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Locus L300 / iKon IK-900 projector review

March 6, 2017

First thing's first.

I would like to thank Vlad from Mississauga. He is the poor victim of this transaction. He purchased this projector and screen from "a black GMC van" in a parking lot. I would like to thank him primarily for not passing his bad fortune on to the next guy by trying to recoup his loss. Instead he offered the projector and screen on kijiji for a paltry $20.00 and I was the person lucky enough to get it. And so, for that, I thank him.

Now I don't refer to myself as lucky " just" because I got a projector for $20, but because I have been curious about this particular scam for a while. I was however not curious enough to actually purchase one for the ridiculous prices being asked online.

If you look... Virtually everyone out there will find posts telling them that these projectors are a scam. But almost none of them have actually seen the projectors.

For those of you not familiar with this scam, it is very simple. Someone is getting cheap LED projectors and packaging them in pretty boxes with absolutely unreal specifications written on the box and selling them (either online or from the back of a van in a parking lot) at a "substantial discount" from the MSRP on the box which is (depending on the model) usually well in excess of $5000 (yes I counted the zeros correctly). Many lost souls believe what they see on the box or check the web quickly to find the "manufacturer's web site" which verifies the information and they purchase these projectors for far in excess of their actual value. Most people feel ripped off (as they should) and some (who have never owned a real projector) are relatively happy with their purchase.

This is an adaptation of the age old "white van speaker scam". The old scam was to get your attention in a parking lot (usually near an ATM) and try to sell you a set of speakers that were "overstock" or "shipped by accident" or some other such reason for these speakers to be available at a fraction of what you're supposed to think they are worth. In the years since, the scam has been expanded to include home sound systems and projectors. Generally they sell you complete junk for much more than it is worth by pretending that its much better quality than it actually is.

Before last halloween, I spent some time looking for cheap projectors and in my many searches came across these scam projectors many times (never at a reasonable cost). The marked specs made it VERY clear to me that the claims were false. (if you could get 7000 lumens from an LED small enough to fit in a mini projector, literally no one would be manufacturing them with metal halide lamps or ultra-high pressure mercury vapor lamps. What I wasn't sure of was just "how cheap" they were and , of course, I wasn't about to spend hundreds of dollars to find out (especially when the distributor is clearly willing to outright lie about the specs).

The particular projector I got from Vlad was the Locus L300 which is visually identical to the Ikon IK-900. Both projectors have the exact same description on their individual websites. The only significant difference being the Locus version's MSRP is $5896 and the Ikon version is $6849. I am virtually certain, that before Ikon, these were sold as Axion and Alumen Projectors and elsewhere probably under a multitude of other names.

And ok, even a JUNK projector is worth more than the $20 Vlad sold this for. The projector sceeen which came with it is worth more than $20. But this great fortune for me, allows me to finally get a first hand look at this projector (I'll assume the other models are similar internals with different cases to give the illusion of greater value). So first. The claims on the box.

Locus L300
Android Smart Projector
3D Optimized Light Engine
Full HDMI - 1920 x 1080
High Definition Multimedia Interface
Professional Use for HDTV Theatre

Tech Specs:

Display Technology

Projector system:LED Lamp (5" LCD panel)
Resolution: Full 1080P
Digital HDMI Projector
Projection Size:60" × 300"
Projection Distance 1.5m - 4.5m
1-Chip 1.0″ HDTV Resolution Ready
Focus 22.5-185.00mm
Color : Full Color 16.7million
Brightness Uniformity > 97% of total Screen
Brightness:7200 Lumens
Aspect Ratios: Widescreen and Standard

Special Features

Download millions of apps
Browse The Web
Wireless connections
Advanced Picture in Picture with Digital Video
Noise Reduction
25dB Ultra Quiet Fan
Advanced & Manual Zoom
Source & PIP Processing through PC or MAC

Lamp

250 Watt Ultra Bright Lamp
Color Temperature 9000K
Lamps Power: 250W/40,000 Hours

Contrast Ratio 100,000:1

Lens Shift Range

Max vertical shift from 25% - + 150%
optical lens: +/- 15%

Other Features

Advanced Projector Noise Reduction in 5BMI
Full Featured Wireless IR Remote Control
Easy Installation for business and home

Input Terminals

1x Audio in
1x VGA High Definition
1x Component Video
2x HDMI
2x Multimedia Inputs

Accessories

Ceiling Mount
Wireless IR Remote Control
Composite Video Cable
HDMI cable
lens cloth
5 AMP fuse

In addition to this, the box comes with all kinds of quality assurance emblems from companies which you have never heard of (probably because they don't exist). What's not on the box is UL or CSA safety certification. There is also no UPC (although there is a bar code that you might mistake for one). Without a UPC, you can be relatively sure that this product was never manufactured for legitimate retail sale in North America. But the box is pretty and the claims are intriguing.

