Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
During the past few years, 1280x720 DLP projectors have delivered ever-increasing performance at lower and lower prices. Now, with the latest projectors featuring Texas Instruments' DarkChip3 DLP chip, the process continues - and the InFocus Screenplay 7210 is in the starting line-up.
Specifications. 1100 ANSI lumens, 2800:1 contrast, native 16:9 widescreen format, 1280x720 resolution DLP chip with a 5x seven-segment color wheel.
Compatibility. HDTV 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i, and computer resolutions up to SXGA (1280x1024). Full NTSC / PAL / SECAM.
Lens and Throw Distance. 1.25:1 manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal image from 12.1' to 15.1', depending on zoom.
Lamp Life. 3,000 hours; 2,000 hours in high power mode
Connection Panel. One composite video, two S-Video, two sets of standard YPbPr component video inputs, one 15-pin VGA input that support YPbPr/RGB, one M1-DA port with HDCP, one D5 video, 2 12V relays, and one D-sub 15-pin RS-232 port.
Installation Options. Table mount, rear shelf mount, ceiling mount.
Warranty. Two years, 90 days for lamp.
The Screenplay 7210 has many options that can be used to adjust the projector's lumen output; set for maximum brightness it can approach its stated 1100 lumen ceiling. However, it outputs about 400 ANSI lumens once optimized for video (lamp standard, gamma set to "film", white peaking off, with the color temperature set to 6500K). Combined with its high contrast performance, this is enough light output to easily drive the image up to 120" without any substantial loss of quality.
Contrast on the Screenplay 7210 is excellent, making even the darkest scenes easy on the eyes. Shadow details pop. However, blacks are not as solid as they can be with the DarkChip3. We would have preferred a bit deeper black level. Dark areas of the image also tend to show a substantial amount of dithering, which can become distracting in some cases.
Colors are accurate and natural, with realistic fleshtones. Saturation as a whole can seem slightly lackluster at times, but in most situations the ScreenPlay 7210's color performance was excellent.
One of the 7210's strong points is the new Faroudja FLI2310 DCDi chipset. As a result of this chip, general image quality is improved on all interlaced signals. Composite video in particular looks better than it has in a long time, and with minimal deinterlacing artifacts.
Scaling of standard definition sources is outstanding. The resulting image is crisp, with sharp edge definition and no loss of detail. If you are thinking of using an upconverting DVD player--think twice. You might try switching the DVD player's output between standard definition and upscaled 720p to see which image appeals to you more. But don't be surprised if the 7210's internal processing delivers the best results.
The 7210 really shines with high definition signals due to its native 720p resolution. Unscaled HDTV 720p signals are life-like, and create the illusion of the screen being a "window". As one should expect, 1080i signals don't look quite as good as 720p due to compression and the nature of the interlaced format. However the 7210's scaling is excellent, so fuzziness is minimized.
We had a small problem with what appeared to be RF interference. After speaking to InFocus, we were told that the 7210 may be experiencing some ground loop feedback. The way to correct for this was to purchase a 3-prong to 2-prong AC adapter, which cut out the grounding loop and hence removed most of the artifact.
The Screenplay 7210 sports a 5x speed 7-segment color wheel, which means that very few users will ever experience rainbow artifacts on this projector. If you, or anyone who will be watching your projector regularly, is sensitive to these artifacts, a fast color wheel such as this is a must-have feature.
The 7210 has six different preprogrammed gamma options - labeled CRT, film, video, bright room 1 & 2, and PC. While there is no way to adjust these settings any further, they cover a wide range of possible gamma options, and so should fill your needs adequately. There is also an option for white peaking, which boosts an image's highlights. However, this is of more use in data applications than in video, as it tends to crush the upper portion of the grayscale and reduce color saturation.
Aside from the standard brightness/contrast controls for red, green, and blue, the 7210 incorporates some advanced options, such as Chroma and Luma detail. These are in lieu of a "Sharpness" control in the picture menu. There is also an option to adjust chrominance delay.
