InFocus X9 - Competitors
How does the InFocus X9 compare to other 720p home theater projectors on the market?
This section will consider how the InFocus X9 home theater projector stacks up against its primary competition. Below you will find brief one-on-one comparisons, with the usual commentary and opinions.
InFocus X9 vs. Panasonic PT-AX200U
The PT-AX200U, although it was first shipped a year ago, is pretty much the same projector as the older PT-AX100U from the year before. The improvements were almost exclusively relating to new features for better gaming.
That said, the PT-AX200U is the best selling 720p projector on the market. One reason, which is also an advantage over the X9, is that, as a typical 3LCD projector, it has far more placement flexibility, thanks to a 2:1 zoom lens, and adjustable lens shift, and the ability to be shelf mounted, as well as ceiling mounted.
Both the X9, and the Panasonic are extremely bright home theater projectors. In overall brightness, the X9 has more muscle in "best" (Movie) mode, by a significant margin, but the two projectors are similar at their brightest - around 2000 lumens, with the Panasonic having just a slight advantage.
The InFocus X9 projector comes with a two year warranty, while the Panasonic has only a one year warranty. (Note, at times, Panasonic has run a mail-in "rebate" for a 2nd year warranty.)
Both projectors have very good color, out of the box, but the X9 has a slight advantage. The Panasonic has a lot more image control, and can be calibrated to produce slightly better color than the X9. When it comes to black levels, I'll definitely give the advantage to the Panasonic, but the InFocus X9 does a little better job on shadow detail.
In terms of price, at this time, the X9 is officially $100 more than the PT-AX200U following the recent Panasonic price move from $1299 to $999. It would not be surprising if shortly after this is written, the InFocus came down $100 to establish pricing parity.
InFocus X9 vs. Optoma HD71
This comparison is very straight forward. The Optoma is every bit as bright as the InFocus. Out of the box it measures even brighter, but Optoma's out of the box color accuracy is really not very good. Calibrating it to good color, drops it down to about 1000 lumens, almost exactly the X9's brightness in Movie Mode with Brilliant Color on, as we recommend it be used.
For the brightest output, the X9 cranks out 2000 lumens, and the HD71 can beat it by about 400 lumens, but the picture quality of the HD71 is definitely not as good. Taming the HD71 to a good bright mode, that is very watchable drops it down into the mid 1600 lumen range. For comparable picture quality in brightest mode, I'd say the X9 can put out perhaps a couple hundred extra lumens than the PT-AX200U. Remember though, if you need every last lumen, and are willing to sacrifice a bit of picture quality to survive bad lighting, the Panny can put out more than the X9.
The HD71, really needs "tweaking". It's not a plug and play projector in that regard. On the other hand, as I've said, you can buy an X9 and watch it "as is" and have a much better picture than an HD71 that hasn't been calibrated.
The street pricing on these two projectors seems, at the moment, to be comparable. I'm finding the X9 to be pretty consistant, but prices for the HD71 seem to vary by about $300. In other words, you can find an HD71 for less, but the big name, highly reputable online projector specialists do price the two about the same.
Ultimately, for enthusiasts, you can get a better picture out of the HD71, but for someone who just wants a nice little projector they don't have to fuss with, the X9 should sound more appealing.
InFocus X9 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z60
DLP against LCD once again, with the Sanyo holding all the cards when it comes to placement flexibility. Both have very sharp and crisp images. The Sanyo wins the black level competition with ease.
Once again, though, the big appeal of the InFocus X9, will be brightness. It is extremely bright, and, well, the Sanyo is extremely NOT bright. No comparison here.
The Sanyo PLV-Z60 has a really strong following among enthusiasts and purists, the exact crowd the X9 is not aimed at.
The PLV-Z60 is a great low cost projector for a serious home theater person, while the X9 will find its support from those less critical, or those willing to trade image for far more brightness and ease of use.
Sanyo does beat out the X9 in warranty, with three years vs. two.
People won't have any problem choosing between these two, as they are about as different as two competing projectors can be, in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
InFocus X9 vs. Optoma HD65
I'm a fan of the HD65, as well as the HD71. I think that the HD65 is one of Optoma's best works, overall, and one reason is, it is, perhaps the best Optoma has done in terms of out of the box performance. I point this out, because, in this regard, the HD65 and the X9 are very similar, in that both can be enjoyed without any setting changes, and minor changes such as the type we recommend in our calibration section (dealing with things like brightness, contrast...) will further improve a very good picture.
The Optoma is even smaller, and more portable.
