InFocus IN83 Home Cinema Projector Review: General Performance
InFocus IN83 General Performance is organized into these topics, for your convenience:
InFocus IN83 Menus
InFocus IN83 User Memory Settings
IN83 Remote Control
Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
InFocus IN83 Projector Brightness
InFocus IN83 Light Leakage
InFocus IN83 Audible Noise Levels
IN83 Projector Screen Recommendations
InFocus IN83 Projector: Menus
I do like the layout of controls in the IN83 menus. Virtually all controls that affect the picture quality are in the Picture menu as they should be. This allows InFocus to have all controls separated into two main menus, with a very important sub-menu called Advanced, in the Picture menu, and a System sub-menu in the Settings main menu.
I still am not thrilled with the two arrow navigation solution InFocus uses (requiring you to scroll up to Previous at the top of each menu), to move back up a level, but you do get used to it quickly, even if it does require more more navigating than just pressing the left arrow to move back upward, as with most projector menu systems.
The Picture menu (right) is long, and, longer still, if you consider all the options under Advanced.
The first level has all the usual suspects, including Brightness, Contrast, Color (saturation), Brilliant Color (off/on), Gamma, Overscan, and access to the Picture Presets (covered below in the User Memory Settings section). In addition, you wil find Keystone Correction, Aspect Ratio, and Image shift, which on other projectors, is often on a Settings type menu.
Selecting Gamma brings up this screen on the right. Note, for most of my viewing of movies, I used Film, rather than the darker CRT setting, although many may prefer CRT, especially on smaller screens, considering all the lumens the IN83 can project.
As mentioned, the Advanced sub-menu has the rest of the image control features.
First is the manual IRS control, which when selected, brings up a sliding scale to control the brightness output of the projector. Note, closing down the iris does slightly increase contrast ratio, but most will decide what brightness is needed, and have the iris fully, or mostly open, if they need maximum brightness.
Color Temperature is listed by kelvin temperature, with 6500K being the default, and the setting used throughout this review.
Color Control (right) is where individual primary colors are adjusted for proper grayscale balance.
The numbers you see listed there (Color Control) are our post calibration settings, and are listed below in the Calibration section.
InFocus IN83 Projector: User Memory Settings
The Picture Presets sub-menu allows you to choose from three user definable presets, as well as ISF settings (password protected - there for a professional calibrator to use).
Three memory settings is a reasonable number for most folks. More is better, with some (Epson) even having 10. One or two more wouldn't hurt, but then you do get the ISF setting slot as well, if you use a professional calibrator to set those up.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Remote Control
Small, fits nicely in your hand and is backlit by blue LEDs. To engage the backlight, there is a trigger on the bottom side of the remote. The backlight nicely illuminates the graphics on each button, but at the same time makes it harder to read the text description right above each button. That means it's in your interest to learn those graphic Icons.
The buttons are nicely separated, with the On/Off switch at the top center, by itself. The press once to turn on, once again, to turn off. (Most projectors use press twice to shut off, however, with the IN83, pressing a second time cancels the shutdown).
Just below are four buttons in a flattened out diamond configuration. On the left is the menu button, which opens the menus (or pressing it once they are open, closes the menus). In the center are the up and down navigation arrow, and on the right, the Enter button.
Below the menu navigation controls are three rows of 3 buttons each.
First row, left to right: Resize, Overscan (overscan is used to eliminate noise around the edge of images, typically found on standard TV resolution broadcasts, and often on HDTV broadcasts of non HD material. It does mean that the image is no longer one for one pixel mapped, so it does affect apparent sharpness, slightly). On the right is the Source button, which will have the projector search for an active source.
On the next row, there is a custom button - a nice touch, you can program it to handle the favorite function of your choice. In the middle, is a auto image button, letting the IN83 do its best, and on the right, the Preset button which will let you choose your favorite preset, to match what you are watching.
The last row has three source buttons, you can define them to the specfic sources you have hooked up, out of the much larger number of inputs available.
All considered, a very nice, but not exceptional remote control.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Lens Throw and Lens Shift
The InFocus IN83 being a "classic" DLP projector, has a rather limited zoom lens range - 1.2:1 That's not much, but it is what most DLP home theater projectors have, few have a little more, and some others, even less. To fill a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 13.5 feet and as far back as 16.1 (approximate measurements).
