InFocus Play Big IN76 Projector Review – Overview

IN76 Projector Review - Warranty

InFocus provides a one year Parts and Labor warranty (US) on the Play Big IN76 home theater projector. The lamp comes with a 6 month warranty, three months longer than most competitors provide. One year, makes it one of the shorter standard warranties available. Of directly competing projectors we’ve reviewed, only Panasonic, with PT-AE900u also offers only one year. (Optoma 2 years on the HD72, Epson 2 years, with overnight replacement on the Cinema 550, Sanyo PLVZ4 and BenQ PE7700 3 years…) InFocus does offer optional 1, 2, or 3 year extended warranties with list prices of $149, $249, and $349. Since any major failure with a projector can cost so much that it makes more sense to toss it out, and replace it with the newest technology, which will no doubt cost less a couple of years out, I would recommend at least buying the one year extended warranty. How does that old Clint Eastwood saying go: “Do you feel lucky? Well, do you?” Since you can buy the extended warranty, you can get the same coverage (or longer) that most other projectors have (2 or 3 years), you just have to factor the cost of the extended warranty into your total cost of buying the projector. InFocus also offers an $89 lamp warranty extension. Unlike just about everyone, since they provide a 6 month lamp warranty, so you are paying $89 for an extra 6 months. If you are a very heavy user, you might want to roll the dice on this option. Of course, since InFocus claims 3000 hours on the lamp in any mode, even a 40 hour a week user will only hit 2000 hours or so in one year. Still, lamps can and do, in many cases, fail well before the average hours claimed. Tough call. More of a “piece of mind” issue, as compared to buying an extra one or two years on the projector itself, which I would encourage.

InFocus Big Play IN76 Home Theater Projector: Summary, Pros, Cons

I’ll start with what I liked the very best about the IN76 projector, and that is definitely, that if you choose this projector, you can take it out of the box, hook it up, and enjoy excellent color “out of the box”. Unlike almost all of the competition, color balance is close enough to ideal, that if you never touch a color, brightness or contrast control, you will almost certainly find the image to be extremely pleasing.

Then, of course, there’s the styling of this home theater projector itself. I find it to be extremely good looking, not the typical “box” look of most of the competition. The IN76 also offers at least as good an assortment of inputs as competing models.

Documentation is excellent. I went through most of the full pdf version of the manual, and found it to be comprehensive, and very understandable, whereas generally most manuals leave much to be desired.

As mentioned long lamp life is another big plus. As is the projectors brightness, which is much brighter than the average competing model, and in the same range as two other bright models, the Optoma, and the Epson Cinema 550.

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There is a real downside to the IN76, however, and it’s not a technical issue. It’s the price. The IN76 retails for $2999, which is just fine, but the InFocus MAP price (the Minimum Advertised Price, that dealers can show, is also $2999. And so far, this InFocus projector – which has only been shipping for about 3 weeks, seems to be selling for close or at, the $2999 price. By comparison, most of the online DLP competition such as the Optoma and BenQ, have MAPs and sell for just under $2000, while the Mitsubishi DLP is more in the mid $2000 range. Others, like the Pansonic and Sanyo’s which have been running cash, or in the case of Sanyo, a free spare lamp, are netting out for even less, although the InFocus has the edge here in picture quality. Sony’s HS51, the best of the LCD projectors I’ve tested, is more in line with the IN76 in price but still less, although the InFocus is a much brighter projector, a real plus.

Now this pricing situation, could change very quickly, since the IN76 is brand new! For it is basically the “more expensive than the competition” price that I find is the only real downside to the IN76.

Here’s a summary of what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of the IN76 home theater projector:

Pros

  • Out of the box performance
  • Extremely bright, especially good for watching HDTV sports with signficant ambient light
  • Great styling (Most projector’s image quality will impress your friends, this one will impress even turned off!)
  • 3 savable user settings (presets)
  • Pedestal stand
  • Good selection of inputs, especially two digital inputs
  • Excellent documentation
  • Ease of use
  • Lamp life – average in low power mode, but exceptional at full power
  • Black levels (very good for a DLP, better than the LCD competitors)
  • Highlight and shadow detail
  • 5X color wheel
  • Worked really well with my XBox
  • Affordable extended warranties available will allow you up to 4 years of parts/labor warranty.
  • Support – Unlike most manufacturers I believe (will verify) that InFocus still offers 24/7 technical support under warranty.

Cons

  • Noticeably more expensive than the competition, including other Darkchip2 powered DLP projectors, and 720p LCD projectors
  • Warranty – only one year standard, no replacement program
  • Projector must be unmounted to replace lamp
  • No lens shift (typical of DLP projectors in this class, but most LCD models have lens shift)
  • Limited range on zoom (compared to LCD models)

Typical

  • Fan Noise levels – about average in low power mode, slightly louder than average in High Bright mode (compared ot other projectors in their low and high power modes)
  • Range of zoom for DLP models
  • Remote Control (but I really like the blue lights)

That about covers it! Overall, the IN76 is an excellent projector, especially for the average consumer who wants something that works great out of the box. It’s the high price that is the only major downside to the IN76. You can rationalize some of that away, by virtue of a lamp in high power mode that might save fairly heavy users $300+ over a few years, but also consider that you may choose to spend an extra $150 to get a warranty as long as found on other competing DLP projectors.

Then again, InFocus has a good rep for supporting its customers, and has always been very focused on customer support, such as offering extended hour support.

It’s very easy to really like the IN76, and should the street prices start coming down soon, the price/performance aspect would change, and could make the IN76 one of the best choices for the typical home theater person.

If you are not an online shopper, and are buying from a local retail store or home theater specialist, the pricing differences between the IN76 and other brands are likely to be far less, significantly improving the value proposition of the IN76.

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