, 1 x VGA, 1 x Analog Stereo Audio (3.5mm)
1 Stereo Audio (3.5mm)
3 x USB
Rated Lamp Life:
6,000 Hours Normal, 10,000 Hours ECO
3.1″ H x 8.8″ W x 7.3″ D
One Year, 6 Months Lamp
InFocus IN1118HD, InFocus, Mini-DLP Projector, Projector Reviews
You may have heard of the pico-projector category. This is not one of those pocket-sized machines. But at 3.5 pounds and in a chassis small enough to fit in the hand, it comes close. Picos are typically of the short-throw variety; designed to project a large image from a very short distance. In IN1118HD has a more typical throw distance making it more suitable for home use.
One might set it up on a coffee table and project an image on a white wall; or even a beige one using the appropriate picture mode. Travelers wanting to sit back with a movie in their hotel room can bring this little guy along in the included bag and create a movie-night experience in just a few minutes thanks to easy setup and compatibility with both video and computer sources.
Based in Portland, Oregon, InFocus makes projectors for just about any venue including home theater. The IN1118HD is the newest addition to their Ultra-Portable line and represents a neat solution for the business traveler. It can easily anchor a presentation during the day and provide relaxing entertainment after-hours. And if you’re a fan of 3D, it’ll do that too. Let’s take a look.
The IN1118HD is a 1080p-native single-chip DLP design. With 170 watts of lamp power, it will throw a bright image (over 100fL in Bright mode) onto a screen up to 300 inches wide. At only 3.5 pounds and less than nine inches in its longest dimension, it’s easier to carry around than most laptop computers. To that end, a nice semi-rigid carrying case is included in the box. Plus the chassis’ sides, top and bottom are made from cast aluminum rather than plastic. Not only does this aid heat dissipation, it better protects the internal components.
The lens is offset opposite a large grill that handles most of the projector’s ventilation needs. 170 watts means a hot bulb and since it’s packed into a small space, heat management is a challenge. One of the drawbacks of a compact design is that the fan must spin at a higher rate in order to move enough cooling air over the hot bits. That results in more noise than one would experience from a larger unit. There’s no free lunch but once the movie gets going, the fan becomes less noticeable.
To level the IN1118HD, InFocus provides a single extendable foot at the front-center plus screw-in feet at the back. If tilting the projector results in any image distortion, a handy auto-keystone feature brings things back to square. There is no lens shift so the unit must be set 15 percent either above or below the screen edge for a parallel installation. For optimal image quality this is the best-case scenario.
The projector can be set up using just the controls found on top. Over the lens are zoom and focus rings that move with smooth precision. The two adjustments interact which requires a bit of back-and-forth to get the image sharp and sized correctly. The control panel lets you select a source, navigate the menu and adjust the keystone manually.
The input panel seems sparse but there is at least one of everything you’ll need to connect AV or computer-based source components. The HDMI port is version 1.4a and supports frame-packed 3D content. There are three USB ports that can be used for material stored on thumb drives. The IN1118HD has internal decoders for many video, graphics and presentation file formats. If you need analog connectivity, VGA and composite jacks are provided.
The remote is tiny and not backlit but it works well for controlling the projector’s functions. There plenty of buttons that take you right to things like picture modes, keystone correction and the like. It definitely fits in the “little but mighty” category. I found it more powerful than many large wands I’ve used. It had no problem bouncing IR signals off the wall and ceiling as well as from the screen.
The IN1118HD is 3D-capable and supports the frame-sequential format. No glasses are included in the box but any DLP-link product can be used. InFocus sent me a pair of Xpand units which can be found online for around $50.
Like most portables, the IN1118HD has a streamlined menu system. You wouldn’t want something complicated to deal with when all one needs a quick setup. This OSD will get a good image up on the screen with a minimum of fuss.
The Basic menu appears when you press Menu on the remote or projector’s top control panel. Here you can adjust basic picture parameters and choose a viewing mode. Presentation is the default but I recommend User for all content. All the presets are adjustable but only User will retain its settings when you change the signal format or input resolution. If you’re forced to project on a beige wall, there’s a preset for that to compensate for the inevitable color shift. Auto Keystone is helpful when you can’t align the projector parallel with the screen. Just be aware that resolution will be reduced.
Selecting the Advanced menu brings up a two-point grayscale editor, gamma and color temp presets and a useful White Intensity control. It allows a six-level adjustment to light output and does not affect color. It’s not the same as a contrast slider, rather, it works like a manual iris. The only drawback to this approach is that black level does not change so reducing output also reduces contrast. I found a sweet spot at level 60.
The best gamma preset is Film which is also the default. You’ll want to adjust Brightness and Contrast on the previous screen using PLUGE patterns. That way gamma tracking becomes nice and flat and image depth and dynamic range are maximized. It’s also important to use RGB-format signals with the IN1118HD. 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 component content will clip significant black information (even above level 16) as well as anything above white level 235.