When it comes to lens shift, the InFocus has no adjustable lens shift (all home theater projectors have some amount of fixed lens shift). This means that the projector can only be placed correctly in two spots (vertically) relative to your screen. It can be above the screen, or below. For a 100 inch diagonal screen (16:9), the projector (measured from the center of the lens) would be either be approximately 13 inches above the top of the screen (when ceiling mounted), or 13 inches below the bottom if on a table or low shelf. This is about five or six inches less offset than most DLP home theater projectors, which is more helpful if you are dealing with a fairly low ceiling, or an average ceiling with a larger screen.
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InFocus IN83 Projector: SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
As a DLP projector, the IN83 uses a color wheel, in this case a 7 segment wheel that is designed for D65 color accuracy. That spinning wheel can cause a very small percentage of people to see the rainbow effect - especially when viewing fast moving bright objects (primarily white) across a dark background. I happen to be somewhat sensitive to the Rainbow Effect, but with this speed color wheel (5x), likely well less than 5% of people will ever see those flashes of rainbows. The rest of you have nothing to be concerned about. Despite my sensitivity, I definitely managed to enjoy owning a string of DLP home theater projectors over the years, until I bought my JVC.
The combination of DLP and 1080p resolution makes Pixel visibility a non-issue from normal seating distances, and with it, the screen door effect. Again, a non-issue, unless you sit extremely close - say less than 8 feet from a 100 inch diagonal screen.
Bottom line: If you are sensitive to the Rainbow effect, you may well want to skip DLP projectors all together, but otherwise, the IN83 has no problems here.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Brightness
Excellent! I love brighter projectors. Whether it is simply your preference to have a projector that is actually capable of being a bit brighter than a typical movie theater, or you need lots of lumens for watching with some ambient light in the room.
The IN83 has lots of power (2nd brightest under $10,000 1080p home theater projector we have reviewed, both in its "best" mode, and also in its brightest).
Best mode, (which we set up in the User 1 preset, using Film gamma, and color temperature at 6500K), after calibration, produced a stunning 1093 lumens, which is about twice that of the average home theater projector.
That's with the lamp set for bright. In low lamp mode it's still a brighter than almost anything else 870 lumens - a drop of about 20.4%. You can expect that all other modes will also be about 20% less bright in low lamp mode.
Other settings (with lamp on full power include):
PC = 1243 lumens
Video = 1141 lumens
CRT = 1088 lumens
Bright Room = 1175 lumens
To get the brightest output from the InFocus IN83 home theater projector, the first change is to take the Contrast back up to default 50 (which crushes near whites, but a small trade-off to pay when you don't want to be watching your favorite football game in "cave" lighting, but prefer the room bright enough for people to enjoy each others company).
In our "brightest mode" with contrast on 50, and Gamma set to PC, 1920 lumens were measured. Kicking in Brilliant Color added 50 more lumens. Mike did not provide a similar measurement for the Bright Room gamma, but I would conjecture that the gamma itself would be lower (slightly less dark in the midrange brightness areas), but a few less lumens. The PC preset's gamma is in the 2.4 - 2.6 range, a little higher (and darker) than the ideal 2.2. The Bright Room setting probably has a gamma slightly below 2.2 based on my observations, but not measured.
For those curious as to the amount of light output lost by closing down the manual iris, a setting of the iris to 55 (100 is maximum) yields a drop in lumens of about 25%.
Below are two images, shot at the same exposure. The first was using our "best" mode, which we had stored in User Preset 1, the lower image is the same shot, but in our "brightest" mode, which we had saved in User Preset 2. This gives you a good idea of the brightness difference, and the difference in color handling. As you can see, even brightest mode, the projector has very good color: And that's a pretty impressive jump in brightness!
While a couple of projectors can match the IN83 in terms of lumens, in brightest mode (think Epson), the color accuracy of the InFocus is far, far, better, when comparing those bright modes.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Light Leakage
Ouch! A flaw found. The lens leaks light, mostly in the form of some curved reflections, to the right of the screen, although some similar but less bright leakage can be found on the left. The really good news, is that it is very dim, dimmer than a black image projected. You just might be able to see it in a fully darkened room if your wall around your screen is white or off-white
Bottom Line: This shouldn't be an issue for virtually anyone. Those that object, will do so only on principle.