I opened the box and was actually surprised at the size. It is larger than I had expected. From the pictures, it looked like many LED projectors I have seen (and a couple I own) which are perhaps 8-10 inches across. This one is about 14" (w) x 12" (d) x 5" (h). I suppose, though, that this aids the illusion that the purchaser is getting a "Professional" product.


The package did in fact contain a ceiling mount (a universal mount) along with the cords, remote, fuse, and batteries I did not see a lense cloth, but it's just as likely Vlad dropped it while unpacking as that it wasn't included. It includes a "warranty" card which is virtually useless given that it contains no way to contact the company and requires you to have a receipt from an "approved supplier", and we all know there are no approved suppliers.

Along with all of the other stuff is a manual.The manual is oddly a reasonably good basic manual. It contained no information on the company in regard to warranty claims (not that I expected it to). The manual also contained literally no hardware specifications and so it is likely that the manufacturer of these units is not the one perpetrating the fraud.

Now, after having looked at the unit and read through the manual I would guess this to be "functionally" comparable to a number of "smart" projectors available on ebay for roughly $150 - $200, but again I haven't plugged it in yet. Why you might ask? No. I'm not afraid of the electrical certification (or lack thereof). It's that it's VERY cold out today and Vlad had this stored in his car trunk, so I assume the unit is virtually frozen and if I expect it to operate normally, I need to give it some time to warm up (and it's killing me that I can't play with my new toy).

Okay. It's had enough time to warm up and be connected.

The projector is big and light (which suggests that its size is simply to add to the illusion of value). The actual screen resolution is 800 x 480 which is probably bearable for watching movies in a dark room. The picture is VERY clearly pixelated. It is brighter than my BenQ Joybee GP1 which is rated at 100 Lumens and not nearly as bright as my Epson s3 (1600 lumens). Although it is the brightest of my LED projectors, you will not be watching this in a lit room. You probably won't enjoy it in any room that is not completely dark. The sound is adequate (perhaps even a bit loud)

Looking at the image this projector produces, I could easily mistake it for my BL-80. The two are on par in all aspects except that this projector is 4 times the size and includes Android 4.4.4 Kitkat. The BL-80 also has a shorter throw distance which means it gives a bigger picture while being closer to the screen. For comparison sake, a BL-80 on Amazon currently goes for $110 without Android or $175.00 with Android. So that would give this projector a relative value of about $175 and then you can add the projector screen and ceiling mount to give it a realistic value of about $250. But...

This item comes with no warranty of any kind (not even guaranteed to work when you get it home). You also won't likely use the projector screen and given the low quality, you likely won't bother mounting it. Given those as fact, you would be much better off buying a BL-80 with Android for about $175 from Amazon or a similar LED projector off eBay from China for somewhat less. At least that way you'll have a warranty against it being DOA. It also reminds me of the "GP - 70UP (Android version)" available on eBay and Gearbest for about $150.00.

Being Android driven, it does play most multimedia files easily and well. When there is motion on the screen it's not hard to ignore the pixelation, but when you're looking at large bright areas, you can't help but notice it. Navigating Android with a remote control is far from ideal, but since the presence of Android on this unit is its only saving grace you can get by. The presence of 2 USB ports means that you can hook up a mouse and/or keyboard (as long as you don't need to use the USB for your media. I tested every one of the input options and they all work as expected. That is to say they all provide input and that input is down converted to the native 800 x 480. So providing it with a composite input is no less clear than a Full HD input provided by HDMI. In fact the HDMI input might be worse since the projector has to adjust the picture to fit it's native resolution (results vary with the source). As I don't have any 3D source material, I did not check the 3D claim, but I find it highly unlikely that this bargain basement projector has anything even close to what's required to properly render a 3D signal.

I haven't even opened the box for the projector screen. The reason is simple. The box is just slightly over 5 feet long. Logic suggests that the screen inside the box is not longer than the box and therefore must be (at most) 5 feet wide. a 5 foot wide screen with an aspect ratio of 4:3 (like an old TV screen) means a maximum screen size of about 75 inches. 75 inches is simply too small.

