Display devices: InFocus sheds new light on ease-of-use issues for projectors

InFocus LP640

Company: InFocus Corp., Wilsonville, Ore., www.infocus.com.

Nutshell: LCD projector; diagonal image of 40 inches to more than 25 feet; contrast ratio 400:1; dimensions 11.6 by 10.3 by 4.1 inches; weight 7.5 pounds.

Price: $2,699.

Why it won: Combines high-quality display technology and quiet performance with innovative ease-of-use features.

The InFocus LP640 includes a display that gives your the projector's status, including a countdown to when it will be warmed up and ready.

Henrik G. de Gyor

Everything about the InFocus LP640 is designed to simplify presentations for the user. InFocus Corp. officials joke that the LCD projector was designed by the user.

But this unit packs so many intuitive features, many of which were noted as necessary in previous GCN Lab roundups, that the proof of their marketing statement is obvious.

The LP640 is an LCD projector designed for conference room use. With its 2,200 lumens, you can project an image under almost any lighting conditions. If you don't, or can't, turn the lights out in the conference room you will still have a readable image on your screen or wall.

Even sunlight does not affect so bright an image, at least not to the extent that it becomes unreadable. And while it's functional in less than perfect conditions, the LP640 really shines in a properly darkened room.

One of the biggest problems with LCD projectors is that many of their functions are hidden. People generally know, for example, that the bulb needs to cool before unplugging the unit but have no idea how long to wait.

InFocus handles this problem on the LP640 with the addition of an LCD display that shows what the projector is doing. When you turn it on, it tells you the projector is warming up and shows a second-by-second countdown to when the unit will be ready. The same thing happens when you shut down or work with any other function. And it can do it in 12 languages.

'When we designed the LP640, we wanted to create a business projector that was more intuitive and tailored to the end user than ever before, so we asked the people who know best'our customers,' said InFocus product manager Benjamin Joy.

Setup of the unit is also a breeze. Since it can sense automatically if the horizontal or vertical keystone is off and adjust the image accordingly, you will no longer have to use books and magazines as extra feet to straighten your screen orientation.

Another nice feature of the LP640 is that it supports LiteShow, a program that lets presenters send information to the projector wirelessly over a secure connection.

A program called ProjectorManager can freeze the screen on command, which lets presenters edit out last-minute errors without the audience even knowing that changes are being made. This means presenters need not turn the projector off to quickly fix a mistake or make a modification.

The LP640 is surprisingly quiet for its size. Audio dampening devices have been added to the projector, which make it difficult to hear the cooling fans inside. Airflow is unimpeded, however, which helps maintain long bulb life.

An indication of the LP640's cutting-edge quality is that its improvements won't be unique for long. The company says the new features in the vanguard LP640 projector will become standard for its entire lineup.

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