InFocus IN1: Gaming and Home Entertainment Projector Review - Image Quality
The InFocus IN1 Projector: Gaming Performance
I'm not much of a gamer. Off and on over the years, I played on many game consoles, but in recent years, my gaming has been very limited. I probably spent the most time on the original Mattel Intellivision (how's that for dating myself). For those of you not familiar with the original Intellivision, let's just say that basketball players consisted of about only 8 pixels (and the ball, only 1 pixel). Today's PS3, probably has a basketball player with tens of thousands of pixels, producing near photographic resolution. Much more recently I bought a Dreamcast (playing Soul Caliber, and my daughter would play Crazy Taxi). Last year, I bought a PS3, but primarily for watching Blu-Ray DVD discs - (movies and music videos). In fact I only own Carbon Canyon - an auto racing game. Since I could not find a Wii to buy, for this review, the game images are all from the PS3.
I hooked up the PS3 to the IN1, through the basic composite video port (standard TV resolution). Dropping in Carbon Canyon, I played a few rounds of auto racing. The default brightness on the IN1 produced an image that was a bit dark, and really "crushed" shadow detail. Increasing the brightness however, helped immensely, and produced a much more enjoyable image, easier to see, and to play!
You can click on the image above, for a larger version.
The image above was taken in a fairly dark room. In the next image, the ceiling recessed lights (4 x 65 watts) were on full. (You can see the one of them on overhead). The image on the screen looked a lot better than what you see in this image.
To give you a better idea of what it really looked like, here is the same image but underexposed, to show you what the screen really looked like. Certainly all that light (and that's a lot of light), washes out the image on the screen, but the game was still playable. Ideally you would want the room fairly dark, but, at least, certainly not full lighting. Please note, also, that I was only projecting about a 65" diagonal. With low light, the projector did reasonably well filling as much of the 106" 16:9 screen as a 4:3 projector can.
There were no problems hooking up the PS3 to the InFocus IN1. Sound was better than our 27" Sony conventional TV (which is used for occasional gaming for the kids) - Sorry, they rarely get to "game" in my theater, on my 128" screen.
So, from my take, the IN1 is a nice low cost way to your games projected to 50, 60 or even a 100" diagonal image. It certainly adds to the experience!
InFocus IN1 Projector: Overall Color Handling and Performance
the IN1 is definitely not going to win awards for excellent color accuracy, but then, I would have been surprised if the projector was truly excellent in terms of color accuracy for movie watching. Remember, there is no way to adjust any aspect of the image, except the brightness. Then, consider that the ideal color temperatures for watching movies, and watching TV/Sports, are significantly different.
Overall, the color temperature of the IN1 is better for TV viewing and sports, than for movies. Movies are set for D65 - a color temperature of 6500Kelvin, which has more red content than TV settings. As a result, the IN1 comes up with reds that are very muted, when watching movies. Flesh tones, while not terrible, could also be improved, and there is a bit too much green in the overall picture. For your consideration, first are images taken using the PS3, from Lord of the Rings, with brightness at its default setting (you can click to enlarge):
Now take a look, again, this time the images were taken from the Toshiba DVD player, using Component Video (a much higher quality interface).
The component video input definitely does a better job in terms of these images. In both of these, I should note that brightness was turned up a significant amount, but the images above seem very hard, definitely not film like. The images below are much better.
The one below, even brighter, starts looking much better in terms of skin tones, but still a bit thin on red content.
OK, here's Arwen, again, from Lord of the Rings, and this too is from the component video input, and with brightness also turned up:
While the image above has a greenish caste to it, understand that the scene is shot in a very green forest. Still, there is too little red, making her appear a bit ghoulish (even if the overall image is softer and more film-like).
Still, check out this image from Spiderman II (source - Toshiba/Component Video), of two kids. Not bad at all: The skin tones still aren't quite right, but not bad, very watchable.
Once you stop worrying about the accuracy of skin tones, the IN1 seems better still. The image immediately below is from Space Cowboys, from the HD-DVD disc (true Hi-def). No problem in feeding that to the IN1.