Hardware setup for me involved only a single HDMI connection. You can also view content from USB sticks if you wish. The IN1118HD’s firmware will decode most popular streaming codecs. In my case however, I stuck with good ‘ole fashioned Blu-rays for my viewing tests.
With the IN1118HD set up on a small stand just in front of my seating, I could see a bit of light leakage coming from the front ventilation grill. It was enough to shine a small highlight on the floor but the image was not affected. Obviously a ceiling mount would make the problem invisible but portables like this are more likely to be placed on a coffee table.
I’ve spoken about the advantages of DLP projectors in past reviews. Regardless of price point, a single-chip technology like this has a major advantage in image clarity because there are no convergence errors possible. DLP also renders smoother motion, especially in side-moving pans thanks to its lack of inherent motion blur.
I started with a digital feast for the eyes in the form of last summer’s Jurassic World. Aside from a bit of film grain added in post-production, this transfer is about as clean as it gets. Color showed a nice saturation without being overblown. Highlight and shadow detail was rendered properly and black levels took on more of a gray appearance. This is the only place the IN1118HD falls a little short.
It’s not going to match the dark-scene performance of an LCD or LCoS home theater projector but after watching for a while, I found other attributes which more than made up it. Not only is color very natural with clean transitions and no apparent edge enhancement, the brightest highlights pop out well without obscuring detail.
Even though I had peak output set at over 30 footLamberts, a balanced image meant there was no fatigue after several hours of movie-watching. Speaking of detail, both textures and patterns looked sharp regardless of where they appeared on the screen. There was no softness near the edges like some projectors I’ve seen.
To really test the IN1118HD’s color accuracy, I cued up my copy of Seabiscuit. This period film is shot entirely in the warmest and most lovely palette imaginable. It truly takes you back to the era of the Great Depression with gentle orange hues and naturally lush color. The all-important flesh tones were spot-on without the slightest hint of red push.
Given the benchmark results, I was most concerned for the red primary but it seems actual content doesn’t show a visible issue. This shows the greatest value comes from correct grayscale and gamma tracking; something this projector gets right.
Another superb test for accuracy is Ron Fricke’s Baraka. There is nothing altered from the original footage in this film. Only the colors seen by the camera make it into the transfer which is of reference quality. Not only did the IN1118HD show me more gorgeous hues, it managed to smooth out the slow-pan camera work which appears frequently. On LCD and LCoS-based displays, I usually see a bit of judder here but the speed of a DLP’s mirrors eliminate the artifact.
The IN1118HD supports the frame-sequential format found on 3D Blu-ray discs so I grabbed a couple of familiar titles to evaluate the projector’s chops in that genre. I’ve said before that DLP projectors are the best displays for showing 3D thanks to motion processing that’s inherently superior to LCD and LCoS. This InFocus continues to firmly support that statement. My only negative comment here is that there isn’t a separate picture mode available. All settings remain the same when switching over which means a unique 3D calibration is not possible.
I always enjoy watching the sweeping vistas and canyons portrayed in Grand Canyon Adventure. This is a classic IMAX film that’s filled with beautiful aerial photography as well as the warm and lush landscapes of Arizona and the Colorado River. On some displays I’ve seen ghosting in a few scenes but it’s not a universal constant. The InFocus measured almost no crosstalk in my tests and I didn’t see any here either.
What I noticed most was exceptional brightness and one of the deepest 3D presentations I’ve seen from any projector or flat panel. I really got the sense of being there, floating above the Grand Canyon as it stretched for miles beneath me.
It had been a while since I watched Avatar so that made a logical choice for inclusion in my review. To this day there is no better example of big-screen 3D than this film. James Cameron uses the technology to enhance the image in a way that seems completely natural and free from gimmickry.
The IN1118HD’s high brightness and excellent motion processing resulted in one of the best viewings I’ve had, handily fulfilling Cameron’s vision. Color held up nicely even in difficult-to-render night scenes. Thanks to the glasses’ reduction of light output, I saw better blacks than are possible in 2D. Overall brightness is a bit higher than the majority of displays I’ve tested.
All grayscale, gamma and chroma readings are taken from the projector’s lens using an X-Rite i1Pro with the diffuser attachment. Contrast tests are done with a Spectracal C6 tri-stimulus meter positioned at the lens axis and measuring from the screen at a 12-foot throw distance. This method provides an accurate picture of the contrast performance seen in a typical viewing environment.
My reference screen is a Stewart Filmscreen LuminEsse fixed-frame system configured with StudioTek 130 material. It has a gain of 1.3 and is 92 inches diagonal in size. Patterns come from an Accupel DVG-5000 signal generator and the whole procedure is controlled by CalMAN version 5. Color standards are Rec.709 with a white point of 6500 Kelvins. Gamma is compared to the BT.1886 spec or the 2.2 power function where appropriate.
The IN1118HD ships in its Presentation mode. This yields a bright image with a distinct blue cast. After measuring the other presets I determined that Video was the best mode to use if you don’t calibrate. The downside is that if you want to calibrate, only User will retain your new settings when you change signal format or resolution, or power down the projector.
