Last week InFocus announced that estimated street prices on their hot-selling X1 projector were being dropped to $999-down from $1,599 just six months ago. Almost simultaneously InFocus released the Screenplay 4800, a new model with identical specifications, at an estimated street of $1,499.
This has produced an avalanche of email from confused consumers...is the X1 being discontinued? Is this a fire sale? Is there something wrong with the X1 that was fixed in the 4800? Is the 4800 an improved version of the X1? Is it worth the extra $500? What is the difference between them?
Well. The short answers are these...the X1 is not being discontinued and it is not a fire sale. The price reduction is in response to general competitive movements in the industry, including most notably the recent release of the Epson PowerLite S1 (1200 ANSU lumens, SVGA, 7 lbs) at a retail of $999. The X1 is a popular unit, and there is nothing at all wrong with it. It is still on our Highly Recommended list for home theater projectors, as at $999 it is more of a value than ever before (see original X1 review.)
So what is the Screenplay 4800?
Quite simply the 4800 is the X1 repackaged for home theater distribution. Physically they are the same projector. However, there are differences in software settings. When you power up the X1, the factory default setting out of the box is for 4:3 mode of operation. When you power up the 4800 out of the box it defaults to 16:9. However, on either model you can easily change the factory default to whatever aspect ratio you want via a menu selection.
Gamma tables have been adjusted to optimize video on the Screenplay 4800. A new remote with home theater-friendly features is included also. As far as functional performance goes, the X1 will do everything the Screenplay 4800 will do. But the 4800 is, according to InFocus product management, preprogrammed for optimal video performance, while X1 owners may want to do some calibration to get it tuned to its best for video.
Both the X1 and the Screenplay 4800 come with a VGA 15-pin computer cable, by which you can feed HDTV and component 480p into the VGA port. However, in addition the Screenplay 4800 comes standard with an S-video cable. It also comes with an RCA to VGA cable adapter. This is handy if you want to use an RCA component video cable you already have to connect an RCA output to the VGA port. However you can accomplish the same thing with the X1 by ordering the adapter as an optional accessory, or buying an RCA to VGA cable and thus eliminating the problem.
The X1/4800 is designed with a special seven-pin S-video connector that lets you input a component interlaced (480i) signal into the S-video port. InFocus provides an adapter that interfaces an RCA component cable to this special port. This adapter used to be shipped standard with the X1, but is no longer. It is now standard only with the Screenplay 4800. However, if you buy the X1 and you want this adapter, you can buy it for $20 on the Infocus website. So the fact that this adapter no longer ships with the X1 is not a good reason to spend $500 more for the Screenplay 4800.
Why the two models?
In today's world there are several types of resellers of projectors. First there are professional audio/visual dealers ("Pro AV"). Typically these dealers sell a wide range of projection systems and related products for commercial, education, and government, as well as home theater use. They have extensive knowledge on a wide range of audio and visual products, and offer professional installation services. They operate locally, nationwide or internationally, and some of them sell on the Internet.
In addition to Pro-AV dealers, there are home theater specialty dealers and installers. These folks usually concentrate on home theater solutions exclusively. They operate locally, often confined to territories assigned by the manufacturers they represent. Thus they typically do not advertise or conduct business via the Internet. They offer design services as well as full installation. They tend to carry higher end brands that are restricted in distribution and not sold on the Internet. Typically the buyer contracts with a specialty home theater dealer/installer for a full installation of audio and video components and the dealer/installer is responsible for everything from A to Z. This is the more expensive route to home theater. However if you have the funds to invest, it may be (relatively speaking) no muss no fuss, and the easy way to do it.
There are also retail chains that offer home theater projectors along with installation services at extra cost. They usually do not have the expertise in product knowledge that the Pro-AV or specialty dealers/installers have, nor do they offer the same quality of design and installation services.
With that background, let's turn back to InFocus and the two models in question. InFocus currently distributes its commercial line of projectors primarily through Pro-AV dealers. These dealers do not handle the Screenplay models however. Conversely, the InFocus Screenplay models (currently the 110, the 4800, and the 7200) are sold mostly by home theater specialty dealer/installers (and some retailers) who do not sell the commercial models.
In this instance, InFocus wants to sell the same projector through both dealer channels. So two models were created for this purpose. The X1 is sold through Pro-AV dealers, and the Screenplay 4800 is sold by specialty home theater dealers/installers. You will therefore find the X1 distributed on the Internet. Meanwhile the Screenplay 4800 is largely restricted from sale on the Internet due to the nature of these two different dealer networks.
Where does that leave you, the consumer?
If you are interested in complete installation and design services for a full home theater and you want to contract with a local specialist in this field, contact InFocus for Screenplay 4800 dealers.
On the other hand, if you wish to acquire the X1 and related supplies such as screens, ceiling mounts, cables, etc. from dealers online, visit our list of online dealers in our "Current Prices" section of the site. Dollar for dollar buying online is the more cost-effective solution, as long as you are willing to set it up yourself or retain a local handyman to help you.