Speaking of Spiderman:
Again, this is from the Toshiba, and a component video source. The reds, as I've noted earlier, just aren't as rich and saturated as they should be on his bright red "spidy" garb. I sure don't think kids, or most teens would complain, and many adults should find this fine for occasional movie watching. Afterall, it's the size of the projected image that is the fun!
The InFocus IN1 on TV sources
Better! The color balance of the IN1 (remember there is only one mode), is very close to ideal for HDTV/TV/Sports. Whereas the reds were weak on movies, on TV sources, they are better. Still not as good as they could be, but respectable, if a bit undersaturated. Here are a few images from TV/HDTV sources, including Boston Legal, football, and The Tonight Show:
I really would have liked there to be a color saturation control, to get some richer looking colors out of the IN1. It's not washed out, but it could use a little more color intensity and accompanying "wow" factor.
And one last HDTV image, this time from a music video (M-HD music video network). This is Jen, the lead singer of Sugarland:
IN1 Projector: Image performance - Black levels and shadow detail
Whoa! This isn't what the IN1 is about. I've already conceded that the IN1 projector is not for purists, or even those even slightly concerned about picture fidelity. Still, for those considering the IN1, this puts its performance in the areas of black levels and shadow detail, in perspective with other projectors.
Black levels are decent, with a 1500:1 contrast ratio, it rivals or beats some of the other all-in-one projectors, especially the older Epson MovieMates, which are LCD, and have lower contrast ratios.
The images below are from Space Cowboys (HD-DVD). The satellite shot shows very few stars compared to what almost any $999 stand alone projector can offer up. The lower image is intentionally overexposed, revealing the missing stars, but to do so, black becomes medium dark gray... You lose that "outer space" look!
Here's another "space" image from Space Cowboys:
Not bad at all for such a low priced all-in-one projector (and still not showing many stars), but still no match for any stand alone projector.
When it comes to shadow details, with brightness set in the default position, the IN1 crushes the blacks, losing lots of shadow detail.
The first image is an overexposed shot from Lord of the Rings, that is found in most reviews. There is very little detail in the top, the shed on the right and the dark areas along the bottom of the image. Brightness set to default.
Now, below, also overexposed, is the same image, but after the brightness has been increased significantly As you can see, the shadow areas now reveal all the details missing above. Much better! Bottom line, the default brightness crushes shadow detail, but increasing the brightness helps a lot. You'll have to find the right balance, so that normal images still look good, while images with very dark areas still show some detail in those areas.:
InFocus IN1 Game Projector - Sharpness
I certainly didn't expect much here. For movie watching, the resolution of the 4:3 aspect ratio IN1, and 640x480 resolution, is actually lower than even a standard DVD (853x480).
As a result, there's obviously a limit to what we can expect from this projector. The shot below is from Space Cowboys - and is a cropped image of a computer monitor. You can find this same image in most reviews. With true 1080p projectors all but the smallest type is readable. With the IN1, nothing is readable, except, barely "MAIN MENU".
Click on the left thumbnail for the IN1 version. To let you compare to a classic 720p resolution home theater projector, here is a similar image from the $1299 Panasonic PT-AX200U, one of the best 720p projectors yet.
Not even close, when it comes to sharpness, and being able to read small type, but what can you reasonably expect. The Panasonic is over 2.5x the price, and is a pure projector, no speakers, etc.
Bottom Line. Picture Quality is definitely not the strong suit of the InFocus IN1 projector. If you plan to be critical of color accuracy, shadow details, black levels, etc., the IN1 is not for you. If, however, you want the lowest cost projector solution out there, something that can do a decent job, while providing audio and a fun experience, and even some portability, and especially if your main thing is gaming, it's pretty easy to justify the $499 price.
I suspect that gamers with Wii's will enjoy having an IN1. Those with PS3s, who have dropped $500 to $600 (yes I know they are now $399), and want hi-def, will likely have the budget, and will spend for a more expensive, higher resolution all-in-one, or a stand alone HD projector.