InFocus IN72 WVGA DLP Projector
  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$799 MSRP Discontinued

InFocus Corporation is one of the largest projector manufacturers in the business, with 13 commercial models and 8 video/home theater models currently in production. The company has been marketing the highly successful Screenplay 4805 as their entry level home theater offering for about two years, and it remains a popular product due to its excellent performance and low price. However, InFocus's newest 480p entry, the Play Big IN72, improves upon the SP-4805 by providing increased lumen output, decreased fan noise, better overall image quality, and attractive casework, all at a retail price of $999 after a temporary rebate that has just gone into effect. (Note: as of this writing, the rebate is scheduled to expire on 7/31/06).

Specifications

ANSI lumens: 900

Contrast (full on/off): 2000:1

Light Engine: 854x480 16:9 0.6" DLP chip with a 4x, 6-segment color wheel

Video Compatibility: HDTV 1080p/24, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p.

Data Compatibility: Computer resolutions up to XGA.

Connection Panel: One composite video, one S-Video, one set of RCA component inputs, one HDMI input, one M1-DA port, one RS-232 port for an external control.

Lens and Throw Distance: 1.20:1 manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal image from 12.8' to 15.4'.

Lamp Life: 3,000 hours, regardless of lamp setting.

Warranty: One year.

 

General Impressions/Feature set

The InFocus Play Big IN72 is a very distinctive projector, clad in sleek black casework that makes it immediately and easily distinguishable from the SP-4805. Rather than sitting on adjustable feet, the IN72 incorporates a swivel stand that makes table mounting almost too easy. For ceiling mounting, the swivel base is removable, which allows attachment of a standard ceiling mount.

The traditional zoom and focus knobs have been replaced by dials on top of the projector, with zoom on the outside and focus on the inside. While this placement is nonstandard, it is easy to manipulate without putting your hands in the way of the projected image.

The IN72 has a 1.2x manual zoom range, which allows for some minimal placement flexibility, and enough zoom range to allow for minor image size adjustments to accommodate a given screen size. There is no lens shift capability, and the projector has a built-in 20% upward throw angle. That will be good for a lot of coffee table or ceiling mount installations, but if you want to place the IN72 on a rear shelf, the projector would have to be tilted downwards to compensate for the throw angle. The IN72's swivel base can make this easy, but keystone correction will be necessary. While it is never an ideal solution, keystone correction on the IN72 is clean enough to use modestly without much of a loss in picture quality. Also note that the IN72's connection panel is in the rear. Given the size of the projector and the rear clearance needed for the cables, a shelf that is at least 18" deep will be preferable.

Visible pixelation can be a concern with lower resolution projectors. However, on the IN72, visible pixelation in white text and subtitles is no longer visible when sitting farther than 1.6x the screen width from your screen. With regular video material, that distance drops to 1.25x. This is noteworthy, as most 480p projectors have visible pixelation out to 2x the screen width or beyond.

 

The IN72's menu system is simple and hierarchical, utilizing the same menu system as many other InFocus projectors. Options are clear and easy to find, which can help to minimize the learning curve. The remote is elegant, with a convenient backlight trigger on its underside. Direct access buttons control the menu system and the projector's various sources, as well as aspect ratio.

Fan noise is low, and the IN72 is much quieter than the SP-4805. In eco-mode, fan noise is low enough that the projector could sit mere feet from the audience and not become a distraction.

Performance

Many home theater projectors rated at 900 ANSI lumens actually deliver about 300-400 ANSI lumens once calibrated for best video performance. The IN72 delivered a much brighter picture than this. Our test unit measured 625 ANSI lumens in high lamp mode and 478 ANSI lumens in low lamp mode. This is a considerable amount of light, plenty to easily illuminate a 120" diagonal screen and beyond.

Rated at 2000:1 contrast, the IN72 performs elegantly with dark material. Shadow detail is clearly differentiated and easy to make out, even in very low light scenes. Black level is pleasantly deep, and the grayscale rarely crushes, though 0 IRE and 10 IRE tend to blend together without careful calibration.

