InFocus Play Big IN82 vs Optoma HD80
The InFocus IN82 and the Optoma HD80 are in many ways similar projectors. They both feature a single-chip DLP light engine in 1080p resolution, the same 1.2x zoom range, the same 36% fixed throw offset, a similar manual iris, and the same 300 watt lamp. It's not surprising that the IN82 and the HD80 are strikingly similar in performance. There is however a large difference in price. The IN82 is $5,499, and the HD80 is $2,699. There is also a big difference in the way they are sold--the IN82 is in restricted distribution and sold by professional designers/installers. The HD80 is in open distribution, and is frequently sold through online dealers on the Internet who can offer little or no installation service or support.
From a performance perspective, the InFocus IN82 has several advantages over the HD80. It has a brighter operating mode in its brightest configuration. Thus, if you are looking for a projector to use in ambient light, the IN82 simply has more lumen horsepower. That is not to say that the HD80 is dim by any means. Compared to most home theater projectors it is quite bright in its own right, measuring close to 700 lumens. But we get a very nice picture out of the IN82 that measures over 1200 lumens, so it has a unique advantage if you have the room lights on.
In addition to a brightness advantage, the IN82 has much more accurate pre-calibrated color out of the box. In its low brightness modes which are more appropriate for dark room viewing it also shows somewhat better contrast than the HD80, with incrementally deeper blacks and shadow details that are on occasion better defined. The contrast advantage comes from the IN82's use of the DLP DarkChip3, whereas the HD80 uses the DarkChip2.
Nevertheless, the Optoma HD80 holds it own or even exceeds the performance of the IN82 in a number of areas. It has a 6x speed color wheel compared to the IN82's 4x. As noted previously, this substantially curtails DLP rainbow artifacts for those sensitive to them.
The HD80 also delivers a more stable picture with interlaced sources. With the HQV tests in standard definition 480i, the rotating bars and waving flag showed virtually identical results on both projectors. But in the racetrack segment, the HD80 locked in cleanly while the IN82 stumbled, with moiré patterns in the stands. Moreover, the HD80 delivered somewhat sharper images with standard definition signals. (Image sharpness was nearly identical with HD material.)
In HD 1080i tests, the two projectors passed the HQV rotating bar and jaggies tests with equal precision, and both of them were excellent. But on the Film Resolution Loss floating pattern the IN82 showed quite a bit of flicker and instability, while the HD80 was by comparison rock solid. When we flipped the HD DVD player over to 1080p, both projectors showed identically clean results. Therefore, there are no differences in stability and image precision if your sources are HD DVD or Blu-ray 1080p, but the HD80 will have a bit of an advantage with 1080i.
The HD80 also beats the IN82 in digital connectivity. The HD80 has two HDMI ports and one DVI-I, which will interface with not only DVI but HDMI and VGA with the correct adapters. Meanwhile the IN82 has just one HDMI port, and one M1/DA connector which will interface with HDMI, DVI, or VGA with the appropriate adapter. The one advantage offered by the IN82's connection panel is that it has two 12-volt triggers to the HD80's one.
The HD80 comes with a three year warranty included in its price. The IN82 has a standard two year warranty.
The bottom line is that in selecting between these models, buyers may prefer one over the other for a variety of reasons. In most situations, they are very similar; it is only in environments with a lot of ambient light that the IN82 becomes a necessity.
The InFocus IN82 is overall a solid projector, though its price tag is steep compared to products with similar performance in open distribution. Clearly the IN82 can be a great solution for lights-on parties. It is a strong option for those who wish to have their theaters designed and installed by professionals, and thus may be choosing from the various products in limited distribution that are available through those resellers. However, do-it-yourself home theater enthusiasts who want to set it up and install it all themselves will save money without giving up much in the way of image quality by looking toward other alternatives.