InFocus Play Big SP777 Home Theater Projector Review

I love reviewing high end projectors – until I have to box them up, and go back to watching my own, far less expensive home theater projector. It takes a few days before I can appreciate mine again. After watching the InFocus “Triple 7″ extensively, it’s on its way home to InFocus, and I’m forced to adjust again.

I really like the InFocus 777, and for a good number of reasons, it has been granted our Hot Product Award. I’ll start by saying, that, from a pure performance standpoint, this isn’t the best projector (though not by much)I have worked with. The bottom line, however, is that, this InFocus projector may well be a better projector for most people, than the best I have seen. I’ll discuss this further in the Image Quality, and General Performance sections.

Here’s a stock image of the InFocus Play Big SP777 (formerly known as the Screenplay 777), it may help you visualize what it might look like hanging from your ceiling. (Pretty cool?)

OK let’s look at the physical layout of the 777.

There are several things you notice immediately… The Play Big SP777 is large, its rather striking looking, somewhat flying saucerish, and attractive, and it seems devoid of any controls… In the front, is a resessed lens. and after that just mostly high gloss black and silver, angles and curves. I had to read the specs to find out that it had 4 IR sensors as they are apparently hard to spot mounted inside the mostly black case.

The standard lens, as noted, has a 1.25:1 zoom ratio. It has power zoom, focus and lens shift, easily controlled from the remote. From a placement standpoint the projector can sit anywhere from 1.44 times screen width, to 1.80 times screen width. If that doesn’t work for you, InFocus offers 6 additional lenses, two are fixed (no zoom) short throw lenses, with no lens shift, designed for rear projection. The remaining 4 include 1 short throw zoom, and three long throw zooms. Believe me, they have a lens to meet your room. Pricing on lenses varies and runs from $4000 (list price, US) for the short throw zoom and two long throw zooms, to $6000 for the ultra-long throw zoom and one of the fixed short throw lenses (for rear screen). Lastly, the ultra-short fixed lens commands $8000!

The lens shift allows the projector to be mounted with center of lens anywhere from slightly above the top of screen to below the bottom. Detailed info is on the InFocus website.

Moving to the top – just a lot of black, and a few logos – a big InFocus, and Faroudja’s DCDi logo, DLP logo, etc.

Sides – well there really isn’t anything on the sides.

Back, you won’t find anything here, either, unless you remove the cable cover… Now all the inputs and outputs are visible to you. The InFocus 777 is well equipped in this regard. I should start by saying it supports DVI with HDCP, however you won’t find a DVI or HDMI connector. InFocus uses its proprietary M1 connector, which looks like a somewhat wider DVI, with more pins. Fear not, InFocus does provide a short M1 to DVI cable, so you can use a standard DVI cable with it. Personally, I’d rather see them standardize on DVI (or even HDMI), as that would eliminate the extra cable connections – always a good idea. The more connectors/adapters in the signal path, the more degradation – however slight. (The image above is inverted due to the labeling – the image below shows the true orientation).

Kudos to InFocus for being particularly clever, in labeling the inputs on the InFocus 777. I had the projector sitting on a table, not upside down for ceiling mounting as almost all users would choose. When the projector is inverted, all the connector labels are easy to read, because InFocus thought to make all the labels upside down, so that the labels are right side up when mounted… This is something that most home theater manufacturers should seriously consider. If you are looking at the back panel normally (below), the M1 connector is top left. You’ll find next to it a hard wire input for the remote. Next: A serial control and an analog computer input. The three RCA connectors for component video are stacked vertically then a pair of S-video connectors and 3 BNC connectors (2nd component video inputs). There is, of course, the standard composite video (rca connector), and lastly a pair of 12 volt triggers for screen control. (There’s also a Scart connection.)

Moving beyond the M1 digital cable, there is plenty of other interfacing capabilities:

The lamp door is also housed in the back, to the left of all the connectors. (Just barely visible in the image to the left).

The cable cover allows cables to exit the bottom of the projector (to the top if ceiling mounted) – as it should be. The cover is designed to have plenty of room. I had no problem with cables in/out, while using the projector on a table. The opening is large enough, and the area roomy enough that there should be no problem with having to bend cables sharply, or having to squeeze them through a small opening.

Time to see how this top of the line home theater projector performs. Click on Image Quality, to continue

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