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InFocus IN83 Projector: Audible Noise Levels
Rarely do I find a projector that I end up believing is actually quieter than what the manufacturer claims. The IN83 is one of those. While InFocus says 30db, in low lamp mode, and 33db at full power, I find it to be quieter than other projectors in this range. The IN83's audible output is also is mostly low frequency, less higher frequency than most projectors, and that means it is far less noticeable. I can tell you it is far more quiet even at full power, than my Sony PS3 that I use as my Blu-ray player. On quiet scenes, the PS3 (sitting in front of me about 9 feet away), can be heard, but it easily drowns out any sound from the IN83 sitting just 3 feet behind me.
Bottom Line: A very reasonably quiet projector, that should satisfy well more than 90% of potential owners, and the rest are the ones that take any noise at all as a serious issue. Even those however, should be able to live with the IN83 in full power, or if not, in low power. When you consider that the IN83 is still a good 50% brighter in low lamp power than most others are in full power, even those highly critical folks should be able to live happily ever after.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Screen Recommendations
I not only watched the IN83 extensively in my theater with its 128" Firehawk, but also in the testing room fulling almost all of the 106" Carada Brilliant White screen.
Unfortunately in my theater, where I have to position test projectors, I was only able to fill about 115" diagonal, even though the projector probably could have handled 150" diagonal without any difficulty, had I been able to place it far enough back.
While black levels are very good compared to most 1080p projectors, I really like the Firehawk G3, and therefore other high contrast gray screens, as my first choice for the IN83. It just gets those blacks that little bit darker, and as pointed out, there are plenty of lumens just hanging around if you need them.
Most screen manufacturers offer high contrast gray surfaced screens in their lineup. My preference would be toward the lighter gray ones. With a projector in this price range, the Firehawk G3 (or SST depending on how far back your projector is mounted relative to screen size), is going to be tough to beat, and, although pricey, its price tag isn't out of line with what you would consider reasonable to pair with a $6000 projector.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Measurements and Calibration
The INFocus IN83 was calibrated around the 6500K color temperature, and the gamma set to Film.
Contrast was reduced drastically from its default 50 to 18, which dropped the lumens down to a mere 1100 in "best" mode.
To get the best 6500K grayscale the following were the necessary color gains and offsets (defaults for all, were 50):
With lamp at full power these are the measured color temperature at different gray levels before calibration (Film, 6500K):
White (100 IRE): 6594K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6650K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6471K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6294K
Actually, the PC mode performed about equally as well:
White (100 IRE): 6560K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6390K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6416K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6375K
IN83 Measurements: Post Calibration
Despite the nice tight range around the ideal D65 (typically considered 6500K, but technically 6480K), before calibration, color fidelity improved (especially skin tones), after calibration. Post Calibration yielded:
White (100 IRE): 6507K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6523K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6516K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6504K
Folks, that's as good as grayscale balance ever gets. Mike did a great job, those numbers with only a spread of 19K, are closer than I've ever accomplished on more than 100 calibrations. Anytime you can keep the whole range inside of 300K results are great, and inside 150K is almost miraculous. Of course InFocus gets a large chunk of the credit. Their pre-calibration grayscale turned out better than most projectors end up, after calibration. When you are trying for 99% perfection, it sure helps to start at 96% instead of 75%.
To give you an idea of the impact of the Color Temperature settings, these temperatures for white (100IRE) were measured in the PC gamma, for the different color temp choices: 6500K = 6560K, 7500 = 6822, 9300 =9186, and Native = 7419.
For those of you that prefer cooler color balance temperatures for things like sports (I do), the 7500K or Native settings are ones you might just want to try out.
Lastly, here is the color map (color space) of the primary and secondary colors with both the target and the results marked. Excellent, with ony magenta and green off more than the slightest amount.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Image Noise
The IN83 was, in my opinion, better than most DLP projectors when it comes to general image noise. (DLP's tend to show more than other technologies, in my experience). The IN83 also did just fine, passing the variou noise tests, including motion artifacts, on my HQV HD test disc. As usual, I did not use the many cadence tests.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Other Issues
Aspect ratio. The IN83 at least as far as I can tell, does not automatically adjust to different aspect ratios, as some projectors do (JVC and Epson, definitely). This isn't that uncommon, but it means that if you are watching the TV with an HD channel, and then switch to a regular channel with 4:3 aspect ratio, you get a stretched image, etc. I find this always to be a nuisance. One nice thing, though, is that you should be able to use the Custom key on the remote as a one touch, for one direction - either setting up 16:9 or 4:3 on the button, so that you dont have to toggle through the aspect ratio menu, in both directions.