The X9 simply is a much brighter projector. It measured out to 50% more lumens than the HD65 in best mode, and almost twice as bright, in brightest modes. Still remember the HD65 is about average in brightness, overall. Between these two, it's really going to be a choice of brightness compared to a bit better image quality for the HD65.
The HD65 does have more extensive image controls, and likely would be the choice of enthusiasts who don't plan on a really large screen, or have way too much ambient light.
Optoma HD65: A low cost projector great out of the box, with good brightness, and a bit better picture.
InFocus X9: Slightly more expensive, also great out of the box, with lots of brightness, and minimal effort.
InFocus X9 vs. Epson Home Cinema 720
This Epson projector is being phased out, although I expect them to be around for several more months. Like the Panasonic it doesn't have as sharp an image as the X9, but is much closer to the X9. The Epson can't come close to matching the brightness of the InFocus X9 in best mode, but comes short, but pretty close in brightest mode.
Another classic LCD home theater projector, the Epson Home Cinema 720 has the maximum amount of placement flexibility, a definite advantage to those who need that. I've always liked the Epson for its pop and wow factor, but, I favored the Panasonic for its slightly more natural image quality (a real trade-off). Considering the Epson against the InFocus X9, if you properly set up the Epson, with its more advanced image controls, it will provide the more accurate color image. It also has a distinct advantage in terms of black level performance.
The X9 can definitely support a bigger screen in your room, thanks to over twice the brightness in best mode.
When it comes to choosing, I see it this way. You will either pick the X9, or you will go the other way, deciding on an Epson Home Cinema 720 / Panasonic PT-AX200U type projector, and once having made that decision, if you chose the 3LCD type projectors, then you figure out which between the Panasonic and Epson will work best for you.
InFocus X9 vs. Epson Home Cinema 700
Conjecture time. I haven't even seen an Epson Home Cinema 700 turned on. The new Epson is due to ship this month (11/08), and it's totally different than the Home Cinema 720 model.
This new Epson, might best be described as the 3LCD answer to the InFocus X9 and Optoma HD65. Epson is targeting the typical consumer, not the enthusiast.
First, it is expected to be bright. Epson is claiming 2000 lumens, and from experience, Epson tends to beat their claims consistantly, while others often come up short. Based on that, in brightest mode, I expect the Epson to have a slight advantage. The InFocus, though, should easily have more lumens in best mode.
Another area where they are similar, is Epson has kept the 700 rather simple, it isn't optimized for best black levels. Hard to say whether the Epson or the Optoma will actually be better in this regard. I'm afraid to even guess, although, we'll know the answer in a few weeks when it's reviewed.
Here's a twist. 3LCD projectors have consistently won the placement flexibility wars, with the 2:1 zoom lenses and adjustable lens shift found on most of them. The reason DLP projectors have limited zoom and typically, no adjustable lens shift, has to do with the design of a DLP light engine.
In this case, though, to keep costs down, and to establish the Home Cinema 700 as the lowest priced 3LCD projector, and one of the least expensive home projectors of any type, they have built this projector with only a 1.2:1 zoom and no lens shift. Simply stated, that means the Epson has about the same placement flexibility as the X9, and most other low cost DLP's. In exchange you get a $799 price!
The Epson is squarely aimed at the same market as the X9, a more general consumer rather than the enthusiast. It's contrast specs are nothing to write home about, so, I expect it to, like the X9, have less than impressive black levels.
Other than the price, it's going to be hard to pick a winner here, or, at least not until I have had a chance to review the Epson.
X9 vs. BenQ W500
It seems like a really long since I saw a W500, although it was just over a year ago. I can't draw many conclusions other that when the BenQ W500 was reviewed, it had pretty good black levels (I'd say better than the X9), but was weak in terms of shadow details, crushing the darkest details into the "blacks". The W500 was very bright in best mode (870 lumens) though not as bright as the X9. The BenQ W500, however can only produce about 1000 lumens in its brightest mode, just half of the X9. The BenQ has a one year warranty, compared to the InFocus'es two years.
It's been a while since I knew what the BenQ's pricing is, as none of our advertisers are featuring it. I would expect, though, that this projector is at least a couple hundred less, and a quick search on line confirms that. No surprise, as it was only $999 a year ago! That assumption makes the W500 a low cost alternative to the X9. Like most 720p 3LCD projectors, the W500 does have more visible pixels than DLP projectors like the X9, so some folks will favor DLP to avoid any screendoor, or more to the point, to reduce pixel visibility slightly.
NEXT: InFocus X9 warranty