Color on the IN72 is good. Colors are rich, with saturation on our test unit set at a well-balanced level out of the box. One notable quality is the lack of red push, which means that bright red areas never appear oversaturated.

The IN72 yielded the best grayscale curve when displaying a 480i signal with the projector set to 7500K. While 6500K is theoretically ideal, the 6500K setting on the IN72 does not actually deliver 6500K--the curve averages closer to 6000K and is slightly too warm. Meanwhile, the precalibrated "7500K" actually averages out closer to 6500K, and the setting yields a more natural color balance. In general, we found the gamma curve when using interlaced video to be flatter than when using 480p. While many people in the NTSC world feed their projectors 480p out of habit and conventional wisdom, the IN72 offers its peak performance using 480i.

We did encounter one issue with interlaced video. Brightness needs to be boosted significantly to give good shadow detail. While out-of-the-box settings were good for 480p component as well as HDMI sources, 480i component needs adjusting. However, after adjustment, the IN72 looks superb with 480i signals. The IN72's deinterlacing was clean and artifact-free, and deinterlacing quality rivaled that of our Faroudja-equipped DVD player.

Scaling of high definition material was clean, however it looks almost exactly like standard definition on this projector. On other 480p projectors, 1080i and 720p sources look quite a bit better than native 480-line material, due to increased information in the signal. On the IN72, it merely looks as good, but not better than standard definition content.

Comparative Performance

Street prices of the IN72 are around $999 at the moment with a special InFocus rebate available until 7/31/06. This is a great price for a quality projector. There are other 480p models selling for less, but the IN72 is a premium product in this resolution class, and it should rightfully command a premium price. However, if you are considering spending $1000 on a projector, keep in mind that there are other excellent options for not too much more money. The Sanyo PLV-Z3 is a 720p LCD projector, and it offers 720p resolution and a great feature set at roughly $1300. Depending upon your needs, one may be better suited for your theater than the other.

Optimized for video, the Z3 outputs between 300 and 400 ANSI lumens. This is perfectly sufficient for darkened room home theater, and will make DVDs and HDTV look spectacular. However, if you plan on using your projector for watching sports or playing video games - two applications that traditionally require higher brightness - or if your theater light control is less than ideal, you will appreciate the higher light output of the IN72.

DLP projectors traditionally have been capable of better black levels than their LCD competitors, and these two are no exception. While both are rated at 2000:1, the IN72 has incrementally deeper black levels than the Z3. This difference can only be appreciated in a room with full light control, however - in ambient light, black levels on any projector will suffer.

The primary advantage of the Z3 over the IN72 is that it performs much better with high definition content, thanks to its native resolution of 1280x720. HDTV, HD-DVD, and (we presume) Blu-ray will be displayed with much greater detail on the Z3. The Z3 is also better at at displaying the details in high definition video games. Most modern game systems can output some games at 720p and all of the next-generation game systems can output every game at 720p, if not 1080i or 1080p.

On the other hand, the added lumen output of the IN72 makes it easier to play games at larger screen sizes. And standard definition video has a bit more snap on the IN72 due to the better black level. So which of these two projectors is "better" depends on your intended usage. If you are going to be using it to showcase high-definition content from broadcast, satellite, cable, or the new HD disc formats, a 720p projector would be a safe bet. If you want a projector that displays DVD movies in near-perfect form and can be used to play video games on a very large screen, the IN72 is an excellent choice.

Conclusion

The InFocus Play Big IN72 is the newest entry-level projector in the InFocus product line, and is designed to replace the Screenplay 4805. It is a major step beyond the SP-4805 and it does not disappoint. It produces a beautiful, bright picture with well saturated color, suitable for DVD movies, video games, and other 480-line content. While its performance with High-Definition content isn't as impressive as other 480p units, it is also brighter than those other models. And at street prices now reaching the $999 mark, the IN72 will ensure that InFocus continues to enjoy a significant share of the entry level home theater projector market.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our InFocus IN72 projector page.