Now for my purposes, this projector is fine. I want it primarily to do "digital decorations" for Halloween (for which it will work well except for being a bit large). I "might" use it in the bedroom to watch Netflix or some other WiFi related entertainment since it has Android and WiFi. It would not be worth $200 "to me", but that might be a resonable value generally speaking.

The following is what you can count on from this projector. If you have ever watched or owned a "real" projector you WILL be disappointed with this. If you're expecting a real projector you will be disappointed with this. If you paid more than $200 you should be disappointed with this. If you paid more than $300, you should be furious with yourself for buying this. If you have a relatively dark room and "at least" 12 feet to project across, you could enjoy watching multimedia files or Netflix on your wall. To fill the projector screen which comes with it, the projector needs to be about 8 feet away, but lets be honest, nobody buys a projector to watch a pixelated 75 inch screen. In order to justify seeing the pixels you're going to want at least a 100 inch screen (hence the wall). If you're not familiar with Android, you won't get full use of this projector and honestly, its only saving grace is that is has Android. If you're planning to use it to watch TV you will be utterly disappointed (it simply does not have a high enough contrast ratio for everyday TV viewing, in spite of the obviously bogus 100,000:1 contrast claim).

Now, if you find this on craigslist or kijiji for $20 like I did.. Grab it and Go. But if you're like Vlad and have to pay "too much" you're MUCH better off to skip it and buy a similarly equipped projector from eBay or Amazon where there's at least a semblance of warranty.

Here's a rundown of the significant claims which I believe are true or false.

Android Smart Projector - Yes, it has Android 4.4.4
Full HDMI - 1920 x 1080 - NO. It will accept 1080P as an input but downconverts it to 480
Professional Use for HDTV Theatre -Not a hope in heck

Resolution: Full 1080P - NO. The native resolution is 800 x 480
Projection Size:60" to 300" - NO. IF it can project a 300 inch picture the picture would be so dim and washed out you could not watch it.
Brightness:7200 Lumens - NO. I would be shocked it it's true rating is even 150 lumens
Aspect Ratios: Widescreen and Standard. Native format appears to be 16:10 (widescreen).

Download millions of apps. - Yes. From the Google Play Store
Browse The Web - Yes (although not fun without a mouse)
Wireless connections - Yes WiFi is available along with a wired LAN
Advanced Picture in Picture with Digital Video - NO. The fine print basically says that if you supply a signal with a picture in a picture, it will display it.

250 Watt Ultra Bright Lamp - NO. Absolutely not.
Lamps Power: 250W/40,000 Hours - NO and Maybe. It's definitely not 250 watts, but LEDs can last 40,000 hours

Contrast Ratio 100,000:1 I doubt it, but I can't say definitively.

Full Featured Wireless IR Remote Control - Yes. As cheap Android remotes go, this one is fairly good.

So in closing.

This is NOT a good projector.

This is NOT an adequate projector.

This is a very large "TOY" projector.

This projector does not meet its most significant claims. If you buy this, you are probably getting ripped off. The best way to think of this is that it is essentially an Android TV box with a cheap projector built in. And not even a good TV box as the memory/storage is limited (1Gb RAM and 8 Gb storage). This is adequate only if you have very rudimentary expectations. But unless you get a crazy good deal (like me for $20.00) you can do much better on Amazon or eBay. But if you want a REAL projector, don't buy an LED projector. That decision alone will steer you clear of almost all of the scams.


I am too cheap to buy a "brand new" real projector. If you're not, then

buy a known brand from a trusted retailer.

 

If I were going to buy a used projector for normal viewing I would follow these rules.

Keep in mind these are "absolute minimums". In regard to resolution, contrast and lumens (brightness) more is always better. But they must be real verifiable numbers (not just numbers on a box or distributor's web site).

And last but not least... If you still don't think these guys are scamming you intentionally, Here's video proof. This guy is demonstrating that the Locus L300 works beautifully even in a highly lit room. The only real problem is he's actually showing you an Epson projector as can be seen at about 43 seconds in. They know they're lying to you . . . and now you know it too. For the record, although he has changed the title to now say viewlex projectors, it was originally posted as the L300 and later renamed to Locus l1050 which doesn't really matter since it is none of those.