InFocus X10 1080p Home Projector Review: Image Quality
InFocus X10: Image Quality Sections
InFocus X10 Projector; Out of the Box Picture Quality
X10 Skin Tone Handling
X10 Black Level Performance and Shadow Detail
Overall Image Quality (post Calibration)
X10 for HDTV and Sports
Bottom Line Image Quality (and additional images)
InFocus X10 Home Theater Projector: Out of the Box Picture Quality
The X10 is very good out of the box (that's pretty much an InFocus trademark). It's one of a relatively small percentage of projectors that many can enjoy without any adjustments. That's the good news. The not-so-good news, is that it can still be improved, and while very watchable, overall, after a good end user calibration, it's going to look even better. So, I still recommend that you invest the hour or so of time, it's worth it. Or, of course you can bring in a professional for a few hundred dollars.
Overall, the out of the box tendencies are twofold: First, the image is a little warm (more red), compared to ideal, but it's slight. Second, the contrast default setting (50) is way too high. Our measurements brought about an adjustment to 18, although some might prefer it slightly higher. That, however, is about it.
InFocus X10: Skin Tone Handling
We're now talking about after our basic calibration. Skin tones are gorgeous (they really are pretty good, even out of the box, before any adjustments). This is an attribute that the X10 shares with the more than double the price IN83.
Here are a collection of images to demonstrate skin tones, starting with Gandalf and Arwen images from Lord of the Rings, Return of the King. Those are the only two non-HD images in this Skin Tone section, everything else is off of Blu-ray DVD in hi-def:
From Aeon Flux:
Once again, as in other reviews, here are three images of Daniel Patrick - James Bond - from Casino Royale under different lighting conditions. The first is full sunlight, then fluorescent lighting (in an airport), and finally filtered sunlight (in the shade, on a sunny day):
All of these Bond images look extremely natural!
House of the Flying Daggers is known for sensational, if not always accurate colors, here are a three images for your consideration:
Will Smith makes that "last suit you'll ever wear" - "look good" in Men In Black:
In fact his skin tones look great in every scene with the X10:
Might as well sneak in one image from HDTV from the Olympics (more in the HDTV section):
Bottom Line: InFocus X10 Skin Tones
Very good, out of the box, and truly excellent after a basic calibration. I loved this about the IN83, and the X10 is right up there!
InFocus X10: Black Level and Shadow Detail
InFocus X10 Projector: Black Level Performance
Black levels are the InFocus X10's weakness. Keep in mind, this is InFocus's entry level 1080p projector, and it is using TI's Darkchip 1, which, today, is their entry level performance 1080 resolution DLP processor. Black levels are strictly entry level, and no match for example, to the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, which has the best overall black level performance of any of the under $3000 home theater projectors. It doesn't stop there, however. Others with a black level advantage include the entry level Optoma's (mostly by virtue of having a dynamic iris). The HD803, also for example, starts with the Darkchip1. Most of the 3LCD projectors near its price (on either side), can do better than the X10, especially on very dark scenes.
For comparison purposes, here's the classic starship image from The Fifth Element. The first one is the X10. Direcly below it, is the same frame from the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, followed by the recently reviewed Mitsubishi HC5500, and the BenQ W5000 (which also uses the Darkchip1).
The next image is the satellite from Space Cowboys, once again the X10:
For comparison, here are a few more - the first from the Mitsubishi HC5500 review, then, from the BenQ W5000, Optoma HD803, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB and, finally, the top of the line, InFocus IN83:
I've said it already, the X10 is not going to win awards for black level performance. It is so-so, in this regard compared to most other lower cost 1080p projectors. It's easily, and significantly surpassed by projectors like the Epson, Sanyo PLV-Z2000 (which I haven't been showing images of, since it is so different in brightness (much less bright), that few considering one, would seriously consider the other).
Fortunately, that seems to be about the only real weakness of the X10, when it comes to image quality! Shadow detail, is a completely different story.
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InFocus X10: Shadow Detail Performance
Wow! Truly excellent! Like its biggest brother, it's just fantastic on shadow details. Actually it is even easier to spot the darkest of details than with the IN83, let alone anything else we've tested. Seems that, these days, projectors with so-so black levels tend to have especially great shadow detail resolving ability. This may be due to everything being a little brighter. Still, the details are there - in spades!
We'll start from this seriously overexposed image from Lord of the Rings. The thumbnails below are all from the same projector, and normally exposed. Click for a cropped much overexposed image, and look for the shadow details in the back right, you can see the mountains easily enough, but look and see what's below them. Also, look for the subtle colors that show at a few points in some of the buildings.
First image is the X10, followed in the sequence are the Sanyo PLV-Z2000, the Mitsubishi HC5500, the Optoma HD803 and the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB.
Look for the details in the blinds, and the vertical lines, and the hanging "thing" (still haven't figured out what it is) in the top right.