Composite signals look exceptionally good on the 7210 because of something called CCS, or cross-color suppression, a feature of the Faroudja chipset. This removes color data from the luminance signal in composite and s-video signals, eliminating bleed-through and miscoloration which often characterizes these signals.
Color temperature adjustment is limited to three presets (6500K, 7500K, and 9300K). These presets are remarkably close to spot-on accurate. However, we would've liked to see an additional preset lower than 6500K, for black and white films.
There are two unusual features on the 7210 that are very useful. By enabling the "test pattern" option in the "service" menu, you can press the Blank button on the remote to bring up various test patterns (a white-on-black grid, checkerboard, as well as solid color patterns) that can be scrolled through using the up and down buttons on the remote. Or, by enabling "Blue Only" mode in the same menu, color balance can be checked using a SMPTE color bar pattern without having to hold a blue filter in front of your eyes.
The Screenplay 7210's remote control is identical to the one used by the ScreenPlay 4805, and is densely packed with buttons. There is an aspect ratio button, as well as controls for contrast and brightness that bypass the menu system altogether. This, however, does have the potential to cause accidental presses when hunting for the menu button, located directly above these controls. There are four source buttons, which can be reassigned to your most frequently used sources. There is also a button to cycle sources, to avoid having to reprogram the remote. Buttons for screen blanking, auto image adjustment, overscan manipulation, and memory preset recall are also included. The remote has a backlight, located on the right side.
The menu system itself is hierarchical, much like the pulldown menus on any computer. The menu appears in the top left corner, and while there is no way to reposition it, it is quite unobtrusive, especially once translucency has been activated.
As you consider your installation options, keep in mind that the 7210 has a moderate up-angle throw, resulting in a rise of about 8" above the center of the lens for an image diagonal of 100", or 16% of the image height. This may be enough of an up-angle to accommodate a coffee table placement so that the image is exactly where you want it on the wall. Flush mounting to the ceiling may place the image too high, requiring either an extension tube or a tilt of the projector to get the image placed properly. If you wish to place it on a rear shelf behind the seating area, the mild up-angle means that you might think about inverting the unit and putting it on a high shelf in order to achieve a moderate down-throw. Vertical lens shift is not available on the 7210, and this feature would have added some ease and flexibility to the installation process.
If you find that you must tilt the unit or place it horizontally off axis, you can use horizontal and vertical keystone adjustments to square up the image. The rescaling produces a slight softening of the image with 720p, and no noticeable compromise of other sources. Of course, the best mounting solution is one where keystone adjustment is not necessary.
The 7210 creates more audible fan noise than many other home theater projectors these days. This may cause a distraction in mounting situations where the projector is within a few feet of the audience. We also noticed a tendency for the fan to cycle higher and lower every few minutes during operation, which could cause added distraction.
Light and heat leakage on the 7210 are noticeable, but not bad. Most of the errant light exits the case through the front and right side vents, which is where heat exhaust exits as well. This is something to keep in mind when considering how to mount the projector - if the 7210 is immediately behind the audience, in a low rear shelf mount, heat exhaust is expelled towards the viewers, which may cause distraction.
One of the 7210's quirks is the inclusion of an M1-DA port rather than DVI or HDMI. This port has several advantages to it: it can carry video, data, and power simultaneously; it can auto-detect analog and digital sources without having to build a switching device into the projector; it can also be used to update firmware by "flashing" the chip. However, these benefits come with one major downside: there are very few consumer electronics products that utilize this port. This means that you will most likely have to purchase a DVI to M1-DA adapter, which is available from InFocus for $97. However, since this adapter is not included with the 7210, it involves one more step between you and doing what you want to be doing - using your projector.
The ScreenPlay 7210 is another solid performer from InFocus, and one of the first affordable offerings using TI's new DarkChip3. For the money, it delivers an impressive viewing experience. While it has its quirks, price-performance is excellent, and it is destined to be a leading contender in the high performance segment of the home theater market.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our InFocus SP 7210 projector page.