Grayscale tracking here is quite good and not in much need of adjustment. Gamma however has room for improvement. The curve here will result in a bright picture lacking in depth. The IN1118HD doesn’t have super-high contrast so accurate gamma is important. There aren’t any presets available but proper adjustment of brightness and contrast along with the two-point white balance sliders might help the situation.
When fed an RGB-format signal, the IN1118HD will pass below-black and above-white information. That gives me some room for adjustment and it appears that has fixed the gamma problem. To accomplish this I set Brightness on 40 and Contrast on 44. I’ve also managed to reduce the grayscale error a little further though it was pretty good from the start. This is excellent performance.
Viewing a color bar pattern I could see that things didn’t look quite right. Red hits its target at 100-percent saturation but is quite a bit short of the mark at lower levels. Green is also under and a bit yellowish as well. Blue exhibits similar behavior leaning slightly towards cyan. This in turn throws off the secondary colors resulting in a palette that won’t render Rec.709 content with complete accuracy. Further compounding the issue are luminance levels that lack proper balance.
Without a color management system, not much can be done to improve color accuracy. The overall error level is pretty much unchanged but there are some small improvements in the gamut triangle. Most colors and saturations are nearer their targets and luminance levels are not as far off as before. The largest errors are at the 100-percent saturation mark. Calibrating the IN1118HD is still a worthwhile pursuit even though the gains are small.
There is no auto-iris to help increase contrast so you’re stuck with the projector’s native performance. That being said, the White Intensity slider can be used just like a manual iris to control output. The control only affects white level leaving blacks unchanged. Therefore, you can increase contrast by turning intensity up.
After calibration with White Intensity on 60, I recorded a white level of 31.8221fL, a black level of .0392fL and a contrast ratio of 811.4:1.
If you’re looking for maximum brightness, choose the Bright picture mode. There you’ll see a peak of 108.4024fL, a minimum of .1799fL and a 602.6:1 contrast ratio.
I tried setting White Intensity on level 20 which resulted in around 20fL output, ideal for my theater space. Unfortunately the image looked somewhat flat since there was no corresponding reduction in black level. At levels 60 and above, you’ll see IN1118HD’s full contrast potential.
In 3D mode I measured a peak white level of 7.0989fL, a black level of .0154fL and a contrast ratio of 460.7:1. This was with White Intensity on maximum. While blacks look fairly deep and the picture is bright, the lower contrast is noticeable. Thanks to a crosstalk result of .04% however, the IN1118HD presents one of the deepest 3D images I’ve ever seen.
The only way to achieve accurate gamma and see WTW/BTB signal information is to feed the projector an RGB signal. Component signals clip those levels and more besides on the black end. I couldn’t even see the level-20 and 25 bars on the Spears & Munsil PLUGE pattern. Additionally, there is a reduction in resolution with 4:2:2 format signals. Stick with RGB for best results.
Video processing is similar in quality to most projectors and televisions sold today. Deinterlacing for film sources is handled correctly but the 2:2 video test was a failure which is fairly common.
The IN1118HD isn’t the least-expensive portable projector out there but the price is justified by its clear sharp image, thoughtful engineering and solid build quality.
- Clear bright image
- Good color saturation
- Accurate gamma and grayscale
- Great build quality in a super-compact chassis
- Easy setup
- Excellent 3D
- More accurate color gamut and luminance
- Backlit remote
- Better handling of component signals
- Separate adjustable picture mode for 3D
There is very little to dislike about the IN1118HD. It makes no pretense towards the high-end. Instead, it provides only what’s needed. When you use a projector like this, you don’t want to spend time tweaking settings and it’s unlikely you’d want to spend time calibrating it. Once you unpack it from the bag, it’s more important to get a source connected and get a picture up on the wall or screen.
In a home setting however, it can be adjusted to a reasonably high standard. I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more attention to detail paid to color gamut accuracy, particularly the luminance levels which could benefit from better balance. But even without adjustment, grayscale tracks well and gamma isn’t too far behind. I was also impressed with the InFocus’ video processing.
Since it will often be paired with laptops or USB sticks, it’s up to the projector to properly handle different film and video cadences. These types of displays can’t always rely on home-theater-quality sources to do it for them. That being said, stick with RGB/progressive format signals for best results. And if you’re a fan of 3D material, few displays at any price point will show it better than this little guy. Not only is brightness higher than most, there is no crosstalk and the virtual stage is among the deepest I’ve seen.
While it is possible to spend a little less money on a portable projector, there aren’t many that are this well-built. Despite its small size and light weight, the IN1118HD feels solid and appears ready to withstand the rigors of many years of travel. Since it will rarely spend more than a few hours in one place, it’s important that it be able to handle being moved regularly.
If you need maximum performance in a compact form factor, the InFocus IN1118HD should be on your short list. Highly recommended.