From Casino Royale, this image from the black and white beginning of the movie. It is intentionally overexposed, to reveal the shadow details that my camera, and your monitor would lose with a normal exposure. The point is, excellent shadow detail. You can find this image in most reviews done in the past year. Note all the detail in the furniture in the back. The dark areas are much easier to see than on other projectors, although some of that has to do with a slightly low gamma, which cannot be adjusted without entering the service menus. (That's something an ISF Certified calibrator likely can adjust):
Below we have six "thumbnails" of this cropped HD scene from Space Cowboys. Click on each for an overexposed version. Look to the satellite on the left for dark shadow details. By row, starting top left:
X10, Epson - and Pro - Home Cinema 1080 UB, (first row), Sony VPL-VW60, and the JVC RS1 (second row), third row is the Panasonic PT-AE2000U, and the Sanyo PLV-Z2000
One more comparsion, the re-entry image from Space Cowboys. First image - InFocus X10, 2nd row left: Mitsubishi HC5500, right: Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB
Next is the casino image at night from Bond's Casino Royale.
InFocus X10 projector:
(All five images below are the same. Clicking on each brings up the higher resolution, and overexposed versions that allows you to compare shadow detail abilities in the dark areas.) Look to the roof tiles, and the trees on the left. The Infocus X10 does a great job in the shadow details, with the roof tiles very visible when watching the movie, whereas many projectors loose a lot more detail.
Sony VPL-VW40 projector:
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB projector:
InFocus IN83 projector: (a more expensive projector that I've been raving about)
Panasonic PT-AE2000U projector: (sorry, this one is a bit underexposed, compared to the others)
Ok one last comparison. Below is the SD-DVD image from Lord of the Rings. In both cases, they are seriously overexposed so you can see the details in the shed on the right, the wood structure on the left, and the plants along the bottom. In this case, the first image is the X10, then below, the Mitsubishi HC5500 and more expensive InFocus IN82
More images: Projector Black Level and Shadow Detail
OK, the usual collection of additional images that are good for looking at both black levels and shadow details:
The overexposed image above, from Casino Royale shows an incredible amount of shadow detail in the trees on the far right. Look at the first row above the track. You can compare this to similar images on a number of projectors. It's very noticeable if you compare to the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, which is only good, not great, on shadow details (but is awesome on blacks).
Above, from National Treasure, you can make up lots of dark details in the upper and lower right.
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InFocus X10 Projector: Image Sharpness
Excellent sharpness. At first I thought the X10 was not as sharp as the IN83 we recently reviewed. However, ultimately I believe my impression was due to less overall contrast, which makes edges stand out less.
Top left: InFocus X10, Top Center, Sony VPL-VW60, Top right: Panasonic PT-AE2000U
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left is X10, right is BenQ W5000. Both are very sharp!
Bottom Line Sharpness: Excellent, I'm most impressed with the sharpness, and just a little jealous.
InFocus X10 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
The InFocus X10 is an extremely strong performer on HDTV and Sports. (When I talk HDTV, I'm normally referring to typical TV show content, not movie watching).
Since The InFocus's strengths include color accuracy, sharpness and brightness, and those are the key items for HDTV and sports, the X10 has to be considered excellent. Black level performance really doesn't play any significant role when watching the Olympics or a football game, and the same is pretty much true for your favorite sitcom or news broadcast.
While a couple of other similarly priced projectors can muster a few more lumens than the InFocus, none have significantly more, not enough, I think to make a difference in terms of buying decision. Certainly the Epson has an extra few hundred lumens, but the InFocus is brighter than the rest of the field, in brightest mode. Those not as bright include: The Mitsubishi HC5500, Sanyo PLV-Z2000, Panasonic PT-AE2000U and Optoma HD80 and HD803. Only the BenQ W5000, perhaps the InFocus X10's most similar competition, is about a tie, in brightness!
Check out a few images:
I feel obligated: The image above. Really Nice! Agreed?
Bottom Line: InFocus X10 on HDTV and Sports
The X10 is a great choice, for HDTV, and Sports viewing, if it works in your room. It's got the horsepower to fight a fair amount of ambient light, better than all but a couple of other under $4000 1080p home theater projectors.
InFocus X10 Projector: Overall Image Quality
Ahh, if the InFocus X10 only had really impressive black level performance...but of course, if it did, it would be the InFocus IN83. After that one weakness though, the X10 does a great job at most everything else.
On thing not previously mentioned, is the general gamma (balance of bright, medium and dark areas). None of the provided Gamma modes (Film, PC, High Brightness, etc.), hit the ideal 2.2 number. In all modes measured, the gamma was consistently lower than 2.2. In "best mode" (Film gamma), gamma averaged between 1.9 and 2.0. This means that the middle brightness areas are a bit brighter than they should be, relative to the brighter areas. Of perhaps greater significance, it also means that the near black areas are also lifted in brightness, but not as much. This is probably in part responsible for the incredible shadow detail, but also removes a bit of the overall dynamics - an image that appears a little flat compared to those with the correct gamma. We're not talking about a huge difference, by any means, but many projectors allow for customizing gamma, whereas the X10 does not have that feature.
Consider this mix of images from movies and test images from the DVE-HD and DTS calibration discs:
From Men In Black:
Above, the American flag, the X10 does a great job on the reds. Even some better overall projectors like my much more expensive JVC RS1, can't do as dead on a red.
Overall Picture Quality: Bottom Line
I repeat, the InFocus X10's overall picture quality is excellent, except for black level performance, and a slight miss in terms of having the ideal gamma for movie viewing. That's reasonable especially since this is InFocus's entry level 1080p and more expensive models improve on its performance in this area (as well as being slightly brighter).