InFocus IN126STa review
Whether in a classroom or a meeting-room, being able to project a large and clear image is one of the key requirements in creating a big impression. With that in mind, a short-throw lens projector can be a brilliant solution for modest classrooms and cramped offices.
Models like this InFocus IN126STa can cast a much larger picture while positioned only a small distance from the wall, so you won't be stuck with a small image when you lack space to get optimum screen size.
With a throw ratio of 0.52, the InFocus IN126STa can project a 100-inch image while positioned just 1.1 m from the screen. In contrast, its more standard brother, the IN126a, needs a minimum of 3.2 m in order to create the same image. Meanwhile the IN126STa can get close to projecting a 300 inch-wide image from that distance. So, on paper at least, the IN126STa is a great choice for projecting in confined spaces. But is it actually any good?
It's hardly the most elegant projector to look at. With its relatively blocky casing, it's almost as though this projector has fallen out of a time warp. At 3.7 kg, it can be lugged from one room to another, but it's hardly the lightest of projectors – if you need a model you can carry over significant distances, this clearly won't be your choice.
InFocus IN126STa review: brightness
The 3300 ANSI lumen brightness rating is decent, if just below the 3500 ANSI lumen of the regualr IN126a. It's notable, though, that the NEC M352WS - which, like the 126STa, has a short-throw lens - advertises 3500 ANSI lument as well.
In truth, those extra 200 ANSI lumen are unlikely to make much of a difference, and 3300 will be enough for this model to create a clear image even in a relatively light room.
The 1280 x 800-pixel (WXGA) native resolution support is perfectly adequate for the business user. So you can't get full-HD resolution from this model, but that is partly reflected in its lower price.
LAN networking is offered as standard, and for around £30 extra you can add Wi-Fi networking as well. This opens up the connectivity options, allowing the projector to draw source material from services like DropBox, or from mobile phones. Even in standard trim the projector can use content which has been stored on USB devices, or written into the 2 GB of internal storage.
Interactive features can be added through the optional LiteBoard Adapter, and it's also possible to get a LiteBoard Wand, effectively a pointing stick that is designed to let you draw on the projected image itself.
The Wand is currently difficult to find in the UK, but has potential to be a very flexible and useful aid during classes or presentations.
You can achieve many of the same aids, if in a rather less slick fashion, by using the free EZ Display app to add multi-colour annotations to your documents. Like most projectors now, stereoscopic 3D images can be viewed after the purchase of suitable glasses.
InFocus IN126STa review: value
The InFocus IN126STa is a cheaper model than the NEC M352WS we tested recently. Unsurprisingly, then, the image quality isn't quite as good. It makes a strong job of displaying text and figures, although its colour scheme is a little pale when projecting high-detail video. The picture wasn't totally smooth, and there were signs of flicker.
And this being a budget DLP projector, there was more evidence of the rainbow effect than on more expensive models.
For classroom and business work, the rainbow effect is less likely to be annoying than when watching a film, but it's a mark against it if you're thinking of using the projector for lots of videos, though.
For the money, this is a very proficient projector. The short-throw lens is useful, the brightness level sufficient for daylight conditions, and the features are good - with some excellent options available that can turn it into a very powerful device. If you want better quality, and a marginally bigger image, the NEC W352WS is the superior buy. But then, that model will set you back around £200 more. At this price-point, the InFocus takes some beating as a short-throw lens business projector.