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Review: Infocus X2

Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
InFocus X2 Projector InFocus X2
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2000:1 Contrast Ratio
1700 Lumens
Street Price: n/a
$549 MSRP

InFocus X2

Evan Powell, September 8, 2004
ProjectorCentral.com

The InFocus X2 is an entry level multipurpose projector that can be used for a variety of projection needs. Currently selling for under $1,000, it represents great projection value for the money. Its bright, high contrast image is particularly suited to data presentation, and it is a very attractive solution for computer based video games for the kids. Monitor loop through and an onboard 2.5W speaker make it an attractive low cost option for classroom use. It is also seviceable as an entry level video projector. However it is not designed to deliver high quality video. Therefore budding videophiles on a tight budget will not derive as much satisfaction from the X2 as will those who are using it for multipurpose presentation.

Product Overview

The X2 features a 4:3 format DLP chip in 800x600 resolution, and a four-segment, 2x speed color wheel. ANSI lumen output is rated at 1600 at full power and 1100 in low lamp (and lower fan noise) mode. Contrast is rated at 2000:1.

Lens and throw distance. Manual zoom and focus with a 1.2x zoom range. A 100" diagonal 4:3 image is obtained in the range of about 12.6 to 15 feet.

Lamp. 200W SHP with up to 3000-hour lamp life in low power mode.

Compatibility. DVI, HDTV 1080i, 720p, 480p, and computer resolutions up to XGA (1024x768). NTSC, PAL, SECAM.

Connection panel. Located on the rear of the unit. Inputs include one M1-DA port that takes computer RGB, DVI, HDTV and component 480p; one S-video port; one composite video jack. In addition there is one set of stereo RCA audio inputs.

Warranty. Two years.

Performance

Last year InFocus introduced the X1 and the Screenplay 4800. These were for the most part the same projector packaged for two different markets. This year we have the X2 and the Screenplay 4805, updated versions of their predecessors. However this time they are not the same projector at all. They are radically different products--only the casework looks the same, and that only from a distance. The 4805 is clearly designed for the home theater/home entertainment market. The X2 is definitely not.

[As an aside, just a personal observation if I may. The most frequently misspelled word on the Internet is definitely. There is no such word as definately in the English language.]

Meanwhile, back on track....unlike the X1 and 4800 scenario, there is no way to fiddle with the calibration on the X2 and thereby produce a video image that looks as good as the image from the 4805. There are several reasons for this. One of the key differences between the two units is the color wheel and its rotation speed. On the X2 there is a four-segment wheel, with segments of red, green, blue, and clear (or white). On the 4805, there are two sets of red, green, and blue segments, but no clear segment. The X2's clear segment doubles the lumen output over that which can be derived from the 4805. In data mode this gives you a brilliant, sparkling image that is terrific for PowerPoint presentations and computer graphics. But in video mode it reduces contrast, shadow detail, and color saturation compared to that which you get from the 4805. After watching a DVD movie on the 4805, if you put the same movie on the X2 the image will appear brighter but colors will be less saturated at the same time.

Furthermore, both projectors have wheel rotation speeds of 120 cps. However since there are two sets of R, G, and B segments in the 4805's wheel, it refreshes each color twice per rotation of the wheel, whereas the X2 refreshes each color once (hence the designations 4x and 2x speed wheels, respectively). Since the color refresh rate is doubled on the 4805, the tendency for viewers to detect color separation (rainbow) artifacts is significantly reduced. Those who are sensitive to rainbows on DLP products will see them on the X2, and probably won't on the 4805.

With respect to video performance, another key difference between the X2 and the 4805 is that the 4805 has much more comprehensive video processing electronics on board. InFocus has included a Faroudja DCDi chipset for video processing on the 4805 that substantially improves image stability and clarity from video sources that are fed to the projector via either S-video or component interlaced signals. Color accuracy is also better on the 4805 than on the X2.

(By the way, don't ever use composite video on a projector. Composite video bundles up all the luminance and color information into a single signal. Once this happens the luminance and color information cannot then be fully separated into component form for display without loss of information. So you typically end up with a lower quality picture than you would have with S-video or component video.)

Furthermore, InFocus has included the HDCP content protection chip in the 4805, but it is not on the X2. So if you want to guarantee future reception of HDTV signals via the digital interface, the 4805 is the safer way to go.

The bottom line is that home theater-oriented products like the Screenplay 4805 have substantially raised the image quality performance bar in economy class home theater projectors. It is true that commercial projectors often serve admirably as crossover products doing double duty as home theater machines. However the recent appearance of very low-cost, high-performance home theater projectors has changed the equation for many buyers. The X2 is an excellent projector if the objective is to put a bright, high contrast image on the screen for very little money. However a bright image and a high quality video image are two different things. Since much better video is available from alternative products costing not too much more than the X2, we would not recommend the X2 as a solution for dedicated home theater use.

The X2 needs to be interpreted for what it is--a bright, high contrast, low-cost data projector that is best suited to multimedia applications in the home, office, or classroom. Video as one application in the mix is fine if the user can settle for a little less than ideal performance, and is willing to cable up to feed the video signal through the M1-DA port. Video via the S-video and composite jacks is not the best solution on this unit.

One other factor you might consider is fan noise. The X2 has two lamp modes which generate different demands on the fan and cooling system. In low power mode the fan noise is low to moderate. In full power mode the fan noise is, shall we say, toward the loud-ish end of the spectrum. Furthermore, as with its predecessor, once you power off the projector the fan runs in standby mode (at a lower speed) to cool the power supply. So to achieve total peace and quiet in the room, the AC power needs to be cut off from the unit.

Conclusion

Two things are definitely true: First, the X2 produces a brilliant image for under $1,000. For the right application and environment it can be a superb value. Second, you get what you pay for. This product was never designed to be used as a dedicated home theater projector, and those who buy it exclusively for that purpose are settling for some unfortunate compromises. You will be better off to save up the extra few hundreds dollars needed to get into a Screenplay 4805.

(12/11/17 - 09:16 AM PST)
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